Drewrys Bluff

With the Confederate withdrawal from the Peninsula and the evacuation of Norfolk during early May 1862, the Virginia, Patrick Henry, and Jamestown were forced to withdraw up the James River towards Richmond. As her draught was too deep to negotiate the shoals, the Virginia was abandoned and burned off Craney Island on May 11. The smaller gunboats steamed up as far as Drewry's Bluff, about eight miles below Richmond, where the Jamestown was sunk to complete the river obstruction, while the Patrick Henry was moored to house the Confederate Naval Academy until the evacuation of Richmond on April 3,1865. The guns from both vessels were added to the defenses at the Bluffs, and the officers and crews went ashore to man these guns. Meanwhile, the crew of the Virginia reached Richmond by train on May 12, and were quickly sent downriver to Drewry's Bluff to supplement the Confederate forces there. They were to see

Marine Corps Officer 1861

OPPOSITE James R.Y.Fendall, a second cousin to Robert E.Lee, was photographed in 1863 wearing the same uniform as in the portrait of Lt Raney; he also carries a fatigue cap with a gray crown and dark band. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the CSMC on August 13, 1861, he was assigned to Company C, and served at Pensacola during the Union bombardment. When his company was transferred to Virginia on November 26 he was promoted first lieutenant and placed in command of the Marine Guard aboard the gunboat CSS Jamestown. He was praised for the "zeal & courage" he displayed during the battles of Hampton Roads in 1862. Fend all was one of the last Confederate Marine officers to surrender in May 1865. (Courtesy David M.Sullivan)

Marines from Co C were assigned to the side-wheel steamer CSS Patrick Henry upon arrival at Richmond in December 1861. This wartime sketch was inscribed by John Thomas Scharf, who served aboard the vessel during 1863, by which time she housed the Confederate States Naval Academy. (Naval Historical Center photo NH 42807)

further active service almost immediately, with the arrival of Union Cdr John Rodgersr squadron of gunboats on May 15 (see above).

In preparation for an attack, a two-company battalion of Marines under overall command of Capt John D.Simms, a former US Marine officer, were placed in rifle pits in the thick undergrowth along the bluffs to serve as sharpshooters. According to Simms, as the gunboats approached the Marines "opened a sharp fire upon them, lulling three of the crew of the Galena certainly, and no doubt many more. The fire of the enemy was materially silenced at intervals by the fire of our troops." An eyewitness to the affair reported to the Richmond Dispatch that "As the fleet moved off, our sharpshooters, who lined the banks of the river for two or three miles, poured their deadly missiles into every port-hole and at every pilot-house." Consisting of men from the companies of Capts Van Benthuysen and Julius Meiere, plus the ship's guards from the Virginia, Patrick Henry, and Jamestown, the Marines involved in the repulse at Drewry's Bluff sustained no casualties.

During the summer of 1862, Cos B and C of the CS Marines were organized into a field battalion, and were joined by Co A under Capt George Holmes, who transferred from Savannah, Georgia. As the Navy Department and Marine Corps Headquarters were both established in Richmond during the same period, the Richmond area became the center of CS Marine Corps activities for the rest of the war. At Camp Beall the Marines constructed their own wooden barrack buildings, which were probably finished by January 1863. Joined by their families, plus some refugees from Norfolk and Portsmouth, the whole community was eventually served by a post office and hotel.

Recruiting for the CS Marine Corps in the port of Mobile, Alabama, began during the summer of 1861. Captain Thorn enlisted 46 men for Co C from July 24 through mid-September, following which he took them to Pensacola. Following the surrender of New Orleans in Apiil 1862, Mobile became an important Confederate Navy and Marine Corps center. Commanded by Capt Julius Ernest Meiere by October 8, 1862, the Marines posted there served as a depot unit supplying replacements to other companies. They also furnished the guard for the station and

Drewry Bluff Battlefield

vessels of the Mobile Squadron, which consisted of the Gaines, Morgan, Baltic, Tennessee and Nashville. In November die Mobile unit was designated Company D; a detachment of 24 men from this unit was transferred to Savannah during the early part of that month, where they eventually formed the nucleus of Co E, plus the ship's guard for the ironclad Atlanta.

"Camp Beall" was established at Drewry's Bluff on the James River, Virginia, by the CSMC during May 1862. Based on a drawing by the British correspondent Frank Vizettely, this engraving was published in the Illustrated London News on November 15, 1862. (Illustrated London News)

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