Richmond was capital of the Confederate States of America from May 1861 until April 1865. Elements of the major battlefields are maintained by the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Although part of the city burned when it was evacuated in 1865, many sites associated with the Civil War in Richmond survive and are open to the public.
General information about visiting the Richmond metropolitan area is available at the visitor center located at the Richmond Convention Center downtown. Another visitor center is located at Richmond International Airport. Call 804-783-7450 or 888-RICHMOND.
Richmond National Battlefield Park
Main visitor center in the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, near Fifth and Tredegar streets on the James Riverfront.
The main visitor center, located in one of the buildings of the famous Tredegar Iron Works on the James River, focuses on the history of the city and the Richmond area during the war. Three floors of exhibits, a film, electronic maps of the battlefields and ranger help are highlights. The main visitor center and the Cold Harbor battlefield visitor center are open year-round 9 am-5 pm. Visitor centers at Fort Harrison and Glendale National Cemetery are open seasonally. All is free, except parking at the riverfront visitor center. 804-226-1981. www.nps.gov/rich.
- Chimborazo Medical Museum, at the former main park visitor center, 3215 E. Broad St. – Exhibits and a film, “Under the Yellow Flag,” highlight the medical history of the site, a former Confederate hospital. The exhibit explodes some myths surrounding Civil War medicine. Includes a 12-foot panorama photograph of Richmond taken shortly after the war showing the location of the city’s hospitals. Battlefield information also available. Open 9 am-5 pm. Free.
- Cold Harbor battlefield, Hanover County – A visitor center is open at this site, famous for the bloody Federal attack at dawn June 3, 1864. A mile-long walking trail winds its way through both the Union and Confederate lines, scene of trench warfare during early June 1864. Electronic map is excellent.
- Beaver Dam Creek battlefield, Hanover County – The Seven Days battles opened here just outside Mechanicsville June 26, 1862. New walking trails on both sides of the creek.
- Gaines’ Mill battlefield, Hanover County – Fighting here June 27, 1862, resulted in Robert E. Lee’s first victory as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and was a turning point in the Seven Days battles. Walking trails explore the battlefield.
- Glendale battlefield, Henrico County – A visitor center open seasonally in the National Cemetery begins a tour of the 1862 Glendale/Malvern Hill battlefields.
- Malvern Hill battlefield, Henrico County – New walking trails explore the stories associated with the July 1, 1862 battle. Great walk of the Confederate attack route to the Union guns posted above them on the slight hill. Podcast tour.
- Drewry’s Bluff, Chesterfield County – Great views of the James River shared by Confederates in May 1862 when they thwarted an advance by Union gunboats (including the famous Monitor). Walking tour through the fort and site of the Confederate Naval Academy.
- Fort Harrison, Henrico County – Confederate fortifications guarding Richmond were attacked with some success here in September 1864. This park unit highlights the role of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) in this and other attacks in the neighborhood. Visitor center open seasonally.
City of Richmond sites
Museum and White House of the Confederacy, 12th and Clay streets – Lee’s Appomattox uniform, Stuart’s plumed hat, Armistead’s Gettysburg sword and countless other Civil War icons are exhibited here. Special sections highlight various aspects of soldier and civilian life in the Confederacy. The Confederate “White House,” home to Jefferson Davis and his family during the war, has been restored to its war-time appearance and is open for tours. Museum and White House closed Wednesdays. $11 adult admission includes museum and guided White House tour. 804-649-1861.
The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, near Fifth and Tredegar Streets on the James Riverfront – This eight-acre site on the James River was at the heart of the Confederate manufacturing capacity. Two of the buildings once used by the famous Tredegar Iron Works are restored and open on the site.
The “In the Cause of Freedom” exhibit, located in the signature gun foundry building, covers the entire war from causes to consequences. Short films, interactive displays, maps and artifacts examine the perspectives of Union, Confederate and black participants. The exhibit is open 9 am-5 pm daily and costs $8 for adults (onsite parking fee reimbursed with paid admission). www.tredegar.org or 804-780-1865.
Also on the Tredegar site is main Richmond National Battlefield Park visitor center (see listing above). Admission to that building is free, but there is no reimbursement for onsite parking. There is free two-hour parking on Fifth Street and in a lot about a block beyond the Center on Tredegar Street, but availability is limited.
