O Bloody Run, where art thou?
Sometimes history becomes a matter of opinion, rather than a matter of fact. This is especially true when the facts are hard to come by, and that goes double for the Battle of Bloody Run.
in 1654, a tribe of Indians, known as the Ricahecrians, settled on the James River near Richmond. Even though Richmond was little more than a village at the time (it would not be incorporated as a town until 1742), it was still too close for local comfort. To the modern reader, this might seem like a head-scratcher. The New World was a pretty big place in the 17th century, with plenty of room for everyone. Where’s the harm with new folks moving into the ‘hood?
To understand the attitude, look no further than Anglo-Powhatan Wars, of which there were two, both long and bloody. The first one ran from 1609–1614 (anyone remember John Smith and Pocahontas?), and the second from 1622–1632, which kicked off with Powhatan’s massacre of anyone who looked remotely English. No surprise that these events were still fresh in the colonial memory, even by 1654. (Encyclopedia Virginia)
Enter the Virginia General Assembly, and Colonel Edward Hill, the representative from Charles City County. In 1656 Act XV was passed, granting Hill permission to move on the Ricahecrians.
WHEREAS information hath bin given that many western and inland Indians are drawne from the mountaynes, and lately sett downe neer the falls of James river, to the number of six or seaven hundred, whereby upon many severall considerations being had, it is conceived greate danger might ensue to this collony, This Assembly therefore do Think fitt to resolve that these new come Indians be in noe sort suffered to seate themselves there, or any place near us it haveing cost so much blood to expell and extirpate those perfidious and treacherous Indians which were there formerly, It being so apt a place to invade vs and within those lymitts which in a just warr were formerly conquered by us, and by vs reserved at the last conclusion of peace with the Indians, In pursuance whereof therefore and due respect to our own safety, Be it enacted by this present Grand Assembly, That the two upper countyes, under the command of Coll. Edward Hill, do presently send forth a party of 100 men at least and they shall first endeavour to remoove the said new come Indians without makeing warr if it may be, only in a case of their own defence, alsoe strictly requireing the assistance of the all the neighbouring Indians to aid them to that purpose, as being part of the articles of peace concluded with us, and faileing therein to look duely to the safety of all the English of those parts by fixing of their arms and provideing ammunition, and that they have recourse to the Governour and Councill for further direction therein, And the Governour and Gov. to send Councill are desired to send messages to Tottopottomoy and the Cluckahomynies and other Indians and treate with them as they in theire wisdoms and discretions shall think fitt. [TSAL]
Unfortunately, Hill was an asshat. Although his orders clearly directed him to fight only if necessary, he got cocky, confident that he and his pal Totopotomoi could brush off the invaders. Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission, right?
On an unknown date in 1656, 100 Colonial Rangers and 100 Pamunkey warriors took on between 250 and 300 Ricahecrians at the Battle of Bloody Run. The Ricahecrians did not go down like Hill expected. Choosing discretion as the better part of valor, he retreated with what remained of his force, hanging his allies out to dry. The Ricahecrians knew what to do with English sympathizers, and slaughtered nearly all of them, including poor Chief Totopotomoi, a sacrificial lamb to English arrogance.
It was a First World embarrassment, and the English had to go sniveling for peace. Later that year, the General Assembly censured Hill unanimously, stripped him of his rank, and made him pay for the treaty. [RSC]
So what’s the problem? The fact we don’t know where the battle took place!
You’d think that an engagement worthy of not one (above), but three historical markers would be a place we could spot on a map. Not so, as it turns out. Consider:
We have no records of the fight, except that the Rechahecrians, probably well entrenched on the summit of Richmond Hill, succeeded in defeating the English and their allies with much slaughter, killing Totopotomoi and nearly all his warriors. [HSR]
The fight took place in 1656 in the vicinity of a small stream that rose at the juncture of what is now Marshall and Thirty-first streets, in the city’s East End, and ran southeasterly around the base of Chimborazo into Gillies Creek. In modern times, it has been enclosed in a culvert. The sanguinary encounter caused the little stream to be named “Bloody Run.” [RSC]
or even this:
Colonel Edward Hill, with 100 militiamen and 100 Pamunkey Indians, (previously members of the Powhatan Confederacy) were sent to dislodge the alien intruders. The Richahecrians resisted, fighting and defeating Hill’s detachment at the battle of Shockoe Creek, probably near the base of today’s Capitol Square. [RIH]
That last one stings a bit, because Dr. Ward was a professor of history at UR, but his depiction is clearly an outlier. Perhaps he had superior knowledge, but it went unreferenced in his book; kinda makes you think a research assistant let him down.
