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Battle Site

The USCTs proved their mettle against General Fitzhugh Lee and his Confederate cavalry.

At noon on May 24, 1864 about 2,500 Confederate cavalry initiated action on Wilson's Wharf, manned by a force of about 1,400 USCT troops, led by white commanders. The attack began with a mounted charge on Federal pickets, and then a dismounted attack on the fort. To attack the fort it was necessary to cross through a clearing. Attempts at the center failed and lines of skirmishers were deployed to attack from the eastern side of the fort. Lee sent a surrender demand which Wild quickly declined. The Federal troops, reinforced by two gunboats in the James River, returned fire and repulsed all attacks until the battle ended at six o'clock that evening. Reports of casualties are conflicting, but can be estimated at 20 for the Union and 100 for the Confederates, including dead, wounded, and captured.

About 20 Union USCT troops and nearly 100 Confederates were killed, wounded or captured in the action.


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