A. Wilson Greene, executive director of Pamplin Historical Park, led a group of 50 Civil War devotees that spent part of their day on Friday touring unmarked places in Chester which were significant with the 1864 Assault on Petersburg and was associated with the shift of the Army of Northern Virginia.
At each stop, Greene covered the combat that occurred in Chesterfield County (the Winfree House) that led up to the June 15-17 Assault on Petersburg and toured the privately-owned sites that served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters for three days (the Clay House) and Lt. General Richard Anderson and General P.G.T. Beauregard’s headquarters (the Hancock House) during the campaign. General Beauregard stayed mostly in the field with the troops, but all of his correspondence was issued out of the Hancock House.
Greene said that Gen. Beauregard personally came to the Hancock House leading up to the assault to obtain a guide to send a desperate message to Gen. Lee that if he didn’t have more troops, Petersburg was going to be lost. Gen. Lee sent him 14,000 to 15,000 troops to go down to Petersburg to save the city. “It was a pretty dramatic story,” he said. When the tour stopped at the Clay House, he said that Gen. Lee probably chose this house for his headquarters because it was close to Drewry’s Bluff where he was previous and a very important road intersection, which is located at the intersection of Bermuda Hundred Road and Old Stage Road.
Kevin and Sarah Eaton, current owners of the Hancock House, were surprised and excited to learn the history on their home when Greene called to ask for the tour to visit. They called their home the Bass House due to a cemetery on the property where several members from the Bass family were known to be buried.
“We have found bullets and buttons. We knew that people must have camped here,” Sarah Eaton said. “We believe the house was built in 1840, maybe a little earlier. The original plat had 500 acres. We have five acres.” Adding, “Now we can call it the Hancock/Bass/Eaton house.”
The sold-out Ultimate Petersburg Campaign Tour Part One began Thursday evening and concluded Sunday after a three-hour tour of the Crater Battlefield with discussion of the battles of August and September 1864 . Many of the 50 attendees from 14 states were members of the park. For more information on Pamplin Historical Park tours visit www.pamplinpark.org. Pamplin Historical Park is located at 6125 Boydton Plank Rd., Petersburg.