Between 1861 and 1865, Union armies repeatedly set out to capture Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and end the Civil War. Three of those campaigns came within a few miles of the city. The park commemorates eleven different sites associated with those campaigns including the battlefields at Gaines' Mill, Malvern Hill, and Cold Harbor. Established in 1936, the park protects 763 acres of historic ground, all federal.
The Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works exhibits artifacts of the Civil War, especially those relevant to the Richmond area. A 22 minute motion picture depicts the battles which took place near the city.