Before Dawn, December 9, 1775

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A patriot takes a well-aimed shot at the advancing British.

The Redcoats have already defeated a rebellion at Kemps Landing. They are strong and they are well trained. But, we are fighting for our families, our land, and our liberty. The troops will wake soon. Who knows what this day will bring. My mother wept when we left. She begged us not to go, but we know we have a higher calling. It has been over nine months since Patrick Henry cried out in Richmond, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

 Now, is our chance….

Cannon fire in the distance. God save us all.

Patriots busily reloading their muskets. A well-trained marksman could fire up to
three shots per minute.

The Battle of Great Bridge played a critical role in the development of the United States, a story that has been often glanced over in lieu of the more popular stories from the American Revolution.  By preserving the story of the battle, its artifacts, and its location, the Great Bridge Battlefield &Waterways History Foundation will ensure that the legacy of this region will be passed down to future generations.  Unless preserved, important places and events of the past become lost.

Once the Visitor Center is complete, ongoing educational programs will be planned, including films, guest speakers, and indoor and outdoor exhibits, as well as partnerships with the Chesapeake Public Schools, Tidewater Community College and other area colleges, universities, and museums.  The building is a Georgian Revival design reflecting the popular architectural style of the late 1700s. It will house a 100-seat auditorium for multi-media presentations and lectures; a 3,000 sq. ft. permanent gallery; a 2,000 sq. ft. gallery for changing exhibits, a gift shop, and a multipurpose catering kitchen. The Center will provide resources for local historical research, will host both indoor and outdoor interpretive displays and programming, and will offer space for civic events.   This 12,000 sq. ft. building will be located adjacent to a reclaimed portion of the Battle of Great Bridge site, where the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal bisects the original battlefield.

Architectural rendering of the The Battlefield Park Welcome Center.

The now opened Historic Park is easily becoming a centerpiece of the City of Chesapeake’s Park System. Strategically located along the Intracoastal Waterway and busy Battlefield Boulevard, the park is accessible to the more than 10,000 boats and over 1,000,000 vehicles per year that travel this intersection, in addition to those traveling from outside the region. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution raised funds and constructed an obelisk monument commemorating the Patriots who fought in The Battle of Great Bridge.  This monument is prominently displayed in the center of the Historic Battlefield Park. An Interpretive History Trail throughout the park provides educational opportunities for visitors. As a result of the Foundation’s work with the VA State Board of Education, the Battle of Great Bridge is now included in Virginia’s Standards of Learning Curriculum (VS.5C). By telling the story of the battle and its surroundings, the Foundation will teach its visitors Chesapeake’s instrumental contribution to the formation of our great nation.

Free VIP Tours of the Historic Park led by the Foundation’s docents are now available to families, classes, and groups. To schedule your own VIP tour, contact the Foundation at 757-482-4480 or info@gbbattlefield.org.

The Battlefield Park and Visitor Center will give an opportunity for visitors of all ages to come see, hear, and feel our nation’s history; thereby, turning the Battle of Great Bridge and the history of the waterways into a more tangible learning experience.  Moreover, as responsible stewards of both the past and the future, the Foundation is seeking LEED Certification for the project to ensure minimal impact on the surrounding environment and contribute to Chesapeake’s long-term sustainability program.

The Battlefield Park and Visitor Center provides a crucial piece of the collective national history.   Become involved in this amazing journey!  Contact the foundation office at 757-482-4480 or visit us on the web at www.gbbattlefield.org.

Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways Historic Park & Visitor Center

The British forces advance to clear the bridge while withering fire from the patriots begins to take its toll.

Jonathan Iaquinto and Madelyn Shuttlesworth waiting patiently for the battle to begin.

Norman Fuss of Williamsburg uses a map and terrain model to educate young Cub Scouts on the Battle of Great Bridge. Fuss plays the part of an engineer captain in His Majesty’s Army.

Mack Whitford of Portsmouth teaches drill to young recruits from Cub Scout Pack 901, Den 4, sponsored by St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Whitford belongs to the 7th Virginia Regiment, Continental Army (re-enactors).

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