Petersburg-Emporia-(Weldon,N.C.); US 301Petersburg to North Carolina Line, 52.4 m.
Paved roadbed throughout, largely with asphalt. Atlantic Coast Line R.R. parallels route. Accommodations chiefly in towns.
US 301 passes through slightly rolling Southside where cotton, peanuts, and tobacco are grown. Much of the area was a battleground during the Revolution and the War between the States. The route runs through the center of the Petersburg National Military Park (see also Tour 1 and Tour 18).
US 301 branches south from Washington St., 0 m., on Sycamore St. in PETERSBURG.
The SITE OF FORT MAHONE (R), is at 2.2 m. This Confederate fortification was named for General William Mahone, whose division occupied it in 1864. On the remnants of the fort is a tall stone monument to the memory of the Third Division of the Federal Ninth Corps. Fort Mahone was lost during Grant's drive on the morning of April 2, 1865.
The PENNSYLVANIA MONUMENT (L), 2.3 m., honors the dead of the 48th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, composed of coal miners who excavated the mine that was later exploded and formed the Crater (,a href="tour18.html">see Tour 18).
Here (L) is a junction with County 634, a part of the Jerusalem Plank Road over which farmers rolled tobacco to Petersburg.
Lefton County 634 to the DEFENDERS' MONUMENT (R), 0.2 m., erected in memory of the old men and boys of Petersburg who, on June 9, 1864, held off a cavalry force of 1,300 men under General A. V. Kautz until reinforced by Confederate cavalry.
The FEDERAL TUNNELS (L), 2.5 m. (adm- 40 cents), are a reconstruction of Fort Sedgwick, named for General John Sedgwick, who was killed at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse (see Tour 10). This Federal fortification was built as the Union lines were extended to the left in the early summer of 1864. The amount of ammunition used here when the fort was earning its nickname Fort Hell is said to have been enormous. Likewise owned privately is a museum containing many battlefield relics.
At 3.1 m. is a junction with a park road.
Right on this road, which circles westward along the line of Federal entrenchments and returns eastward along the Confederate line to the vicinity of Fort Mahone.
FORT DAVIS (L), 0.1 m., formed another unit for the left flank of the Union army. When Grant had extended his lines to this vicinity, he began construction of Fort Davis, and on June 21, 1864, he sent two corps and a large force of cavalry to attempt to cut the railroads leading into Petersburg. The cavalry advanced to Reams' Station and turned westward on a raid. While the Sixth Corps swung southward and accomplished nothing, the Second Corps advanced against the railroad, three miles west, and was defeated by Mahone's Confederate division on June 22.
FORT WADSWORTH, 3.5 m., was named for Federal General James S. Wadsworth, killed May 6, 1864, in the Battle of the Wilderness (see Tour 10). just beyond the fort are the tracks of the former Petersburg and Weldon R. R., now part of the Atlantic Coast Line. Because it was one of the railroads that supplied Lee's army, Grant reeatedly sought its destruction, but Lee managed to protect it with only occasional breaks.
On August 18, 1864, the Federals cut the railroad at this point, began construction of Fort Wadsworth, and for four days defeated every effort on the part of the Confederates to dislodge them. Failing in a contemporaneous movement to break through to Richmond north of the James River (see Tour 24), Grant made an unsuccessful attempt to destroy this road at Reams Station (see below).
At 4.6 m. on US 301 is a junction with County 629.
Left here to the BELSCHES HOUSE (L), I m., formerly called Bell Hill. The old remodeled house, a two-story frame structure, was at one time the home of Alexander Belsches, who distinguished himself during the War of 1812 in a battle between the Constitution and the British frigate Guerriere. For his bravery the State of Virginia bestowed upon him a sword.
Adjoining the Belsches House is FORT PATRICK KELLY, well-preserved breastworks now thickly covered by trees and underbrush. This Federal outpost was used by Grant during the Siege of Petersburg.
SECOND SWAMP, 5.7 m., is the headwater of streams that once supplied power for several Colonial grist mills.
At 8 m. is a junction with County 608.
Right here to OLD GARY'S CHURCH (L), 0.5 m. The congregation was organized after a Methodist revival meeting held in 1787 by Jesse Lee at Jones's Hole near by. Built in 188o the frame building was a successor to the barn given James Cary for the first meetings.
At 10.3 m. on US 30 1 is a junction with County 62 1.
Left here to County 63 8, 1.8 m., and L. to LEE'S MILL (R), 2.3 m., said to have been in use since the Revolution. Here, on July 12, 1864, part of General Fitzhugh Lee's command engaged in a lively skirmish with Federal cavalry, routing the enemy and capturing 33 prisoners and 30 horses.
At 11 m. on US 301 is a junction with County 622.
Right here to County 606, 2.2 m., and L. to REAMS STATION, 3.3 m., a depot on the former Petersburg and Weldon R.R.
