(Gibraltar of the Cheasapeake)
Fort Monroe is the largest stone fort in the United States.The walls stretch 1.3 miles and enclose 63 acres of land. It
was started in 1819 in response to the unpreparedness in the War of 1812. The purpose of the Fort was to guard the
entrance of the Cheaspeake Bay. The Fort was officially named after President James Monroe in 1832. It was the first
part of his "Third System" of coastal fortifications that covered the east coast and the Gulf of Mexico.
However, Fort Monroe was not the first fort on the site. That honor goes to Fort Algernourne which was built at Point
comfort in 1609. It's purpose was the protection of the new settlement of Jamestown. There were a series of forts built
on this spot throughout the colonial period. The early forts were not able to stop the burning of Washington, D.C. in the
War of 1812. This was the spot in 1619 where slavery arrived to the English-speaking colony.
Early Site from HABS Documentation
"Fort Monroe occupies a sandy projection of land in Hampton, Virginia, at the end of the peninsula between the York
and James Rivers. Between this spit and the peninsula is a small inlet, Mill Creek. This site is connected to that
peninsula by sand bars frequently flooded by the Chesapeake Bay which is to the east of Fort Monroe. The large
harbor of Hampton roads is to the site and earlier impermanent defensive works stretch back over 200 years...
On April 28, 1607, after two days of searching for a channel deep enough to accommodate their ships, members of the
London company found a spit of land with six-to-twelve fathom-deep waters nearby. Relieved by their discovery, these
earliest settlers named the site Cape Comfort land, later, Point Comfort in appreciation of the fact that their journey had
ended safely. Point comfort provided a base from with further exploration of the area could commence. A similar strip of
land farther west at the mouth of Mobjack Bay was explored and named New Point Comfort. Consequently the Point
Comfort upon which Fort Monroe now stands was renamed Old Point Comfort.
Recognition of the military value of Old Point Comfort dates to its earliest settlement. Soon after the 1607 arrival of the
colonists, defensive works were constructed on the Point at the mouth of the James River to protect their communities.
From Old Point Comfort the colonists explored and settled what would become Jamestown and erected additional
fortifications at Old Point Comfort where the width of the channel of the James River was its most narrow. Defensive
works have occupied the site almost continuously for the ensuing 375 years.
...On October 3, 1609, a group of sixteen men under the command of Captain James Davis arrived from Great Britain
and with detachment from Jamestown under the direction of Captain Ratcliff, went to Old Point Comfort to build a new
and substantial fort. George Percy, resident of the Colonial Council, named the defensive work "Algernourne Fort" in
honor of William de Percy, a distant ancestor and the first Lord Alernon, who had come to England with William the
Initially Fort Algernon was merely earthwork; however, 'by early 1611 it was well stockaded and contained seven heavy
guns and number of smaller weapons. Its garrison was a company of 40 men commanded by Captain Davis.' Forts
Henry and Cahrles were built nearby. On May 22, 1611, Captain Davis was appointed by Sir Thomas Dale as
"taskmaster" for the three forts which formed the first harbor defense command on the continent.
A physical description of these forts was provided by Spaniard Diego di Molina who was imprisoned there in 1611. 'At
the entrance (into the James River) is a fort (fuerte) or, to speak more exactly, a weak structure of boards ten hands
high with twenty-five soldiers and four iron pieces. Half a league off is another (Fort Charles) smaller with fifteen
soldiers, without artillery. There is another (Fort Henry) smaller than either, half a league inland from here for a defense
against the Indians. This has fifteen more soldiers.' [In 1611 a Spanish caravel appeared and picked up an English pilot.
There was a charge that the Spanish were sent to spy on the English colonists. It came to Point Comfort where three of
the officers -- alcayde Don Diego de Molina, ensign Marco Antonio Perez, and pilot Francis Limbrye -- going ashore,
were arrested and remained prisoners at Jamestown for several years. From the Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and
James River. This plot was first created by Baron Thomas Arundel, an English Catholic who offered the Spanish crown
to place a Spanish spy in the Jamestown colony. Molina sent his reports to agents in London but they were not acted on
by Spanish King Philip.]
In February or March of 1612 Fort Algernon was destroyed by an accidental fire. The fort was reconstructed but it was
now only referred to as the fort at Old Point Comfort. The fort was repaired in 1617 and 1619. In 1632 a new fort was
completed by Captain Sam Matthews. The fort was to be financed by taxation and on tariffs levied on incoming ships.
1640 another new fort was built. In 1666 a fort was built at Jamestown instead of Old Point Comfort but during it's
construction the Dutch approached the unprotected harbor and burned numerious ships and Hampton. The fort was
restored to Pld Point Confort by June 1667 with eight guns positioned at the point. On August 27, 1667 a hurricane
destroyed the fort.
It wasn't until 1711 that Governor Spottswood without the approval of the General Assembly errected a fort again at Old
Point Comfort in response to a French threat. In March 1728 the General Assembly appropriated funds to build a new
fort of brick and shell lime in two lines of walls about sixteen feet apart. The exterior wall was 27 inches thick while the
interior was but 16 inches thick. The two walls were connected by a series of counterparts 10 or 12 feet apart forming a
system of cribs, which were filled with sand. With this wall of brick and sand sixteen feet in thickness, the fort had a
substantiality that was more apparent than real. This fort was named Fort Goerge. The fort was completed destroyed by
a hurricane in 1749. The site was occupied through the Revolutionary war but no new fort was built. The British built
their final fortifications at Yorktown.
The fort was first garrisoned on July 25, 1823 by Company G, 3rd U. S. Artillery. By 1825 the garrison was the largest in
the United States. In 1824 Fort Monroe was given a second mission as the site for the Army's new Artillery School of
Practice. In 1832 the arsenal at Fort Monroe was established. It employed 39 workers and by 1834 was the 5th largest
Arsenal in the country. The purpose of the arsenal was to build seacoast ordnance and seacoast gun carriages. In 1841
it was one of four manufacturing arsenals in the country.
Third System of Coastal Fortifications
After the war of 1812 Congress appropriated over $800,000 for a seacoast defensive system. James Madison
appointed a Board of Engineers to choose sites and prepare the plans for a new forts. By 1820 the Board had
suggested 50 sites with 42 of these actually being built. Several other sites contained towers or batteries. By 1850 the
Board had identified a total of 200 sites.
These sites include beside Fort Monroe: Fort Point in San Francisco, Fort Pulaski in Georgia; Fort Sumpter outside of
Charleston, South Carolina; Fort Knox, Maine; Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, Florida; Fort Delaware Pea Patch Island,
Delaware; Fort Gains, Daulphin Island, Alabama; Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida; Fort Macon, Morehead City,
North Carolina; Fort Pickens, Pensecola, Florida; Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida; Fort Warren, Boston, MA; Fort Pike,
New Orleans, La; Fort Jackson, Port Sulphur, LA; Fort Livingston, Barataria Island, LA; Fort Macomb, Chef Menteur, LA;
Fort Massachusetts, Ship Island, Mississippi; Fort Alcatraz, SanFrancisco; Fort Richmond, Staten Island, New York; Fort
Hamilton, New York, New York; Fort Totten, Throngs Neck, NY; Fort Schuyler, Throngs Neck New York; Fort Trumbull,
New London, CT; Fort Adams, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island; Fort Independence, Boston, MA; Fort Constitution,
Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Simeon Bernard (April 28, 1779 - November 5, 1839)
The Fort was designed by the French military engineer Brigadier General Simon Bernard who had served under
Napoleon as an aide'de'camp. He was apponted to the Board of Engineers with Totten, Bernard and made an extensive
tour of the east coast for the first detailed report in 1821. He designed the fort for 380 guns later expanded to a 412 gun
capacity. It was never fully armed. His work in the United States included Fort Adams in Newport, RI, Fort Morgan in
Alabama and buildings around New York. He returned to France after the 1830 Revolution and was made a pieutenant-
general by Louis Philippe I.
