Petersburg National Battlefield

Petersburg National Battlefield Welcome to the official page for Petersburg National Battlefield. This page is maintained b Petersburg National Battlefield consists of four units spanning across 37 miles of land in South Side Virginia.

From June, 1864 - April, 1865 Union forces sought to cut off all supply lines into the City in order to starve the Confederate troops who were protecting Richmond's main supply base. Four visitor centers, a park tour road, and self-guided trails provide an opportunity for visitors to learn more about the longest military event of the Civil War in which 70,000 soldiers became casualties.

Operating as usual

One-way archeologists can determine how past people ate is to conduct what we call a “faunal analysis” of bones found on...
10/13/2021

One-way archeologists can determine how past people ate is to conduct what we call a “faunal analysis” of bones found on a site. This analysis is often conducted by specialists called Zooarcheologists. These specialists are archeologists who also have an in-depth knowledge of animal bones and can identify bones with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy. This is a picture of some of the faunal (animal) bones we recovered from the archeology around the Kitchen-Laundry building last fall and winter. How many of these bones do you know?

Picture: Assorted types of animal bones with letter labels.

We will post the answers later today! #virginiaarchaeologymonth #archaeology #history #faunal #faunalremains #bones

One-way archeologists can determine how past people ate is to conduct what we call a “faunal analysis” of bones found on a site. This analysis is often conducted by specialists called Zooarcheologists. These specialists are archeologists who also have an in-depth knowledge of animal bones and can identify bones with a surprisingly high degree of accuracy. This is a picture of some of the faunal (animal) bones we recovered from the archeology around the Kitchen-Laundry building last fall and winter. How many of these bones do you know?

Picture: Assorted types of animal bones with letter labels.

We will post the answers later today! #virginiaarchaeologymonth #archaeology #history #faunal #faunalremains #bones

Come out to Poplar Grove National Cemetery this Saturday, October 16 to help with preparations for our annual Luminary e...
10/12/2021

Come out to Poplar Grove National Cemetery this Saturday, October 16 to help with preparations for our annual Luminary event! No sign-up required, simply show up to either the morning (9-11am) or afternoon (1-3pm) session.

*Volunteer opportunity and Luminary event may be canceled at any time due to risks and conditions associated with the ongoing COIVD-19 Pandemic

Come out to Poplar Grove National Cemetery this Saturday, October 16 to help with preparations for our annual Luminary event! No sign-up required, simply show up to either the morning (9-11am) or afternoon (1-3pm) session.

*Volunteer opportunity and Luminary event may be canceled at any time due to risks and conditions associated with the ongoing COIVD-19 Pandemic

Time for another round of Terminology Tuesdays! According to the James Madison's Montpelier  Engaging Descendant Communi...
10/12/2021

Time for another round of Terminology Tuesdays!

According to the James Madison's Montpelier Engaging Descendant Communities Rubric a descendant group is, “ a group of people whose ancestors were enslaved at a particular site, but it can transcend that limited definition. A descendant community can include those whose ancestors were enslaved not only at a particular site, but throughout a particular region, reflecting the fact that family ties are often crossed plantation boundaries. A descendant community can also welcome those who feel connected to the work the institution is doing, whether or not they know about a genealogical connection”. Another important component or the definition is pointed out by Dr. Michael Blakey and Dr. Cheryl LaRoche which is, “Importantly, the descendant community is defined by those asserting stewardship because they care about the disposition of ancestors in question, thus making them vulnerable to harm by anthropological treatment”.

In addition to the archeology at the field quarters at Whitehill Plantation, the Enslaved Field Laborers project at Petersburg National Battlefield seeks to learn more about the people who lived there by engaging with descendant communities and others who might have family knowledge of this history.

If you are interested in participating in a workshop or have family stories you would like to share, please contact Alexis Morris at Petersburg National Battlefield via e-mail [email protected].

