Battle Detail

Big Bethel

Other Name:
Bethel Church, Great Bethel
Union Blockade of Chesapeake Bay
May-June 1861
Principal Commanders:
Brigadier General Ebenezer Pierce [US] Major General John Magruder [CS]
Forces Engaged:
4700 total (US 3500; CS 1200;)
Estimated Casualties:
84 total (US 76; CS 8;)
This was the first land battle in Virginia. Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler sent converging columns from Hampton and Newport News against advanced Confederate outposts at Little and Big Bethel. Confederates abandoned Little Bethel and fell back to their entrenchments behind Brick Kiln Creek, near Big Bethel Church. The Federals, under immediate command of Brig. Gen. Ebenezer Pierce, pursued, attacked frontally along the road, and were repulsed. Crossing downstream, the 5th New York Zouaves attempted to turn the Confederate left flank, but were repulsed. Unit commander Col. T. Wynthrop was killed. The Union forces were disorganized and retired, returning to Hampton and Newport News. The Confederates suffered 1 killed, 7 wounded.
Confederate Victory
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