Civil War sites in and around Richmond

12 fascinating Civil War sites – CNN.com

Richmond, Virginia
Richmond’s
rich and accessible Civil War history surpasses that of any other city. While
the Southern white history of the Civil War has always been well-preserved in
the heroic statues along Monument Avenue and in institutions like the White
House and Museum of the Confederacy,
the city has recently taken pains to better document the African-American
experience, most significantly with the Slave Trail.
The
walking tour includes the sites of slave markets, the notorious Lumpkin’s Slave
Jail (called the Devil’s Half-Acre for its brutal treatment of inmates), the
still-active farmers’ market at Shockoe Bottom and streets where a visiting
Lincoln was met by hundreds of cheering freed slaves.
Stop
at the American Civil War Center in
the former Tredegar Iron Works, which clad Confederate ships and forged
artillery. A nearby pedestrian bridge crosses the James River to eerie Belle
Isle, site of a prison where captured Union soldiers were held.

Don’t
miss:
 Hollywood Cemetery is
the final resting place of American presidents (James Monroe and John Tyler)
and Civil War luminaries Jefferson Davis, George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart. A
rough-hewn pyramid marks the graves of unknown Confederate soldiers.
  
Fredericksburg,
Virginia
The
beautiful farmland around Fredericksburg seemed especially attractive during
the war because of the city’s position midway between D.C. and the Confederate
capital of Richmond.
Horrible
and decisive battles were fought in the area. Begin at the Visitor Center at
the Fredericksburg and
Spotsylvania National Military Park
 to get oriented with the several
separate units of the park complex.
Walk
the trail at Marye’s Heights, where Confederate infantry, shielded by a
4-foot-high stone wall, mowed down wave upon wave of assailants, leaving 9,000
Union dead before Gen. Ambrose Burnside gave the order to retreat. Salem
Church, surrounded by decidedly nonhistorical development, is a satellite of
the national park.
The
Wilderness Battlefield, where the armies met in the overgrown and gnarled
woods, is now mostly manicured, but peaceful paths are punctuated by historic
markers and still surrounded by dense thickets.
Don’t miss: A macabre
side trip to Ellwood Farm, where Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm is buried in
its own marked grave (open weekends, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; on weekdays, pick up a
pass at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center).
Jackson
was famously shot by his own troops when returning from a reconnaissance trip
at dusk. His wounded arm was amputated, and Jackson lived for another eight
days before succumbing to pneumonia.
Petersburg
and Appomattox, Virginia
At Petersburg National
Battlefield
, the horrors of the nine-month-long siege can be seen in
the field as well as in the reproduction of a massive cannon, known as the
Dictator.
As
Union troops lobbed shells into Petersburg, Pennsylvania soldiers who’d been
miners before the war dug a tunnel beneath the Confederate defenses, packed its
end with four tons of gunpowder, and blew it sky high. Union troops made the
error of charging into the resulting crater and were fired upon from above
until they surrendered.
In
spite of this tragic gaffe, the Union drove the Confederates from the city, and
Robert E. Lee’s army began a retreat west.
Follow
that route from Petersburg to Appomattox by driving toAppomattox Court House
National Park
. Lee surrendered here at the reconstructed McLean
House (the original structure, which had withstood the long war, met its
demise, piece by piece, at the hands of souvenir hunters).
Wander
the charmingly restored village — costumed actors portray citizens of the era
during the summer — and imagine the relief of an end to the war at last.
Don’t miss: Poplar Forest,
Thomas Jefferson’s escape from the crowds that visited Monticello after his
presidency. The hilltop octagonal house is still in the last stages of
restoration, and frequent programs allow visitors to participate in the
archaeological process.

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