"The fortifications constructed by the Confederate army in this vicinity & about Richmond are miles in extent & I must add that they are as strong, if not the strongestin the world." - Julian Scott, Union Army Veteran May 1865
From the war's beginning, Confederate authorities struggled with the question of how to defend Richmond. It lay vulnerable to approaches from every direction. Engineers eventually devised an integrated series of earthen fortifications. The Exterior Line nearly encircled the city. Portions of that line survive today, here at Chickahominy Bluff, at the Richmond airport, at the park's Fort Harrison unit, and elsewhere on private property. The Interior Line - composed of a series of individual forts - and the Intermediate Line are mostly gone, consumed by Richmond's growth.
The simple artillery positions that stood here in June 1862 evolved over time into the more sophisticated permanent defenses visible today. This stronger position proved valuable in 1864. Before dawn on May 12, Union cavalry in General Philip H. Sheridan's raid against Richmond approached the city near here. Vigilant gunners on this bluff aggressively fired cannon at the raiders in the Chickahominy River valley, forcing them away from Richmond.