Virginia Historical Society, Boulevard and Kensington Avenue – Housed in what once was called the “Battle Abbey,” the modern Virginia Historical Society features exhibits relating to all of Virginia’s history. Civil War features include the murals “Four Seasons of the Confederacy” and items from the most extensive collection of Confederate-manufactured weapons. The cornerstone exhibit offers a Civil War section. Open 10 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday; 1-5 pm Sundays. $5 adults (Sundays free). 804-358-4901.
Hollywood Cemetery, entrance at Cherry and Albemarle streets – An estimated 18,000 Confederate soldiers, including Gens. George Pickett and J.E.B. Stuart, are buried here. Jefferson Davis and his family also are here overlooking the James River. Some of the most spectacular views in Richmond are found in this place, established in the 1840s. Open 8:30 am-4:30 pm. Free. For more information, call 804-648-8501.
Valentine Museum / Richmond History Center, 1015 E. Clay St. – A museum dedicated to the history of the city of Richmond. Offers a Civil War section and a new exhibit, “Settlement to Streetcar Suburbs: Richmond and its People.” Open 10 am-5 pm Monday-Saturday; noon-5 pm Sunday. Adults $7. 804-649-0711.
Monument Avenue – Statues in memory of Confederate leaders Stuart, Davis, Lee, Jackson and Matthew Fontaine Maury grace this grand avenue, which some call the South’s most beautiful.
Confederate Memorial Chapel, 2900 Grove Ave. (behind the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) – This tiny building was once part of the Confederate old soldiers’ home. Much Confederate memorial material inside. Free admission, video and guided tours. Open Wednesday – Sunday 11 am – 3 pm.
Canal Walk, on the James Riverfront across Tredegar Street from the American Civil War Center – “Three Days in April 1865” exhibit located on a pedestrian walkway extending over the river uses quotations and images highlighting the evacuation and Union occupation of Richmond.
Virginia State Capitol – Main building, inspired by Thomas Jefferson, housed both the Confederate and Virginia legislatures during the war. Surrounding square is full of history with statues, the Governor’s Mansion and the old Bell Tower. The main building and grounds are undergoing a renovation and restoration that will take years. Grounds-only tours currently offered. Interior tours scheduled to resume May 2007.
The following Richmond sites are marked with Civil War Trails signs:
- Belle Isle – Island in the James River served as prison camp for thousands of Union soldiers. Conditions here ranged from bad to horrific. Pedestrian bridge off Tredegar Street leads to the site.
- Libby Prison, site at 20th and Cary streets – Union officers housed in famous and notorious building, no longer standing. Plaques note the site on Richmond’s flood wall.
- Rocketts Landing, East Main Street near Orleans – Ocean-going ships once docked here just below the James River falls, but commerce effectively was shut off by Union blockade in 1862. The Confederate Navy Yard also operated at the site, turning out ironclad warships.
One of the most fought-over counties in the country. See 1864 Overland Campaign and Richmond National Battlefield Park about visiting the sites at Cold Harbor, Gaines’ Mill, Beaver Dam Creek, Haw’s Shop, North Anna, Ashland and many others.
Hanover Tavern, on Route 301 across the street from the old courthouse – Civil War associations vie with Patrick Henry in this historic community north of Richmond. J.E.B. Stuart led his Confederate troopers through here in 1862 during his famed ride around McClellan; the battle of Hanover Court House was fought nearby; and the tavern served as a haven for refugees from Northern Virginia. Guided tours Monday-Saturday, 10 am-4 pm, and Sunday, noon-4 pm. Admission fee. 804-537-5050. Civil War Trails interpretation.
See Overland Campaign, Peninsula Campaign and Richmond National Battlefield Park about visiting battlefields at Seven Pines, Yellow Tavern, Malvern Hill, Fort Harrison and Glendale.
Meadow Farm, county park off Mountain Road – Civil War civilian life is often depicted at this antebellum farm house and grounds during events and programs. Buildings open Tuesday-Sunday noon-4 pm, March-December. Grounds open dawn to dusk daily. 804-672-5520. Civil War Trails interpretation.
