Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I Feel the Earth Move (Carole King)

Fort Harrison was on top of a hill that had a view to the James River. When we stopped there, we were the only ones visiting! Although the visitor’s center was closed, we were able to walk the grounds and read the markers. We also couldn’t see the river as so many trees had grown during 150 years. The fort consisted of earthworks and was constructed in 1862 and 1863.

Earthworks at Fort Harrison
I never realized a fort could be a fort without wood or brick walls. The Union had to overtake this Confederate fort if they were to push on to Richmond and September 29, one force accomplished that. When the Union captured it, they redesigned it and renamed it Ft. Burnham.  
Fort Harrison November 1864 after captured by the Union

There were other strategies from different points in the area to the south that were successful for the USCT (United States Colored Troops). However, the Union soldiers were unable to take the next steps to conquer four remaining forts: Ft. Gregg, Ft. Hoke, Ft. Johnson and Ft. Gilmer. We were the only visitors at these other forts as well. The Confederates were able to reshape their lines and block the road to Richmond. This resulted in a stalemate for six months. These forts, too, were earthworks…no actual walls. Today, you can see goats grazing at Ft. Johnson!

and within Ft. Gilmer, you can see a white house with black shutters.

If we lived there, it would be impossible to keep our children from wanting to play hide and seek or “war” in and around these mounds of dirt. It still amazes me that the soldiers had the strength to dig dirt, fell trees and fight without proper nourishment. There are signs all over not to walk on the earthworks so we didn't feel the earth move under our feet!  


  1. It has been said that some people living in/near the Forts have seen and heard "ghosts" there.

  2. Oh, and it was awesome having the whole place to ourselves. We didn't see any ghosts but did see one deer


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