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Trip Rewind Virginia 2008: Touring Civil War sites of Richmond Virginia

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
Civil War Cannon

With a full day to explore Richmond Virginia while we waited for the NASCAR race, Amy, her family and I worked on coming up with a plan to spend our time. Due to the tropical storm weather we were slightly limited to indoor activities. Given our location were were able to take advantage of some Civil War Sites near Richmond Virgina.  Richmond after all was the location of the White House of the Confederacy.

Up first was Tredegar Iron Works, a building dedicated to the production of war goods for the Confederacy. Inside the building we found all sorts of artillery ranging from guns to cannons used during the Civil War and other historical artifacts.

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
a piece of an ironclad ship from the civil war

Ruminates of iron from an ironclad ship. I find the use of these ships during the war fascinating because they seem so far ahead of their time.  Like a stealth ship.

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
John Wilkes Booth Playing Cards

and John Wilkes Booth’s, (President Lincoln’s assassin), playing cards from the 1860’s.

Tredegar Iron Works is filled with interesting pieces of history and is recommend visiting before departing for any of the Civil War driving tours (although no required)

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
Petersburg National Battlefield, Virginia

After getting acquainted with some Civil War historical facts and artifacts we took a driving tour of the Petersburg National Battlefield. The clouds had parted and we were greeted by the sun which made the tour much more enjoyable. This 2700 acre park has 16 stops over 37 miles giving you some history about each location.

The most memorable stop for me was The Crater Battlefield. On July 30th 1864 the Union Army dug a tunnel under the unknowing Confederate Army and set off an explosion to infiltrate the area and take over Petersburg.

Below is the opening of the tunnel that the Union Army dug leading under the Confederate Army’s location.

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
entrance into the tunnel at Crater Battlefield
Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
Crater Battlefield, Petersburg National Battlefield Virginia

Above is what Crater Battlefield looks like today. You can see where the land was blown away just in front of the sign. Although it was a creative and sneaky idea to surprise the Confederate Army the shock soon wore off and the Confederates rebounded which resulted in an additional 8 months of fighting in the trenches.

Another memorable stop was Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher was an important fort for the Confederacy, who’s dependency on trading cotton and tobacco with the British for ammunition and other important industrial needs enabled them to keep on the same playing field as the Union. Although like most dependencies, they can become the bane of your existence.

Civil War Sites Near Richmond Virgina
Fort Fisher’s nontraditional fort of mounds of dirt and sand

Fort Fisher was unique in the fact that it did not have traditional fort buildings, but mounds of dirt and sand to create the fort. Unlike a building under the attack of canons, the mounts of dirt and sand were able to minimize the damage by absorbing the impact from the attacks.

It did take the Union Army a couple of attempts to overtake Fort Fisher, mostly due to bad planning but by January 12th to the 14th 1865 the Union Army finally got their act together. The Union arrived with enough men and ships to overtake the Confederate Army.  In desperation to not lose Fort Fisher, even after massive losses, the Confederate Army started pulling the sick and wounded out onto the front lines. It was believed that losing Fort Fisher, the only port left under the Confederacy’s control at that time,  would crush their main supply line to their troops.  It was later thought that loosing Fort Fisher greatly impacted the outcome of the war.

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