Battle of Ware Bottom Church
Ware Bottom Church, Virginia,
Bottom Church and Civil War
|Battle of Ware Bottom Church History
|Ware Bottom Church Battlefield History
Battle of Ware Bottom Church
Nearly 10,000 soldiers of the National and Confederate
armies clashed on May 20, 1864, around rustic Ware Bottom Church in Chesterfield County, Virginia. Chesterfield County is located in the Richmond-Petersburg region in the Commonwealth
Before the day concluded, 1,400 dead and wounded men from fourteen
American states lay sprawled and bleeding upon the ground. This climactic battlefield of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign was
overshadowed by larger events of the time and lapsed into relative obscurity. Why? Because the Battle of Cold Harbor immediately followed the Battle of Ware Bottom Church. Today, the battleground
itself has all but disappeared.
Richmond, Virginia, was at the heart of the conflict. As the
industrial and political capital of the Confederacy, Richmond was the physical and psychological prize over which two mighty
American armies contended in bloody battle from 1861 to 1865.
|Ware Bottom Church
|Chesterfield County, Virginia
Historic Military Map
Topographical engineers were the eyes of the armies during the American
Civil War. Using simple, but effective, tools and techniques, they scouted the territory, recorded measurements, and produced
and reproduced thousands of maps to guide military operations. Scales and skills varied, but many of these maps contained
surprisingly accurate depictions of the terrain, roads and railroads, farms, fields, woodlots, and fortifications.
|Richmond, Virginia, in 1865
|Battle of Ware Bottom Church Map
|Civil War Battle Ware Bottom Church History
A historic map can be a valuable tool for finding and documenting cultural
resources in the field. By plugging real-world coordinates into the digital image using the ArcGIS georeferencing tool, a
historic map can be overlain in GIS with modern data layers. To rectify this map of the area around Ware Bottom Church, we
used road intersections, points along the railroad, and the locations of known structure sites and fortifications collected
with global positioning systems.
Map features were then digitized onscreen, creating separate layers for
structures, roads, woodlots, and fortifications. Overlaying these features with modern topography, rivers and streams, allows
us to visualize the historic landscape. Features on this map are symbolized according to their current condition. Standing
structures are depicted with a green dot. Structures that no longer survive are shown with a black diamond. The original historic
fortifications are shown with a solid brown line.
Sources: National Park Service; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.
Recommended Reading: Ashes of Glory:
Richmond at War. Description: Drawing on an array of
archival sources, Ashes of Glory portrays Richmond's passion
through the voices of soldiers and statesmen, preachers and prostitutes, slaves and slavers. Masterfully orchestrated and
finely rendered, the result is a passionate and compelling work of social history. The siege of Richmond,
Virginia, is unlike anything in the history of America.
For four years the Union soldiers tied an ever-tightening noose around the defiant city. That story--and the way Ernest B.
Furgurson tells it--is reason enough to tackle this work. But even more fascinating is Furgurson's exploration of the minds
of the residents who so passionately supported the Confederate cause. Continued below…
What twist of logic must have inspired a citizenry--many of whom never owned slaves--to plunge into one
of history's bloodiest conflicts? Visit Richmond in its proudest moments, when it envisioned victory; visit Richmond
in its darkest times, when it felt flames.
Recommended Reading: Cold Harbor: Grant and
Lee, May 26-June 3, 1864, by Gordon C. Rhea (Hardcover). Description: In his gripping volume on the spring 1864 Overland campaign--which pitted Ulysses S. Grant
against Robert E. Lee for the first time in the Civil War--Gordon Rhea vividly re-creates the battles and maneuvers from the
North Anna stalemate through the Cold Harbor offensive. Rhea's tenacious research elicits
stunning new facts from the records of a phase oddly ignored or mythologized by historians. The Cold Harbor of these pages
differs sharply from the Cold Harbor of popular lore. We see Grant, in one of his most brilliant
moves, pull his army across the North Anna
River and steal a march on Lee. In response, Lee sets up a strong defensive
line along Totopotomoy Creek, and the battles spark across woods and fields northeast of Richmond.
