Fort Pocahontas

Action at Wilson’s Wharf – Fort Pocahontas


June 3 & 4, 2023

Each year we commemorate the historic events of 1864 with a reenactment called the Action at Wilson’s Wharf. This special event is led by Joe Funk, the great-nephew and first-person presenter of Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel, and he has been commanding the event since it began.

During the reenactment, military and civilian actors bring the Union fortification to life. They portray the daily lives of the soldiers and citizens who inhabited the fort during that time. To create an authentic atmosphere, there are sutlers who offer reproductions of merchandise and clothing from the Civil War era. You can visit Fort Pocahontas, open to the public from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday and from 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday. Take a tour of the fort to learn about the art of field fortification and explore the bustling camps inside, where there are family-friendly living history activities throughout the day. The battle reenactments take place at 2 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday. Food vendors will also be available on site. All proceeds from the event support the preservation efforts at Fort Pocahontas.

Located at Wilson’s Landing on the James River in Charles City, Virginia, Fort Pocahontas is a significant Civil War fortification. It was the site of the “Action at Wilson’s Wharf” on May 24, 1864, which marked the first major clash between the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) of Major General Benjamin F. Butler’s Army of the James and General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The fort’s earthworks were constructed and manned by USCTs under the command of Brigadier General Edward A. Wild.

Although the fortification was not fully completed when Confederate Cavalry under Major General Fitzhugh Lee attacked on May 24, 1864, it was later finished and named Fort Pocahontas.

After its abandonment in June 1865, the site remained largely untouched until it was purchased by Harrison Ruffin Tyler, the grandson of the 10th U.S. President John Tyler, in 1996. Thanks to his vision, dedication, and generous support, the fort’s preservation and interpretation efforts continue today through Fort Pocahontas LTD, a private foundation established by the Tyler family.

Wilson’s Wharf Battle Information

Other Names: Fort Pocahontas

Location: Charles City

Campaign: Grant’s Overland Campaign (May-June 1864)

Date(s): May 24, 1864

Principal Commanders: Brig. Gen. Edward Wild [US]; Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee [CS]

Forces Engaged: Brigades

Estimated Casualties: 165 total

Description:On May 24, Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry division (about 3,000 men) attacked the Union supply depot at Wilson’s Wharf and was repulsed by two black regiments under Brig. Gen. Edward Wild (about 1,800 men).

Result(s): Union victory

CWSAC Reference #: VA056

Preservation Priority: II.3 (Class D)