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Contact: Elizabeth Paradis Stern, 804-226-5023
Contact: Beth Parnicza, 540-372-3031
Contact: Ann Blumenschine, 804-732-3531 x203
Memorial Day weekend program will connect battlefields with communities devastated by losses from the campaign
RICHMOND, Va.–On May 24, 2014, as part of the nationwide Civil War sesquicentennial commemoration, the National Park Service will present Reverberations, an innovative program connectingthree national parks in Virginia and eight communities around the country to illustrate the devastating impact of the Civil War on communities across the country. From Maine to South Carolina and from Michigan to Mississippi, partner communities both North and South will join with the National Park Service to hold special programs and simultaneous candlelight illuminations to vividly illustrate how the 1864 Overland Campaign reverberated beyond the Virginia countryside into communities across the nation. The campaign's battles were devastating for soldiers in the field, and each death or wound rippled outward, causing heartbreak in localities North and South that these soldiers called home.
Three national parks in Virginia – Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, Richmond National Battlefield Park, and Petersburg National Battlefield – will send Park Rangersto sister communities to joinin commemorative programs and presentations throughout the day. That evening, they will participate in candlelight illuminations in each community, commemorating the lives lost in the battles and symbolizing the connection between the home front and the battlefield.
Reverberations will take place in Litchfield, Connecticut; Nicholasville, Kentucky; Bangor, Maine; Dearborn, Michigan, Natchez, Mississippi; Wilmington, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Stockbridge, Wisconsin. At the three national parks, Reverberations will occur at Fredericksburg National Cemetery; at the Cold Harbor Battlefield near Richmond; and at Poplar Grove National Cemetery, Blandford Cemetery, and City Point National Cemetery in Petersburg. The programs in South Carolina and Mississippi will be supported by national park units, with Fort Sumter National Monument hosting programs focusing on South Carolinians who lost their lives in Virginia during the campaign, and Natchez National Historical Park commemorating Mississippians who never returned home.
More information about the program can be found below and online here.
The Overland Campaign
In May 1864 – the fourth year of the Civil War – Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a campaign to destroy General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.In a series of battles that devastated Central Virginiaand became known as the Overland Campaign, Union soldiers steadily moved south while facing off with Confederate foes at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, along the North Anna River, and at Cold Harbor, just 10 miles from the Confederate capital. However, mounting casualties – ultimately reaching almost 100,000 in five weeks of action – and intense Confederate opposition forced Grant to change his strategy and focus his attention on Richmond's main supply base -- Petersburg. The June 1864 attacks on Petersburg brought an end to the Overland Campaign and Grant laid siege to the Lee's army at Petersburg.The bloody conflicts around Richmond and Petersburg in 1864-65 led to the end of the Civil War in April 1865 at Appomattox Court House.
The communities participating in Reverberations include:
- Park: Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
- The Battle of the Wilderness (May 4-6, 1864)
- The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House (May 8-21, 1864)
- Dearborn, Michigan will represent the state of Michigan, which sacrificed countless sons, brothers, and fathers on the battlefields of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. Embroiled in battle from the first major clash at the Wilderness to the brutal hand-to-hand combat at Spotsylvania Court House's Bloody Angle, Michiganders bore a heavy burden of the fighting in these two battles and left behind remarkable accounts. Working in partnership with the Henry Ford museum, we will pay our respects to Michigan's sacrifice with a day of programming on May 24 and a large ceremony that evening.
- Natchez, Mississippi is near the rural homes of Mississippi soldiers who fought knee-deep in mud and gore for 16 hours at the infamous Bloody Angle. David Holt of the 16th Mississippi captured the exhausting nature of the Overland Campaign in the Mississippians' reaction to the Bloody Angle fighting: "All moved by the same impulse, we sat down on the wet ground and wept. Not silently, but vociferously and long." Partnering with Natchez National Historical Park, we will honor the loss of soldiers to families and communities, small and large.
