Confederate Batteries at Sewell's Point

In the spring of 1861 at Sewell's Point, in what is now Norfolk, Virginia, Confederate forces used local slaves pulled from the fields to construct artillery emplacements. These were large, fortified dirt mounds that would provide cover for weapons and the soldiers firing them. The Confederate batteries at Sewell's Point were on the southern shore of Hampton Roads harbor. Fortress Monroe, a hulking stone citadel held by the Union army, stood nearly three miles across the harbor on the northern shore. 

It was at Sewell's Point that the slaves Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory made their daring nighttime escape, rowing across the harbor in a tiny boat on May 23.

Rebel batteries sewells point harper's weekly 11/2/1861

Image: Library of Congress

© Susan VanHecke 2022