Virginia's six Civil War-oriented National Parks together draw millions of visitors each year.
Located just north of I-66 and near Washington, DC, Manassas National Battlefield Park highlights two battles fought near a little stream called Bull Run. The first battle in the summer of 1861 is considered the first major battle of the war and was a decisive Confederate victory. The second battle fought a little more than a year later on basically the same ground, was another Confederate win and was the springboard to Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland in 1862.
Nearly 100,000 men fell within a few miles of the Colonial town of Fredericksburg. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park highlights the Battle of Fredericksburg fought in December 1862, The Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863) and the Battles of The Wilderness and Spotsylvania (spring 1864).
Two major Union campaigns came close to capturing the Confederate capital in Richmond during the war. Richmond National Battlefield Park highlights the Seven Days Battle, including Gaines' Mill, which ended the first attempt in the summer of 1862, and Cold Harbor, the bloody battlefield that blunted General Ulysses S. Grant's effort to break through to the city in 1864.
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park preserves and interprets the Battle of Cedar Creek, a decisive October 19, 1864 Union victory, and Belle Grove, the antebellum plantation manor house of Isaac Hite (brother-in-law of President James Madison). This is a park-in-development, only being created by Congress in 2002. Although there are over 3,700 acres within the park's authorized boundary, over half of this is still privately owned. Therefore, much of the battlefield is not accessible to the public. The two major sites for visitors are the Cedar Creek Battlefield Visitor Center and Belle Grove Plantation House.
Most of Petersburg National Battlefield is devoted to the nearly 10-month siege Petersburg endured in 1864 and 1865. Highlighted in the main unit is the famous "crater" created by an underground explosion that blew up part of the Confederate line in the summer of 1864. Another park unit at City Point (Hopewell) explores the vast Union supply base high above the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers and Grant's headquarters during the siege. Another unit west of the city covers Five Forks, site of a critical Union breakthrough on April 1, 1865.
Appomattox Court House and National Historical Park recreates the atmosphere for one of the most dramatic events of the war: Lee's surrender of his famous Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. Visit the McLean House where the surrender was negotiated and stroll through the restored and recreated village where the war in Virginia was ended.
Civil War Trails | Civil War in Virginia Timeline
Last Updated: 09/29/2015
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