Picture: Visitors gathered around table outdoors discussing history of White Hill Plantation with archaeologist

Since today is Indigenous People's Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we decided it would be good for this Material Mo...
10/11/2021

Since today is Indigenous People's Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we decided it would be good for this Material Monday's post to be about quartz versus quartzite. Both were used by Native people in this area for tools.

Quartz is also sometimes called rock crystal. It is a hard crystalline mineral composed of silica. Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which is converted sandstone that was exposed to heating and pressure. In archeological contexts here, they both are found in relationship to the pre-European contact settlement and activity of Native tribes. Pictured from left to right is a colorless quartz flake, a possible Guilford projectile point made of white quartz, three pink/tan quartzite fire cracked rocks, and a gray quartzite hammerstone.

Since today is Indigenous People's Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we decided it would be good for this Material Monday's post to be about quartz versus quartzite. Both were used by Native people in this area for tools.

Quartz is also sometimes called rock crystal. It is a hard crystalline mineral composed of silica. Quartzite is a hard metamorphic rock which is converted sandstone that was exposed to heating and pressure. In archeological contexts here, they both are found in relationship to the pre-European contact settlement and activity of Native tribes. Pictured from left to right is a colorless quartz flake, a possible Guilford projectile point made of white quartz, three pink/tan quartzite fire cracked rocks, and a gray quartzite hammerstone.

10/10/2021

After barely surviving the assassination attempt by Lewis Powell, William Seward and his son Frederick Seward remained in their home on Lafayette Square for weeks recovering from their extensive injuries. As they recovered, Frances Seward (William Seward’s wife) remained by their bedsides. There her health further began deteriorating from its already poor condition, possibly exacerbated by stress caused by the attack. Having suffered for years from an unknown illness, and combined with this added strain, Frances Seward finally died on June 21, 1865.

Working through his grief and recovery, Seward supported President Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction policies. While readmitting the former rebels back into the Union, Johnson allowed the states to institute laws (called black codes) enforcing white supremacy. Formerly enslaved people saw their rights limited by restrictions on speech, access to the voting booth, curfews, and participation in the legal process. Many historians remain puzzled historians by Seward’s support since he had previously been a strong supporter for African American rights. We are left to wonder if the loss of his wife, his ambitious goals of expanding the country to Alaska and farther, or some other reason changed his convictions. After Ulysses S. Grant’s inauguration, William Seward retiring from public life, dying #OTD in 1872 in Auburn, New York, home (Seward House Museum ).

#FordsTheatreNPS #AndrewJohnsonNHS

Image: Seward House Museum

From Battlefield to Museum: Petersburg National Battlefield offers Special Walking Tour of the Crater Battlefield and Di...
10/08/2021

From Battlefield to Museum: Petersburg National Battlefield offers Special Walking Tour of the Crater Battlefield and Display of Artifacts from the Petersburg National Battlefield

Join us on October 17 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm for a special program to help commemorate National Archeology Month. This event will combine a tour of the Crater with a chance to view artifacts of that battle from the park's museum collection. Ranger Tracy Chernault will lead visitors across ground of the fight on July 30, 1864. Then visitors will join the park's curator, Emmanuel Dabney to see artifacts from that field and learn the stories behind them.

The free bus tour starts at the parking lot of the Eastern Front Visitor Center. Space is limited and reservations are required. Please email [email protected] to make your reservation.

From Battlefield to Museum: Petersburg National Battlefield offers Special Walking Tour of the Crater Battlefield and Display of Artifacts from the Petersburg National Battlefield

Join us on October 17 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm for a special program to help commemorate National Archeology Month. This event will combine a tour of the Crater with a chance to view artifacts of that battle from the park's museum collection. Ranger Tracy Chernault will lead visitors across ground of the fight on July 30, 1864. Then visitors will join the park's curator, Emmanuel Dabney to see artifacts from that field and learn the stories behind them.

The free bus tour starts at the parking lot of the Eastern Front Visitor Center. Space is limited and reservations are required. Please email [email protected] to make your reservation.

