Sightseeing Around Civil War Richmond, Virginia

Lincoln Statue at the
Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center 

(Digital Images; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

Last year and earlier this year my husband spent some time working in Richmond, Virginia. My son and I took several trips to Richmond while my husband was there.  We all loved Richmond!  There was lots to see and do! While my son loved the Science Museum of Virginia I was interested in the area because of my Civil War ancestors.

My great-grandfather, Francois Chenette (1813-1886), was a Civil War soldier.  He and his son, also named Francois (1845-1864) both enlisted in the Union Army in Woodstock, Vermont on 10 Dec 1963 and mustered in on 16 Dec 1863.  Francois Sr. was 50 years old at the time and his son Francois was 18.  I found it interesting that Francois Sr. gave his age as 44 at the time of enlistment!  Both father and son served in the 11th Vermont Infantry, Company K.  Francois Sr. was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Sadly young Francois died of disease in Strasburg, Virginia on 03 Nov 1864 and was buried at Bragg's Farm.  Francois Jr.'s body was later moved to the Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia where my family and I visited his grave several years ago on our drive home from Charleston, South Carolina.  Francois Sr. transferred to Company A on 24 Jun 1865, and he mustered out on 29 Jun 1865.

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar

Not surprisingly one of the items on my agenda was to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield. While my husband was at work my son and I stopped at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the visitor center for the Richmond National Battlefield Park at the Tredegar Iron Works which was only a short distance from our hotel in downtown Richmond.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The iron works was quiet on the day we visited.  If you look at the sky in my photos you can see the storm clouds in the background that preceded Hurricane Irene which hit Virginia while we were in Richmond.  My then eight-year-old son was initially less than excited about the iron works, but one of the park rangers did an amazing job at keeping him entertained with a scavenger hunt activity while I looked around the visitor center.  We also discovered the gift shop sold a set of Civil War silly bandz (Remember those?) which included a silly band of Abraham Lincoln's profile, so thankfully the day wasn't a total write off at least as far as my son was concerned.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The Tredegar Iron Works was the largest iron works in the south during the Civil War and survived the burning of Richmond relatively unscathed.  You can see a great vintage photo here.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

I'd wanted to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield for quite some time. Unfortunately when we did finally visit the battlefield was closed due to damage from the hurricane which knocked trees down all around the area. While we were not able to drive through on the driving tour because of downed trees, we did take some time to walk around on the grounds near the small visitor's center.  I was a bit disappointed (My son was not...) that we were not able to do the driving tour.  It was interesting none-the-less to see the area where my great-grandfather fought and was wounded on 01 Jun 1864.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

The fields were lovely and serene the day we visited with a bright blue sky, the literal calm after the storm, and while the visit to Cold Harbor probably wasn't high on my son's "things to do list" he does know that his ancestors fought in the war.  It really is amazing to think that he is only four generations removed from a Civil War ancestor!  The battlefield visit might not have been the most exciting way for him to spend a day in Richmond, but I sure bet he'll have something to talk about when his class finally does get around to learning about the Civil War in school!

Cold Harbor Battlefield

Other Posts You Might Like:

Books of Interest: The Life of Billy Yank
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)
The Shenette Family - Wordless Wednesday


Kristin said...

Yes, he will remember it and maybe it will make the whole thing real to him.

Cynthia Shenette said...

Kristin - That's what I'm hoping! Visiting Cold Harbor definitely made it more real for me. Thank you for your comment!