Bermuda Hundred Important Tour Information
My goal in the last issue on the Bermuda Hundred Driving Tour was simply to indicate where Ben Butler’s earthworks crossed W. Hundred Road. In doing so I violated a cardinal rule of The General’s Tour by including a site I did not personally visit, though I did observe the site 25 years ago while preparing our 1989 issue on Bermuda Hundred, and it appeared on that issue’s Tour Map. Once the 2014 Tour was laid out, I realized there was one set of earthworks not included that could complete a tour of Butler’s Final Line as it stretched north beyond W. Hundred Road (Rt. 10) toward the James River.
The site is the location of extant works at adjacent Forts Carpenter and Drake that border the road. Using information from another map in my possession that indicated the specific site, I was able to pinpoint a GPS location. I had been told the site is subject to alteration/obliteration by the future widening of busy Rt. 10, but believed the site was still important enough to include for hardcore trampers, as it had been included in other driving tours.
During a visit to the Richmond-Petersburg area in late November 2014, to prepare an upcoming issue on Lee’s Retreat toward Appomattox, I made a point to visit the Forts Carpenter and Drake site. The GPS coordinates placed me at the trench remains (Fort Drake) along the north side of Rt. 10 (below left), but I noticed immediately the berm is narrow and the traffic, at times, could be very heavy and aggressive. Therefore, I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PULL OVER HERE. Consider it a drive-by site, as the earthworks on the north side are quite distinct, or as an alternative consider the following.
As shown on the Maps in the Bermuda Hundred issue, the north-south fortifications cut across the road at this point, so trench remains are on both sides of Rt. 10. The unique part of the earthworks, an east-west stretch that was called Fort Carpenter, are on the other side of the road and run parallel to it. A small portion of those works can be inspected. Remains are visible on the south side of Rt. 10 (below right) about 200 yards to the west at the entrance to a commercial development opposite Harbor East Dr. The remains on both sides of Rt. 10 are on private property so can only be examined along the road. George L. Fickett, Jr., Bermuda Hundred preservationist, hopes that portions of Fort Drake can be preserved in the future.
Make a copy of this information and tip it into your Bermuda Hundred issue for future reference.
DAVE ROTH, Editor