Nor is this all! Tricia Noel from the Library of Virginia published an article in 2014 where she states:
Over three hundred and fifty years ago, the area now occupied by the 200 and 300 blocks of North 30th Street was the site of a mostly-forgotten colonial battle called the Battle of Bloody Run. (CPHN)
But the icing on the cake comes from Robert Krick, historian at Richmond National Battlefield Park:
I cannot help you with the Bloody Run portion of it, and it seems unlikely at this late date that any decisive information will emerge. I have seen a few modern analyses that suggest the battle that gave its name to Bloody Run actually occurred out in Hanover County, at some vague location. To my knowledge there is no especially trusty source and no superior interpretation that should be preferred to all the others. [RELK]
So in the absence of a definitive answer, Rocket Werks hereby plants its own opinionated flag. In 1842, Charles Dickens published his book American Notes, where he provides this surprising commentary:
In a low ground among the hills, is a valley known as ‘Bloody Run,’ from a terrible conflict with the Indians which once occurred there. It is a good place for such a struggle, and, like every other spot I saw associated with any legend of that wild people now so rapidly fading from the earth, interested me very much.
That makes TOTAL SENSE!
Let’s walk through this.
- The base of Shockoe Hill would have been right in the heart of the Richmond settlement, and if the battle had occurred there, you’d think we’d know a lot more about it. Besides the creek there was called Shockoe Creek, and this is the Battle of Bloody Run!
- Hanover is too far north. Edward Hill came from Charles City County, and was likely assigned to lead the force because his neck of the woods was directly affected by the Ricahecrians.
- Places take names for a reason. Both the Bates and Ellyson maps identify the road that became Williamsburg Road as Bloody Run Road. Bloody Run Road crossed Bloody Run stream. QED.
- In order to have 500 – 600 combatants face off, you need elbow room, not just so that people can murder each other more easily, but also for any animals (horses?) that also attended the slaughter. Soldiers and animals need food and water, the logistics of which imply additional requirements for space, even in colonial times. Given the topography of Church Hill in 1656, it would have made an engagement at the top of the hill, at the mouth of Bloody Run, a bit challenging.
Granted, Dickens was writing about Bloody Run 186 years after the fact, but aside from the state record, American Notes is among the earliest mentions of the event. The grounds on which the ruins of Fulton Gas Works lie do form a low ground between Libby Hill and Chimborazo, and seem an ideal spot on which to give battle.
(Bloody Run is part of the Atlas RVA Project)
- [AMN] American Notes. Dickens, Charles, 1842.
- [HSR] History of Richmond. Little, John P. 1851-1852.
- [RELK] Email. Robert E. L. Krick, Historian, Richmond Natl. Battlefield Park. 10 April 2018.
- [RIH] Richmond, an Illustrated History. Ward, Harry M. 1985.
- [RSC] Richmond, Story of a City. Dabney, Virginius. 1976.
- [TSAL] The Statutes at Large Being a Collection of the Laws of Virginia From the First Session of the Legislature in the Year 1619. Henning, William Waller. 1823.
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3rd Street Diner Sold
The exact plans for the space are unknown at this time but it supposedly will be a new restaurant.
The iconic corner cafe’s sale was announced yesterday.
Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer is pleased to announce the sale of the former 3rd Street Diner property located at 218 East Main Street in the City of Richmond, Virginia.
Ya Hua Zheng & Jianwei Tang purchased the 3,928 square foot retail building from 3rd Street LLC for $550,000 and will operate as a new restaurant.
Reilly Marchant of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer handled the sale negotiations on behalf of the seller.
I’ll confess to having never set foot inside the diner but I’ll be bummed to see the neon go away if they go down that path.
