Sewell's Point is a peninsula of land in the independent city of Norfolk, Virginia in the United States, located at the mouth of the salt-water port of Hampton Roads. Sewell's Point is bordered by water on three sides, with Willoughby Bay to the north, Hampton Roads to the west, and the Lafayette River to the south. It is the site of the Norfolk Navy Base.
Sewell's Point’s location at the mouth of Hampton Roads proved to be a strategic location during the early portion of the Civil War.
Battle of Sewell's Point
The first skirmish in Virginia, the little-known Battle of Sewell's Point, was fought on May 18-19, 1861, on ground now occupied by the US Naval Station Norfolk. The events leading up to the initial engagement on Virginia soil had moved with whirlwind rapidity.
Events leading onto the Battle
On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Four months later, on April 12, 1861, troops of that state opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston's harbor. Five days later, Virginia became the eighth Southern state to withdraw from the Union, and join the newly formed Confederacy.
A few weeks later that spring, US General-in-Chief Winfield Scott proposed to President Lincoln a plan to bring the states back into the Union: cut the Confederacy off from the rest of the world instead of attacking its army in Virginia.
His plan was to blockade the Confederacy's coastline and control the Mississippi River valley with gunboats. Lincoln ordered a blockade of the southern seaboard from the South Carolina line to the Rio Grande on April 19 and on April 27 extended it to include the North Carolina and Virginia coasts. On April 20 the Union Navy burned and evacuated the Norfolk Navy Yard, destroying nine ships in the process, leaving only Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort as the last bastion of the United States in Tidewater Virginia.
Occupation of Norfolk gave the Confederacy its only major shipyard and thousands of hea...