Battle of Williamsburg
The Battle of Williamsburg (also referred to as The Battle of Fort Magruder) was the first major battle in the Peninsula Campaign during the American Civil War, taking place in York County, James City County and Williamsburg, Virginia on May 5, 1862. The Peninsula Campaign was a Union initiative that took place between March and July of 1862. Confederate forces had constructed a line of earthworks from Jamestown on the south of the Peninsula toward Yorktown on the north to guard against the Union forces still holding Fort Monroe at the tip of the Peninsula. The purpose of the campaign was for Union soldiers to position themselves to seize the Confederate capital, Richmond.
During the battle, General George McClellan’s 41,000 Union soldiers engaged General Joseph E. Johnston’s 32,000 Confederates. The Union troops attacked at Fort Magruder, not far from Bassett Hall, and the battle resulted in a combined 3,843 casualties. Familiar buildings across town like Bruton Parish Church and the College of William & Mary were used as hospitals to nurse wounded soldiers. The battle ended with an inconclusive result and Confederate withdrawal. Williamsburg remained a Union occupied town for the remainder of the war. Shortly after the Battle of Williamsburg Union General George Armstrong Custer stayed as a guest at Bassett Hall for the wedding of his friend, Confederate officer John W. Lea. Lea had stayed there to recuperate from his wounds and was to be married to one of the daughters of the Hall’s owner.
150th Anniversary of The Battle of Williamsburg
This year marks the 150th Anniversary of The Battle of Williamsburg. Celebrate with us in Williamsburg, Virginia May 3-6, 2012 with great sesquicentennial events. See what it was like to live during the Civil War when Colonial Williamsburg is transformed into a battle site. Special lectures, tours, music, and demonstrations also mark this exciting occasion. We hope to see you there!