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During the last year of the Civil War, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant undertook a sustained offensive against Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army of Northern Virginia in what has become known as Grant’s Overland Campaign. Led by Civil War historian Ed Bearss
, this tour focuses on that campaign, in which the Union army fought its way south toward the Confederate capital at Richmond.
After bitter, indecisive battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, and Totopotomoy Creek, both armies spread out along a 7-mile front extending from Bethesda Church to the Chickahominy River, with the village of Old Cold Harbor at its core.
The tour highlights the final battle of the campaign, known as Second Cold Harbor. Begun on May 31, 1964, it resulted in some 13,000 Union casualties (with 4,500 on the Confederate side), before Grant abandoned the well-defended approaches to Richmond on the night of June 12 to advance to the James River and threaten Petersburg.
The tour of the Cold Harbor battlefield includes a stop at the visitors’ center, featuring an electronic map that describes the battle, and at Garthright House, used by Union surgeons as a field hospital.
Lunch is included at a local restaurant.
7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. by bus from the Holiday Inn Capitol at 550 C St., S.W. with a pickup stop at the Horner Rd. commuter lot bus shelter, I-95 Exit 158B, at about 7:55 a.m.
Dress for some battlefield walks.
To learn more about the Civil War, listen to clips from Smithsonian Folkways>>