IW offers free fort tours

Published 9:59 pm Monday, June 10, 2013

Visitors to Fort Huger in Isle of Wight County this Saturday can learn the history of the “gateway to the Confederate capital” during a free walking tour.

Led by a local historian, the hour-long walking tour starts at 10 a.m., and will be repeated July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 16 and Nov. 22, according to a county news release.

Visitors to historic Fort Huger in Isle of Wight County participate in an earlier guided walking tour. Five free tours are planned for this year, starting with this Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Isle of Wight County Historic Resources)

Visitors to historic Fort Huger in Isle of Wight County participate in an earlier guided walking tour. Five free tours are planned for this year, starting with this Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Isle of Wight County Historic Resources)

The strategic Civil War fort sits on a bluff overlooking the James River. It and Fort Boykin were intended to block Federal forces from approaching Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, by land or water.

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“In 1861, Confederate engineer Col. Andrew Talcott surveyed several defensive sites on the James River to protect Richmond, including Harden’s Bluff and nearby Fort Boykin,” the release reads.

“The site at Harden’s Bluff was named Fort Huger for Gen. Benjamin Huger, who commanded the Department of Norfolk.

“Slaves and free blacks constructed the fort under direction of the Confederate Engineer Bureau, and detachments of Lt. Col. Fletcher Archer’s 5th Virginia Infantry Battalion were posted here.”

Gen. Huger was a career U.S. Army ordnance officer who fought with distinction during the Mexican-American War, according to the release. He also served as a Confederate general during the Civil War, it says.

The county restored the fort, opening it to the public with interpretive signs in 2007. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Virginia Landmarks Register, Virginia Civil Wars Trail, Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, and Captain John Smith’s Trail: Lower Oyster Loop and Cornell eBird System.

Fort Huger can be found off Route 10 — follow the Civil War Trails signage. The address is 15080 Talcott Terrace, Smithfield.

Tour participants are instructed to wear comfortable walking shoes, and reservations are not required.

More information can be found by contacting the county’s Historic Resources Department at 357-0115, or by visiting www.historicisleofwight.com.