Before the War
The Eppes family home was a century old by the time Union forces occupied the site in 1864. It had been built on a large tract of land acquired by Captain Francis Eppes in 1635 and by the time of the Civil War it was the center of a plantation covering more than 2,300 acres.
The War Years
In 1861 Appomattox Plantation was owned by Dr. Richard Eppes. Though he owned a plantation and nearly 130 slaves, Dr. Eppes was not a strong secessionist. Yet when Virginia cast her lot with the South he took up arms by joining a local cavalry unit. He soon left the army to become a contract surgeon at a Confederate hospital in Petersburg. The Eppes family remained at their home until 1862 when the arrival of Union gunboats on the James River forced them to flee their home for the safety of Petersburg. Soon thereafter nearly all of their slaves left with those Union forces. When the war came to Petersburg two years later Mrs. Eppes and the children fled again, this time to her mother's home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Appomattox Plantation was used as the offices of U.S. Quartermaster Rufus Ingalls and his staff during the siege. When Dr. Eppes returned he found his house in near ruin and his plantation nearly destroyed. Not until March 1866 with the last Union regiments gone and the property back in his name did his wife and children return home to pick up the pieces and start anew.
Did You Know?
Those who died on the battlefields around Petersburg were left where they were originally buried until after the Civil War. From 1866-69 most Union dead were buried at Poplar Grove National Cemetery while thousands of Confederate dead were buried at the historic Blandford Cemetery. (Petersburg NB)