Web Rangers Activity #3

Engineer camp in the woods around Petersburg, VA

Solve the Mystery of the Disappearing Trees

When you visit Petersburg National Battlefield today, trees and green grass provide an image of a once beautiful place. This is not an accurate picture of the site where soldiers fought in trenches for nine-and-a-half months. Soldiers learned to live off of the land for protection and sometimes for food.

Print this page and complete the activities.

Soldiers had many uses for trees during the siege of Petersburg. Use the pictionary and soldier life pages to list and describe four uses of trees during the Civil War.

Example: Fraise - Soldiers cut down trees and sharpened the ends to create fraise. They placed the fraise in front of their trenches to offer better protection from approaching enemies.

Soldiers from both armies spent much of their time behind walls of earth up to ten feet high. Which artillery weapon would be more effective in attacking men behind the trenches? Refer to the pictionary and soldier life pages to define these weapons. Write down your answer and an explanation.

Would trees be an obstacle for the cannon or the mortars? Why or why not?

Trenches near Ft. Morton

This photograph is an example of the trenches where soldiers lived. Soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies fought in trenches for almost ten months. Imagine what the area of Petersburg looked like after seven months of fighting.

Now imagine what the landscape of Petersburg looked like in April 1865, when the siege finally ended. Draw a sketch of what you think Petersburg looked like during the siege.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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Mailing Address:

Petersburg National Battlefield Administration Office
1539 Hickory Hill Road

Petersburg, VA 23803


(804) 732-3531 x0

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