- Park: Richmond National Battlefield Park
- The Battle of Totopotomoy Creek (May 29-31, 1864)
- The Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-June 15, 1864)
- Litchfield, Connecticut, was the home of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, which suffered terrible losses in its first battle at Cold Harbor. Reverberations activities in Litchfield include a living history camp and presentations by local historians and a National Park ranger, and a tour of Civil War sites in the area. That evening an illumination will be held on the town green where the men assembled to leave for Virginia. Names of the 140 men killed on June 1 at Cold Harbor will be read by descendants.
- Charleston, South Carolina sent several units to fight in Virginia, and many figured prominently at Cold Harbor, some in their first battle there. Fort Moultrie National Monument in Charleston, SC will be the scene of several activities, including a guest speaker and a children's program about soldier life during the day. That evening luminaries will represent each South Carolina unit that was part of the Army of Northern Virginia in the Overland Campaign. Dr. Eric Emerson, Director of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, will be a featured speaker.
- Park: Petersburg National Battlefield
- Siege of Petersburg (June 15, 1864 – April 2, 1865)
- Bangor, Maine was the home of many of the men of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.On June 18, 1864, approximately 900 members of the unit, acting as foot soldiers, attacked a section of the Confederate defense line located just east of Petersburg, Virginia. Within one hour, about three-fourths of the entire regiment was wiped out by Confederate cannon fire.On May 24, 2014, the Bangor community, including descendants of the men of the 1st Maine, will read the names of those killed or mortally wounded in the June 18 attack, as well as letters written by the soldiers and their families.Local historians will provide background of the 1st Maine itself, and a National Park ranger will provide details of the Petersburg attack.
- Wilmington, North Carolina was linked by two railroad lines to Petersburg, which enabled the Confederacy to move supplies during the war.Also, some regiments from the Confederate and Union armies fought around Petersburg in 1864 and were moved to the Wilmington region by late 1864 or early 1865.
- Stockbridge/Munsee Band of Mohican Indians and the Menominee Wisconsin Indian Tribe of Wisconsin were two of many Native American Indian Tribes which fought in the Civil War. More than 20,000 Native Americans fought in the war. These two tribes fought for the Union though other Native American Tribes fought for the Confederacy, another indication of the divisiveness of the Civil War. Native Americans served in the 2nd New York Heavy Artillery (an infantry unit), the First Michigan Sharpshooters, and the 7th, 36th, 37th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry Regiments at Petersburg.
- Camp Nelson, Nicholasville, Kentucky was the site of one of the largest Union recruiting and training centers for African-American soldiers or United Sates Colored Troops (USCT). From the opening action of the siege to being among the first troops to enter Richmond and Petersburg when the cities fell on April 3, 1865 their contribution was critical to the Union's success in this nearly ten-month long campaign. Reverberation activities to include presentations on the 114th & 116th USCTs who were raised at Camp Nelson and served at the siege, a commemorative ceremony for the USCTs' family members who died at Camp Nelson and a luminary at Camp Nelson National Cemetery recognizing the USCTs from Camp Nelson and from across the country who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park preserves and protects four major Civil War battlefields and the "Stonewall" Jackson Shrine. Here in the woods and fields around Fredericksburg, the Civil War roared to its bloody climax, and armies occupied, maneuvered, and fought over this landscape for 18 months of the war. The park has two visitor center sites at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, and each of the four battlefields features its own driving tour. Information about the park and its planned activities is available by phone at (540) 373-6122 and online at www.nps.gov/frsp and www.facebook.com/FredericksburgSpotsylvaniaNMP.
Richmond National Battlefield Park protects 13 Civil War sites in Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield counties.Experiencing the park's battlefield sites and five visitor centers usually takes a full day.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, please contact Richmond National Battlefield Park at 804-226-1981.Park information and updates about programs and events are also available on the park's website at www.nps.gov/rich and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RichmondNPS).
Petersburg National Battlefield was created in order to commemorate the campaign and siege and defense of Petersburg, VA, in 1864 and 1865. Laid out along a thirty mile-long driving tour, the park's battlefields and three visitor centers help connect visitors to the 9-½ month long campaign. For more information, please call 804-732-3531. Park information and updates about programs and events are also available on the park's website at www.nps.gov/pete and on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PetersburgNPS).