the petersburg courthouse was built in 1839. during the siege of petersburg during the civil war the courthouse served as the confederate headquarters. on june 9 th 1864 the courthouse bell was rung to warn local militias to meet the advancing union cavalry. during the ten month siege of petersburg both union and confederate forces could see the courthouse clock from their trenches and set their timepieces by it. after ten months of fighting union forces occupied the courthouse on april 3 rd 1865. the petersburg courthouse is listed on the national register of historic places.
this two room cabin was general ulysses s. grants headquarters during the ten month seige of petersburg. grant's headquarters was established in the summer of 1864 on the grounds of appomattox plantation at the confluence of the appomattox and james rivers. the plantation was used as a supply depot, communications center, and a field hospital. a bakery on site produced 100,000 rations of bread per day for union troops. president abraham lincoln visited grant's headquarters in march 1865 just prior to the occupation of petersburg. grant's headquarters is part of the petersburg national battlefield park.
the petersburg visitor center in located in the farmer's bank building in downtown petersburg. the farmer's bank was built in 1817 and is one of the oldest existant bank buildings in america. at the visitor center you can get information on the attractions of petersburg, a map of the downtown historic district, and information on the petersburg national battlefield park. the visitors center is a good first stop on a visit to petersburg.
the battle of dinwiddle courthouse was a minor engagement on march 31 th 1865 between the forces of union general philip sheridan and the forces of confederate generals george pickett and w.h.f lee. the confederates drove back sheridan's troops north and northwest of dinwiddle courthouse and temporarily stalled sheridan's movement. with union infantry approaching from the east, pickett withdrew to entrench at the vital road junction at five forks.
located at the end of the eastern front battlefield tour is blandford church cemetery. blandford church cemetery was established in 1702 and is the final resting place of a british revolutionary general, two governors of virginia, three civil war generals, and 30,000 civil war soldiers. this historic cemetery has an execellent collection of funerary art.
located at auto tour stop # 8 is the site of the crater. the battle of the crater was one of the most unusual and tragic events in the civil war. henry pleasants, a pennsylvania coal mining engineer devised a plan to blow up part of the confederate defensive line. pleasants and his engineers dug a 511 foot tunnel under confederate fortifications and filled it with 8,000 lbs of gunpower. on july 30 th 1864 pleasants lit the fuse and the following explosion created a crater 170 feet long, 120 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. the explosion instantly killed 278 confederate soldiers. the united states colored troops commanded by edward ferrero charged into the crater and were surrounded by the confederates. confederate general william mahone called the battle a "turkey shoot". in the battle of the crater the union suffered 3,798 casualties compared to 1,491 confederate casualties. near the end of the battle a number of black troops were executed by the confederates for looting the bodies of dead confederate soldiers. union general ulysses grant called this event "the saddest affair i have witnessed in the war".
the five forks visitor center is a good first stop on a visit to five forks battlefield. the interior of the visitor center is an interpretation of tabacco barns that dotted the rural virginia landscape in the 1860's. also here you can get information on this historic battle.
the battle of white oak road was fought between the forces of union general joshua chamberain and general richard anderson CSA on march 29 th 1865. in this minor battle there were 381 union casualties and 370 confederate casualties.
appomattox plantation was a 2,300 acre plantation established by dr. richard epps. prior to the civil war appomattox plantation had 130 slaves. in 1862 the presence of union gunboats on the james river forced epps and his family to seek shelter in petersburg. during the siege of petersburg dr. epps served as a surgeon in a petersburg military hospital. in the summer of 1864 the epps plantation was occupied by the union and was union general ulysses s. grant's headquarters during the siege of petersburg.
pictured is the petersburg national battlefield visitors center. the visitors center is located at battery five on the dimmock defensive line east of downtown petersburg. at the visitor center you can get a map for a auto tour of the siege of petersburg. the visitor center is a good first stop on a visit to petersburg national battlefield.
the battle of five forks was fought on april 1 st 1865 between the forces of union general philip sheridan and confederate general george pickett. the battle of five forks was a minor engagement compared to the massive battles of gettysburg and shiloh but it was one of the most important union victories in the civil war. the union victory at the battle of five forks ended the ten month siege of petersburg and forced confederate general robert e. lee to abandon petersburg and richmond. lee was forced to retreat westward to appomattox courthouse were he finally surrendered his army of northern virginia to general ulysses s. grant which brought about the end of the civil war. the battle of five forks was considered the confederacy's "waterloo".
pamplin historic park is home to the museum of the civil war soldier. in the park there are several historic homes and farms. there also is a three mile walking trail which passes by sites in the siege of petersburg. for those interested in civil war history and southern culture pamplin is worth a stop in the petersburg area.
fort haskell is stop # 6 on the battlefield auto tour. on march 25 th 1865 after the confederates took fort stedman they bombarded nearby fort haskell. the union held fort haskell which led to the union counter attack of fort stedman. union general john hartranft retook fort stedman later that day. the confederate attack on forts stedman and haskell was the last attack on the union eastern line in the siege of petersburg.
fort stedman is stop #5 on the battlefield auto tour. at 4:15 am march 25 th 1865 the confederate forces of general john gordon attacked fort stedman. the confederates captured the fort and used it's captured guns to bombard nearby fort haskell. later in the morning union general john hartranft counter attacked and retook the fort. the battle of fort stedman was a decisive union victory.
harrison's creek is stop # 4 on the battlefield auto tour. on june 15 th 1864 after being driven out of the dimmock line, the outnumbered confederate defenders of petersburg formed a new defensive line on the heights across harrison's creek. confederate forces dug in along the west bank of this creek for two days before withdrawing closer to petersburg.