The Norfolk Chapter again hosted the annual NSSAR commemoration of the Battle of Great Bridge in a formal ceremony in the new museum of Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation, Chesapeake, VA, on December 7, 2019. This was a joint ceremony that included the 66th annual wreath laying of Great Bridge Chapter NSDAR during which representatives of 36 patriotic organizations presented wreaths. Norfolk President Dr. Ken Hawkins and Great Bridge NSDAR Regent Bobbie Gribble shared the podium as moderators. Chesapeake Mayor Rick West read a city council proclamation designating the day as “Battle of Great Bridge Commemoration Day” and USN Commander (Ret.) Christopher Pieczyski spoke on the significance of the battle in the context of the Revolution. Virginia Society President Peter Davenport presented greetings from the Virginia Society and also, as Chancellor General, represented the NSSAR President General. State Corresponding Secretary Nancy Miller presented greetings from Virginia DAR. A combined NSSAR/VASSAR color guard performed magnificently in a variety of regular and militia uniforms. Violin and bagpipe music contributed significantly to this event that sought to honor not ourselves, but all those who heroically fought on December 9, 1775—the British for their king and the victorious Virginia and North Carolina Patriots for their liberty and rights.
The Norfolk Chapter and Virginia Society are already planning for our 10th annual commemoration for December 2020 to recognize this early Patriot victory that proved so significant to the Revolutionary cause. After their frontal assault was repulsed by the fire of Col. Woodford’s 2nd Virginia Regiment, the Culpeper Minutemen, and North Carolina and Virginia militias, the defeated forces of Tory Governor Dunmore (elements of the regular British 14th Regiment of Foot, The Queen’s Own Loyal Virginia Regiment, and Dunmore’s Royal Ethiopian Regiment) fled to ships off Norfolk, which was occupied and burned. Soon thereafter all British forces were expelled from Virginia and Chesapeake Bay. Virginians were encouraged to mobilize, declare independence, and be the first former colony to establish a constitution and a new state government by June 1776. Soldiers from Virginia, including veterans of Great Bridge, joined General Washington’s beleaguered army in time for Trenton, and much needed food, weapons, materiel, and additional reinforcements were shipped to his forces via the Chesapeake Bay.
Submitted by J. Thomas Whetstone, D.Phil.