President Abraham Lincoln made several visits to Virginia during the Civil War. Trace his steps.
On November 20, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was special guest at a grand review of the Army of the Potomac conducted near Bailey’s Crossroads. The site was then open country but today is a busy intersection in metro-Fairfax. A non-profit group called the “Lincoln at the Crossroads” alliance is seeking to commemorate the historic event by placing a monument at the intersection.
Lincoln visited Fredericksburg during the Union army’s occupation of that city on March 23, 1862. He and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton visited army headquarters at Chatham Manor where a review of the army was held for him. Lincoln then visited a number of other sites in Fredericksburg including army encampments. His route took him down the part of Telegraph Road later known as the Sunken Road, ironically the key part of the Confederate defensive line at the Battle of Fredericksburg the following December.
During the Siege of Petersburg, General Ulysses S. Grant maintained his headquarters at City Point – the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers at what is now Hopewell. Lincoln and his family boarded a ship and sailed to City Point, arriving on March 24th, 1865. The family spent two weeks there, a time that one historian has called the “last and most interesting weeks” of Lincoln’s life. While there Lincoln and Grant met with other high-ranking military leaders to plan the end of the war. He maintained his sleeping quarters aboard the navy ship the River Queen.
On April 3, 1865, the day after the fall of Petersburg, Lincoln rode into the city and met with Grant at the Thomas Wallace House on Market Street. The house is privately owned today and not open to the public.
On April 4, 1865, two days after Richmond fell to Union forces, President Lincoln visited the former Confederate capital. Lincoln and his son Tad (who was celebrating his 12th birthday that day) came ashore at Rockett’s Landing and walked with a small entourage through the streets to the former Confederate White House, then in use as Union headquarters in the city. Lincoln was shown to a room used by Jefferson Davis as an office and sat in Davis’ chair. Later he boarded a carriage and toured the Virginia capitol building and other Richmond sites. See a map of his route.
Filmed in Virginia:
To the left, Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. The Steven Spielberg movie LINCOLN, filmed in Virginia, was released November 2012. The film was nominated for 12 Academy Awards. The movie is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln".
Walk in the footsteps of the cast and crew of Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, Lincoln, filmed over 53 days in Virginia. Go to www.Virginia.org/Lincoln for a downloadable map to help you visit actual film locations as well as restaurants, bars and shops that were favorites of the stars. The trail experience includes special LINCOLN walking tours.
National Geographic Channel's first original scripted drama "Killing Lincoln" was filmed in Petersburg and Richmond in 2012 and premiered during Presidents Day Weekend. With fresh historical insight, the film chronicles the final days of President Lincoln and the treasonous plot by one the most notorious, yet complex villains of all time. The film is an adaptation of Fox TV host Bill O'Reilly's best-selling book.
Sites of Interest:
- Lincoln Homestead & Cemetery - Harrisonburg - The Lincoln Homestead is privately owned, but there there is a historical marker and visitors are welcome to walk to the Lincoln cemetery. There are five generations of Lincolns at rest on the hill, including President Lincoln's great-grandparents, "Virginia John" and Rebecca Flowers Lincoln. They moved from Pennsylvania to Virginia is 1768. President Lincoln's father was born on this site in 1778.
- The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar - Richmond - A National Historic Landmark and one-time heart of Confederate war production, the Center is home to the main visitor center of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. See the David Frech-sculpted life-size bronze statue of Lincoln and his son, Tad, that was unveiled in 2003. The statue commemorates Lincoln's visit to Richmond after it fell to the Union in April, 1865.
- Hampton University - Hampton - Beneath a young oak tree the African-American community gathered to hear President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation read aloud in 1863. It was the first Southern reading of the document. That young oak tree is known today as the Emancipation Oak, and National Geographic Society calls it one of the 10 Great Trees of the World.
- Richmond Slave Trail - Richmond - Take a walk along this trail that chronicles the history of the trade of enslaved Africans to Virginia until 1775, and away from Virginia to other locations in the Americas until 1865.
"I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible ... Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it since."
Abraham Lincoln, regarding a dream he had while staying at City Point.
Last Updated: 1/21/2020