Every year the Action at Wilson’s Wharf is reenacted. The original event occurred on May 24, 1864. This years reenactment will be the 159th anniversary of the battle and will take place on June 3rd and 4th of 2023. Joe Funk, the great-nephew and first-person presenter of Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel, commands the event as he has since its inception. According to the organizers:
This Union fortification comes to life as military and civilian reenactors portray the lives of soldier and citizen inhabitants of the fort. Sutlers offering reproductions of Civil War-era merchandise and clothing contribute to an authentic atmosphere. Fort Pocahontas is open to the public for this event from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday. Spectators are invited to tour the fort where the art of field fortification is revealed and to visit the bustling camps inside it for family-friendly living history activities throughout the day. Battle reenactments are at 2pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday. Food vendors are on site. All proceeds support the preservation efforts at Fort Pocahontas.
For the Public:
- CHARLES CITY COUNTY RESIDENTS – FREE with ID
- REGULAR RATES – $10 for adults, $8 for students
- GROUP RATES (10+) – $7 for adults, $5 for students
For more information on the reenactment check out the Fort Pocahontas website HERE.
History of the Battle
In May 1864, a battle took place between Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s army and Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s army, at Wilson’s Wharf, Virginia. The Confederate army, led by Major General Fitzhugh Lee, attacked a Union supply depot. However, the attack was repulsed by two African American regiments, consisting of 1,100 soldiers, of the United States Colored Troops (USCT), led by Brigadier General Edward A. Wild. Wild’s African Brigade had been formed after the Battle of South Mountain, which Wild fought in, as an abolitionist, and had his left arm amputated. Wild’s unit, known for their frightening reputation among Southerners, was constructing a fortification at Wilson’s Wharf, which was named Fort Pocahontas. Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee expected to fight a disorganized force but was met by a well-prepared Union army, stationed at Fort Pocahontas. The Union army was composed of 1,100 soldiers, including two cannons, and the gunboat USS Dawn lay in the James River to deliver fire support. The battle was a two-pronged attack, where Brigadier General Williams C. Wickham’s brigade moved east of the fort and Col. John Dunovant of the 5th South Carolina demonstrated on the western end of the fort. However, both attacks were met with heavy fire and naval gunfire from the Dawn. Union reinforcements arrived later, and the Confederate army was forced to withdraw. The Confederate army lost about 200 soldiers in the battle, while the Union army only had minor casualties. The battle was significant because it was the first time the Confederate army had fought against an African American regiment.