Connecting with history

Published 10:25 pm Monday, April 9, 2012

Whether it was because of the long occupation by Union troops or because the city was less important strategically, Suffolk was spared the worst of the Civil War 150 years ago. There will be no movies made about what happened here during the skirmishes between troops from the North and the South, and it’s unlikely the federal government will ever designate any of those few places with some connection to that war as historic sites.

Still, some pivotal things happened around Suffolk — the Battle of the Ironclads, the taking of Portsmouth and Norfolk, and much more — and the occupation of Suffolk by Union troops became for a while a strategically important move on the part of Federal soldiers. And, of course, the occupation remained a sore spot for residents of Suffolk and surrounding Nansemond County, and the Confederate forces never gave up their campaign of harassing the Union troops.

Many of the locations that were important to that campaign and to the Federal occupation are still accessible. And some of the stories behind those places are well known to area historians. Riddick’s Folly, Union Gen. John J. Peck’s headquarters during the Siege of Suffolk, is but the most obvious example of the easy access to the history of that period. Battery Onandaga, Fort Connecticut, Fort Huger, Fort Rosecrans and Deserted House Battlefield are other Civil War sites of local significance.

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Those sites will be included in a couple of Civil War history tours hosted by the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society on Saturday. Tours will depart at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. from the Seaboard Station Railroad Museum and will visit different sites depending on the departure time. For more information, call 539-2781.