At Petersburg Grant admitted through his actions that he could not
whip the Confederate Army in the field, so he instituted a siege and
let the Confederate Army's lack of supplies and manpower do the rest.
This battlefield is enormous, starting from Richmond, passing Petersburg on the East and looping around it on the South. Obviously, this vast area could not be set aside for a park. However, what was set aside provides an excellent look into that which was, for about a year, the central point of the Civil War.
There's much to see in the Petersburg area.
You can easily reach the Petersburg N.P.S. Battlefield Park from either of the two North-South interstate highways passing Petersburg, I-95 and I-295, by taking the exit for State Route 36 (State Route 36 has an interchange on each of the interstates). Since the Battlefield Park is adjacent to the U.S. Army's Fort Lee, you can follow the highway directional signs to either the Park or the Fort to get to the Park. As an aside, Fort Lee has a great Quartermaster's museum with displays from all of the U.S. Wars. Just follow the road signs.
At the Park, you can see; cannon displays, including the "Dictator"; several forts, including Fort Haskell and Fort Stedman; and, of course, the Crater! The N.P.S. also operates sites at Five Forks and City Point. Directions to these locations can be obtained at the N.P.S. Petersburg Battlefield Visitors Center.
A must see at the Battlefield Park is the Crater. Here Union forces tunneled under the Confederate lines and detonated a huge explosion. It might have resulted in a breach had not the Union forces become confused and the Confederates rapidly rallied. They are still there; the entrance to the tunnel; and the crater. You really can feel close to the action standing there.
In December, 1997, someone went into the tunnel and set fire to the wooden supports causing part of the tunnel to collapse. However, the Park Service quickly restored the entrance to its former appearance. The Crater is the high point of any visit to Petersburg!
We recommend that you browse the N.P.S. Petersburg web site before visiting there.
In addition to the Battlefield Park there are also numerous Civil War locations in and around Petersburg, such as the Blandford Confederate Cemetery (Near the Crater). Information on these locations can be found at the "Crater Road" web site.
Finally, while you are at Petersburg I recommend that you visit Pamplin Park, a well-maintained private Civil War park which includes a section of the Petersburg Confederate works. Pamplin Park is located south of Petersburg on U.S. Route 1 off of Interstate 85.
Plan several days at Petersburg!
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