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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Richmond (Virginia)

< Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)

RICHMOND, a city, port of entry, capital of the State of Virginia, and county-seat of Henrico co.; on the James river, and on the Southern, the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac, the Atlantic Coast Line, and the Chesapeake and Ohio and Seaboard Air Line, and other railroads; 116 miles S. W. of Washington, D. C. The city is about 127 miles from the ocean. The James river is navigable for large vessels and there is steamboat communication with Philadelphia, New York, Portsmouth, Norfolk and other Atlantic ports. The city is built on seven hills, and is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Business Interests.—There are over 600 manufacturing establishments. In 1919 over $93,000,000 was invested in manufacturing establishments, which yielded sales of over $155,000,000. The chief industries are tobacco, iron, paper manufacturing, printing and publishing, and flour. The leading commercial institutions are the Chamber of Commerce, Corn and Flour Exchange, the Tobacco Exchange, and the Stock Exchange. It is the seat of a Federal Reserve Bank and other National banks. The total banking resources in 1919 were nearly $185,000,000. There are many daily, weekly, monthly, and other periodicals. The assessed property valuation exceeds $230,000,000, and the total bonded debt is about $14,250,000.

Public Interests.—The city covers an area of 26 square miles. The streets are lighted by gas and electricity. There is a public school enrollment of over 35,000. There are 42 public schools, and many private and parochial schools. In the city are a medical college, a theological seminary, a municipal mechanical training school, a women's college, Richmond College, and two colleges for colored students. The capitol, which stands on Shockoe Hill, and is surrounded by most of the other public buildings, is an imposing structure, dating from 1785. In the Central Hall, surmounted by a dome, are a statue of Washington and bust of Lafayette, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, and others. The Senate Chamber, to the right, was used as the Confederate House of Representatives during the Civil War. The House of Delegates, to the left, contains portraits of Chatham and Jefferson, and was the scene of Aaron Burr's trial for high treason in 1807 and of the State Secession Convention in 1861. The executive mansion of the Confederate States, formerly the residence of Jefferson Davis, has been converted into a museum which contains many relics of the Civil War. The other notable public buildings include the City Hall, State Library, State Penitentiary, almshouse, custom house, etc. The prominent educational institutions are Richmond College (Bapt.), St. Joseph Female Academy (R. C.), the Medical College of Virginia, University College of Medicine, Women's College, and Mechanic's Institute.

History.—Richmond is said to have first been settled in 1609. Fort Charles was built as a defense against the Indians in 1644-1645. The city was incorporated in 1742, and became the capital of the State in 1779. In 1811 the burning of a theater destroyed the lives of 70 persons, including the governor of the State. In June, 1861, it was selected as the Confederate capital, and from that period was the objective point of a series of formidable military expeditions for its capture, under Generals McDowell, McClellan, Burnside, Hooker, Meade, and Grant, and defended by Gen. Robert E. Lee, with a large army and formidable lines of fortifications. Pop. (1910) 127,628; (1920) 171,667.

Battles around Richmond.—During the last three years of the Civil War (1862-1865) battles raged all round Richmond, and remains of the fortified lines constructed to protect the city are visible in various parts of the environs. Both the inner and outer fortifications may be seen from the Brook Road, which leads to the Lakeside Club House, with its golf links, bowling alleys and boating lake. The chief direct attack on Richmond was made on May 15, 1862, when the Union fleet attempted, without success, to force its way past the batteries at Drewry Bluff, on the James river, 7 miles below the city. Simultaneously General McClellan advanced with the land forces up the peninsula between the York and James rivers and invested Richmond on the E. and N. This led to the hardly contested but indecisive battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks (May 31, 1862), in which the Confederates under Gen. Joseph E. Johnson attacked McClellan's left wing, to the S. of the Chickahominy. Large cemeteries and a park now mark the spot, 7 miles to the E., reached by the West Point railroad. The district is swampy, and McClellan lost more men by pestilence than in fighting. Gen. Robert E. Lee now assumed command of the Confederate forces and made an attempt, in combination with Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson, to overwhelm McClellan's right wing, which was posted at Mechanicsville, on the Chickahominy, 5½ miles to the N. of Richmond, and thus began the famous Seven Days' Battle (June 28-July 2, 1862). Mechanicsville was followed by the battles of Gaines's Mill, Cold Harbor, Savage's Station, Frazier's Farm, and Malvern Hill. The upshot of this series of contests, in which 40,000 men fell, was the relief of Richmond, as the Union troops were compelled to retreat to Malvern Hill, 15 miles to the S. E., where they repelled the Confederates in their last attack but soon after withdrew to Harrison's Landing, on the James River. During 1863 there were no direct attacks on Richmond. In May, 1864, General Grant marched down through the “Wilderness” and attacked Lee in his entrenched position at Cold Harbor (June 3, 1864), and lost 15,000 men without making much impression on the enemy. He then transferred his army to the S. side of the James; and the later stages of the war were rather a siege of Petersburg (q. v.) than of Richmond.

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