The Battle of Great Bridge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Featured Review on this writing by Suzanne Mays

The content I wrote is an informative article about a historic battle taking place in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake, Virginia during the American Revolutionary War in 1775.

The Battle of Great Bridge


[Date: 12-9-2020]


“The Battle of Great Bridge”, what was it, exactly? Taking place in the Great Bridge location of Norfolk County during that time period—modernly of Chesapeake, Virginia—on December Ninth of Seventeen-Seventh-Five, Hell had been unleashed. Involving the Revolutionary War, a total of eight hundred and sixty-one riflemen of a patriotic militia under Colonel William Woodford ripped apart a group of four hundred and nine under Lord Dunmore, failing their attempt to cross a swamp. A combined number to those killed and wounded from Lord Dunmore’s end were a complete total of one hundred and two. This, very, battle would inflict Lord Dunmore to make his evacuation from Norfolk on a ship fleeing Virginia, which was involved in the firing of a cannonball that is seen embedded into the South-East wall of a church still standing today in Norfolk, Virginia that is named “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”.

John “Lord Dunmore” Murray, Forth Earl of Dunmore, had been the Royal Governor of Virginia, running the British Colonial government of the Virginia Colony. What happened on December Ninth at Great Bridge would be the cause to the fall of the British government in the Virginia Colony. For a powerful reason, “The Second Battle of Bunker’s Hill” would be the nickname for what is officially titled as “Battle of Great Bridge”. The battle at Great Bridge had kicked off during the early morning, lasting less than an hour, but it was an—extremely—important, and bloody, battle in the state of Virginia.

Two cannons, only, were active for artillery throughout the battle. Each of the two cannons were four-pounders getting fired from the side of the British. Even with the assistance of artillery, the militia of patriot riflemen sustained zero deaths and just one wounded soldier, gaining a full-out victory.

Beforehand, Lord Dunmore sends his British army to Great Bridge on the Fourteenth of November, a month before chaos, in hopes to control the territory. The bridge was a, brightly, focused figure due to it resting on the main road traveling from Norfolk to North Carolina. Soon, by John “Lord Dunmore” Murray, a small fort would be ordered to get built into place some meters out from the bridge, itself, given the name “Fort Murray”.

Between the Second and the Seventh of December, patriotic troops had arrived to the South-side of the bridge. By the night of December Eighth, the force of the colonial patriots—commanded by William Woodford—had grown to nearly nine hundred, or so they say. It has, also, been said that Lord Dunmore made the decision to attempt at shoving back the militia of the colonial patriots, after having two cannons rolled to the field in the morning of the Ninth. The Great Bridge battle happen no more than eight months after the Revolutionary War raised into existence, beginning in April and ending on September Third of Seventeen-Eighty-Three.

On the fourth month of Seventeen-Seventy-Five, colonies were threatened by John Murray. Slaves of their colonies would be freed by him to slim down the Virginia capital—planted at Williamsburg during that time—if they went against British rule. As of June Eighth, in ‘Seventy-Five, he abandons the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg for safety of a British ship, it is said. On the Seventh of November, he sent out a proclamation of establishing “Martial Law”, along with offering freedom to those enslaved as long as they’d join the British and fight. To fight alongside with the British, many slaves were actually inspired.

In the city of Norfolk, he raised an army. Recruiting many escaped slaves, he organized volunteers into two companies of Tories, the “Ethiopian Regiment” and “Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment”. They supplied his companies of the “14th Foot”, which consisted military troops of British blood in the colony.

The word “Tory” stands for a non-British colonist who supported the British in the American Revolutionary War. Norfolk was considered to be the nest of Tories, but Murray’s primary approach to Norfolk had been for Great Bridge.

