Author: Patrick H. Hannum

Dr. Patrick H. Hannum served twenty-nine years as a U.S. Marine and sixteen years as a civilian professor at the National Defense University, specializing in Phase II Joint Professional Military Education. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution based on the service of his fifth great-grandfather, James Hannum, in the Pennsylvania Militia and is a frequent contributor to the Journal of the American Revolution.

The Battle of Great Bridge

The Battle of Great Bridge, fought on the morning of December 9, 1775, was the first major battle of the American Revolution (1775–1783) in Virginia and a significant victory for early Patriot military mobilization. Virginia’s Patriot government ordered a regiment of soldiers to cross from Williamsburg to the south side of the James River to attack and destroy the forces of the royal governor, John Murray, fourth earl of Dunmore, and secure Norfolk and Princess Anne counties. The armies converged in the village of Great Bridge in Norfolk County on the causeway and bridge crossing the Elizabeth River. Fearing reinforcements from North Carolina, Dunmore instructed his forces to attack the entrenched Patriot forces on the south end of causeway. Forced to attack six men abreast on the narrow bridge, the British 14th Regiment took devastating fire from the front and flank, and the attack collapsed. The surviving British forces retreated to warships in the Elizabeth River, with Dunmore having abandoned the strategic borough of Norfolk and the Patriots having been emboldened in their campaign to oust him from Virginia