Robert E. Lee (January 19, 1807 - October 12, 1870)
In 1824 Robert E. Lee received his appointment to West Point. He entered West Point in the summer of 1825. He was
second in his class in 1829. He was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers. He started at
the construction of Fort Pulaski where he was involved in the drainage and build up of the island. Robert E. Lee was
posted at Fortress Monroe from 1831-34 to assist in the completion of the fort. He married Mary Custis there on June
30, 1831 and Lee's first son Custis Lee was born at the fort in 1832. His duties ranged from budgeting to building
buildings. When the engineering officers were moved from Fort Monroe Lee remained behind and was assigned to the
island of Rip raps across from Fort Monroe where what would become Fort Wool would be built. In 1834 Lee was
transferred to Washington as General Gratiot's assistant.
Black Hawk (1767-October 3, 1838)
Chief Black Hawk a Sauyk Indian was held captive at Fort Monroe in 1833. He was escorted by Lt. Jefferson Davis to the
Fort. Near the end of his captivity in 1833, Black Hawk told his life story to Antoine LeClaire, a government interpreter.
Edited by the local reporter J.B. Patterson, Black Hawk's account was the first Native American autobiography published
in the United States. The Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his
Nation, Various Wars In Which He Has Been Engaged, and His Account of the Cause and General History of the Black
Hawk War of 1832, His Surrender, and Travels Through the United States. Also Life, Death and Burial of the Old Chief,
Together with a History of the Black Hawk War was published in 1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio. President Andrew Jackson
inprisoned him in Fort Monroew "until the Sauks and Foxes were disposed to remain at peace and abide by the terms of
their treaty." He was ordered to wear white men's clothes at Fort Monroe but didn't have to wear a ball and chain like he
did at Jefferson Barracks. His clothing consisted of a white cotton shirt, silk tie, and a blue army frock coat.
Mission in the War of the Rebellion
The Fort was quickly reinforced which saved it from falling into Confederate hands. The Fort became the anchor of the
U.S. Naval Blockade and the military efforts creating the Department of the South and the Roanoke campaign. The Fort
also served as the basis for U. S. Army operations in the battle of Big Bethel in June 1861, the Peninsula Campaign of
General George McClellan in 1862 and the siege of Suffolk in 1863. In 1864 the Army of James was formed at Fort
Monroe which drew lots of resources from the Department of the South.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY,
Washington, January 7,1861.
SIR: This communication is sent through the commander of the U. S. steam sloop of war Brooklyn. His mission is twofold:
First, to afford aid and succor in case your ship be shattered or injured; second, to convey this order of recall for your
detachment in case it can not land at Fort Sumter, to proceed to Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, and there await further
orders. In case of your return to Hampton Roads send a telegraphic message here at once from Norfolk. Yours, very
COMMANDING OFFICER DETACHMENT U. S. ARMY
Expedition to the Norfolk, navy yard, VA - April 20, 1861
The goal was to blow up the dry-dock.
Report of Capt. H. U. Wright, U. S. Engineer Corps. WASHINGTON, D. C., April 26, 1861.
COLONEL: I have the honor to report that, in obedience to the instructions [following] received from the headquarters
of the Army on the 19th instant, I proceeded on the evening of the same day, on the United states steamer Pawnee, to
Fort Monroe, where we arrived the next day at about 2 o'clock p.m., and communicated with commanding officer,
Colonel Dimick. The object of the expedition was to secure to the United States, if possible, the navy-yard and property
at Norfolk, with the ships of war then in that harbor; and,in furtherance of that object, my instructions authorized me to
call upon the commanding officer at Fort Monroe for such force, to the extent of one regiment, as he could spare from
the garrison without jeopardizing the safety of the fort. He accordingly assigned to the expedition one of the two
regiments which had that morning arrived. This regiment, about 370 strong, under Colonel Wardrop, was promptly
marched on board, and late in the afternoon the steamer proceeded to Norfolk, where she arrived some time after dark
the same evening, the 20th instant.
On reaching the yard it was found that all the ships afloat except the Cumberland had been scuttled, by order of
Commodore McCauley, the commandant of the yard, to prevent their seizure by the Virginia forces, and that they were
fast sinking. One of the objects of the expedition that of removing those vessels and taking them to sea was therefore
On reporting to the commodore of the yard, I found him disposed to defend the yard and property to the last, and the
troops were accordingly landed and some dispositions for defense taken. It was soon determined, however, by
Commodore Paulding, who had come on the Pawnee from Washington, to finish the destruction of the scuttled ships, to
burn and otherwise destroy, as far as practicable, the property in the yard, and withdraw with the frigate Cumberland, in
tow of the Pawnee and a steam-tug which was lying at the yard.
To Commander John Rodgers, of the Navy, and myself was assigned the duty of blowing up the dry-dock, assisted by
forty men of the volunteers and a few men from the crew of the Pawnee. The dock, which is a massive structure of
granite masonry, has a pumping gallery running along the back of one of the side walls, entering from the level of the
bottom near the entrance gate, and terminating, as is understood, in the pumping-house, near the farther end of the
dock. Under the circumstances of want of time for preparation and the darkness of night this gallery offered the only
means for the establishment of a mine. Had the dock been full of water this advantage could not have been availed of
but we found in it a depth of only about two feet. We accordingly proceeded to construct in this gallery a platform of
such materials as could be collected to a height above the surface of the water, and on this we placed the powder
(2,000 pounds) which we had brought from the ship, established a train from the gallery to the outside, and connected
with it four separate slow matches.
Everything being arranged, all the men were sent to the ship, except one of the crew of the Pawnee, who was retained
to watch for the signal from the commodore for lighting the matches and returning to the ship. On the signal, the
matches were lighted by Captain Rodgers and myself, and we made the best of our way towards the landing, but before
we could reach it the flames of the burning buildings had become so intense, that the boats had undoubtedly been
driven oft; and, indeed, we could not approach it. After some delay we succeeded in getting out of the yard through the
burning gateway, and seized a boat, in the hope of making our escape by the river. We had proceeded but a short
distance, however, when several shots were fired at us from the Portsmouth side, and as the armed force was rapidly
accumulating against us at a point below, where the river was narrow, and where we should have had to pass within
effective musket range, we concluded to land on the Norfolk side and deliver ourselves up to the commanding general
of the Virginia forces. He received us very kindly and courteously, and on giving him our parole he provided us with
comfortable quarters at the Atlantic Hotel. This was on Sunday morning, about 6 o'clock. On Monday, at noon, he sent
us with an officer to Richmond, where we were most kindly treated by the governor and his family, and by the gentlemen
there present from the various parts of Virginia. We remained as guests of the governor, on parole, till Wednesday, the
24th, when we were released, and on Thursday morning we left for Washington.
To Governor Letcher our especial thanks are due for the uniform kindness and consideration with which he treated us.
Probably to protect us from any annoyance from the populace of Richmond he accompanied us to the cars at 6 o'clock
in the morning, and to further shield us from possible annoyance along the road he detailed two officers of the Virginia
forces to conduct us safe to Washington, where we arrived yesterday, between 4 and 5 o'clock p. m.
From what we could learn in Norfolk, I am of opinion that the attempt to destroy the dock did not succeed. We were told
that the mine did explode and that it did not. Three separate explosions took place after we got clear of the yard, one of
which I presumed at the time to have been the dock mine, yet after considering all the contradictory rumors it seems
probable that the structure is uninjured.
In addition to this report, I desire to submit a rather more extended narrative, which may possess some interest
hereafter. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
H. G. WRIGHT,
Captain of Engineers.
Lieut. Col. E. B. TOWNSEND,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Hdqrs. of the Army, Washington, D. C.
Commanding Home Squadron. Commanding Fortress Monroe, Va.
Order of Flag-Officer Pendergrast, U. S. Navy, commanding Home Squadron, to Lieutenant Braine, U. S. Navy,
commanding U. S. S. Monticello, regarding provisions. U. S. Flagship Cumberland, Off Fortress Monroe, Va., April 30,
1861. SIR: You will land the provisions you have on board at Fortress Monroe, reserving a reasonable amount for your
own vessel. Inform me when you will be ready for service; also how many days water, provisions, and coal you have on
board. I wish great care taken in their expenditure for the present. Also inform me how you are off for a pilot.
