Updated 2/27/12

In Podcast #52 the Trekkers take you to Great Bridge near Norfolk in the Coastal Plain region of Virginia.  This was the site of a famous Revolutionary War battle that took place on December 9, 1775.  Find out why Lord Dumore, the Governor of Virginia, had to flee the capital of Williamsburg, learn why the Patriots burned Norfolk and which building survived, see a cannonball which is still lodged in St. Paul’s Church, discover which side won the battle, and find out which Trekker jumps into the freezing ocean in the middle of December!  Come on, let’s go trekkin’!

African Americans played an important role in the Battle of Great Bridge.  Not only did Lord Dunmore recruit nearly 800 runaway slaves for his British “Ethiopian Regiment,” but freed slaves also fought on the Patriot side.   One freedman from Portsmouth, Billy Flora, was the last Patriot guard to leave his post during the Battle of Great Bridge.  Even though he was being shot at by the British, he stopped 8 times to shoot back. He even courageously removed a plank in the bridge to slow down the enemy troops as they advanced.  Because of his heroic efforts, a street was named after him in the city of Chesapeake, Billy Flora Way.

SOL Correlation:

2.3 The student will identify and compare changes in community life over time in terms of buildings, jobs, transportation, and population.


VS.5 The student will demonstrate knowledge of the role of Virginia in the American Revolution by

b) identifying the various roles played by whites, enslaved African Americans, free African Americans, and American Indians in the Revolutionary War era, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Lafayette, and Patrick Henry;

c) identifying the importance of Battle of Great Bridge, the ride of Jack Jouett, and the American victory at Yorktown.

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Coastal Plain

Thomas Sledge, a high school teacher, portrayed Billy Flora in a reenactment of the Battle of Great Bridge (Source)