On June 22, 1864, Generals James H. Wilson and A. V. Kautz, with 6,000 cavalry, tore up track, burned the station, and started on a raid westward. Upon returning, on June 29, they were surprised here by Confederate infantry and cavalry. Abandoning their wagons and guns, the Union cavalrymen fled southward with General Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry in pursuit. On August 25, General W.S. Hancock's Second Corps was badly beaten here by General A.P. Hill's corps and General Wade Hampton's cavalry.
At 13.8 m. on US 301 is a junction with County 604.
Right here to SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH (R), 0.6 m., with a congregation organized in 1836. When admitted to the Portsmouth Baptist Association, Shiloh had a membership Of 24.
STONY CREEK, 21.4 m. (74 alt., 465 pop.), with freshly painted houses and well-kept yards, thrives with the support of lumber mills, a peanut plant, and the trade of a well-to-do farming area. There was much activity here during the last year of the War between the States. On May 7, 1864, General A.V. Kautz burned the railroad bridge over Stony Creek, just west of which, on June 28, the cavalry of General Wade Hampton defeated the cavalry of Wilson and Kautz, causing them to abandon silks, furniture, horses, silverware, and about 1,000 Negroes, the result of pillaging that later provoked a Federal headquarters investigation. Later, on December 1, Federal cavalry raided the depot and captured the station guard of 170 men. At Stony Creek during this winter was maintained a Confederate forage station, a source of supply for Lee's army that was cut off March 31, 1865, when Dinwiddie Courthouse was occupied by Federal troops.
At 22.1 m. is a junction with State 40.
Left here to SUSSEX, 7 m. (50 POP.), seat of Sussex County, a close-knit settlement with a general store and the usual buildings that surround a Virginia courthouse.
The SUSSEX COUNTY COURTHOUSE, built of brick in 1828 is on a large tree-shaded green. The central section projects over an arcaded loggia and at the center of the roof is a small bell tower. Sussex County was formed in 1754 from Surry and named for Sussex County, England
The small TREASURER 'S OFFICE was built simultaneously with the courthouse.
The CLERK'S OFFICE, erected in 1924, contains county records dating from the formation of the county, among them a deed signed by Thomas Rolfe, son of Pocahontas.
The large DILLARD HOUSE, built in 1802 by C.H. Bailey, was the repository of the clerk's records until the courthouse was built.
For about 10 miles south of a junction with County 640, at 26.1 m., US 301 follows the old Halifax Road, which led to Halifax, in the North Carolina tobacco belt. Cornwallis marched over this road in his invasion of Virginia in May 1781. Because Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton had
cleared the path for his general, Cornwallis met little opposition. On this march the British are said to have committed 'enormities that were a disgrace to the name of man.'
JARRATT (154 alt., 200 pop.), 31.5 m., at a crossing of two railroads, began to grow in 1938 when the Johns-Manville Company established an insulating-board plant here.
On May 8, 1864, the village was burned by General Kautz to delay Beauregard. On December 8, track was torn up here by a large Federal force operating under Warren on retreat from Belfield. Warren withdrew to his lines near Petersburg in time to avoid conflict with General A.P. Hill's 16,000 Confederates, concentrating here on the morning of December I I.
EMPORIA, 42 m. (2,144 POP.), seat of Greensville County, is composed of North Emporia and South Emporia, two old towns formerly Belfield and Hicksford, separated by the Meherrin River. The town, of well-kept, attractive homes, has a lively air created by the presence of machine shops, lumber, cotton, and tapestry mills, veneer and candy factories, and peanut plants. It ships cotton and peanuts.
The old town of Hicksford, or Hicksville, grew up near the site of a ford, named for Captain Robert Hix, an Indian trader who was captain of the garrison at Fort Christanna (see Tour 7b) in 1717. He accompanied Governor Alexander Spotswood to Albany, N.Y., in 1722, to negotiate a treaty with the Five Nations, and in 1728 was a member of Colonel William Byrd's surveying expeditions.
On December 10, 1864, when Warren reached Belfield, he found Hampton protecting the railroad bridge from a well-fortified position. Repulsed, Warren returned to his lines at Petersburg. Hampton's cavalry remained here for a month while repairs were being made on the railroad.
The GREENSVILLE COUNTY COURTHOUSE, a two-story brick building with large, columned portico, was built in 1787. The county was formed in 1781 from Brunswick.
The REESE HOUSE, in North Emporia, was Butts Tavern for many years.
Emporia is at a junction with US 58 (see Tour 7a).
At 47.7 m. is a junction with County 621.
Right here to large GRANITE QUARRIES, 2 m., which ships quantities of fine stone.
At 52.5 m. US 301 crosses the North Carolina Line at a point 12 miles north of Weldon, N.C. (see North Carolina Guide).