New national study: Downtown Richmond leads City’s growth over two decades
“Downtown Richmond continues to drive economic value, creativity, and innovation for the entire region.”
Richmond’s downtown is home to more than half the city’s jobs, it has absorbed nearly half of the city’s population growth over the last two decades, and it represents 35% of the city’s total assessed property value, all on less than 5% of the city’s total land area. A study by the International Downtown Association, and recently reported by Venture Richmond, offered this and other insights.
“Downtown has a remarkable concentration of the city’s real estate and cultural assets and has been a growth driver for the City’s transformation. It has also had a significant impact on the image of the entire Region,” said Lucy Meade, Venture Richmond’s director of economic development and community relations.
As part of Venture Richmond’s Annual Community Update, David Downey, President and CEO of the International Downtown Association, provided insights into how downtown Richmond is well-equipped to rebound from the financial challenges stemming from the pandemic while sharing a new study examining the value of Richmond’s downtown.
Various generations – from Generation Z to older populations – continue to have a high demand for the downtown experience, according to Downey. He noted that Richmond’s strong housing market, walkability, quality open spaces, and diversity scores, particularly in downtown, are positive indicators for the future.
“Downtown Richmond continues to drive economic value, creativity, and innovation for the entire region,” Downey said.
With the COVID-19 vaccine distribution continuing, Downey emphasized the need for companies to create productive and efficient plans for returning to the office to address the potential loss of innovation, creativity, and collaboration when working virtually.
During the event, Downey also shared takeaways from The Value of Downtowns and Center Cities, a report that quantifies the value of U.S. downtowns across more than 150 metrics under five core value principles with a focus on how downtowns contribute to the city and region around them. From 2017-2020, the IDA analyzed a total of 37 downtowns and center cities across the country.
The pre-COVID study finds that not only does Richmond’s downtown account for a significant proportion of the region’s jobs, but the city’s core experienced the region’s biggest percentage spike in residential population growth since 2000.
The significant and insightful results from the study included the following highlights. The full report can be found atVentureRichmond.com.
Richmond’s downtown accounted for more than half (53%) of the city’s jobs (77,465 out of 147,251) compared to the average of 40% for other “established Downtowns” in the study. Richmond leads the list of “established downtowns” with 63% of the City’s knowledge industry jobs, which is relatively higher than Seattle (58%), Minneapolis (58%), and Miami (52%); compared to the average of 41% for other “established Downtowns.”
The private sector employs 66% of jobs Downtown (50,910 jobs) and knowledge industry jobs account for 35,100 jobs.
Workers in the city center are better educated, comparably. Two in five (39%) of downtown workers have at least a college degree vs. one in three (33%) workers citywide and 31% in the region.
Downtown is young and educated. Today, 40% of our residents are between 18-24, and 30% of residents are between 25-34. The Downtown residential population is well educated with 57% having a bachelor’s degree or higher—up from 40% in 2010 and 40% are enrolled in college.
Most impressive was the increase in residential units, soaring 71% since 2010. However, only 14% of downtown residents own their own homes, but the racial balance of homeowners in downtown is close to even: 51% white vs. 49% non-white.
Economy and Quality of Life
Downtown is an entertainment and tourism destination with 70% of the citywide hotel rooms located Downtown – 16 properties with 2,581 rooms.
According to the report, Richmond’s downtown has one-fourth of the city’s retail businesses (478) and one-third of its restaurants and bars (252). Total annual downtown retail sales of $526 million represent 23% of the city’s retail sales. Non-Downtown residents account for 55% of that economic activity. The city center’s restaurants, bars, and breweries generate a combined $221 million in annual sales, 89% of which come from non-residents.
Downtown received a strong Walk Score of 94% and a Bike Score of 80% compared to other established Downtowns and an average Walk Score of 85% and Bike Score of 70%.
The report found that downtown Richmond’s sustainable transportation numbers left room for improvement with 65% of Downtown residents commuting alone compared to 35% commuting to work using a sustainable form of transportation (i.e. do not drive to work alone).
“As our downtown businesses continue to meet the challenges imposed by the pandemic, this IDA report is a timely reminder of the value that downtown Richmond brings to both the city and the region,” said Lisa Sims, CEO of Venture Richmond. “Our downtown will always play a significant role in our economic, civic, and cultural lives. As more people receive the vaccine, we are confident in the economic rebound of downtown.”
