Friday, May 4, 2012

Petersburg sets Saturday evening series

Six Saturday evening programs at Petersburg National Battlefield will delve into events that eventually sealed the fate of Richmond and Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

The series kicks off May 19 with a free walking tour, "Follow the Cavalry," at the Five Forks Battlefield, one of four park units stretching about 37 miles.

At Five Forks (above), often called the "Waterloo of the Confederacy," Lee ordered Maj. Gen. Georgia Pickett to hold the vital crossroads and railroad line at all hazard.

On April 1, 1865, Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s cavalry and Gouvernor Warren’s V Corps overwhelmed 9,000 Confederates. The additional pressure on the Petersburg siege line forced Lee to recommend the evacuation of the city and Richmond.

The Five Forks tour begins at the visitor center, 9840 Courthouse Road, Dinwiddie.

Park ranger Grant Gates said the evening series began in 2011.

"We're trying to reach out to the audience working during the day," he said. "We want to open their eyes to the scale of events."

Cooler evening weather also might be a draw.

Here's the rest of the schedule:

June 16: “Marble Men” – Poplar Grove National Cemetery
June 23: “Battle of Fort Stedman” – Eastern Front Unit, Tour Stop 5
June 30: “Initial Attacks on Petersburg” – Eastern Front Unit, Tour Stop 1 (Visitor Center)
July 7: “City Point and the Civil War” – General Grant’s Headquarters Unit in Hopewell
July 14: “Charge of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery” – Eastern Front Unit, Tour Stop 5

All programs begin at 7 p.m. Dress appropriately for the weather and bring water. Call Petersburg National Battlefield at 804-732-3531 for more information. Illustration, Library of Congress; NPS photo, Jimmy Blankenship providing a tour by the remains of the Taylor House dependency at Tour Stop 7 at the Eastern Front.

Petersburg National Battlefield

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