G. J. Pendergast, Flag. Officer, Commanding Home Squadron.
Lieutenant Commanding D. L. BRAINE,
Commanding U. S. S. Monticello.
Butler Ordered to Fort Monroe
May 18, 1861. Maj. Gen. B. F. BUTLER, U. S. Volunteers
SIR: You will proceed to Fort Monroe and assume the command of that post, when Colonel Dimick will limit his command
to the regular troops, composing a part of its garrison, but will, by himself and his officers, give such aid in the instruction
of the volunteers as you may direct.
Besides the present garrison of Fort Monroe, consisting of seven companies of regular artillery, portions of two
Massachusetts regiments of volunteers, and a regiment of Vermont volunteers, nine additional regiments of volunteers
from New York may soon be expected there. Only a small portion, if any, of these can be conveniently quartered or
encamped in the fort, the greater part if not the whole area of which will be necessary for exercise on the ground. The
nine additional regiments must therefore be encamped in the best positions outside of and as near the fort as may be.
For this purpose it is hoped that a pine forest north of the fort and near the bay may be found to furnish the necessary
ground and shade for some three thousand men, though somewhat distant from drinking and cooking water; this, as well
as fuel, it may be necessary to bring to the camp on wheels. The Quartermasters Department has been instructed to
furnish the necessary vehicles, casks, and draught animals.
The war garrison of Fort Monroe against a formidable army provided with an adequate siege-train is about 2,500 men.
You will soon have there, inside and out, near three times that number. Assuming 1,500 men as a garrison adequate to
resist any probable attack in the next six months for at least many days or weeks, you will consider the remainder of the
force under your command disposable for aggressive purposes, and employ it accordingly.
In respect to more distant operations you may expect specific instructions at a later date. In the mean time I will direct
your attention to the following objects:
1. Not to let the enemy erect batteries to annoy Fort Monroe;
2. To capture any batteries the enemy may have within a half-days march of you, or which may be reached by land;
3. The same in respect to the enemy's batteries at or above Craney Island, though requiring water craft ;and
4. To menace and to recapture the navy-yard at Gosport in order to complete its destruction, with its contents, except
what it may be practicable to bring away in safety.
It is expected that you put yourself into free communication with the commander of the United States naval forces in
Hampton Roads, and invite his cordial cooperation with you in all operations in whole or in part by water, and no doubt
he will have received corresponding instructions from the Navy Department. Boldness in execution is nearly always
necessary, but in planning and fitting out expeditions or detachments great circumspection is a virtue. In important
cases, where time clearly permits, be sure to submit your plans and ask instructions from higher authority. Communicate
with me often and fully on all matters important to the service.
I remain, with great respect, yours,
The Vermont Regiment at Fort Monroe. (The Daily Green Mountain freeman. Montpelier, Vt., May 21, 1861,
Fort Monroe, May 14. Our regiment arrived here yesterday (Monday) morning about 8 o'clock. We had a remarkably
pleasant voyage from New York. The sea was calm and weather pleasant, yet many of the man suffered with sea-
sickness, and were glad to step on shore again.
On landing, the regiment was formed in marching order, and amid a continuous roar of cannon and the shouts of
multitudes, proceeded to tho northeast of the fort, where on a small flat we pitched our tents and made ready for
supper, which was eaten with a great relish.
The hand of a kind Providence has thus far been with us. No accidents beyond the scratch of a finger has befallen any
one in tho regiment since we struck our tents at Rutland on the 10th inst. But to day several are sick. Several in the
Bradford company are down with the measles, and some twenty more are candidates for it. With good management they
will all be out again soon.
There is some sickness in the Northfield Company, induced by sea sickness and taking cold. Among those ill are
Messrs. Claflin and Smith, and Capt. Boynton. I have just sent a carriage and brought Boynton over to Willard's Hotel,
and secured him a room adjoining mine, his room is carpeted, and he has got a good bed and furniture. He is doing
well, and will have all the care he would at home.
The Vermont Regiment, though strangers a few weeks since, are brethren now, one family, one interest. I need not tell
you that the praises of nearly every body are poured upon us
If our deportment and heroism shall render us deserving such eulogy as is bestowed, it will be glory enough for this
year, though if an attack should be made upon this fort soon, as is now threatened, we should reap other renown. The
boys seem a little impatient to try their skill at defense.
I was upon the camp ground this forenoon, and found all the officers all cheerful and happy. The weather is warm and
sultry. We had a very smart rain and thunder storm this forenoon and we are threatened with more. Correspondence of
Brig. Gen. Benjamin Butler assumes command at Fort Monroe on May 22, 1861
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that quite a full regiment of the enemy, estimated, by count of companies, to contain
eight hundred men, under command of Colonel Phelps, made a demonstration against this place this afternoon,
between 4 and 5 o'clock, which seemed at first to wear a very ugly aspect, but which happily, resulted in no damage,
save the alarm of our women and children and the excitement of our citizens.
I had nearly perfected my arrangements for the defense indicated in your instructions, by making preparations for the
destruction of all the bridges leading across the main tributary of Back River as well as the Hampton Bridge.
Unfortunately, the absence during the day of the party chosen for the firing of the latter, and the consequent failure to
have the combustibles on the spot, delayed operations so far that the enemy were in sight before the fire could be
started, though it would have made sufficient progress, I think, to have arrested their entrance into the town. At this
stage, meeting with Lieutenant Cutshaw, at his suggestion I sent him forward as my aid to demand of the colonel the
intent of his approach with so large a body of men, and being assured that he came with no hostile purpose, but simply,
as he said, by order of General Butler, to reconnoiter, and having received the subsequent assurance from him in
person that he would make no attack upon our people nor injure their property in any way unless he himself was
molested, and coinciding in your view that defense at this point was useless and hopeless, I aided him in extinguishing
the fire, and gave the assurance that he should not be fired upon by the volunteer force under my command (which, by
the way, had by that time nearly retreated to the line of defense which I intended to occupy and where I designed
making the first resistance). I also urged our citizens to abstain from any attack, which counsel, I am pleased to say,
prevailed with them. The entire body then marched into the town as far as the intersection of our main streets, halted for
a short while, and then returned. I have since learned that this body was supported by about three hundred men, with a
battery of six brass pieces, and that there was a still further reserve on the march. But this latter information I do not
consider so reliable. I have only to add, in this connection, that the force at my command, as estimated by information
since derived from the several captains, was only one hundred and thirty men on the approach of the enemy. This
demonstration, in my judgment, indicates the propriety of removing the camp farther from Hampton than the point
already agreed upon. Our people have responded very indifferently to the call for aid in erecting entrenchments at the
points indicated by you, and the proposed location of the camp is distinctly visible from the dome of the
Chesapeake Female College, if not from the ramparts of the fort, and I do not doubt but that the erection of the
first tent would be the signal for another such demonstration. Under this conviction I shall delay operations on the camp
until I receive your reply, though nearly all the timber is at hand, and operations would have commenced in the morning.
The order directing the removal of the cannon had been carried into execution, and they were beyond the reach of
I make no comments, restricting myself to a brief statement, merely remarking that Lieutenant Cutshaw, who was present
most of the time, will be at the Grove Wharf to-morrow, and can give detailed information on all points not sufficiently
elucidated. As soon as they left I sent a dispatch to the battalion to return in order to the town for the dis- charge of their
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. B. CARY,
Major Artillery, Virginia Volunteers.
Lieut. Col. BENJ. S. EWELL,
Active Virginia Volunteers, Williamsburg, Va.
May 23, 1861 - General Benjamin F. Butler dispatches troops from Fort Monroe to disrupt voters during the statewide
referendum on Virginia's Secession Ordinance.
Slaves declare for Freedom
Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend ran to freedom at Fort Monroe. General Benjamin Butler declared
them "contraband" of war verifying their quest for freedom. More than 500,000 slaves would follow their footsteps to
Headquarters Department of Virginia,
Fort Monroe, May 24, 1861.
Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott:
I have the honor to report my arrival at this post Wednesday morning at 8 o'clock. I found that no troops had arrived
except some recruits for the Third and Fourth Massachusetts Regiments of three- months men and two detached
companies of three-years men which have been temporarily annexed to those regiments. This morning the Second New
York Volunteers have reported themselves in good condition, numbering 782 men. These I have encamped on the farm
of Mr. Segar, which is at the end of Mill Creek Bridge toward Hampton, and have also ordered into camp in connection
with them the First Vermont Regiment (militia), Colonel Phelps. The force at this post may be stated thus: Colonel
Dimick, commanding U. S. Regulars, 415 men Third Regiment Massachusetts Militia and one company three-years men,
727 men; Fourth Massachusetts Militia and one company three-years men, 783 men; First Vermont Militia, 779 men;
Second New York Volunteers, three years, 782 men. As there is very little sickness, the effective force will be probably
3,375 men. Of these, the New York and Vermont regiments only are furnished with camp equipage.
Upon my arrival I put myself in communication with Colonel De Hussy, of the Engineers, and consulted him upon two
First, as to the supply of water. I found that on that day the Minnesota was supplying herself from a well or spring on
land of Mr. Clark, near the end of Mill Creek Bridge, about a mile from the fort, and that after pumping 800 gallons the
well was exhausted, but refilled itself during the night, and from personal examinations of its surroundings I think it may
be trusted to supply 700 to 1,000 gallons daily with a little enlargement of the reservoir. The water is of the best quality,
and as it is immediately under the guns of the heaviest battery of the fort on the land side, I have thought it proper, with
the advice of Colonel De Russy, of the Engineer Corps, to direct that a pipe be put in to bring it into the fort along the
bridge and causeway, first having a cistern excavated at the fountain which will contain the whole supply of the spring. I
have also advised with Colonel De Hussy of the propriety of finishing the artesian well which had been begun here, and
he is now in communication with a contractor for that purpose. There is an appropriation, as I understand, of $14,000
made by Congress for that purpose.
On Thursday I directed Colonel Phelps, of the Vermont regiment, to make a reconnaissance in force in Hampton and its
neighborhood within two miles of the fort, in order to examine its capabilities for en- camping the troops about to arrive,
and at the same time I made personal examination of the ground, Colonel De Hussy being of opinion that the wood
suggested by the Lieutenant-General might be a little unhealthy, and I was farther determined upon encamping in this
direction by considerations of probable advances in this direction, to which Twill take leave to call your attention soon.
The rebels upon our approach attempted to burn the bridge over Hampton Creek, but the fire was promptly extinguished
by the Vermonters, assisted by the citizens. Colonel Phelps passed into the village of Hampton, and found only a few
citizens, who professed to be watching their negroes, in which occupation I have not as yet disturbed them. I therefore
encamped Colonel Phelps Vermont regiment and Colonel Carrs New York regiment on the point of land just above the
spring, about half way between Fort Monroe and Hampton.
Saturday, May 25.I had written thus far when I was called away to meet Major Cary, of the active Virginia volunteers,
upon questions which have arisen of very considerable importance both in a military and political aspect, and which I
beg leave to submit herewith.
On Thursday night, three negroes, field hands, belonging to Col. Charles Mallory, now in command of the secession
forces in this district, delivered themselves up to my picket guard, and, as I learned from the report of the officer of the
guard in the morning, had been detained by him. I immediately gave personal attention to the matter, and found
satisfactory evidence that these men were about to be taken to Carolina for the purpose of aiding the secession forces
there; that two of them left wives and children (one a free woman) here; that the other had left his master from fear that
he would be called upon to take part in the rebel armies. Satisfied of these facts from cautious examination of each of
the negroes apart from the others, I determined for the present, and until better advised, as these men were very
service-able, and I had great need of labor in my quartermasters department, to avail myself of their services, and that I
would send a receipt to Colonel Mallory that I had so taken them, as I would for any other property of a private citizen
which the exigencies of the service seemed require to be taken by me, and especially property that was designed,
adapted, and about to be used against the United States.
As this is but an individual instance in a course of policy which may be required to be pursued with regard to this species
of property, I have detailed to the Lieutenant-General this case, and ask his direction. II am credibly informed that the
negroes in this neighborhood are now being employed in the erection of batteries and other works by the rebels, which
it would be nearly or quite impossible to construct without their labor. Shall they be allowed the use of this property
against the United States, and we not be allowed its use in aid of the United States?
Major Cary, upon my interview with him, which took place between this fort and Hampton, desired information upon
several questions: First. Whether I would permit the removal through the blockade of the families of all persons who
desired to pass southward or northward. In reply to this, I informed him that I could not permit such removal, for the
reasons, first, that presence of the families of belligerents in a country was always the best hostage for the good
behavior of the citizens; and, secondly, that one object of our blockade being to prevent the passage of supplies of
provisions into Virginia so long as she remained in a hostile attitude, the reduction of the number of consumers would in
so far tend to neutralize that effect.
He also desired to know if the transit of persons and families northward from Virginia would be permitted. I answered him
that with the exception of an interruption at Baltimore there was no interruption of the travel of peaceable persons north
of the Potomac, and that all the internal lines of travel through Virginia were at present in the hands of his friends, and
that it depended upon them whether that line of travel was interrupted, and that the authorities at Washington could
better judge of this question than myself, as necessary travel could go byway of Washington; that the passage through
our blockading squadron would require an amount of labor and surveillance to prevent abuse which I did not conceive I
ought to be called upon to perform.
Major Cary demanded to know with regard to the negroes what course I intended to pursue. I answered him substantially
as I have written above, when he desired to know if I did not feel myself bound by my constitutional obligations to deliver
up fugitives under the fugitive-slave act. To this I replied that the fugitive-slave act did not affect a foreign country, which
Virginia claimed to be, and that she must reckon it one of the infelicities of her position that in so far at least she was
taken at her word; that in Maryland, a loyal State, fugitives from service had been returned, and that even now, although
so much pressed by my necessities for the use of these men of Colonel Mallorys, yet if their master would come to the
fort and take the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States I would deliver the men up to him and
endeavor to hire their services of him if he desired to part with them. To this Major Cary responded that Colonel Mallory
This morning the steamer Alabama arrived, having on board Colonel Duryeas regiment of New York, 850 strong, fully
equipped. I have caused them to be landed and encamped with the First Vermont. The steamer Pembroke, from
Massachusetts, has arrived, having two unattached companies one of rifies and the other of infantry, 101 men each,
and without equipage so that now the actual number of men ready for service may be set down at 4,400, but not very
efficient, some being quite new recruits and others not fully equipped, two regiments being wholly without tents.
The rebels have built a very strong battery on Sewells Point, at the entrance of Elizabeth River, about four miles from
this post, and about two and one-half miles from the Rip raps, or Fort Calhoun, and sup- ported in the rear, at the
distance of about a mile across Tanners Creek by the rebel forces gathered about there, amounting, as nearly as I can
ascertain, to some 3,000 or 4,000 men, it being understood from the attack of the Monticello on Sunday last that I
intended to menace Norfolk in that direction. Of course I had not at my disposal any force sufficient to make such an
attack and carry this battery with any hope of holding possession of it should it be taken. I had determined, how- ever,
upon consultation with Commodore Stringham, to engage the battery with the naval force, and to endeavor, under the
cover of their fire, to land and at least destroy the guns and works, and such plan was arranged for this morning; but
yesterday Commodore Stringhain received orders from the Navy Department to sail at once for Charleston, so that our
expedition was disorganized. As we had no sufficient force to make such an attack in the absence of the flag-ship
Minnesota and her guns at long range as would give the movement that assurance of success which I understand you
desire should seem to attend our operations, it has been abandoned. I have, however, directed Colonel De iRussy to
prepare to put some guns of long range upon the Ripraps, so as to prevent any further approach towards us from
Sewells Point or Willoughbys Spit.
In this connection I beg leave to suggest to the Lieutenant-General the necessity in coast operations for say fifty surf-
boats, of such construction as he caused to be prepared for the landing at Vera Cruz, the adaptation and efficiency of
which have passed into history. May I respectfully request and urge that such a flotilla be furnished for coast operations.