The following Henrico sites are marked with Civil War Trails signs:
- Dabbs House, the East Henrico Government Center on Nine Mile Road – Robert E. Lee took over as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia June 1, 1862. He made this building his first headquarters.
- Deep Bottom, county park located off Kingsland Road south of Route 5 – James River crossing important to Federals making attacks on Richmond’s defenses during the late summer and fall of 1864. Trails sign explains the landing’s role in the battle of New Market Heights and other action.
- Savage Station, Trails sign on Meadow Road a few miles south of Route 156 on the Richmond National Battlefield tour route – Union rearguard fight here June 29, 1862 as Gen. George McClellan withdrew his army to the James River following the battle of Gaines’ Mill. A large Union field hospital was abandoned here.
- White Oak Swamp, Trails sign at creek crossing on Route 156 on the Richmond National Battlefield tour route – Union troops managed to hold off a listless Confederate attack here by Stonewall Jackson June 30, 1862. Jackson receives some blame for his failure here while Confederates fought it out at Glendale the same day.
- Darbytown Road, Trails sign on Darbytown Road at entrance to Dorey Park, east of Laburnum Avenue – Robert E. Lee set out Oct. 9, 1864, to recover some of the Richmond defensive line he had lost during fighting on Sept. 29. Although attacks near here began well for the Confederates, Lee was unsuccessful in his last offensive north of the James River.
- Meadow Bridge, Trails sign located on Meadowbridge Road near the Chickahominy River crossing – Union cavalry had to fight it out here May 12, 1864 finding themselves nearly being trapped after the Battle of Yellow Tavern the day before. The Northern horsemen made good their escape with the help of Gen. George A. Custer.
- Trent House, Trails sign located at the house on Grapevine Road on the Richmond National Battlefield Park driving tour route – Union commander Gen. George McClellan used this house as headquarters June 12-28, 1862. An observation balloon floated overhead while the Union high command tracked the beginning of the Confederate offensive (June 26-27) that would eventually dislodge them from this place.
Visit any of the metro Richmond visitor centers and/or the Richmond National Battlefield Park for information about visiting Chesterfield County Civil War sites.
The Bermuda Hundred Campaign Sites This campaign was part of Union commander U.S. Grant’s grand plan for the destruction of Confederate forces in Virginia in 1864. In early May, Union Gen.
Benjamin Butler landed his Army of the James below Richmond and above Petersburg while Grant was marching south from Culpeper and other Union armies were operating in the Shenandoah Valley. Butler’s orders were to drive west from landings between the James and Appomattox rivers and threaten both cities. But the Union commander’s feeble efforts were thwarted by Confederates under Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard.
Within weeks of his landing, the Army of the James was “bottled up” between the James and Appomattox. Butler was to remain there until Petersburg was evacuated in April 1865.
- Bermuda Hundred, turn north from Route 10 on Allied Road, then to James River – Civil War Trails interpretation at the river near the place where Butler launched his Bermuda Hundred campaign in May 1864.
- Battery Dantzler, just north of Route 10 – This Confederate fort represents the northern end of the famous Howlett Line. It once overlooked a curl of the James River (now cut off by Dutch Gap). Open to the public with interpretation.
- Fort Wead, take Bermuda Orchard Road south from Route 10 to Greyledge Boulevard and turn right; fort is on left at end of the road – New site added to the Bermuda Hundred campaign tour will open officially May 16, 1998. Fort was constructed in late May 1864 to reinforce the eastern section of the Federal line.
- Drewry’s Bluff, follow the signs from I-95 or Route 1 – The Richmond National Battlefield Park maintains a unit here, site of a May 15, 1862, battle between Union gunboats on the James River and Confederate fortifications above. The Southern fortifications were attacked from the land side nearly two years later by Butler’s Union troops. This also was the site of the Confederate Naval Academy.
- Fort Stevens, just east of Route 1, follow signs from Willis Road and Pams Avenue – Chesterfield County park preserves the fort and interprets the fighting here mid-May 1864. Trails sign.
