Bermuda Hundred

26 03 2007

Federal lines at Bermuda Hundred, 1864Bermuda Hundred, the oldest incorporated English town in North America, has finally been designated a historic area by the United States Government.  Bermuda Hundred is located in Chesterfield County on the James River and looks out over the James towards Charles City County and Shirley Plantation.  Bermuda Hundred was so named (even though it wasn’t exactly describe in the Time-Dispatch article) because the group of settlers headed for Virginia were wrecked for a while in Bermuda.  When they finally landed in present day Chesterfield, the area they landed in reminded them of Bermuda with the open flat land, the tall grasses, etc.  Bermuda Hundred was a thriving port since it is on deep water.  Ocean going ships could come up to Bermuda Hundred and supply the plantations and farms before moving on to Richmond.

The Civil War found Bermuda Hundred in its cross-hairs, the Federal ironclad USS Monitorsailed past Bermuda Hundred on its way to Drewry’s Bluff for the battle in May, 1862.  In 1864, General Butler and his Army of the James landed at Bermuda Hundred at what was the largest amphibious landing of United States Troops until the landing at Normandy in 1944.  The battles that took place in Bermuda Hundred are so numerous that in the 1930s when the National Park Service was taking over the Richmond Battlefields, they planned to incorporate all or as much as possible of the land that is east of Jefferson Davis Highway (US 1 & 301) to the where the James and Appomattox Rivers converge.  That’s a lot of real estate.  Unfortunately it was also during the Great Depression so the plans were never realized.  There are today protected sites scattered throughout eastern Chesterfield County.  But even going back further, there was a Revolutionary War naval battle just upriver from Bermuda Hundred at Obsornes (now an extinct village).  The Chesterfield County Historical Society is working to preserve what they can, with help from various groups and individuals.  The problem is the land is worth so much because it is the industrial area of the county.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article about Bermuda Hundred, but left out the Civil War part.  That article can be found here

Update March 29: The Chester Village News has published an article about Bermuda Hundred which can be found here.





Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

19 03 2007

those thrilling days of yesteryear.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear.  Well, yesteryear may certainly have been thrilling, but it was a rough time also.  1937 for instance, just 70 years ago the world was a much different place.  War loomed on the horizon as Nazi Germany began its march for global conquest.  The world was under grips of the Great Depression, the United States was going through dramatic social change thanks to FDR’s “New Deal”.  But in spite of all that, it was the time of the greatest entertainment venue of the 20th Century.  For during this time was the Golden Age of Radio.  Old Time Radio as it’s called today was in its prime in the 1930s & 1940s.  Every evening families would gather around the radio to listen to Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Fibber McGee & Molly, George Burns and Gracie Allen or any number of drama shows, soap operas or even just music.  It wasn’t a simpler time, but a different time.  A time when you didn’t have the radio on just for noise, but at a set hour with the entire family.  Listening intently to President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chat” about the economic recovery or the European situation.  Keeping up with Jack Benny’s feud with Fred Allen, or listening to the Brooklyn Dodgers play the New York Giants.  For us today, when we think of this time, you may conjure up an image of the Waltons listening to the radio before they all went to bed and spent hours saying “goodnight”.  But that’s how things were, at-least I’ve been told.  Listening to these old shows is great, for it gives you an insight to culture of the 1930s, plus even after all these years, they’re still entertaining.  I mean, how could Orson Welles convince so many that the United States was under attack by Martians?  Amazing.  I’m posting some links that one can go online and listen to various shows.  www.otr.net features a wide variety of programs in Real Audio format.  Enjoy!





