A village near the end of the peninsula between the York
and James rivers
An armed sloop was driven ashore there by a gale in October, 1775.
The villagers took out her guns and munitions of war, and then burned her, making her men prisoners.
Dunmore at once blockaded the port.
The people called to their aid some Virginia
regulars and militia.
sent some tenders close into Hampton Roads
to destroy the village.
The military marched out to oppose them; and when they came within gunshot distance George Nicholas
, who commanded the Virginians, fired his musket at one of the tenders.
This was the
first gun fired at the British
It was followed by a volley.
Boats sunk in the channel retarded the British ships, and, after a sharp skirmish the next day, Oct. 27, the blockaders were driven away.
One of the tenders was taken, with its armament and seamen, and several of the British
The Virginians did not lose a man. This was the first battle of the Revolution in Virginia
In 1813 the British
, exasperated by their repulse at Craney Island
, proceeded to attack the village of Hampton
It was defended at the time by about 450 Virginia
soldiers, commanded by Maj. Stapleton Crutchfield
They were chiefly militia infantry, with a few artillerymen and cavalry.
They had a heavy battery to defend the water-front of the camp and village, composed of four 6, two 12, and one 18 pounder cannon, in charge of Sergt. William Burke
Early on the morning of June 25, about 2,500 British land-troops, under Gen. Sir Sidney Beckwith
(including rough French prisoners.
called Chasseurs Britanniques
), landed under cover of the guns of the Mohawk
, behind a wood, about 2 miles from
Most of the inhabitants fled; the few who could not were willing to trust to the honor and clemency of the British
, if they should capture the place.
As they moved upon the village, Crutchfield
and his men—infantry, artillery, and cavalry —fought the invaders gallantly; but at length overwhelming numbers, failure of gunpowder, volleys of grape-shot, and flights of Congreve
rockets, compelled the
St. John's Church.|
, who were partially outflanked, to break and flee in the direction of Yorktown
Thus ended a sharp battle, in which the British
lost, in killed, wounded, and missing, about fifty men, and the Americans
Of eleven missing Americans
, ten had fled to their homes.
The victorious British
now entered the village, and Cockburn
, who had come on shore, and was in chief command, gave the place up to pillage and rapine.
The atrocities committed upon the defenceless inhabitants, particularly the women, were deeply deplored and condemned by the British
authorities and writers.
, who was the chief instigator of them, covered his name with dishonor by the act. The British officers who tried to palliate the offence by charging the crimes upon the Frenchmen, were denounced by the most respectable British writers.
A commission, appointed to investigate the matter, said, in their report, “The sex hitherto guarded by the soldiers' honor escaped not the assaults of superior force.”
On the night of Aug. 7, 1861, this village, then containing about 500 houses, was set on fire by order of the Confederate General Magruder
, and all but the courthouse and seven or eight other buildings were consumed.
National troops had occupied Hampton
after the battle of Big Bethel
(q. v.), but had just been withdrawn.
Among other buildings destroyed at that time was the ancient St. John's Church, in the suburbs of the village.
It was the third oldest house of worship in Virginia
The earliest inscription found in its graveyard was 1701.
Before the Revolution the royal arms, handsomely carved, were upon the steeple.
It is said that, soon after the Declaration of Independence
, the steeple was shattered by lightning, and the insignia of royalty hurled to the ground.
The church was in a state of good preservation, and was used as a place of worship, according to the ritual of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America
, until 1861.