RICHMOND, Va. – On November 1, 2014, the National Park Service and the Richmond Battlefields Association will commemorate the transfer of 18 acres at the Cold Harbor battlefield from the association to Richmond National Battlefield Park.
The land is 250 yards from park’s Cold Harbor Battlefield unit in Hanover County, and is immediately across the road from Beulah Presbyterian Church, which was one of the more prominent landmarks on the battlefield.The property was preserved by the Richmond Battlefields Association in two phases beginning in 2009. The Civil War Trust assisted with the second phase.
The transfer ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the property near the intersection of Beulah Church Road and Glenharbor Lane, Mechanicsville, 23111.Following the ceremony, retired national park ranger and Association board member Mike Andrus will lead a tour of the new park land, exploring the story of the fighting that took place on the property 150 years ago this year.The organization’s annual meeting will take place after a brown-bag luncheon.The event is free and open to the public.
The new park property saw fighting on May 31 and June 1, 1864, during the Battle of Cold Harbor. On May 31, Union forces won control of the Old Cold Harbor intersection south of the church. A June 1 Confederate counterattack on the property and along Beulah Church Road failed to retake the intersection. The original church burned during the battle, although exact details of that episode are not known.
The property subsequently was in a sector controlled by the Union 18th Corps. On this landscape, the 18th Corps launched its big attacks, under heavy fire, on both the afternoon of June 1 and the morning of June 3. While the June 1 assault met with partial success, the June 3 attack failed disastrously.After almost two weeks of stalemate, Ulysses S. Grant withdrew his army and crossed the James River to strike at Petersburg, the beginning of the Union army’s nine-month siege of Petersburg and Richmond.
The entire 18-acre tract is intact and retains its Civil War features.It includes extensive original entrenchments and traces of wartime roads. Richmond National Battlefield Park plans to incorporate the acreage into its visitor circulation pattern at Cold Harbor. Visitors will be able to see another piece of historic ground, and in the process have an opportunity to better understand the earliest actions that helped shape the famous Battle of Cold Harbor.
“This land saw some of the most significant fighting over the course of several days of the Battle of Cold Harbor, and its preservation and addition to the park will greatly enhance the visitor experience here,” said park superintendent David Ruth.
“This project would not have been possible without the support of the Richmond Battlefields Association,” he noted. “The work of these local citizens and the Civil War Trust ensures that this landscape will be available for current and future generations to explore, and to better understand our national story.We are so grateful for their partnership.”
The association works to preserve and protect the historic integrity of the Civil War battlefields near Richmond. The organization and its members work to achieve that goal by promoting historic preservation in general, and by educating the public about the tremendous importance of Richmond’s battlefields.
“The Richmond Battlefields Association believes that these places, this hallowed ground, teach us unique and priceless lessons about who we are as a nation,” said association President Ben Brockenbrough.“The experience of standing on a battlefield can be transformative. By standing on a field where men have struggled and died for their ideals, by experiencing on the spot the accounts of great generals and common soldiers, we breathe life into musty facts and abstract concepts. That is why it is so important to save our historic places.”
“This transfer marks the culmination of five years of hard work and sacrifice by the membership of Richmond Battlefields Association,” Brockenbrough said.“Much work remains to be done on this battlefield, but on November 1st we celebrate a success with our friends in the National Park Service, the Civil War Trust, and history lovers everywhere.”
Cold Harbor is one of 13 sites protected by Richmond National Battlefield Park where key Civil War battles took place in 1862 and 1864.The park, one of more than 400 national parks across the country, also hosts five visitor centers and a driving tour of the battlefields along an 80-mile route through Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties. A full day is required to experience the entire battlefield park.The main park visitor center is located at Historic Tredegar (470 Tredegar Street in Richmond) and provides museum exhibits, audio-visual programs, and orientation services to help plan a visit to the battlefields.For additional information, contact Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1981, or via the internet at www.nps.gov/rich or www.Facebook.com/RichmondNPS.