Saturday, May 7, 2011

Pamplin Historical Park – The Breakthrough

Petersburg, VA

Less than a week ago we were at the place where the Civil War started. Today we are at Pamplin Park, where, on April 2, 1865, one week before General Lee surrendered to General Grant, the Union Forces broke through the defensive lines of the Confederate Forces, ended the siege of Petersburg, forced the Confederate evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond, and started the Confederate retreat toward Appomattox.

Although we had been in the Richmond/Petersburg area several years ago to tour Civil War sites, we had not heard of Pamplin Park before this trip. WOW – is this place impressive. This 422 acre privately owned park has many things to see. For starters there are 2 museums – The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier and The Battlefield Center. Then there are the Tudor Hall Plantation buildings and other historic homes and a recreated Confederate winter encampment and defensive line fortifications. It is all extremely well done. When you enter the first building you are provided with a recorded audio walking tour to listen to – or not – that takes you through the entire park. If you are ever in this area and are interested at all in U.S. History, I strongly recommend a visit to Pamplin Park.

The remaining original earthworks have been greatly reduced in size due to erosion and other natural factors in the 146 years since the end of hostilities. This is not true only of this place but of many Civil War battlefields. The picture of the recreated fortifications shows just how massive they were “in the day” and what the attacking forces had to overcome.

The grounds here are very wooded. In reality, there would have been zero trees for miles around. The trees were cut for many reasons, a few being: to make sure the enemy did not have concealment to hide in, for building of huts (as the Armies wintered over here during the siege), for construction of fortifications, and for use as fuel for fires. I'm sure the list goes on and on.

I just had to include this copy of a letter written to my Great Grandfather. He was at Appomattox Court House on the day of surrender. He was probably here in Petersburg during the siege, somewhere close to Lee's HQ as he was a courier for the Chief Medical Officer of the Army, Lafayette Guild. I would assume that Guild would have been in close proximity to Lee.

As we are not going to Appomattox Court house I will include this information here.
I mentioned in the Ft. Sumter blog that approximately 620,000 Americans died in the Civil War. Here are some interesting statistics:

At least 618,000 Americans died in the Civil War, and some experts say the toll reached 700,000. The number that is most often quoted is 620,000. At any rate, these casualties exceed the nation's loss in all its other wars, from the Revolution through Vietnam.

The Union armies had from 2,500,000 to 2,750,000 men. Their losses, by the best estimates:
Battle deaths:
Disease, etc.:
The Confederate strength, known less accurately because of missing records, was from 750,000 to 1,250,000. Its estimated losses:
Battle deaths:
Disease, etc.:
Do NOT get your hopes up - we are not done with the Civil War and other U.S. History on this trip.  Trust me - you are going to love it!

1 comment:

Lois said...

Another interesting place Shelley! I particularly enjoyed the letter to your great grandfather. I had a great grandfather named Silas too!