At Fort Murray, included souls of the “Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment”, souls of the “Ethiopian Regiment”, and souls belonging to the “14th Regiment of Foot”. Of the 14th Foot, Lord Dunmore had nearly one hundred and seventy-five British regulars under his command. In the Ethiopian Regiment, were between two hundred and three hundred souls; the Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment held about six hundred. Both of the two Tory units were Virginia’s only that were a creation of loyalist in the state.

Nearly a year later, the Tory groups were no more, having many survivors of the Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment getting transferred to the “Queen’s American Rangers” in New York, commanded by a man named Robert Rogers. Norfolk, controlled by Lord Dunmore, had been completely overrun by patriotic forces with great destruction just weeks following the gruesome battle at Great Bridge—on New Year’s Day of Seventeen-Seventy-Six. By the patriots, all remaining of Norfolk had been torched to the ground to keep from further use of aid to Lord Dunmore and his army. Not only did Murray flee to the town of Norfolk because of the defeat at Great Bridge, he and his army overcrowds themselves aboard vessels of his. Preparing to continue the battle, approximately twelve hundred troops had been raised under William Woodford’s army not long after the skirmish.

One of the many fighters lost on the freezing cold day at Great Bridge was Captain Charles Fordyce, commander of one of the two companies from the 14th Foot. The commander of the other would be a Captain named Samuel Leslie. Covered in many holes from bullets that penetrated the body, Captain Fordyce laid lifeless nearing about fifteen feet of a distance from the opposing end. Despite the fighters killed, forty-eight of Murray’s men had survived a wounding, while over a dozen of his were taken as prisoners.

One man serving in the patriotic militia, being their only soldier to suffer a wound, was cited as a hero.  William “Billy” Flora sustained a thumb injury. Who he had been was a free-born African American born in Portsmouth, Virginia who—at eight years old—was apprenticed by carter and wagon master, Joshua Gammon. In Seventeen-Seventy, he completed the apprentice, moving on to work for a person named John Fentress, then for William Brissie a few years afterwards.

By patriotic forces of Virginia and North Carolina, Norfolk had been the destination, to flush away John Murray and his army. As they arrived, they came into a realization that he and his men housed themselves inside the ships of his fleet. It wasn’t ‘til the First of January, when John Murray decided to have his fleet of three vessels to cause extreme destruction on Norfolk from their cannons. The firing of cannons by the H.M.S.(His or Her Majesty’s Ship) Otter, H.M.S. Liverpool, and the H.M.S. Kingfisher lasted for greater than eight hours, destroying—in flames—hundreds of buildings—approximately eighty percent of the town. What was left was torched to the ground by the opposing end.

Colonel William Woodford, at the time, was in control of the “2nd Virginia Regiment”, but was under Major General Robert Howe during the battle at Norfolk. After they had destroyed what was left of the town—besides “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”—Lord Dunmore and his British army, aboard the vessels, made their evacuation from Norfolk. By December of Seventeen-Seventy-Six, William Woodford and his “2nd Virginia Regiment” made their way to New Jersey to assist General George Washington, and became an official part of the Continental Army.

Dropping you back to where it all began, there is a twelve-pound cannonball displayed at “Chesapeake Central Library” that was involved in the skirmish at Great Bridge on Saturday morning, December the Ninth. The location is in the “History Room” on the third floor and is completely available for visitors, with the allowance of photo taking. As far as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the cannonball had no-longer been embedded in the wall by the Eighteen-Thirties. The cannonball was discovered buried in the yard of the church, but was returned to the original resting place by the Eighteen-Forties.

Submitted: December 10, 2020

© Copyright 2021 The Ghost-Bull. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Suzanne Mays

Thank you for this informative account of one of the earliest battles of the American Revolution. I learned much that I didn't know. Hope you will continue with your historical accounts and wish you all the best in writing.

Mon, December 28th, 2020 7:14pm

The Ghost-Bull

Suzanne, miss, I appreciate each and everything said in your comment. I do plan on continuing with writing about history. Also, I noticed you write; it's interesting without a doubt.

Fri, January 8th, 2021 8:26pm

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