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RICHMOND
Richmond National Battlefield Park

Drewry's Bluff

Drewry's Bluff
National Park Service, Richmond National Battlefield Park

Richmond National Battlefield Park consists of several separate Civil War battlefields east and south of Richmond.  Richmond stood as the capital of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865.  The city also became the industrial and political center of the fledgling nation.  Northern generals repeatedly planned their campaigns to threaten Richmond.  Consequently, the armies fought battles outside the city in May, June, and July 1862.  They returned in May 1864 and remained nearly continuously until April 1865.

Historians view the Seven Days battles in 1862 as one of the most significant campaigns of the entire Civil War.  The Union army under General George B. McClellan had pushed within sight of Richmond and threatened to capture the capital.  In June, Robert E. Lee ascended to command of the Confederate army and in an audacious series of maneuvers not only lessened McClellan's grip on the city but also actually drove the Northern army 25 miles south.  The battles of Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines's Mill, Glendale/Frayser's Farm, and Malvern Hill were the four most severe fights of the Seven Days battles.  The national park at Richmond preserves ground at all four sites, including approximately 1000 acres at Malvern Hill.

Two years later General Ulysses Grant brought the Federal army back to the outskirts of Richmond.  Lee blocked him at Totopotomoy Creek and then defeated Grant in a famous battle at Cold Harbor in June 1864.  Undeterred, Grant positioned his army south of Richmond and threatened the city through the summer months and into the winter of 1864-65.  His repeated jabs from that direction produced many battles below the city.  When the town of Petersburg fell to Grant's army in April 1865, Confederate authorities abandoned Richmond without a further fight.


Fort Harrison bombproof

Fort Harrison bombproof
National Park Service, Richmond National Battlefield Park

 

Visitors to the Richmond area battlefields have a variety of options and combinations from which to choose.  The park's primary visitor center is in the city at the Tredegar Iron Works.  An extensive self-guided automobile tour proceeds out of town and through the surviving battlefields.  Although separated by public roads, the national park's individual units are connected by signs and a driving tour map.  Cold Harbor includes a visitor center that is open daily, with electric battle maps that address not only the 1864 battle there, but also the adjacent Gaines's Mill battlefield from 1862.

Every stop along the driving tour contains modern signs that help visitors understand their surroundings and the events that occurred there in the 1860's.  Most sites have walking trails through the battlefields.  The southernmost sites in the park connect nicely with the northernmost destinations in Petersburg National Battlefield.  The two national parks are best seen in tandem, time permitting.

Plan your visit

Richmond National Battlefield Park is located in central Virginia approximately 100 miles south of Washington, D.C.  The park encompasses a large area with battlefield sites and visitor centers located in the City of Richmond, and Henrico, Hanover, and Chesterfield Counties. A driving tour of the battlefields outlined on the park map includes 13 separate sites with four visitor centers along an 80-mile route. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park. 

Visitors are urged to begin their visit at the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center at Richmond's Tredegar Iron Works. For further information, call the National Park Service Civil War Visitor Center at 804-771-2145. The park also operates the the Chimborazo Medical Museum and visitor center at 3215 E. Broad St. in the Oakwood-Chimborazo Historic District.  The Tredegar, Chimborazo, and Cold Harbor visitor centers are open year round daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. Visitor centers at Glendale and Fort Harrison are operated seasonally from 9:00am to 5:00pm. The battlefields generally are accessible from dawn until dusk year round. All visitor centers and sites within Richmond National Battlefield Park are free.  

Visit the National Park Service Richmond National Battlefield Park website for detailed information about the battlefields and activities in the park. For further details, contact the park's headquarters at 804-226-1981, ext. 23. Visit the National Park Service Petersburg National Battlefield website for information to help plan a visit. 

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