- Battle of Chester Station, Trails sign in YMCA parking lot, south side of Route 10, west of US 1 – Confederate attacks here May 5, 1864, failed to dislodge Union infantry stationed along the Southern communication and suppy line lines from Richmond to Petersburg. Although Union forces held the battlefield, they soon withdrew to Bermuda Hundred and were “bottled up” there.
- Half Way House, on Route 1, now a restaurant – Butler used this old tavern May 14-16 while fighting raged to the north at Drewry’s Bluff and Fort Stevens. He was forced to leave by a Confederate counter attack. Trails sign.
- Parker’s Battery, south of Route 10, just east of I-95 (follow signs) – New trails, parking lot and interpretation offer a detailed look at this fort on the Confederate Howlett Line. Richmond National Battlefield Park site. Trails sign.
- Howlett Line Park, 14100 Howlett Line Drive – Impressive earthworks with some unique features are preserved in this two-acre park. This was a strong point in the Confederate line that “bottled up” Gen. Ben Butler’s Army of the James on Bermuda Hundred in 1864 and was involved in several military events in the area. To get there from I-95: Take the Route 10 east (Hopewell) exit, then turn right at the first stoplight (Old Stage Road). Continue 0.8 miles to Old Bermuda Hundred Road; turn left. Continue 0.6 miles to Lawing Road; turn right. Continue 0.6 miles to Woods Edge Road; turn left. Continue 0.2 miles to Howlett Line Drive; turn right. Park is 0.3 miles on right.
Also in Chesterfield County
- Henricus Historical Park (Dutch Gap), follow signs north of Route 10, just east of I-95 – A beautiful Chesterfield County park is being developed above Dutch Gap at the site of a 1611 English settlement. Union troops tried to build a canal here late in 1864 to cut off a curl of the James threatened by Confederate forts such as Dantzler. The effort failed during the war, but the canal was completed later and is now the main James River channel. Civil War Trails interpretation overlooking the river in the park. Visitor center open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm, Sunday noon-5 pm; park open 8 am-dusk. Closed January-February. 804-706-1340.
Route 60 is the main road through Powhatan County, which is south and west of Richmond.
When Robert E. Lee’s lines collapsed at Petersburg April 2–3, 1865, Confederates from that city and Richmond retreated south and west to consolidate at Amelia Court House. Many of those soldiers who defended Richmond marched through Powhatan. The following two signs describe this part of the story of “Lee’s Retreat.” More on the subject in Southside/Lee’s Retreat.
Lee’s Retreat sites:
Ewell Crosses the Appomattox, Trails sign at intersection of Routes 610 and 604 – On April 4, 1865, Confederate Gen. Richard Ewell, who commanded the Richmond-area forces, faced challenges crossing the Appomattox River near here while trying to join Lee in Amelia. Finding the Genito Bridge unfit, the Confederates crossed near here on the Richmond and Danville Railroad bridge at Mattoax Station.
Powhatan Court House, Trails sign located on courthouse grounds, follow signs to historic Powhatan from U.S. 60 – A large Confederate wagon supply train and some lost and straggling soldiers passed through here after Richmond’s fall. The much-needed supplies, meant to join Lee in Amelia, never made it. The wagons were captured shortly after crossing the Appomattox River near here.
Other Powhatan Trails sites:
Huguenot Springs, Trails sign at cemetery, follow signs from Route 711 (Robious Road) – A Confederate convalescent hospital was established here in 1862 at the site of an ante-bellum spa and hotel. Locals volunteered their time and limited resources to care for the soldiers here. A mass grave at the site contains the remains of more than 250 soldiers.
Derwent, Trails sign at the home (from U.S. 60, take route 629 north to 646 then to house – After his surrender at Appomattox, Robert E. Lee joined his family in Richmond. Bothered by constant visitors there and limited in funds, Lee began looking for “some small little home in the woods.” He was offered the use of Derwent, moving here late June 1865. He and his family lived here until mid-September when they moved to Lexington and the presidency of Washington College there.
Lee’s Last Bivouac, Trails sign located on Huguenot Trail (Route 711) and Lee’s Landing Road, about four miles east of Route 522 – Robert E. Lee spent the night of April 14, 1865, on the lawn of Windsor, his last camp “in the field” after his surrender at Appomattox. He rode into Richmond and his family’s home the next day.