I have learned that the enemy are about to fortify a point at Newport News, about eleven miles from this place, at the
mouth of the James River, and on the northerly side of it. They have already a battery at Pig Point, on the southerly and
opposite side of the river, which commands the Nansemond River. I think it of the last importance that we should occupy
Newport News, and I am now organizing an expedition consisting of two regiments for that purpose, unless I find
unexpected obstacles. I purpose this afternoon, in the steamer Yankee, to make a personal reconnaissance of that
point, and at once to occupy the same with that amount of force, intending to entrench there for the purpose of being in
possession and command of the entrance to the James River myself, and from that position, by the aid of the naval
force, to be in condition to threaten Craney Island and the approaches of Norfolk, and also to hold one of the
approaches to Richmond. By a march of nine miles, at farthest, I can support the post at Newport News; by the sea, in
two hours, I can afford it relief. There is water enough to permit the approach of the largest sized vessels indeed the
Lieutenant-General will recollect that Newport News Point was once counted upon as a naval depot instead of Norfolk.
Trusting that these dispositions and movements will meet the approval of the Lieutenant-General, and begging pardon
for the detailed length of this dispatch,
I have the honor to be, most respectfully, your obedient servant, BENJ. R BUTLER, Major- General, Commanding.
Expedition to and occupation of Newport News, Va. Reports of Adj. Gen. B. F. Butler, U. S. Army,
commanding Department of Virginia. HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA, May 27, 1861.
SIR: The expedition (of which I gave you information in my former dispatch) to Newport News got off in fine style this
morning about 7 o'clock. I have added to the expedition the Eighth New York Regiment, 780 strong, which came here on
board the Empire City on Sunday afternoon, and they proceeded without debarking. I also added two 6-pounder and
two 12-pounder guns, with a detachment of twenty-five men from Colonel Dimick's command, who are intended to act as
drill-masters to the volunteers in the exercise of the guns. My purpose is to entrench and hold that point, and ultimately
to mount a few heavy guns, which will command that channel of approach to James River.
Since I wrote my last dispatch the question in regard to slave property is becoming one of very serious magnitude. The
inhabitants of Virginia are using their negroes in the batteries, and are preparing to send their women and children
South. The escapes from them are very numerous, and a squad has come in this morning to my pickets, bringing with
them their women and children. Of course these cannot be dealt with upon the theory on which I designed to treat the
services of able-bodied men and women who might come within my lines, and of which I gave you a detailed account in
my last dispatch. I am in the utmost doubt what to do with this species of property. Up to this time I have had come within
my lines men and women with their children entire families each family belonging to the same owner. I have therefore
determined to employ, as I can do very profitably, the able-bodied persons in the party, issuing proper food for the
support of all, and charging against their services the expense of care and sustenance of the non-laborers, keeping a
strict and accurate account as well of the services as of the expenditures, having the worth of the services and the cost
of the expenditures determined by a board of survey, hereafter to be detailed. I know of no other manner in which to
dispose of this subject and the questions connected therewith. As a matter of property to the insurgents it will be of very
great moment, the number I now have amounting, as I am informed, to what in good times would be of the value of
$60,000. Twelve of these negroes, I am informed, have escaped from the erection of batteries on Sewells Point, which
this morning fired on my expedition as it passed by out of range. As a means of offense, therefore, in the enemy's
hands, these negroes, when able-bodied, are of the last importance. Without them the batteries could not have been
erected, at least for many weeks. As a military question, it would seem to be a measure of necessity to deprive their
masters of their services. How can this be done? As a political question and a question of humanity, can I receive the
services of the hither and mother and not take the children. Of the humanitarian aspect I have no doubt. Of the political
one I have no right to judge. I therefore submit all this to your better judgment; and as these questions have a political
aspect, I have ventured and I trust I am not wrong in so doing to duplicate the parts of my dispatches relating to this
subject, and forward them to the Secretary of War.
It was understood when I left Washington that the three Massachusetts regiments, two of which are at the Relay House,
should be forwarded to me here, and also Cooks light battery, of which I have the utmost need, if I am expected even to
occupy an extended camp with safety. May I ask the attention of the Commanding General to this subject, and inquire if
the exigencies of the service will permit these troops to be sent to me immediate] y 3 I have to report the arrival of no
more troops except the New York Eighth since my last dispatch. The steamship Wabash, which was expected here to
take the place of the Minnesota, has not yet reported herself. The Harriet Lane has reported herself here from
Charleston, and is employed in convoying the Newport News expedition. I find myself extremely short of ammunition,
having but a total in magazine of 85,000 rounds, of which 5,000 rounds only are for the smooth-bore musket, and the
major part of my command are provided with that arm. May I desire the attention of the Lieutenant-General to this state
of facts, and ask that a large amount of ammunition for that arm -- I would suggest "buck and ball" be ordered forward
from the Ordnance Department. The assistant adjutant-general has made a requisition for this purpose. I will endeavor
to keep the Lieutenant-General informed daily of any occurrences of interest, provided I am not interfered with by the
irregularity of the mails and modes of conveyance.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BENJ; F. BUTLER,
FROM FORT MONROE. Cleveland morning leader. Cleveland, Ohio, August 02, 1861
Old Point Comfort—Fort Monroe—Rip Raps —Sewall's, Point— Newport New— Floyd and Union Guns.
[From Our Special Correspondence.]
FORTRESS MONROE, July 29, 1861.
Old Point Comfort is familiar as a house hold word, but we think the name, a misnomer, for we never felt the rays of the
sun more severely than here, without a breeze to modify them.
Of the shape and position of Fort Monroe, the lithographs give a good idea. Its walls of stone are 25 feet high, with in
addition, tarf embankment of ten feet, on top of which that guns are mounted, en barbette, to the number of 100, .The
distance around the rampart Is one mile and a quarter,- which may give yon a tolerable idea of the area of the Fortress.
A moat, or ditch, 50 feet wide and 10 feet in depth, surrounds the Fort, which is commanded by its guns. , Outside of the
ditch, near the beach, is the water battery of 40 guns of large calibre. The celebrated Union Gun is to be mounted on
the beach within a stone's throw of this battery.
The Rip Raps are about three miles from the Fort and four from Sewall's Point. The work on the Rip Raps was
commenced in 1816, and the foundation tor the fortifications was formed by transporting a enormous quantity of stone,
and creating an artificial island, which Is now 900 feet long and 300 feet in width. The original work progressed for
twenty-five years, and was then "stopped by order of the Government. Upon examination, some four or five years since,
it was found the work had settled five feet; when It was decided to demolish it and commence anew, building the new
fortification of granite, and on a more scientific and approved plan. The present work is under the superintendence of
Col. De Ruse, of the U. S. Topographical Engineers, and when completed will be one of the strongest fortifications in the
world. The walls are eight feet thick, and will be sixty feet in height, and mount 300 runs. A breakwater will be
constructed connecting with the shore opposite, 2 miles in length, closing navigation on that side. The walls are now ten
feet high, and four columbiads are mounted, commanding the channel on the north east side, and or the pier on the
same side is the Sawyer gun. To the courtesy of Capt Leech, of Mass , who has charge here, we are indebted for
information in reference to the works.
There are fifteen Secession prisoners confined here, and they invariably bear testimony to the kind treatment received
since their arrival. None of these are from the rebel army.
The rebel batteries on Sewell's Point are not visible, being concealed in the bushes or masked. .
Newport News, ten miles from Fort Monroe, is situated at the mouth of James River, which leads to Richmond. Between
three and four hundred Federal troops are entrenched there, under command of Colonel Phelps. . The 7th New York,
Col. Bendix, Col. Allen's Regiment from Troy and Albany, and a Zouave Regiment, comprise the forces within the
entrenchments. Two men of-war blockade the river at Newport News, and five or six at Fort Monroe. The Floyd gun was
dismounted last week to make way for the Union gun, which will be mounted in its place the last of this or first of next
week. To give you an idea of the immense proportions of the monster Union gun, I give you its dimensions: It is fifteen
feet in length: diameter at the breech, twelve feet, or thirty six feet in circumference; and two feet in diameter at the
mussle, or six feet in circumference. The bore of the gun is one foot in diameter, and has twenty-one grooves Its weight
is 52.000 lbs , and it is calculated to carry a ball or shell seven miles. The Floyd is 18 feet in length, and weighs 48,000
lbs., , .Both of them are constructed after the Dohigreen pattern. The Floyd is the larger bore of the two, and is not
The blockading forces are on the look out for a couple of steel clad steamers from Richmond, who are hourly expected
with the intention of running the blockade. A warm reception awaits them if they attempt it.
