The expansion of Virginia into the colonial heartland began in earnest soon after the European settlements had been secured following years of bloody warfare with Native Americans in the 1620s and 1630s. That development soon reached the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers in the region south and west of modern- day Hopewell. Part of the military system of forts set up to guard this growing move westward was Fort Henry built on the south side of the falls of the Appomattox in 1645.

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