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American Battlefields American Battlefields
American Battlefields
Big Bethel   

Other Names: Bethel Church, Great Bethel

Location: York County and Hampton

Campaign: Blockade of the Chesapeake Bay (May-June 1861)

Date(s): June 10, 1861

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce [US]; Col. John B. Magruder and Col. D.H. Hill [CS]

Forces Engaged: 4,700 total (US 3,500; CS 1,200)

Estimated Casualties: 87 total (US 79; CS 8)

Description: This was the first land battle in Virginia. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler sent converging columns from Hampton and Newport News against advanced Confederate outposts at Little and Big Bethel. Confederates abandoned Little Bethel and fell back to their entrenchments behind Brick Kiln Creek, near Big Bethel Church.  The Federals, under immediate command of Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce, pursued, attacked frontally along the road, and were repulsed. Crossing downstream, the 5th New York Zouaves attempted to turn the Confederate left flank, but were repulsed.  Unit commander Col. T. Wynthrop was killed. The Union forces were disorganized and retired, returning to Hampton and Newport News. The Confederates suffered 1 killed, 7 wounded.

Result(s): Confederate victory

CWSAC Reference #: VA003

Preservation Priority: IV.2 (Class C)

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