The Chesterfield Historical Society (CHS) can add another title to its list of local history books: they recently released The Bermuda Hundred Campaign: A Tour Guide, a 58-page driving tour guide that covers the 26 sites of the well-known Civil War campaign.
The project was a team effort among a number of local history buffs, Scott Williams, George Fickett, retired Army Major Robert Forman (who served as principal author), David Malgee, Eric Chandler, George Cranford, Courtney Rogers, Ben Uzel, and George Reynolds. Forman served as principal author of the work, with his daughter Shannon providing graphic design work.
“We had a two-page pamphlet about the campaign that we sold for a dollar,” says Tamara Evans, site manager at Magnolia Grange. “Scott Williams expanded it into a big glossy book with lots of photos and maps.” The pictures included cover both past and present and have been culled from CHS archives as well as Williams’ personal collection and the Library of Congress archives.
Presented chronologically, The Bermuda Hundred Campaign: A Tour Guide begins at City Point in Hopewell, the first of the campaign’s 26 sites, and presents directions, history, and photos for each site up to Dutch Gap Canal at Henricus, the final stop on the tour. Williams’ maps, created using Geographic Information Services (GIS) technology, reference both modern and historic maps as well as official period records, and use relief shading to depict the typography of the land. In addition, the guide also touches on lesser-known pieces of history like Siah Carter, a slave who ran away from Shirley Plantation and served on the U.S.S. Monitor, and the African-American soldiers of the Union Army’s XVIII Corps, who dug the Dutch Gap canal and were part of the U.S. Colored Cavalry at Drewry’s Bluff.
Though it’s only been out for a few short weeks, Evan has seen sales of the book boom. “I’ve got lots of people coming in the shop and buying it,” she says. “I’ve been shipping them all over the country, too, so they’re a big seller. I’ve been sending a lot to New York and New Jersey.” She also takes copies of the book to local events like John Tyler Community College’s recent author symposium, Revisit – Our History, where the public has been responsive.
“I think it’s something that we’ve needed for a long time,” says Evans. “I give tours at Magnolia Grange, so I get a lot of people who are interested in the Civil War and want to know more about it.” During her tenure at Magnolia Grange, she’s even seen Civil War buffs drop in from Edinburgh, Scotland, and she’s thrilled to be able to offer them a more thorough resource on the Bermuda Hundred campaign. “You have people who come here and want to follow in the footsteps of the Civil War,” she says. “This is great for me to be able to hand it to them. It’s going to be wonderful.”
The Bermuda Hundred Campaign: A Tour Guide is available at Magnolia Grange, 10020 Iron Bridge Rd., for $12. Shipping is also available for $5. For more information or to place an order, call Tamara Evans at 796-1479 or visit chesterfieldhistory.com.
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