5001 Siege Road
Petersburg, Virginia 23803
(804) 732-3531 ext. 200
Explore Petersburg National
Petersburg National Battlefield Park is
located in south-central Virginia approximately 25 miles south of
Richmond, Virginia. The park encompasses a large area with
battlefield sites and visitor centers located in Dinwiddie,
Hopewell and Prince George Counties.
The park commemorates the nine and one-half
month siege of this city from June 1864 - April 1865. A driving
tour of the battlefields outlined on the park map includes 13
separate sites with three visitor centers along a 33 mile route. A
full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.
The Eastern Front Visitor Center offers
exhibits and audio-visual programs that introduce the story of the
siege and its place and impact on the course of the Civil War.
Park staff will answer questions and provide information to help
you make the best use of your time.
At Grant's Headquarters at City Point you
will learn about the Union's massive supply base and large field
hospital operation. Also explore the story of the Appomattox
plantation, the Eppes family and their slaves who were here before
the war's arrival. On the western end of the tour route is Five
Forks Battlefield where Gen. Sheridan's victory over Gen.
Pickett's forces ensured the collapse of Petersburg and Richmond.
Throughout the year park staff present a
variety of talks, tours, living history demonstrations and special
events that commemorate the park's rich heritage. Check the
schedule of events for upcoming programs. Education programs are
offered year-round and teachers are encouraged to contact the
park's education coordinator at 804-732-3531 ext. 204 to schedule
Between May and mid-June of 1864 the Union army, under General
Ulysses S. Grant, and the Confederate army, under General Robert
E. Lee, engaged in a series of hard-fought battles in what is now
called the Overland Campaign. Cold Harbor was the last battle of
this campaign and was a crushing Union loss. This forced Grant to
abandoned his plan to capture Richmond by direct assault.
The Key to Richmond
Only twenty-five miles south of Richmond, Petersburg was an
important supply center to the Confederate capital. With it's five
railroad lines and key roads, both Grant and Lee knew if these
could be cut Petersburg could no longer supply Richmond with much
needed supplies and subsistence. Without this Lee would be forced
to leave both cities.
Grant pulls his army out of Cold Harbor and crosses the James
River heading towards Petersburg. For several days Lee does not
believe Grant's main target is Petersburg and so keeps most of his
army around Richmond. Between June 15-18, 1864 Grant throws his
forces against Petersburg and it may have fallen if it were not
for the Federal commanders failing to press their advantage and
the defense put up by the few Confederates holding the lines. Lee
finally arrives on June 18 and after four days of combat with no
success Grant begins siege operations.
This, the longest siege in American warfare,
unfolded in a methodical manner. For nearly every attack the Union
made around Petersburg another was made at Richmond and this
strained the Confederate's manpower and resources. Through this
strategy Grant's army gradually and relentlessly encircled
Petersburg and cut Lee's supply lines from the south.
For the Confederates it was ten months of
hanging on, hoping the people of the North would tire of the war.
For soldiers of both armies it was ten months of rifle bullets,
artillery, and mortar shells, relieved only by rear-area tedium,
drill and more drill, salt pork and corn meal, burned beans and
By October 1864 Grant had cut off the Weldon
Railroad and was west of it tightening the noose around
Petersburg. The approach of winter brought a general halt to
activities. Still there was the every day skirmishing, sniper
fire, and mortar shelling.
In early February 1865 Lee had only 60,000
soldiers to oppose Grant's force of 110,000 men. Grant extended
his lines westward to Hatcher's Run and forced Lee to lengthen his
own thinly stretched defenses.
By mid-March it was apparent to Lee that
Grant's superior force would either get around the Confederate
right flank or pierce the line somewhere along it's 37-mile
length. Th Southern commanders hoped to break the Union
stranglehold on Petersburg by a surprise attack on Grant. This
resulted in the Confederate loss at Fort Stedman and would be
Lee's last grand offensive of the war.
With victory near, Grant unleashed General Phillip Sheridan at
Five Forks on April 1, 1865. His objective was the South Side
Railroad, the last rail line into Petersburg. Sheridan, with the V
Corps, smashed the Confederate forces under General George Pickett
and opening access to the tracks beyond. On April 2, Grant ordered
an all-out assault, and Lee's right flank crumbled. A Homeric
defense at Confederate Fort Gregg saved Lee from possible street
fighting in Petersburg. On the night of April 2, Lee evacuated
Petersburg. The final surrender at Appomattox Court House was but
a week away.
Although Petersburg National Battlefield was
initially established to protect the historically significant
areas around Petersburg, Virginia, the park also plays host to a
diverse number of inhabitants and ecosystems.
Located between the
Atlantic Coastal plain and the Piedmont region of Western
Virginia, Petersburg National Battlefield�s 2,659 acres varies
from the wetlands of Hatcher's run at the Five Forks Battlefield
to the combination of mixed hardwood/pine forests and open fields
that encompass the park�s Eastern Front.
City Point, a 22 acre unit at the confluence
of the Appomattox and James Rivers, provides yet another uniquely
beautiful asset to Petersburg National Battlefield. Overall, the
park spreads out over four different localities; Prince George
County, Dinwiddie County, the City of Hopewell, and the City of
As part of the National Park Service, a component of Petersburg
National Battlefield�s mission is to preserve the natural
resources present in the park. These natural resources include the
park�s waterways, wetlands, vegetation, and wildlife. The
location of the park's Eastern Front, forming a pocket of
undeveloped land amongst urban development, makes the park�s
natural resources mission that much more important.
Many visitors come to the battlefield to use
the miles of trails that bisect the park. Virginia�s high rate
of population growth, especially in suburban areas, will
undoubtedly continue to make the presence of Petersburg National
Battlefield's park setting even more valuable to many of the
visitors that frequent the battlefield.
With so many irreplaceable cultural
resources, the park has the important, and often difficult, task
of achieving a balance between the cultural and natural aspects of
preservation. Many of the Civil War earthworks, forts, and vistas
are kept clear to protect the cultural resources and enhance the
visitor�s ability to interpret the siege that occurred around
Wildlife is abundant, and, in certain cases,
very visible throughout the park. Deer, rabbit, skunk, groundhog,
opossum, and raccoon are some of the most commonly seen species in
the park. A variety of avian species frequent the park during
different times of the year. Many species of fish, reptiles,
amphibians, and small mammals have also been documented within the
boundaries of Petersburg National Battlefield.
Page 1 of 1