The Federal troops are in good spirit and for the rebels, and anxious to treat them to a little cannonical law.
August 6, 1861 - With the First Confiscation Act, the U.S. Congress sustains Fort Monroe commander Benjamin F.
Butler's "contraband of war" decision. It declares that any slave used for military purposes against the United States can
August 17, 1861 - Union general John E. Wool, an experienced regular officer, is given command of Fort Monroe.
Benjamin F. Butler is assigned to command the volunteer regiments outside of the fort.
March 1862 - Steamers arrive from Washington, D.C., and deliver the elements of Union general George B. McClellan's
Army of the Potomac to Fort Monroe; the installation becomes the staging area for his ill-fated Peninsula Campaign of
March 8, 1862 - At the Battle of Hampton Roads, the ironclad CSS Virginia experiences combat for the first time at the
mouth of the James River at Hampton Roads, where it meets several wooden warships of the Union's North Atlantic
Blockading Squadron, sinking one and damaging several others.
March 9, 1862 - The CSS Virginia engages with the Union's ironclad, the USS Monitor, at the mouth of the James River.
The battle lasts for more than four hours. While neither ship gains a decisive advantage, it is a strategic victory for the
Union because the Virginia is unable to destroy any more of the Union's wooden fleet.
Monitor and Merrimac (The evening Argus,Rock Island, Ill., March 10, 1862)
Fort Monroe, 9. The long expected Confederate steamer Merrimac made her appearance, and yesterday p. m., with the
assistance of two gunboats which came out with her from Norfolk, made an attack upon Newport News, and the naval
vessels stationed at that place.
The Merrimac was first seen from the ramparts of Fortress Monroe, on her way to Newport News, at about a quarter
before 1 o'clock. Two rebel gunboats followed her. They all carried a rebel Hag at the stern and had a French Flag at
the mast head.
The Merrimac had a flag at her bows, which was described by some as a commodore's blue flag, and by others a black
The sides, bows and stern of the Merrimac were covered with sloping iron plates, extending about two feet below the
water line, and meeting above like the roof of a house. On her bows on the water line, are two sharp iron points
resembling plows, about 6 or 7 feet apart.
The number of guns is stated at 12, but she might not have had so many. At her bows were seen two guns projecting
from long eliptical port holes.
The design of the enemy did not become apparent till between 1 and 2 o'clock, and by that time the Minnesota had got
under way to the scene of action.
The Roanoke, the flag ship, being disabled by the breaking of her shaft some time since, was taken in tow by the
About the same time the alarm was fired at Fort Monroe, and the whole garrison promptly turned out.
The rebel boats steadily pursued their way to Newport News, and the Merrimac soon turned the point and was lost to
view from the fortress.
The first shot was fired from the frigate Cumberland at a little past 2 o'clock.
The Sewell's Point battery then opened on the Minnesota, which was passing, and the Sawyer gun from the Rip Raps
replied with a few shots at Sewall's Point.
A thick smoke was soon seen to rise above Newport News, indicating that the battery there as well as the Cumberland
and Congress were engaged.
The details of the action could not be seen from the fort, but a telegraph dispatch was received announcing that the
Cumberland and Merrimac were in close quarters.
After firing 2 guns at the Cumberland, the Merrimac struck her, her sharp bows making a hole in her at the water line 7
feet in extent.
The Cumberland commenced sinking, when the Merrimac backed a short distance, ran into her a second time, making
another terrible hole, causing the water to run in at a furious rate. The Cumberland continued firing till the water entered
the port holes, when she careened over, slowly and finally sunk about three o'clock.
The Newport News batteries and the guns of the Cumberland fired continuously on the Merrimac, but no apparent effect
was produced upon her.
The Minnesota got aground on the way up and could afford but little assistance.
Shortly before three o'clock the Yorktown and Jamestown arrived from up the James River. The former was disabled
early in the afternoon, and put in shore for repairs.
After sinking the Cumberland, the Merrimac turned her attention to the Congress and in less than an hour after, a white
flag was hoisted on the Congress. A rebel gunboat went alongside, and took officers and marines prisoners, but the
seamen were allowed to escape to Newport News.
The frigate St. Lawrence arrived during the afternoon, and without dropping her anchor proceeded up the river, and
followed the example of the Minnesota and Roanoke in firing into Sewall's Point, but like the rest her shot fell short. The
gunboat Mystic was also towed up in the afternoon, but at sundown the Roauoke, St. Lawrence and Mystic retired.
The Merrimac continued to throw shells into the camp at Newport News, while the Jamestown and other rebel gunboats
commenced firing on the Minnesota. The latter replied as vigorously as possible, and the conflict was continued without
any apparent effect, until dark.
During the evening the Congress was set on fire. At midnight she was blown up, making a terrible explosion.
During the evening the Monitor arrived and at once proceeded to take part in the action.
During the night only an occasional gun was fired.
Reinforcements of men and ammunition were sent to Newport News early in the afternoon.
But little serious damage was done and no one was killed at Newport News.
This morning the conflict was renewed until the presence of the Monitor was known to the Merrimac while the latter was
engaged with the Minnesota, and but for the fortunate appearance of the Monitor the Minnesota might have been lost.
The Monitor and Merrimac engaged each other for two or three hours at long and short range, without preciptible effect
upon either. They went along side of each other once or twice, and seemed almost to run each other down, but they
soon appeared again to renew the action.
The Ericson battery finally succeeded in forcing a long hole in the port side of the Merrimac, and she retired with the
whole rebel fleet to Norfolk at about 1 o'clock.
The gunboat Oregon was struck by the Merrimac in her boiler, and was blown up this morning.
The United States gunboat Zouave was also seriously damaged, and was obliged to return.
The principal loss of lives was on board the Cumberland.
It is thought that as many as 150 of her crew must have been killed or drowned.
But six lives were lost on board the Minnesota, according to the report of one of her officers.
A rebel gunboat was cut in two yesterday by the Cumberland.
The Merrimac is understood to have been commanded by Com. Buchanan, late of the navy yard.
May 9, 1862 - Union forces under John E. Wool defeat Confederates under Benjamin Huger and wrest Norfolk from
Confederate control. Mayor William W. Lamb surrenders the city and, effectively, the James River. U.S. president
Abraham Lincoln visits Fort Monroe, urging firm action by the Union army and navy.
LATEST TELEGRAPHIC NEWS. BIG VICTORIES! The Emporia news. Emporia, Kan., May 17, 1862,
Great Naval Engagement!
TWO REBEL GUNBOATS SUNK
SURRENDER OF PORTSMOUTH!
BATTLE AT WILLIAMSBURG !
MERRIMAC BLOWN UP ! !
Cairo, May 11.
The desperation of the rebel cause culminated yesterday in an attack on the flotilla by the rebel fleet from Fort Wright.
