On to Richmond: Civil War 160th Programs & Events

Beginning in the spring of 2024, special events at Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP, Richmond National Battlefield Park, and Petersburg National Battlefield will commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Overland Campaign and beyond. How would the events of 1864 shape the course of the war? How would the decisions made in the field and at home determine the future of the United States?

About the 1864 Virginia Campaigns

In the spring of 1864, the American Civil War entered its third year with no end in sight. The United States had fully embraced a policy of emancipation, but it was unclear what, exactly, freedom meant. An upcoming US election pressured Lincoln to demonstrate progress in the war and gave Confederates hope that a different US president might accept the Confederacy. The US Army had a new commander, General Ulysses S. Grant.

Beginning with the Battle of the Wilderness, the US and Confederate armies clashed again and again throughout May and June 1864. The constant fighting resulted in the US Army advancing slowly against Confederate forces, but came with a steep cost in casualties.

In mid-June, General Grant moved his armies directly from the Wilderness battlefield to surprise the Confederate forces and attack Petersburg. After failing to take advantage of the situation, Grant realized that his only option was to cut off supply lines to the Confederate capital, Richmond. The resulting siege would last for nine and a half months. On April 3, 1865, U.S. troops captured Petersburg and Richmond. One week later, General Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House.

The 1864 - 65 Virginia Campaigns tested the both the endurance of soldiers to continue fighting and the will of the public to continue supporting the war. The future of American democracy was at stake, but the outcome of the war was undetermined. What kind of nation would emerge from this violence?

A cannon sitting in a field on a foggy morning.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania NMP

The Overland Campaign began in the spring of 1864 as the US Army clashed with the Confederate Army at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania.

Historical marks for earthworks at Fort Harrison
Richmond National Battlefield Park

The US and Confederate Armies continued to clash into the summer around Richmond as US General Ulysses S. Grant pushed his troops on.

A brown wooden cabin with a chimney, surround by green trees and trimmed green grass.
Petersburg National Battlefield

As the US Army reached Petersburg the Overland Campaign ended and a months long struggle that would finally break Lee's Army began.

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Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Petersburg National Battlefield, Richmond National Battlefield Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024