Transcript- Electronic Field Trip to City
Point Unit of Petersburg National Battlefield
follows is the transcript from a live Internet
chat that occurred on Weds. Oct. 25, 2000
with a historian and a park ranger from
the City Point Unit of Petersburg National
Blankenship, Park Historian, City Point
Unit, Petersburg National Battlefield
in Hopewell, VA
Gates, Park Ranger, City Point Unit, Petersburg
National Battlefield in Hopewell, VA
Ulysses S. Grant's Civil War headquarters
cabin was originally built in City Point,
Virginia (the city now known as Hopewell).
It served as a focal point for the planning
of the North's battle with the South. The
National Park Service restored the cabin
during the spring of 2000, preserving the
rich American history associated with this
Welcome to the Discover Presidential Log
Cabins Electronic Field Trip to the City
Point Unit of Petersburg National Battlefield!
Why did Grant choose City Point as his headquarters?
How long was he there?
was there for nine months. He chose City
Point because of a deep water port, rail
communication to Petersburg and he could
easily protect his supply line coming up
the James River.
Were the log cabins used for anything other
than soldiers' sleeping quarters?
Grant's cabin was used as an office from
where he commanded and coordinated the movements
of all Union armies nationwide.
How far was his cabin from the first battlefield
of the civil war and how did he communicate
with his soldiers in the field?
His cabin was eight miles from the front
lines at Petersburg and he communicated
with his soldiers in the field with the
telegraph and mounted couriers.
How long was Grant stationed there?
Grant was at City Point for 9 months from
June, 1864 to March, 1865.
Did anyone come to visit Grant while he
lived in the cabin?
The most important visitor was Abraham Lincoln.
Others included Union generals, congressmen,
Senators, European military observers and
even the Confederate Vice-President Alexander
What kind of furnishings did he have in
Plain, simple camp furniture with lots of
maps, southern newspapers, and a soldier
even made andirons out of old musket barrels
Do you know what might have been a "typical
day" for Grant while he stayed in the cabin?
Receiving reports from the front, dealing
with visiting dignitaries, visiting the
front, overseeing operations, occasionally
going to Washington D.C. and, during the
winter months, planning for the spring campaign.
Does City Point look the same today as it
did when Grant was there?
City Point looks much different than it
did in 1864 & 1865. Back then it was one
of the busiest sea ports in the world. There
were hundreds of soldiers working toward
getting supplies to the front line. Wharf
buildings have all disappeared, along with
all the docks. City Point is now known as
the City of Hopewell. The historic village
is also much more peaceful and quiet than
it was during the Siege of Petersburg.
Can you tell us why they changed the name
of City Point?
The Eppes Family owned a farm called "Hopewell"
and in 1916 this land was purchased to build
a factory and the name changed to Hopewell.
How are log cabins built?
The lumber was from trees cut locally, by
hand, and the chinking, or insulation, was
cement. This cement chinking was used only
on Grant's cabin. The others did without
On the video and the Web site, we learned
about the restoration of the cabin. Why
did you restore Grant's cabin?
From the cabin, Grant coordinated the movements
of all Union Armies with the ultimate goal
of destroying the Confederacy. So what occurred
within the cabin walls is of national significance
regarding the restoration of the United
States. Termite damage had severely eroded
much of the woodwork and this had to be
How long did it take to restore it?
About three weeks.
How long was City Point a strategic center
of the Civil War? How long did Grant reside
It was strategic center of the war for 9
1/2 months from June, 1864 to April, 1865.
Grant resided there for approximately the
same time period.
How was furniture built?
In Grant's cabin he used basic camp furniture
that was made mostly pine. This included
a field desk, chairs, army cot, and even
andirons in the fireplace made by a soldier
from old musket barrels.
Can you tell us more about why President
Lincoln was there and did he really dream
about his death while there?
Yes he did dream about his death. Lincoln
was here to oversee military operations
and to escape the political pressure of
Wash., D.C. He also discussed the future
surrenders of the Confederate armies and
the post-war political reconstruction of
the United States.
Middle School> On
your website, you mentioned the River Queen.
Did President Lincoln reside on this steamship
whenever he was abroad during the Civil
Lincoln used the River Queen only during
his visit to City Point.
What was the inspiration for this great
The National Park Service and the restoration
of three log cabins related to four U.S.
On your website, you mentioned that Richmond
was evacuated. Did the government flee knowing
that they would soon be defeated, or did
they hope to institute a government-in-exile?
Their objective was to continue the Confederacy
elsewhere since if Petersburg fell, Richmond
would fall automatically. Jefferson Davis
left Richmond for Danville, Virginia which
served as the last capital of the Confederacy
for the last week of the war.
Thank you guys so much for providing this
great service! It is informative, interesting,
Thank you Russell and Navarro. Please come
by the Park some time when you get the chance.
Thanks for letting us participate!
This was great, thank you City Point!
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