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.

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