The History Behind the Vision:
the Battle of Great Bridge was the first land
victory of the Revolutionary War
The Battle of Great Bridge on December 9, 1775 played a critical role in the Revolutionary War and the subsequent creation of our great nation. It was this Patriot victory that forced Lord Dunmore, British Royal Governor of Virginia, and his soldiers to evacuate and ultimately leave Virginia. As a direct result of this victory, four days after this crucial battle, the Virginia Convention adopted the first public declaration expressing a spirit of independence. How different our country might be had it not been for the Battle of Great Bridge and the significant contributions of our waterways.
Patriots and British soldiers faced each other for eleven days and skirmished amid constant cannon fire before the climactic Battle of Great Bridge that lasted but a half-hour.
But, in that short time, patriotic volunteers showed that they could stand up to cannon fire and route a unit of the best professional soldiers in the world. Patriot soldiers poured heavy fire into the British Redcoats who marched relentlessly forward, wavered, and then came on again. Reinforcements joined Patriots in the breastwork and were ordered to withhold their fire until the British were within 50 yards. This was the first Patriot victory of the Revolutionary War.
In winning the battle of Great Bridge on December 9, 1775, the Patriots effectively denied to the British Norfolk, the finest sea port between New York and Charleston.
It is historically significant to note that last among the Patriots to retreat was Billy Flora, a freed black slave. Before retreating into the Patriot breastwork, he ran back to take up a plank of the bridge amid a shower of musket balls to slow the British advance.
Click here for a more in depth narrative on the Battle of Great Bridge by the late Mrs. Elizabeth Hanbury and Mr. Jim Hodges.
Click here for an informative article of the Albemarle & Chesapeake Canal by Lillie Gilbert, Board Member of the Foundation and local Waterways Historian.