Battle of Williamsburg Reenactment

18 03 2007

Civil War at Endview PlantationThis weekend was the annual reenactment at Endview Plantation in Newport News.  The 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Williamsburg was the theme this year.  Going down today, the weather was blustery but clear.  The cold may have cut the attendance numbers a bit, but those putting on the event went on ahead and did an excellent job.  With reenactors dressed in period clothing, both military and civilians, it was a great look at life in 1862.  We were addressed by Major General John Bankhead Magruder (portrayed by Ron Furqueron) about the importance of the Virginia Peninsula and his efforts to keep at bay General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac which was disembarking ships at Fortress Monroe.  Learning how General Magruder deployed a series of Redoubts along several lines on the Peninsula plus how his request for more troops (he was outnumbered 10 to 1) was answered by the sending of General Joseph E. Johnson.  General Johnson took command and abandoned the Peninsula.  He took the Confederate Army west towards Richmond.  The Federal Army met up with the Confederates at Seven Pines/Fair Oaks (present day Richmond International Airport).  Following the talk by General Magruder, sutlers were open to sell their wares to reenactors and visitors alike.  At 2:00 pm the Battle of Williamsburg took place.  The half hour battle was extremely loud, but just a fraction of a fraction of the men, armament and noise that really took place 145 years ago.  Once the battle concluded, the army camps were open for visitors to walk around.  The men and woman who take part in the reenactment live as if in the 19th Century. No evidence of 21st century life was in sight.  This was another excellent Civil War Day done by Endview Plantation.    If you have the opportunity to tour Endview, make sure you do.  Plus check out Lee Hall Mansion and the other area Civil War battlefields.





Battery Dantzler Re-Dedication March 25

17 03 2007

Next Sunday, the Chester Station branch of the Sons of Confederate Veterans are holding a ceremony to officially re-dedicate Battery Dantzler Park.  This park which is owned by Chesterfield County and operated by the Chesterfield County Historical Society, was heavily damaged in 2003 when Hurricane Isabel hit the Richmond area.  Thanks to the work of the SCV Chester Station and local Boy Scouts, the park was cleaned up, repaired and new interpretive signs installed.  Battery Dantzler will soon appear on the Virginia Civil War Trails program literature if not already.Battery Dantzler, 1865

The ceremony at 3:00 pm March 25th will feature guest speaker John Quarstein, Director of the Virginia War Museum in Newport News and also in charge of all of Newport News’ historic properties (Lee Hall Mansion, Endview Plantation, Lee Hall Depot and other sites).  Mr. Quarstein is an excellent speaker having just presented a talk on General George B. McClellan at the Powhatan Civil War Round Table.  The Battery Dantzler Ceremony will again take place at 3:00 pm on Sunday, March 25th at Battery Dantzler Park in Chester, VA.  For more information go www.chesterstation.org.





Richmond Development

17 03 2007

new United States CourthouseRichmond City Watch has their March 2007 photo update available.  This a tremendous resource for develpment news in Richmond and surrounding areas.  You can register to be apart of the forums which cover a wide multitude of development projects from the new United States Courthouse (pictured left) to Centennial Tower or Rocketts Landing, or anything else.  The website URL is www.richmondcitywatch.com.





Star Trek XI – December 25, 2008

17 03 2007

December 25, 2008 is a long way off.  But it is a day that I am most looking forward to.  For this is the day that Star Trek’s eleventh movie debuts in theaters.  The now much anticipated movie being produced and directed by Lostcreator J.J. Abrams will be a historic event for the Star Trek universe.  There is much speculation as to what this movie will be about and who will star in it.  Will it be a prequel?  Well, we know that it will not.  However, it will feature Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty to some extent.  Is it a relaunch like Batman Begins?  Maybe, but again we do know that this new movie will respect Trek canon.  But if it is relaunched as well as Batman was, then I’ll wait optimistically until 12/25/08.  Meanwhile, a good site to go to is www.trekmovie.com.  This site has so far been the best in my opinion with movie news and with updates on the Star Trek: Remastered episodes.





Finally, Chick-fil-a has come to Mechanicsville!

17 03 2007

A lot is coming to Mechanicsville.  The Marshalls has just opened, Old Navy is just around the corner and with it is Red Robin, Famous Footwear and others.  Now, after many long years asking, Mechanicsville will get a Best Buy and more importantly the elusive Chick-fil-a.  After long last a Chick-fil-a will be in Mechanicsville and the lines will wrap around the building and onto Bell Creek Road.  Not to worry, the fast food chain, which will be situated at The Shops at Bell Creek (current site of the old First Virginia Building) will reportedly have a traffic signal.  Anyone who has driven Bell Creek Road on any given weekend knows the perils that come with that voyage.

Last month the Virginia Department of Transportation showed the community their plans for Mechanicsville Turnpike (US 360).  They want to eight lane the highway from I-295 to a newly improved Bell Creek Road intersection with its norther terminous by the Patient First.  Then 360 will be six dedicated traffic lanes to a newly improved Lee-Davis Road intersection, which again is very congested.  The time table for this project is for construction to begin in 2010 after right of way and utility relocation has been secured.

Shops at Bell Creek