9 December

The Battle of Great Bridge was fought on this day in 1775, in the area of Great Bridge, Virginia, early in the American Revolutionary War. The victory by Continental Army and militia forces led to the departure of Governor Lord Dunmore and any remaining vestiges of British power from the Colony of Virginia during the early days of the conflict.

Following increasing political and military tensions in early 1775, both Dunmore and rebellious Whig leaders recruited troops and engaged in a struggle for available military supplies. The struggle eventually focused on Norfolk, where Dunmore had taken refuge aboard a Royal Navy vessel. Dunmore’s forces had fortified one side of a critical river crossing south of Norfolk at Great Bridge, while Whig forces had occupied the other side. In an attempt to break up the Whig gathering, Dunmore ordered an attack across the bridge, which was decisively repulsed. William Woodford, the Whig commander at the battle, described it as “a second Bunker’s Hill affair”.

Shortly thereafter, Norfolk, at the time a Tory centre, was abandoned by Dunmore and the Tories, who fled to navy ships in the harbour. Whig-occupied Norfolk was destroyed on 1 Jan 1776 in an action begun by Dunmore and completed by Whig forces.