Colonial Heights

Colonial Heights has been an independent city since 1948
Colonial Heights has been an independent city since 1948
Source: ESRI, ArcGIS Online

Colonial Heights incorporated as a town in 1926, and was chartered as an independent city in 1948.1

The name of the city is derived from Revolutionary War fights when American forces places artillery on the "heights" on the north side of the Appomattox River at Petersburg.

On April 25, 1781, British forces under General William Phillips captured Petersburg. The Virginia militia commanded by Baron von Steuben put up a spirited defense, with assistance from artillery placed on the bluffs firing across the river. After the militia withdrew, the British then marched north and threatened to capture Richmond again. General Phillips chose not to attack after the Marquis de Lafayette arrived with 1,500 troops to reinforce the defenders.

The British returned to Petersburg, where they were a barrier to American efforts to deliver ammunition to General Nathaniel Greene's army in North Carolina. On May 10, Lafayette created a diversion. He used two artillery pieces on the bluffs to bombard the British in Petersburg. That held the British trooops in place, and allowed the American supply wagons to cross Goode’s Bridge 20 miles west of Petersburg.2

In various stories that may conflate the two incidents, a British soldier supposedly commented:3

Look! There are the Colonials, up on the Heights!

The main house for the Violet Bank Farm served as headquarters for General Robert E. Lee in June-September 1864, at the start of the siege of Petersburg. Residential development at Colonial Heights began on that farm in 1912.

A portion of the Violet Bank Farm was carved up into the Colonial Heights Extended subdivision, and then three years another part was subdivided to create Riverside Park and Riverside Park Annex. Completion of the Richmond-Petersburg Interurban Street Railway made the location more attractive for residential development, and there were eight subdivisions by 1924.4



1. "About the City," Colonial Heights, (last checked May 18, 2019)
2. Robert P. Davis, "The Revolutionary War Battle of Petersburg, Virginia," 2003, (last checked May 18, 2019)
3. "The History of Colonial Heights: Part 1," Richmond2Day, June 16, 2018, (last checked May 18, 2019)
4. "Violet Bank: A railway suburb with a surprising history," Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 4, 2013, (last checked May 18, 2019)

Cities and Towns
Geography of Virginia"