Warner Hall, Gloucester and the Civil War

With our connection to President George Washington (his great-great grandfather founded Warner Hall), we tend to talk a lot about Revolutionary War history. But here in Gloucester, like much of the Chesapeake Bay area, there is rich Civil War history, too.

Gloucester Courthouse, the historic area in the Main Street district (just a 10 minute drive from the manor house), is a great first stop for learning more about America’s internal battles and how it impacted the county that Warner Hall calls home.

The county museum and Visitor’s Center is located there, where you can learn more about the following Gloucester Civil War history, and more:

The Confederate Monument

Standing tall in the middle of the historic Courthouse Circle is the Confederate Monument, erected in 1889 to commemorate soldiers from Gloucester who had died for the Confederate cause. At the time it was constructed, the monument had 130 names etched into it, however, local historians are led to believe that many more Gloucester soldiers died in the Civil War, or as a result of the war.

Remembering James Daniel Gardner

James Daniel Gardner, a Union Army soldier from Gloucester, was the only solider during the Civil War to be recognized for his actions at the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm with the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.

Before enlisting in the Union Army, Gardner was an oysterman. When he joined, he was a Private with Company I of the 36th Regiment U.S. Colored Troops.

During the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Gardner’s regiment was among a division of black troops assigned to attack the Confederate defenses at New Market Heights, near Richmond. More than 50 percent of the troops were either killed, captured or wounded following intense Confederate fire. However, during the battle, Gardner forged ahead of his unit into the Confederate fortifications and “shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men and ran him through with his bayonet.”

After the battle, Gardner was promoted to Sergeant and later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Though he never returned to Gloucester, a monument honoring his service was erected in Gloucester Courthouse in 2008.

The Courthouse Ablaze

In 1766, the Gloucester Courthouse, which served as the County Seat, was the target of several Union raids. Furnishings were destroyed and used to set the courthouse on fire, stores along Main Street were looted, and the courthouse was vandalized.

In a letter written in April 1863 by Union soldier, Rod Smith wrote, “three or four busily employed in keeping the fuel up by feeding its flame with whole doors, etc., while a man sat in the front of the fire on a stool with his coat off and shirt sleeves rolled up giving orders, like men at the fire of Rome…When we left the place in the lower end of town all the stores were broken open, and at one time, not less than five were on fire including the Court House but were put out.”

Nearby Civil War Trails

Up for a drive? Leave Gloucester Courthouse and head up U.S. Route 17 for about 10 miles to the Civil War Trails’ “Tyndall’s Point Park.”

Here, the first shot of the Civil War in Virginia was made.

When Virginia left the Union in April 1861, Gloucester Point was immediately recognized as one of the keys to Virginia’s riverine defense—it was a perfect location to defend Richmond and the York River form naval attack.

Along the Civil War Trails lie a series of interpretive panels that guide you through the importance of Gloucester to the war.

Want to stay at Warner Hall and explore more Virginia Civil War History? Visit our ACCOMMODATIONS page and book your room today!

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