Their back to the Chickahominy River
and on their last legs, the rebel troops defiantly face an army-wide assault ordered by Grant that extends over three hellish
days. Rhea gives a surprising new interpretation of the famous battle that left seven thousand Union casualties and only fifteen
hundred Confederate dead or wounded. Here, Grant is not a callous butcher, and Lee does not wage a perfect fight. Every imaginable
primary source has been exhausted to unravel the strategies, mistakes, gambles, and problems with subordinates that preoccupied
two exquisitely matched minds. In COLD HARBOR,
Rhea separates fact from fiction in a charged, evocative narrative. He leaves readers under a moonless sky, Grant pondering
the eastward course of the James River fifteen miles south of the encamped armies. About
the Author: Gordon Rhea is the author of three previous books, a winner of the Fletcher Pratt Literary Award, a frequent lecturer
throughout the country on military history, and a practicing attorney.
Recommended Reading: Richmond Burning: The Last Days of the Confederate Capital. Description: Nelson Lankford
draws upon Civil War-era diaries, letters, memoirs, and newspaper reports to vividly recapture the experiences of the men
and women, both black and white, who witnessed the tumultuous fall of Richmond.
In April 1865, General Robert E. Lee realized that his army must retreat from the Confederate capital and that Jefferson Davis's
government must flee... As the Southern soldiers withdrew, they set the city on fire, leaving a blazing ruin to greet the
entering Union troops. Continued below...
city's fall ushered in the birth of the modern United States. Lankford's exploration
of this pivotal event is at once an authoritative work of history and a stunning piece of dramatic prose. About the
Author: Nelson Lankford edits the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the quarterly journal of the Virginia
Historical Society. He has written and edited several books.
Recommended Reading: Season of Fire: The Confederate Strike on Washington
(Hardcover: 300 pages). Editorial Review from Booklist:
In 1864, Confederate General Jubal Early, outraged by Union depredations in the Shenandoah Valley by the Federals, launched
a bold but futile raid on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
With this event as the central focus of his narrative, Judge has written a fascinating and riveting account of the men in
battle. He masterfully maintains both dramatic tension and historical accuracy by relating the events through the memoirs
of the actual participants. Judge explains the military maneuvers in language that laypersons can easily grasp, and his portrayals
of the key participants breathe life into the account. Continued below...
Among the more
memorable key-players are Early, the daring general of the valley; Lew Wallace (who would later author “Ben Hur”),
who attempts to block Early's advance; and George Davis, from Vermont, who was awarded the Medal of Honor during this
fiercely contested campaign. This is a fine recounting of a relatively obscure but quite interesting series of events, and
both the general reader and Civil War aficionados will enjoy it. The book also contains sixty-one illustrations.
Eyewitness to the Civil War (Hardcover: 416 pages) (National Geographic;
Fists edition) (November 21, 2006). Description: At
once an informed overview for general-interest readers and a superb resource for serious buffs, this extraordinary, gloriously
illustrated volume is sure to become one of the fundamental books in any Civil War library. Its
features include a dramatic narrative packed with eyewitness accounts and hundreds of rare photographs, pictures, artifacts,
and period illustrations. Evocative sidebars, detailed maps, and timelines add to the reference-ready quality of the text.
From John Brown's
raid to Reconstruction, Eyewitness to the Civil War presents a clear, comprehensive discussion that addresses every military,
political, and social aspect of this crucial period. In-depth descriptions of campaigns and battles in all theaters of war
are accompanied by a thorough evaluation of the nonmilitary elements of the struggle between North and South. In their own
words, commanders and common soldiers in both armies tell of life on the battlefield and behind the lines, while letters from
wives, mothers, and sisters provide a portrait of the home front. More than 375 historical photographs, portraits, and artifacts—many
never before published—evoke the era's flavor; and detailed maps of terrain and troop movements make it easy to follow
the strategies and tactics of Union and Confederate generals as they fought through four harsh years of war. Photoessays on topics
ranging from the everyday lives of soldiers to the dramatic escapades of the cavalry lend a breathtaking you-are-there feeling,
and an inclusive appendix adds even more detail to what is already a magnificently meticulous history.
Recommended Reading: Trench Warfare under Grant and Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland
Campaign (Civil War America) (Hardcover) (The University of North Carolina
Press) (September 5, 2007). Description: In the study
of field fortifications in the Civil War that began with Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War, Hess turns to the
1864 Overland campaign to cover battles from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor.
meticulous research in primary sources and careful examination of trench remnants at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna,
Cold Harbor, and Bermuda Hundred, Hess describes Union and Confederate earthworks and how Grant and Lee used them in this new era of field