By 1863 the Drewry's Bluff post expanded into a military city. Hundreds of Confederate soldiers, sailors, and Marines camped on these grounds. The Confederate States Naval Academy held classes in buildings and aboard the side-wheeled steamer CSS Patrick Henry, anchored in the James River. A wide variety of supporting structures were built that included barracks, a chapel, a post office, a hotel, and even a Masonic lodge. Steamships brought civilians down from Richmond nearly every day to picnic, socialize, and watch the sailors and Marines drill.
"This encampment resembles a pioneer village?one sees small log-houses with doors, windows, and fireplaces?."
Charles Girard, French envoy