Historic America

Action at Aquia Creek, Stafford, Virginia

Beachgoers enjoying the summer at this Virginia park are seldom aware of the Civil War drama that unfolded there.

The Engagement at Aquia Creek was fought from Wednesday, May 29 to Saturday, June 1, 1861 between Union forces commanded by Commander James H. Ward and Virginian forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles and Capt. William F. Lynch in Stafford County, Virginia during the American Civil War.

Several small fleets of U.S. Navy ships and converted civilian vessels had been enforcing an economic and military blockade on Virginia ports since April 27th, 1861. Their mission was to close the Chesapeake Bay to maritime traffic, and open up the Potomac River to Union ships, which was vital to securing Washington, DC.

By the end of May 1861, there was no longer any doubt as to which side Virginia would take in the American Civil War. On May 23rd, Virginia voters ratified secession by a large majority, and the next day, Union troops crossed the Potomac River and seized Arlington Heights and Alexandria, Virginia. Armed conflict on Virginia soil was inevitable, but no one quite knew where it would ignite.

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