At six on Saturday morning the rebel ram Louisiana rounded the point, accompanied by four gunboats, and immediately
opened fire on the gunboat Cincinnati, which was stationed in the advance. The rebel boats were held in check by the
vigorous fire of the Cincinnati alone, until the Federal fleet came to her assistance. In the meantime the rebel ram,
finding her guns ineffectual against the iron armor of the Cincinnati, approached with the evident intention of running
her down. Captain Stembel, of the latter, prepared to meet the assault by putting steam batteries in readiness for use,
and - as the ram approached within close range, the Cincinnati turned her head about, causing the ram to run along
side, when Capt. Stembel drew his pistol and shot the pilot of the ram through the head. At this time the contest was
intensely exciting. The crews of each boat were armed with cutlasses, carbines and boarding pikes, and charging volley
after volley in quick succession. Just then the steam batteries of the Cincinnati opened with terrible effect, throwing
volumes of steam and scalding water into the midst of the rebel crew, placing all who appeared on deck hors du
combat, causing the craft to withdraw hastily. In the mean time the rebel fleet had been reinforced by three other
vessels, among them the new iron clad Mallory, lately built at Memphis. These three immediately engaged the
Cincinnati. . She withstood the assault nobly, the shot of the enemy glancing from her iron plating without causing
the least damage, while her own guns were pouring shot and shell into the enemy with fearful effect. During the
engagement the Mallory approached the Cincinnati with the design of accomplishing what the ram failed to do. As she
came in close proximity the Federal gunboat St. Louis bore down upon her with a full head of steam on, struck her
amidship, cutting her nearly in two and causing her sink in a few moments. While this work was in progress." the other
boats of our fleet engaged the remainder of the rebel fleet. A most terrific battle raged. Report followed report in
continued roar. Dense volumes or smoke covered the broad river for a time, completely enveloping both fleets. At this
time a report louder than usual attracted general attention. When the smoke lifted a little, it was found that one of the
enemy's boats bad been blown to atoms. Scarcely had the excitement caused by this event passed when a second like
report was heard, and another rebel boat with her crew disappeared. Both vessels were blown up by the shells from our
guns in their magazines. Under cover of the dense smoke the remainder of the rebel fleet retired at twenty minutes past
seven, the fight having lasted but little over an hour. The Cincinnati bore the brunt of the battle, and was so little
damaged that 24 hours will fit her for action. The St. Louis, that ran down the Mallory, is slightly damaged, and is again
ready for duty. No other of our boats was injured in the slightest degree. The loss of life on either side is not ascertained.
Fort Monroe, May 11.
Norfolk is ours: also Portsmouth and the Navy Yard.
Gen.. Wool, with a force of 5.000, crossed to Willoughby Point Friday night, effected a landing this morning, and
commenced their march on Norfolk, five miles from the landing. The rebel battery was stationed on the opposite side of
the creek. After a few shots the rebels, retreated, after burning the bridge, which compelled the Federal troops to march
five miles further. At five o'clock in the afternoon, within a short distance of the city of Norfolk, our forces were met by the
citizens, who formally surrendered the city. Our troops marched in and now hold possession. Gen. Viele commands
as military Governor. Neither city nor .Navy Yard was burned. Gen.Huger, commanding the rebel forces, withdrew with
out a fight.
The Merrimac was blown up by the rebels at five o'clock this morning.
The Monitor and Naugatuck gunboats have gone to Norfolk.
June 2, 1862 - When the aging Union general John E. Wool is reassigned, command of Fort Monroe and the
Department of Virginia is given to John A. Dix, one of Abraham Lincoln's politically appointed generals.
April 11, 1863 - Commanding two divisions of infantry, Confederate general James Longstreet lays siege to Suffolk,
Virginia, hoping to reclaim the town and threaten Norfolk. His troops are resisted by Union forces under the command of
Major General John J. Peck.
May 4, 1863 - Confederate troops under James Longstreet, which have laid siege to Suffolk, Virginia since April 11,
retreat north to join the main body of the Army of Northern Virginia.
July 15, 1863 - Union general John G. Foster takes command of Fort Monroe, and the Union Departments of Virginia
and North Carolina are united.
April 28, 1864 - Military attention refocuses on Fort Monroe when the Union Army of the James, with Benjamin F. Butler
as commander, is formed. It will use Fort Monroe as a launching pad for moving against its twin objectives of Richmond
and Petersburg in the war's final year.
February 3, 1865 - Aboard the River Queen, anchored near Fort Monroe, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and
secretary of state William Seward meet with Confederate representatives to discuss the possibility of peace. The only
agreement the parties reach in the Hampton Roads Peace Conference is to continue the war.
April 17, 1865 - Samuel Arnold, one of the conspirators in the original plot to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, is arrested at Fort
Monroe. When the scheme failed, Arnold left Washington and obtained employment with a sutler at Fort Monroe. He is
sentenced to prison on the Dry Tortugas and pardoned in 1869.
Samuel Arnold Describes Trip to Ft. Jefferson (1902)
The military commission had fulfilled its mission: the death of Abraham Lincoln had been avenged, the public cry for
vengeance had been appeased, and the long drawn out trial, which for two months had heaped fuel to the fire to add to
the public excitement, passed out of existence and the nation at large became pacified.
The midnight hour, which had been set apart for removal in every instance, was again resorted to, and we were silently
marched, double-ironed, to a steamboat lying in the Potomac moored at a wharf. Each side of the wharf was lined with
armed sentinels and soldiers, as we emerged from our prison gates, and as we passed between them on the way to the
boat our clanking irons in the solemn midnight seeming to pierce the vaults of heaven, crying out to the living God for
vengeance on those who had traduced, defamed and victimized us, to satiate the public cry for revenge.
On arrival on board the steamer which was in waiting to receive us we were swiftly conveyed down the river, to what
destination was unknown. On the afternoon of July 18 we arrived at Fortress Monroe, when we were transferred from
the steamer to a small tugboat, thence, under heavy guard, to the gunboat Florida, Captain Budd commanding. The
irons had been removed temporarily from our wrists, and shackled about our feet we were compelled to ascend the
ladder to the deck of the gunboat, where the entire crew of seamen stood about gazing in mute wonder. On landing
upon the deck of the gunboat, Capt. William H. Dutton, in charge of the guard, directed that the Lilly irons be replaced
upon our wrists. They had been placed upon Spangler and I, when the order of Captain Dutton was countermanded by
General Dodd, and the irons were removed.
No sooner were we upon the gunboat than we were ordered into the lower hold of the vessel. It required, in our shackled
condition, the greatest care to safely reach there, owing to the limited space, eight inches of chain being allowed
between our ankles. After leaving the second deck we were forced to descend upon a ladder whose rounds were distant
so far apart that the chains bruised and lacerated the flesh and even the bone of the ankles. We remained in the
sweltering hole during the night in an atmosphere pregnant with disagreeable odors, arising from various articles of
subsistence stored within, and about 8 o'clock next morning we passed through another ordeal in our ascent to the
deck, which was attended with more pain than the descent, owing to the raw condition of our wounds.
All intercourse with the crew was prohibited, guards being stationed around us, and we were not permitted to move
without being accompanied by an armed marine. Subsistence of the grossest kind was issued, in the shape of fat salt
pork and hard-tack. We remained on deck during the day, closely watching, as far as we were able, the steering of the
vessel by the sun, and found we were steaming due South. The course was unchanged the next day and I began to
suspect that fatal isle, the Dry Tortugas, was our destined home of the future.
From this time out we remained on deck, our beds being brought up at night and taken between decks in the morning.
Arriving off Hilton Head, S.C., and whilst lying in port, we were informed by General Dodd that he was sailing under
sealed orders, but as soon as we left the port he would announce our destination. We remained there during the night,
having received some guests on board, and the officers amused themselves with dancing and carousing. About 12
o'clock in the day we were informed that the Dry Tortugas was our destination. Of it I had no idea beyond that gathered
through the columns of the press, in which it had been depicted as a perfect hell, which fact was duly established by
imprisonment on its limited space. After the second day on the ocean the irons were removed from our feet during the
day, but replaced at night, and we were permitted from this day out the privilege of being on deck on account of the
oppressive heat of the climate, where we could catch the cool sea breeze as it swept across the deck in the ship's
onward track over the bounding ocean.
Arnold died on September 21, 1906. He is buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. The only
conspirator who survived with him was John Surratt.
The Health of Mr. Davis (The tri-weekly news. Winnsboro, S.C., August 03, 1865)
Fortress Monroe, July 25.
For the first time since Jeff. Davis' imprisonment, He was allowed to take a walk last evening, attended by a strong guard
inside the Fortress. It is understood that this privilege is to be allowed him daily, for the future. Those who saw him
informed your correspondent that he looked well, and appeared to enjoy his walk exceedingly.
