My first stop was the Petersburg Eastern Front visitor's center, when I saw this. I had read of this happening in books but have never seen the evidence of it.
From the Petersburg NHP visitor's center. An original kepi. That heart corps badge (XXIV Corps) looks really odd to me...
It's big, it's ugly, it's famous (due to appearing in a famous photograph): The "Dictator," a federal cannon located behind Confederate Battery 8.
Chevaux-de-frise at some restored defenses at Petersburg. This is at the Confederate Battery #9 exhibit. The idea behind this stuff was to present a daunting barrier to cavalry and, to a lesser extent, infantry.
A soldier's homemade hut for winter use. This was really tiny to get into... small door!
Interior of the soldier's hut. Sleeps two (uncomfortably).
Recreated defense works at Battery #9.
That's Ft. Stedman (the low green rise in the distance) as seen from the Confederate works - "Colquitt's Salient" - about 300 yards away. On 18 June 1864 the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery attacked the salient with ruinous results. (See following images.)
It's also the site of Lee's last offensive strike, 25 March 1865. The Rebs, advancing from the salient, captured the Fort but then had to retreat after a strong Federal counter-offensive. Lee would never again launch a major attack.
From the "Wasted valor" interpretative plaque. I had read about the charge of the 1st Main Heavy Artillery many times. It's nice to associate a place with the story!
The Maine monument not far from Colquitt's salient.
From an interpretative plaque at the Crater mine entrance.
The mine entrance to the Crater. (The next photo is taken at the entrance.) I was half-hoping that one could crawl up the shaft to the crater - but I knew better.
This was cool... the mine entrance was dark, and I couldn't see anything at the end. When I got home I noticed that the camera's flash exposed a painting of a Federal miner placed at the end by the park service!
The "Crater," site of the July 30th, 1864 battle. If you have ever seen the cinematic recreation of the Crater battle in the movie "Cold Mountain," forget it. The real crater battle was far smaller scale. The director really overdid it with the CGI; it looks like 100,000 troops in there. The Park Service guy I spoke to here said, "The film people entirely ignored what I told them!" Apparently the interview with him made it onto the features of the DVD Disk 2.
A shot of some of the earth displaced by the Crater explosion. I'm sure it was deeper 145 years ago... but still, the main impression one gets when visiting the site is, "It's not as big as I imagined it to be!"
Some Reb reenactors did a firing demonstration at the Crater. That mound is part of the earth lifted by the explosion.
Reb or Yank, this is what the real soldiers did - snooze whenever possible. So we reenactors do it, too. (Sometimes unintentionally.)
General Grant's little hut at City Point, VA - in the charming little town of Hopewell on the James River. From here he directed the siege of Petersburg. City Point was where the Federal Army was supplied from. Supplies arrived form the north at the wharf and was sent by rail to the troops in the trenches 7 miles away.
The original door to Gen. Grant's hut.
The recreated interior of Gen. Grant's hut. I like the general's coat slung on the chair. Look, Chris, a greatcoat!
Gen. Grant's view amenity of the James River.
The timer for the "horological torpedo" that a Reb spy set off on a ship full of gunpowder - it blew up about half of the City Point wharf. Very cool.
John Maxwell, Reb spy. He's the fellow who placed the "horological torpedo" on the Federal ship.
I was blasting down a featureless country road on the way to Five Forks and got bored... the weather cleared up so I was able to take the top down in the VW. Note the Burbank hat! By the way, on one of these roads I learned my VW will do 0 to 60 in about 8.5 seconds. That's a little quicker than the '71 and '75 Porsche 914's I had.
Plaque at the Five Forks battlefield, outside of Petersburg. This fellow, a 23 year-old Reb colonel, made it through most of the war's major battles to nearly the end. Sad.
I found a new favorite place in Virginia: the Five Forks battlefield. A quiet place where five country roads intersected, it was of strategic importance to Gen. Lee because it had to be held in order to protect a railroad line which fed his army supplies. Lose control of the junction and you lose Petersburg. It's called "the Confederacy's Waterloo" for that reason; its loss led directly to the surrender at Appomattox.
An interpretative plaque of the Five Forks junction. I was really impressed with this place for some reason.