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RVA Legends — Battle of Bloody Run

A look into the history of Richmond places and people that have disappeared from our landscape.

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O Bloody Run, where art thou?

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Negotiating Peace with the Indians by Theodor de Bry and Matthew Merian — 1634

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?

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Powhatan— William Hole, 1608

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)

(Encyclopedia Virginia) — Indian massacre of 1622— Matthäus Merian, 1628

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]

(Find A Grave) — composite image of Colonel Edward Hill & Chief Totopotomoi

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!

(Virginia Historical Society) — Map of the City of Richmond— Micah Bates, 1835 — showing path of Bloody Run

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]

or this:

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]

April 2018— showing former location of the mouth of Bloody Run at Marshall & Thirty-first Streets

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]

groan

(Virginia Memory) — Map of Richmond — Ellyson, 1856

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!

April 2018 —showing a low ground among the hills

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)


Sources

  • [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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Combining protean forces from the forbidden Zero Serum with the unbridled power of atomic fusion, to better probe the Wisdom of the Ancients and their Forgotten Culture.

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Tethering bill adds new protections for animals kept outside

Animal rights advocates want lawmakers to advance legislation that expands on a tethering bill passed last year by the General Assembly. The new legislation would increase the minimum length of a tether and adds conditions that include temperature, severe weather and require the animal to be brought inside when the owner isn’t home.

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By Ada Romano

Animal rights advocates want lawmakers to advance legislation that expands on a tethering bill passed last year by the General Assembly. The new legislation would increase the minimum length of a tether and adds conditions that include temperature, severe weather and require the animal to be brought inside when the owner isn’t home.

Senate Bill 272, introduced by Sen. John Bell, D-Loudoun, would increase the required length of the tether from 10 feet or three times the length of the animal to 15 feet or four times the length of the animal. Under the bill, pets can’t be tied during a heat advisory or if a severe weather warning has been issued, including hurricane, tropical storm or tornado warnings. The bill outlaws tethering in temperatures 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and when an owner is not home. Last session, a bill expanded the law from a 3-foot tether to 10 feet. That bill, introduced by Sen. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, originally carried the same language as Bell’s current bill, but it was amended by a Senate committee.

Robert Leinberger, animal control supervisor for Richmond Animal Care and Control, said that some parts of the bill may be difficult to enforce. Still, if the legislation gets passed, Leinberger said, it will make a difference because people will be forced to be more aware of the law. He said more people will call to report instances of animals being improperly tethered.

“For example, if it’s inclement weather when it’s really super cold or really super hot, then we do occasionally see more calls for service because of the animals left out,” Leinberger said.

Kate Riviello, a New York-based animal rights activist who also works in Virginia, supports that the bill outlaws outdoor tethering when the temperature is below 32 degrees. Virginia law currently requires that an animal must have access to water, but the water doesn’t make a difference if it freezes, she said.

Riviello also supports “Tommie’s Law,” legislation passed last year that made animal cruelty a felony in Virginia. The law is named after a pit bull that died after he was set on fire. Riviello said she is happy to see the changes Virginia is making to protect the rights of animals but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to continue in the right direction.

“With ‘Tommie’s law,’ I think it was really tremendous that they took that step,” Riviello said. The key also is to enforce animal rights’ laws, Riviello said, which isn’t always the case.

Leinberger said implementing animal rights’ legislation is important because it enables people to better care for their pets. Tethering is just one issue that needs to be addressed, he said.

The bill is awaiting action by the Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.

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PHOTOS: Switch’s new concept, 84, takes things back to 1984

The restaurant with quarterly rotating themes is kicking it in the ’80s for the foreseeable future.

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Better start with ellipses as Pac-Man can come eat them! Or spots on a Lite-Brite Board waiting to be filled in with whatever colors and shapes you want.

@thenightowl Mikael Broth has brilliantly painted murals depicting pop culture in 1984: Prince & Purple Rain, Madonna, and the material girl, Michael Jackson as the zombie in Thriller eating popcorn (which seems totally hilarious and wrong across from Gizmo who will undoubtedly be up after midnight).

Stools between seats are painted as Rubix cubes awaiting solving. A bloodied Dr. Indiana Jones watches over the bar on one side while Tetris pieces fall on the other side.

Underneath the seats is Pinky, no Blinky, no maybe that’s Clyde chasing those pellets.

Immerse yourself in memories or if you are younger, dive straight into the tank that is Pop Culture of 1984 on display at Switch.

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The Valentine announces 2020 Richmond History Makers

Today, the Valentine announced the six honorees that will be recognized at the 15th Annual Richmond History Makers & Community Update. This program promotes and celebrates the bold, innovative and often unsung work of individuals and organizations who strive to improve their communities.

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Today, the Valentine announced the six honorees that will be recognized at the 15th Annual Richmond History Makers & Community Update. This program promotes and celebrates the bold, innovative and often unsung work of individuals and organizations who strive to improve their communities.

On Tuesday, March 10th at Virginia Union University, the honorees will be celebrated in a room full of family, friends, local leaders, community advocates, non-profit representatives and more.

“After 15 years recognizing the best the Richmond Region has to offer, we are more excited than ever to celebrate our 2020 honorees,” said Valentine Director Bill Martin. “Our new partnership with the Community Foundation, our return to Virginia Union University and our incredible group of winners are all a part of the Valentine’s wider goal of supporting and strengthening this program through continued community engagement.”

The 15th anniversary of this program also marks the first time the Valentine has partnered with the Community Foundation for a Greater Richmond to provide an update on the progress being made across the region.

“Celebrating the Richmond History Makers honorees is a perfect way to reflect on the progress we’ve made as a city as well as the issues that continue to require unified effort,” said Community Foundation Chief Community Engagement Officer Scott Blackwell. “By providing an update on where we are as a region, we can celebrate the honorees while inspiring others in the community to take action.”

The honorees were nominated by members of the Richmond community according to six categories and chosen by a Selection Committee made up of LMR (Leadership Metro Richmond) graduates and former Richmond History Makers Honorees.

“We received nearly 100 nominations this year, and from that large pool of impressive candidates, six incredible honorees were chosen,” said Myra Goodman Smith of Leadership Metro Richmond. “LMR is honored be a part of this program for the 15th year in a row, and we look forward to joining with members of the Richmond community in recognizing these groundbreaking individuals and organizations.”

The 2020 Richmond History Makers and their categories include:

  • For Creating Quality Educational Opportunities, ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation
  • For Championing Social Justice, Tanya Gonzalez, The Sacred Heart Center
  • For Promoting Community Health, Jeannette Cordor, Faces of HOPE
  • For Improving Regional Transportation, Charles Rasnick
  • For Demonstrating Innovative Economic Solutions, BLK RVA Action Team
  • For Advancing our Quality of Life, Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia

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