The Civil War in the East

United States Armies & Departments

Department of Virgina

May 1861- July 1863

The department was created on May 22, 1861, with headquarters at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It originally consisted of little more than Fort Monroe and nearby Camp Hamilton. In 1862 Norfolk and Suffolk across Hampton Roads were taken and occupied, and the Virginia Peninsula as far as Yorktown was occupied after the Army of the Potomac returned north in August of 1862.


Although McClellan's Army of the Potomac used Fort Monroe as a supply base, the Department and its troops remained independent under General Wool.

Major General John E. WoolMajor General
John E. Wool
Aug. 1861 - June 1862
Major General John Dix
Major General
John Dix
June 1862 - July 1863

Month to month organization of the Department of Virginia May 1861- July 1863

Timeline of the Department of Virginia

May 22, 1861

Department of Virginia establshed under Major General Benjamin Butler with headquarters at Fort Monroe, Virginia.

August 17

Major General John E. Wool replaces Butler

March 8-9, 1862

Battle of Hampton Roads

March 18

Major General George McClellan's Army of the Potomac begins to arrive by ship from Alexandria to begin the Peninsula Campaign. The Department of Virginia served as a supply base for McClellan's army but its 12,000 troops remained independent.

May 10

Occupation of Norfolk

June 2

Major General John A. Dix replaces Major General Wool

April 11 - May 4, 1863

Siege of Suffolk

Confederate forces under Lieutenant General James Longstreet besiege the Union post, more to gather supplies from the surrounding area than to take the town. The siege keeps the Confederate divisions of Hood and Pickett from taking part in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

July 15

Department merged into Department of Virginia and North Carolina.

About the Author • ©2015 Steve Hawks