Henrico County VA
History

Commemorating the end of Civil War and slavery


It was the night they drove old Dixie down, and the American Civil War came to a close.

After four years of bloody fighting, the war that had torn apart the United States and Virginia finally reached its conclusion in the commonwealth. In one of the most eventful and fateful months in American history, April 1865 would see the fall of Richmond to Union troops, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the end of the Confederacy, the Civil War and slavery.

Now, 150 years later, the sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War is reaching its own closing days in Richmond and across the state. Virginians are once more reflecting on the end of the war and how it shaped the state’s history and culture even to this day.

Shots from the past


More than 1,000 reenactors – and thousands more spectators – filled Runnymede in Varina today for the first day of a two-day commemoration of the Battle of New Market Heights, which took place Sept. 29-30, 1864.

The battle was a significant one because it marked the first time black soldiers had been empowered by the Union to play a significant role, and they responded by helping deliver a victory. Fourteen of the 18 Medals of Honor awarded to black soldiers during the war were given for efforts at New Market Heights.

The battle was another nail in the coffin of the Confederacy, which would surrender the following April to end the war.

Unexploded Civil War artillery shell discovered at Fort Harrison

Staff members at Richmond National Battlefield Park discovered an unexploded artillery shell within the moat of a Confederate fortification known as Fort Gilmer in the park’s Fort Harrison Battlefield unit Sept. 22. The site was being cleared in preparation for an interpretive tour of Fort Gilmer scheduled for the 150th anniversary of the fighting there, which will be held Sept. 29.

The park’s resource protection rangers responded and with the assistance of the park historian, determined that it was a live cannonball with an intact fuse. Park officials contacted the Henrico Police Bomb Disposal Team, which responded. A 500-foot safety perimeter was established and the shell was safely removed and destroyed at the county’s firing range.

Newly discovered Civil War photos show Henrico battlefield


Henrico County’s commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle of New Market Heights will take place on a grand scale later this month, but the public gained new insight into local battle sites last week.

Newly discovered historic photos showing troops at Fort Harrison and Petersburg were unveiled publicly for the first time by the National Park Service Sept. 13 at the Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs.

NPS ranger and historian Mike Gorman presented an overview of the Richmond-Petersburg campaign using the photographs, taken in 1864 and 1865.

Battle of New Market Heights reenactment set for Sept. 27-28


Henrico County will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights — a battle significant for the role played by African-American soldiers serving in the U.S. Colored Troops — with reenactments and living history exhibits Sept. 27-28. Descendants of some of the soldiers will be recognized as part of the activities.

The event will be held at the Runnymede property adjacent to the Malvern Hill site of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, 8750 Willis Church Road, located between Darbytown Road and Route 5/New Market Road. Gates open at 9 a.m.

Admission and parking are free. Handicapped parking will be available at the site. Other visitors will be directed to off-site parking and then shuttled to the event.

‘Theirs by the sword’


Next month, Henrico could play host to as many as 1,000 reenactors and 5,000 tourists and spectators from across the country, as history buffs and heritage-seekers visit Henrico for one of the most highly anticipated commemorations of the Civil War sesquicentennial. To mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights, reenactors will stage a re-creation of the historic conflict, complete with presentations by historians and accompanied by educational programs and live concerts of period music.

Among the spectators sure to be looking on with more than casual interest is James S. "Jimmy" Price, author of a book about the battle published in 2011, and a former employee of Henrico Recreation and Parks.

Henricus celebrates Publick Days

Godspeed, the 17th-century ship replica from Jamestown Settlement, made its way up the James River Sept. 20 to dock at Henricus Historical Park for the annual "Publick Days" celebration commemorating Henricus' 1611 founding. On the eve of Publick Days, Henricus supporters gathered to welcome the Godspeed and mark the occasion with Emeritus Founding Members (pictured with Henricus staff and event sponsors from BB&T; seated, from left): Hobson Goddin, Judge Ernest P. Gates, John Taylor, J.E. Causey Davis, and Pauline Mitchell.

National Park Service to host 149th anniversary programs at Fort Harrison

Richmond National Battlefield Park will present living history and ranger-led programs at Fort Harrison in Henrico County Sept. 28-29 in commemoration of the 149th anniversary of Civil War fighting at New Market Heights, Fort Harrison and Fort Gilmer.

Volunteers portraying Union and Confederate infantry and artillery units will provide cannon and rifle firing demonstrations, while Park Service historians will provide tours of the fort, a key site involved in fighting at Chaffin’s Farm on Sept. 29-30, 1864.

Historical Society honors 3 from Henrico

At a luncheon in July, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) presented awards to 11 individuals – including three Henrico residents – and one group who have made significant contributions to research, education, and the mission of the society.

VHS honored Henrico residents Donald Tobias with the Patricia Rodman and Martin Kirwan King Volunteer Award; Johnnie Taggart with the Howson W. Cole Award; and Paulette Schwarting with the President’s Award for Excellence.

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