To view the full IDA report online, visit Venture Richmond’s website here: https://venturerichmond.com/about-us/reports/2020-ida-study-richmond/
Virginia Asian communities, lawmakers react to rise in targeted violence
Asian American communities in Central Virginia have come together in the past month, vigil after vigil in response to a spike in anti-Asian hate crimes. Virginia lawmakers are also trying to tackle the problem, and recently formed a Virginia Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus to push legislation on behalf of Asian communities, such as increased language assistance in government services.
By David Tran
Capital News Service
White signs reading “End Violence Against Asians” and “Stop Asian Hate” illuminated against candle flames outside the Richmond Korean Presbyterian Church.
More than 60 people gathered recently in Southside Richmond for the candlelight vigil to commemorate the Atlanta shooting victims and to call attention to recent anti-Asian violence.
“We did not want to be here, but we are here because of the hate,” said Mahmud Chowdhury, chairman of the Asian American Society of Central Virginia. “Because of madness in some people’s hearts and because of racism.”
The vigil was one of numerous events across Virginia this past March as communities, advocates and lawmakers came together in response to the murder of eight people in Atlanta. Six of the eight victims were Asian women. Police charged 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who is white, with eight counts of murder.
A “Stop the Hate” rally was held in Richmond’s West End three days after the vigil. Community leaders and dignitaries, such as Attorney General Mark Herring and State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, spoke at the rally.
May Nivar, who is Asian American and chair of Gov. Ralph Northam’s Asian Advisory Board, said she attended the vigil to show support for her community.
“It’s important that we all stand together and stand not only together amongst our own community but also with other marginalized communities,” Nivar said.
Nivar also is a founding member and chair of the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia and member of the Richmond chapter of Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. She said fundamental local and federal legislative changes are needed to address anti-Asian discrimination.
“These vigils, they help bring the community together when we’re hurting,” Nivar said. “However, the real change has to come at the root cause. And that’s racism.”
These changes, Nivar said, include anti-racist policies in government and education, such as teaching the history of minorities. She said white supremacy plays a part in the absence of teaching the history of marginalized communities in schools, such as African American and Asian American history.
Nivar said the Asian American and Pacific Islander community also needs to internally reflect on its part in addressing systemic racism and striving for substantial changes.
“We need to work with ourselves,” Nivar said. “There’s a lot of anti-Blackness in our community. There’s a lot of colorism in our community. There’s a lot of layers to unpack.”
State legislators recently formed a caucus to advocate legislation for Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Virginia, which the founding members said was partly a response to recent anti-Asian hate crimes.
Del. Kathy K.L. Tran, D-Springfield, said the movement to combat Asian hate is part of a larger racial and economic justice movement.
The caucus plans to work alongside the Virginia Legislative Black and Virginia Latino caucuses to push out legislation to “achieve our common goals of a more equitable future for Virginians.”
Tran was overcome with emotions as she reflected on the surge of violence against Asian Americans in the past months.
“It’s as if we have been so othered, that we’re at the point that we’re dehumanized,” Tran said, “and that you could be cruel against us. You can be a bully against us, because nobody’s going to stand up to help us.”
Days after Tran’s remarks, a Filipina American woman was brutally attacked in New York City during the day. No one intervened.
Tran’s family came to the United States as refugees from Vietnam. Her family dealt with discrimination and microaggressions when they moved to the U.S, she said.
“I’m thinking about my own experience and unpacking that,” Tran said. “That’s hard. It’s just a lot of trauma.”
Del. Kelly K. Convirs-Fowler, D-Virginia Beach, said the Asian American community has a long history of enduring xenophobia and racism. Convirs-Fowler, who is of Filipino descent, added the Asian American and Pacific Islander community will not be a scapegoat. She rejected the notion that the group is a model minority, a stereotype that paints Asian Americans as hardworking and economically successful compared to other ethnic minorities. She said the caucus formation “symbolizes a shift” in Virginia’s Asian American community.
The caucus members do not have a firm list of policy agendas, but they will have a virtual listening tour in April to gauge issues and concerns in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. They will virtually meet with the public in Northern and Central Virginia and Hampton Roads.
Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Ashburn, said the caucus will incorporate the feedback into its policy agenda, which it plans to release in May, coinciding with Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The caucus will pursue specific legislation during the 2022 General Assembly session.
Del. Mark L. Keam, D-Fairfax, said he wants to improve language access at government services for Asian Americans and others who do not speak English. He said non-English speakers are not getting vital information about COVID-19 vaccine distribution or unemployment insurance claims due to the lack of language assistance.
While Atlanta law enforcement have not declared the killings a hate crime, many Asian Americans believe the shootings are another example of the spike in anti-Asian violence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Advocates and lawmakers have linked the hate crimes to rhetoric blaming the Asian community for COVID-19. Many attribute the origin to former President Donald Trump’s usage of the terms “Chinese virus” or “Kung flu” to describe COVID-19.
“The past administration in the White House frequently sought to demean and dehumanize,” the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and didn’t respond to growing attacks, said Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, D-Chesterfield.
Tran said anti-Asian hate crimes may go unreported because most people are afraid to come forward.
“They might not have the language abilities, the trust of law enforcement, and they just don’t know how to report,” Tran said.
Subramanyam said he received calls and emails from Asian Americans, especially South Asian Americans, reporting hate incidents to his office because they feel uncomfortable reporting to law enforcement.
There were 215 reported victims of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2019, according to an FBI hate crime statistics report. Anti-Asian hate crimes increased nearly 150% from 2019 to 2020 in 16 major U.S. cities, according to a Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism report.
Almost 50 hate incidents against Asian Americans occurred in Virginia since March 2020, according to a report by STOP AAPI Hate, a group that tracks hate incidents against Asian Americans. The organization uses the term hate incident to account for incidents motivated by bias that might not be legally defined as a crime, such as racist slurs.
Nearly 3,800 hate incidents nationwide were reported to the organization since the pandemic. Virginia was one of the top 18 states with the most reported incidents, joining Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Reported hate incidents in Virginia were much lower than incidents reported in California, New York and Washington, which accounted for a majority of incidents. The group received almost 1,700 hate incident reports in California.
The majority of individuals reported verbal harassment, followed by shunning and physical assault. Chinese is the largest ethnicity group to report hate, followed by Koreans, Vietnamese and Filipinos. Women reported more than twice as much anti-Asian discrimination than men, according to the report.
There is a long legacy of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. that is often intertwined with misogyny, experts said. One of the earliest acts of anti-Asian sentiment was the 1871 Chinese massacre in Los Angeles that killed 19 Chinese immigrants, said Sylvia Chong, associate professor of American studies at the University of Virginia.
The Page Act of 1875 denied Chinese women entry into the U.S. due to “lewd and immoral purposes” because “they were seen as a sort of a threat to immigration, but also, they were characterized as not being virtuous,” said Shilpa Davé, associate dean and assistant professor of media studies at UVA.
Anti-Asian discrimination seeped into laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. It was the first federal law to bar a specific ethnic group from coming into the country.
Chong and Davé said the U.S. military presence and imperialism in Asia during the 20th century escalated the sexualization of Asian women. Chong said there was “persistent encouragement and use” of the local population to satisfy the military’s sexual needs.
“This introduces to American troops … the notion that Asian women in particular are in the position of sexual servitude,” Chong said. “So this follows people home.”
This narrative carried over and persisted in American popular culture, in numerous films and musicals, such as “Miss Saigon” portraying Asian women as sex objects, Davé said. It created the stereotype of Asian women being “sexually promiscuous or self-sacrificing” which became ingrained in American society.
The Atlanta shootings and recent violence underscore the intersectionality of gender, class and immigration status in anti-Asian racism, Chong said. While there is no indication the Atlanta shooting victims engaged in sex work, she said, Asian massage parlor workers are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Low-wage laborers, such as massage spa workers, are often exploited and demonized, she said. There is also a narrative that they need to be “saved from their lives,” which is harmful, according to Chong.
“They need to be given the protection to live their lives as others do,” Chong said. “Free from coercion, law enforcement coercion, as well as the random violence, societal violence. This is what any person in society wants.”