May 10, 1866 - Former Confederate president Jefferson Davis is indicted for treason in the United States Circuit Court
for the District of Virginia.
May 13, 1867 - A bail bond of $100,000 for Jefferson Davis is posted and accepted; among those signing the bond are
Cornelius Vanderbilt, Horace Greeley, and Gerrit Smith, the radical abolitionist who helped to fund John Brown in 1859.
Davis is released and the indictments for treason are dismissed.
Jefferson Davis. (The Camden weekly journal. Camden, S.C., April 27, 1866)
Fortress Monroe, April 7.1866
It has been confidently whispered here, today, that it is in contemplation to effect the removal from here to Richmond of
Jeff. Davis on a writ of habeas corpus. If the late proclamation of the President will admit of such a step being taken,
there can be no doubt of the readiness of plenty to make the effort. It asserted that the Government would throw no
serious obstacle in the way of accomplishing such a result. By this step, the Government, it is insisted, would rid itself of
a responsibility it is more anxious than otherwise to get rid of or, in other words, become relieved of the care and
custody of what has come to be regarded as a very considerable elephant. Of course this is merest rumor and
assertion, founded on belief, having, possibly, no foundation whatever in fact. A strong coloring, however, is given to
the rumor by arrival this morning, of Dr. Craven, former post surgeon, and, for months, the well-known medical attendant
and adviser of Jeff. Davis. It will be remembered that it was through Dr. Craven's influence Mr. Davis was allowed
exercise, and through this, and his removal from the damp and unwholesome casemate he had been occupying to
Carroll Hall, the saving of his life to such a very low physical condition had he been reduced by his close confinement
and the treatment he had received is generally and freely accredited. It is also known that since going;from here Dr.
Craven has spared no influence in his power to have Mr. Davis brought to trial, if tor no other reason, to bring his
imprisonment to a close, already protracted nearly a year, and thereby not only settle the vexed question as to what
shall be done with him, but unquestionably prolong his life. Justice requires it to be stated In taking such an active
course on Mr. Davis' behalf, Dr. Craven has not been, and is not, actuated by any sympathy for the rebellion, or its
acknowledged head and front in the person of Mr. Davis. His action has been instigated by motives of simple justice and
humanity toward his late distinguished patient. We shall soon see what will become of it. In the meanwhile, the great ex-
rebel chieftain himself continues on the even tenor of his way, pretty much as for months past. His obdinate will and
intense pride of character have borne him up thus far; but there is an end to human endurance, and the words, ''I.
breathe and I can bear," of Byron, must merge into a poetic fiction. It is becoming thus with Davis. An officer told me,
today, that he felt sure he would not live the summer out if kept in prison.
* * *
After two years of imprisonment, Davis was released on bail of $100,000, which was posted by prominent citizens
including Horace Greeley, Cornelius Vanderbilt and Gerrit Smith. Davis went to Montreal, Canada to join his family which
had fled there earlier, and lived in Lennoxville, Quebec until 1868 also visiting Cuba, and Europe in search of work.
Davis remained under indictment until he was released from all liability by the presidential amnesty issued by Johnson
on December 25, 1868. He died at age 81 at 12:45 a.m. on Friday, December 6, 1889.
National Monument Designation
THE PRESIDENT: Well, one of the great pleasures of this job, but also one of my responsibilities, is making sure that we
are preserving our nation’s treasures so that they can be enjoyed by our children, our grandchildren, our great-
grandchildren. And over the years, over 100 sites have been set aside as national monuments -- everything from the
Statue of Liberty to the Grand Canyon.
So today, I am continuing that proud tradition by adding another monument to the list: Fort Monroe in Hampton,
Virginia, has played a remarkable role in the history of our nation. It was the site of the first slave ships to land in the
New World. But then in the Civil War, almost 250 years later, Fort Monroe also became a refuge for slaves that were
escaping from the South, and helped to create the environment in which Abraham Lincoln was able to sign that
document up there -- the Emancipation Proclamation.
In September, Fort Monroe closed its doors as a military base. But thanks to advocacy of some outstanding citizens and
historians and elected officials who are represented here, as well as the great work of our Department of the Interior and
Ken Salazar and the -- all the people who have been involved in making this day possible, we are going to continue this
legacy, making Fort Monroe a national monument.
This is going to give an opportunity for people from all across the country to travel to Fort Monroe and trace the history
that has been so important to making America what it is. It’s also going to be an incredibly important economic boost to
the region. Local officials estimate that this may end up creating as many as 3,000 jobs in the region. It will add millions
of dollars to the local economy in and around Hampton. And so this is a win-win. Not only is it good for the people of
that region now, but it also allows us to set aside this incredibly important site for the enjoyment and appreciation of
generations to come.
So I want to thank everybody who’s here for the great work that they’ve done. I am looking forward to not only visiting
myself but also taking Malia and Sasha down there so they can get a little bit of sense of their history. And I thank the
Commonwealth of Virginia for giving us this opportunity to appreciate the remarkable history of their state but also of this
So with that, I’m going to sign this bill -- or executive order.
|President James Monroe
(April 28, 1758-July 4, 1831)
(5th President of the United States 1817-1825)
|General Simon Bernard
(April 28, 1779 - November 5, 1839)
|Chief Black Hawk
(1767 – October 3, 1838)
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Clarkesville Chronicle, August 16, 1861
Distances around Norfolk.
As a matter of convenient reference, we publish the following
table of air line distances between the most Important points In
this neighborhood. The measurements are mathematically
accurate, being the results of careful triangulation. If we have
any captious readers, they must not suppose we are giving the
enemy information; 'for we cull the items from the charts of the
Coast Survey, hundreds of which are among the archives of the
Federal Baboon himself: .
From Norfolk to Fort Monroe (air line), 11
From Norfolk to Newport News, 10 3/4
From Norfolk to Sewell's Point, 7
From Norfolk to Ocean View, 7 1/2
From Norfolk to Sandy Point, 4 3/4
From Norfolk to Big Point, 8 1/2
From Norfolk to Boush's Bluff, 4 3/4
From Norfolk to Craney Island, 4
From Norfolk to Lambert's Point, 2 1/2
From Norfolk to Naval Hospital Point, 3/8
From Norfolk to Hampton, 12 1/2
From Norfolk to Rip Raps, 10
From Norfolk to Willoughby Point, 8 1/2
Craney Island to Newport News, 6
Craney Island to Fort Monroe, 8
Craney Island to Rip Rap, 7
Craney Island to Pig Point, 4
Craney Island to Sewell's Point, 4 1/2
Craney Island to Boush's Bluff, 2
Craney Island to Naval Hospital Point, 3 1/2
Fort Monroe to Mill Creek Bridge, 6 1/2
Fort Monroe to Rip Raps, 1
Fort Monroe to Hampton, 2 1/4
Fort Monroe to Willoughhy Point, 2 1/2
Fort Monroe to Sewell's Point, 4
Fort Monroe to Newport News, 6 1/2
Fort Monroe to Sandy Point, 6 3/4
Fort Monroe to Craney Island, 8
Fort Monroe to Pig Point, 9 1/4
Sewell's Point to Willonghby Point 2
Sewell's Point to Boush's Bluff, 2 1/2
Sewell's Point to Rip Raps, 3
Sewell;s Point to Battery to Rip Raps, 3 1/2
Sewell's Point to Newport News, 5
Sewell's Point to Hampton, 5 1/2
Newport's News to Boush's Bluff, 6
Newport! Newt to Hampton, 5
Newport's News to Willoughby Point, 6 1/2
Willoughby Point to Rip Raps, 1
Willoughby Point to Fort Monroe, 2 1/2
Willoughby Point to Hampton 5
Naval Hospital Point to Boush's Bluff, 4 1/2
Sandy Point to Camp Talbot, 2
Distance of the Sawyer gun experiment. Norfolk Argus.
|Sinking of the Cumberland
|Battle of the Monitor and the Merrimac
|Destruction of the Merrimac
|President Obama signs executive order giving
National Monument Designation to Fort Monroe