Howard Jones on “Marines Fighting Marines – The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff”
The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff took place on May 15, 1862. It was a small but significant part of General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign that began on March 17, 1862. It might have been the difference in the battle if it had been successful. Essentially, McClellan’s advance towards Richmond had stalled on the outskirts of the Confederate capital. Plans were then made to send a flotilla of ships up the James River and break the deadlock by shelling Richmond.
The only obstacle to this plan was Drewry’s Bluff, located just 7 miles downstream from Richmond. Here the river made a sharp turn and a massive bluff rose 110 feet above the river. The bluff was heavily defended by the Confederate States Marines Corps. A flotilla of 5 ships, including the indestructible Monitor, was sent upstream to blast its way through the defenses and capture Richmond.
The Battle of Drewry’s Bluff is unique because it is the only battle in the history of the United States Marine Corps where U.S. Marines and former Marines, (now the Confederate States Marine Corps), met in direct combat. Many of these men would have known each other from before the war.
Howard Jones is the President of the Peninsula Civil War round table and an amateur historian.