Fort Magruder

Fort Magruder (HM6OK)

Location: Williamsburg, VA 23185
Country: United States of America

N 37° 15.845', W 76° 39.967'

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An Ugly Place to Have to Attack

— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —

Here are the remains of Fort Magruder, an earthen redoubt built in 1861 at the center of the Confederate defensive line. The "Williamsburg Line" stretched between the James and York rivers and consisted of fourteen forts, commonly called redoubts. This was the third Confederate defensive line encountered by Federal troops under Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan during the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862. Fort Magruder was the heart of the Confederate position during the Battle of Williamsburg.

Fort Magruder formed an elongated pentagon 600 yards in circumference. Its walls rose 15 feet from a flooded moat and mounted eight guns. The fort guarded the intersection of the Yorktown - Hampton and Warwick roads a quarter-mile in front of you which provided the primary land access to Williamsburg.

At dawn on May 5, 1862, Brig. Gen. Richard H. Anderson's South Carolina "Palmetto Sharpshooters" occupied the fort. Union Brig. Gen. Joseph "Fighting Joe" Hooker's troops from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New York, deployed to either side of the Warwick Road and advanced toward the Confederate redoubts amid concentrated artillery and infantry fire. An abatis of felled trees spread directly in front of the fort and the flanking redoubts. The abatis, along with the quagmire created by weeks of rain, made the area in front of the fort a muddy, tangled mess.

Union artillery commander, Maj. Gen. Charles S. Wainwright, called it "a very ugly place to have to attack." One of Hooker's troops said, "Their heavy shot came crashing among the tangled abatis of fallen timber, and plowed up the dirt in our front, rebounding and tearing through the woods in our rear ? the continuous snap, snap, crack, crack was murderous."

The battle ebbed and flowed all day, with both sides claiming victory. Nearly 20,000 troops were engaged. Union casualties numbered 2,283, while the Confederate losses were 1,560. The Southern troops abandoned Fort Magruder and the other redoubts of the Williamsburg Line during the night of the battle as the Confederate army withdrew toward Richmond. The desperate fighting and heroism displayed by both sides near this spot foretold the brutality and the battles to follow during the Peninsula Campaign.
HM NumberHM6OK
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 6:41pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 352264 N 4125469
Decimal Degrees37.26408333, -76.66611667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 15.845', W 76° 39.967'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 15' 50.70" N, 76° 39' 58.02" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)757, 202
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1067-1099 State Rte 641, Williamsburg VA 23185, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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