SATURDAY 8/3: Attack on Cape Charles Lighthouse Remembered 150 Years Later at Town Museum with Lecture and Encampment

Saturday, August 3, at 2 p.m., the Cape Charles Historical Society will spotlight Confederate raider John Beall’s 1863 attack on the Cape Charles Lighthouse.

Civil War historian Kellee Blake will share the colorful story of this daring action exactly 150 years earlier on August 3, 1863.

Union officials believed the Shore’s people culpable in Beall’s destruction of the valuable lighthouse, and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton demanded that Northampton County citizens pay for the lighthouse repairs.

A “lighthouse levy” was imposed. The ensuing protests and political drama ultimately compelled the involvement of President Abraham Lincoln. His views on the Shore were complex and quickly changing.

Framing the lecture will be an encampment at the Museum by local reenactor Bill Savages with several members of the revised 46th VA Co. F, a.k.a. Eastern Shore Refugees.  They will set up an A frame tent or two, maybe a small cooking fire, and possibly fire their muskets using blank black powder charges.

They will also have some displays of equipment and personal items carried by the typical Confederate soldier during the War, including a new period Virginia flag that will be displayed for the first time.  Setup will be about 9:30 a.m. outside the Museum.  Members of the group will enjoy talking with visitors before the talk.

While no famous large-scale battles transpired on the Eastern Shore during the Civil War, the story here is a remarkable one. Lesser known skirmishes, incessant blockade running, disruption of Union ship navigation, and regular compromise of telegraph communication occurred on this strategically situated peninsula.

Throughout the war, soldiers and spies moved through the Shore. Confederate operatives repeatedly severed the submarine cable running from Cherrystone past the present-day town of Cape Charles to Fortress Monroe. Raiders like Beall exasperated Federal officials while providing a unique form of support to the Confederacy.

Would Beall strike the Shore again? Was he helped by locals? Anyone interested in the Shore’s Civil War history is invited to hear this presentation at the Cape Charles Museum. Conversation and light refreshments will follow the free lecture.



One Response to “SATURDAY 8/3: Attack on Cape Charles Lighthouse Remembered 150 Years Later at Town Museum with Lecture and Encampment”

  1. Bill Neville on July 24th, 2013 5:01 pm

    So pleased to have someone with Kellee Blake’s background speak on the civil war on the shore at our little museum . She is by all reports an excellent speaker. I am looking forward to an excellent presentation. Also looking forward to seeing and talking to Wises Eastern Shore Refugees.