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We have so far looked at the influences of the architecture in Williamsburg on the design of Hanover County Courthouse as well the most famous case to be heard there. What was known as the Parson’s Case cemented Hanover County Courthouse’s place in history. As we will now see, this was not the only significant event to have occurred in or around this small brick building.
In July 1774 the Hanover County Courthouse was the site of a meeting called in the wake of the Boston Tea Party and in anticipation of the Virginia Convention of 1774. Patrick Henry and John Syme were to be the local representatives at the Virginia Convention. At this meeting the Hanover freeholders resolved:
“Whether the People [in Boston] were warranted by Justice when they destroyed the Tea, we know not; but this we know, that the Parliament, by their Proceedings, have made us, and all North America, Parties in the present Dispute, and deeply interested in the Event of it, insomuch that if our Sister Colony of Massachusetts Bay is enslaved we cannot long remain free.”
At this meeting the freeholders also went on to condemn the African slave trade “as most dangerous to Virtue, and the Welfare of this Country”. They instructed their representatives to support putting an end to it. Before this was to come to pass Hanover County was to see some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War.
The County of Hanover was to be the site of many civil war battles including Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines’ Mill, South Ana and Cold Harbor. The courthouse was directly involved in a couple of incidents. On May 27, 1862 General McClellan ordered a Union force to Hanover County Courthouse to protect his right flank. A Confederate brigade of over 4,000 men attacked the Federal troops. The Confederate force was quickly driven off. The following month General J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry passed through the area on its ride around McClellan’s army.
In the late spring of 1864 as Grant was advancing towards his eventual victory, he passed though the area. This was during the Union army’s move south to Richmond. At the time Grant was capturing vital crossroads whilst staying east of Lee’s Confederate Army in order to protect the supply lines. The two Armies met 15 miles south of Hanover County Courthouse on June 1 at Cold Harbor. This battle became known as the bloodiest hour of the Civil War.