Interested in learning about the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad (Globe Tavern)?Space is still available for the Peters...
10/07/2021

Interested in learning about the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad (Globe Tavern)?

Space is still available for the Petersburg Battlefields Foundation auto caravan tour scheduled for October 30 from 9:00 - 1:00 pm.

Discover why this battle would have lasting effects on the remainder of the 9.5 month long Siege of Petersburg.

Interested in learning about the Second Battle of Weldon Railroad (Globe Tavern)?

Space is still available for the Petersburg Battlefields Foundation auto caravan tour scheduled for October 30 from 9:00 - 1:00 pm.

Discover why this battle would have lasting effects on the remainder of the 9.5 month long Siege of Petersburg.

On Thursdays this month we are asking our now retired former Chief of Resource Management and former archeologist Julie ...
10/07/2021

On Thursdays this month we are asking our now retired former Chief of Resource Management and former archeologist Julie Steele (pictured on the right and standing with our current archeologist Alexis Morris). We asked her, “If you had all the money and time, what is your dream archeology project at Petersburg National Battlefield?”

Julie said: Where to begin with shovel and trowel? There’s so much pre-European contact, colonial and antebellum, wartime and post-war history here it’s hard to choose but a good place to start would be the troops on both sides who were unfortunate enough to man the front lines between the Federal line at Fort Stedman and the Confederate line at Gracie’s and Colquitt’s Salients. The forces here were just as close as in the better-known Crater vicinity and this closeness led to a vast array of earthworks, communications trenches and bombproof shelters as each side pushed as close to the enemy as they dared and kept a close watch on the opposing side. We have dramatic photographs of this sector taken at the end of the war that show the dramatic efforts taken to shelter from the storm of artillery and musketry fire that was a constant of life on the front lines. I would like to excavate some of these shelters and surrounding earthwork features to learn about the soldier’s lives under conditions of extreme duress, where food and ammunition needed to be moved into the trenches at night to avoid sharpshooters and raising your head above a parapet was playing a game of chance.
A bonus to the archeologist is that the area was left mostly untouched by post-Civil War activity. Dirt was the soldier’s friend and archeologists love nothing more than to discover what stories lie beneath by analyzing the structures, features and remnants of existence in what was a hellish landscape. #virginiaarchaeoloymonth #archaeology #history #civilwar

On Thursdays this month we are asking our now retired former Chief of Resource Management and former archeologist Julie Steele (pictured on the right and standing with our current archeologist Alexis Morris). We asked her, “If you had all the money and time, what is your dream archeology project at Petersburg National Battlefield?”

Julie said: Where to begin with shovel and trowel? There’s so much pre-European contact, colonial and antebellum, wartime and post-war history here it’s hard to choose but a good place to start would be the troops on both sides who were unfortunate enough to man the front lines between the Federal line at Fort Stedman and the Confederate line at Gracie’s and Colquitt’s Salients. The forces here were just as close as in the better-known Crater vicinity and this closeness led to a vast array of earthworks, communications trenches and bombproof shelters as each side pushed as close to the enemy as they dared and kept a close watch on the opposing side. We have dramatic photographs of this sector taken at the end of the war that show the dramatic efforts taken to shelter from the storm of artillery and musketry fire that was a constant of life on the front lines. I would like to excavate some of these shelters and surrounding earthwork features to learn about the soldier’s lives under conditions of extreme duress, where food and ammunition needed to be moved into the trenches at night to avoid sharpshooters and raising your head above a parapet was playing a game of chance.
A bonus to the archeologist is that the area was left mostly untouched by post-Civil War activity. Dirt was the soldier’s friend and archeologists love nothing more than to discover what stories lie beneath by analyzing the structures, features and remnants of existence in what was a hellish landscape. #virginiaarchaeoloymonth #archaeology #history #civilwar

Thanks to Dr. Holly Pinheiro's research on Jasper Gray of the 31st United States Colored Infantry who survived slavery, ...
10/06/2021
“I remember that Jasper Gray told me that he had herded sheep in Australia” - The Journal of the Civil War Era

Thanks to Dr. Holly Pinheiro's research on Jasper Gray of the 31st United States Colored Infantry who survived slavery, the Battle of the Crater, the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, managed to largely dodge illnesses in camp and went on to have a fascinating post-war life traveling and working until he couldn't.

