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150th Anniversary of The Action at Wilson’s Wharf

Posted on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

On Saturday, May 17 and Sunday, May 18, 2014, Fort Pocahontas at Wilson’s Wharf will come alive through Civil War living history, civilian presentations, guided fort tours and two battle reenactments. Located between Richmond and Williamsburg in Charles City, Virginia, the fort will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. This will be the 150th anniversary of the 1864 action that took place at this historic site.

“Virtually untouched for more than 145 years, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources observed Fort Pocahontas as ‘one of the best preserved fort sites’ in America,” said Harrison R. Tyler, grandson of former President John Tyler and proprietor of the fort. “This year marks the 150th anniversary and 17th reenactment of the action at Wilson’s Wharf and we are pleased to welcome Civil War enthusiasts to this historic site.”

Reenactors from across the country will relive history by portraying Union and Confederate Infantry, including United States Colored Troops (USCTs), Cavalry, U.S. and C.S. Navy and Artillery. Activities throughout both days will include tactical infantry and artillery demonstrations, civilian camp life history including cooking and other lifestyle demonstrations, church services, guided tours through the fort and an opportunity to meet generals leading the troops. Sutlers will sell period Civil War merchandise and clothing throughout the weekend.

On Saturday and Sunday, historian William Potter will speak at 12:30 p.m. and Mitch Bowman, executive director of Virginia’s Civil War Trails, will provide commentary for the 1 p.m. battle. Joe Funk, the event commander since its inception and first person presenter of Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel, the engineer who drew the original fort design and great-uncle of Funk, will be available after the Saturday battle to discuss engineering aspects of the earthworks and the action that took place in 1864.

The 1864 earthen fort was built and manned by hundreds of USCTs under the direct command of Brigadier Generals Edward Augustus Wild and Benjamin Butler. A victory resulted for the outnumbered USCTs against the Confederate attack by Major General Fitzhugh Lee, Robert E. Lee’s nephew, and the 2,000 cavalrymen he led. Captain A. R. Arter, a Union soldier at Fort Pocahontas in 1864, described in a letter that the fortifications was “one of the best arranged breastworks I have seen.”

In May 2002, a corps of volunteer reenactors constructed a 20-foot tower for demonstrations and training purposes. In 2003, the east gun bastion was rebuilt as a means of preserving the site for historical accuracy. The restored Delk/Binford House contains the archeological artifacts unearthed by The College of William and Mary and serves as space for private events and parties.

In addition to the Civil War history, the site is also dates to the earliest inhabitants, the Native Americans, and is named after the legendary Pocahontas. The deep water port, known as Wilson’s Wharf, was used during the American Revolution for shipping tobacco and for passengers traveling by ferry boat, named the Pocahontas.

Admission is $10 per adult and $8 per student per day. Discounts are available for two-day tickets and groups of 10 or more. Tickets will be sold at Fort Pocahontas each day of the event, located off Route 5, on Rt. 614, 13500 Sturgeon Point Road, Charles City, Virginia 23030. Visitors are advised to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy walking shoes. All proceeds from this event will continue to support the preservation efforts of Fort Pocahontas, a non-profit organization. For directions, more information and itinerary, please visit the web site at, email or call (804) 829-5377.