Born in 1824 in Virginia, Dr. Richard Eppes had earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania and inherited his ancestral home, Appomattox Manor at City Point, Virginia, by the age of twenty. At the time of the Civil War he was married, had a family and owned nearly 130 slaves and 2,300 acres. Eppes favored preservation of the union providing that southern rights could be protected. In the 1860 elections he backed this opinion up by voting for John Breckinridge who led the Southern faction of the Democratic party. Breckinridge represented those who were states-rights and proslavery men but who were not radical secessionists.
When war broke out, Eppes enlisted in the 3rd Virginia cavalry and helped to equip the unit. About a year later he furnished a substitute to complete his obligation. In early May 1862, his wife and children moved into Petersburg for protection. Just days after this a Union raiding party landed at City Point and upon their departure all but twelve of his slaves had decided to cast their fortunes with the Union army.
Eppes then became a civilian contract surgeon for the Confederate army in Petersburg for the duration of the war. He was able to get his family out of Petersburg in the middle of the siege. They traveled to his in-laws in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to wait out the war. When Petersburg fell he decided to stay behind with the wounded as Gen. Lee evacuated. the city.
By May 1865 Eppes had taken the Amnesty Oath but found that due to his wealth he did not qualify to benefit from the Amnesty Proclamation. He had to raise money to obtain the title to his land and to settle up with the Federal government. Also he had to purchase any of the structures the Union army left behind on his land before he could touch them. By early 1866 after a favorable transaction with the government the plantation was back in his hands and by March his family was together again at City Point.
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Did You Know?
A pair of bald eagles built a nest above Colquitt's Salient at Petersburg National Battlefield in 2003. The birds hatched the first known eaglets in the park in the spring of 2004. The pair continues to return to the nest year after year to nurture their young.