Read more about him here!

In 1906, Oscar Nelson, a local African American living in Tennessee, provided testimony on the extraordinary life of Jasper Gray, a United States Colored Troops (USCT) veteran, of the Thirty-First United Colored Infantry (USCI). Gray was a man whose entire life—in bo***ge and freedom—was one of ...

In Fall and Winter of 2020, the Cultural Resource Analysts, a cultural resource management firm, conducted multiple exca...
10/06/2021

In Fall and Winter of 2020, the Cultural Resource Analysts, a cultural resource management firm, conducted multiple excavations at Grant’s Headquarters unit of the park. The purpose of the excavations was to find evidence of the enslaved people's quarters at Appomattox Manor. While we didn’t find what we were looking for, we did find something interesting! We are not sure what this feature is ourselves (picture 1). It may be an earlier supportive brick foundation for a porch to the a building like one at Colonial Williamsburg (picture 2). What do you think? #virginiaarchaeologymonth #archaeology #history

It's our first Terminology Tuesday this month! Archeologists use a simple geometric principle to layout standard 1 meter...
10/05/2021

It's our first Terminology Tuesday this month!

Archeologists use a simple geometric principle to layout standard 1 meter by 1 meter excavation units. This principle is called the Pythagorean Theorem! Simply the Pythagorean Theorem states A2 + B2 = C2 . First the Archeologist will measure 1m from Point A to Point B. Next the Archeologist will measure a meter from Point B to Point C. The next measurement we will need to us the Pythagorean Theorem (which in the case for a 1m x 1m unit is 1.414m). This distance will be measured between Point A and Point C. Finally, using your right angle to finish the square up to a new Point D and then left, back to Point A. Double check your grid by measuring between Point B and Point D. If it is 141cm then you have your 1m square. You can also measure all the sides of your square. They should all be 1 m!

It's our first Terminology Tuesday this month!

Archeologists use a simple geometric principle to layout standard 1 meter by 1 meter excavation units. This principle is called the Pythagorean Theorem! Simply the Pythagorean Theorem states A2 + B2 = C2 . First the Archeologist will measure 1m from Point A to Point B. Next the Archeologist will measure a meter from Point B to Point C. The next measurement we will need to us the Pythagorean Theorem (which in the case for a 1m x 1m unit is 1.414m). This distance will be measured between Point A and Point C. Finally, using your right angle to finish the square up to a new Point D and then left, back to Point A. Double check your grid by measuring between Point B and Point D. If it is 141cm then you have your 1m square. You can also measure all the sides of your square. They should all be 1 m!

It's Virginia Archaeology Month and every Monday this month we are considering it Materials Mondays! Today's material is...
10/04/2021

It's Virginia Archaeology Month and every Monday this month we are considering it Materials Mondays! Today's material is pewter.

Pewter is a malleable metal alloy consisting largely of tin and in excavations here, often with lead. While we know that lead poses health risks to humans, in the 17th and 18th centuries pewter was used to make plates, bowls, cups, and other tableware. In the early 1800s, pewter declined in use for utensils. This possible spoon fragment was recovered at the Grant’s Headquarters at City Point unit.

It's Virginia Archaeology Month and every Monday this month we are considering it Materials Mondays! Today's material is pewter.

Pewter is a malleable metal alloy consisting largely of tin and in excavations here, often with lead. While we know that lead poses health risks to humans, in the 17th and 18th centuries pewter was used to make plates, bowls, cups, and other tableware. In the early 1800s, pewter declined in use for utensils. This possible spoon fragment was recovered at the Grant’s Headquarters at City Point unit.

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