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“Cold Harbor: A short visit can provide a lot understanding about the significant Civil War battle.”

Richmond National Battlefield Park
Ranked #36 of 176 things to do in Richmond
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed September 29, 2012

I stopped at Cold Harbor Battlefield as a detour on the way back to the Richmond airport following a week of meetings in Hampton, Virginia. There were several options for Civil War sites in the Richmond area (all part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park), but I only had time for one of the 13 units. Cold Harbor was the easy choice due to its proximity to the airport and its historical significance.

I arrived about 12:15 and started with the small visitor center and a short discussion with the Ranger to see how best to spend my limited time. There are a couple of walking trails and a driving tour. I opted for the 1-mile walking trail that looped from the visitor center and worked along portions of both the Union and Confederate entrenchments. I was amazed that the earthworks were still as intact and obvious as they were. The trail provides an excellent vantage point for viewing the trenches and at one point actually crosses through the Confederate trenches. The trail was well-marked with signs describing the happenings and use of the trenches.

One of the historical points that I probably read earlier but forgot was the role of the Union Heavy Artillery units. These units were pulled from the Washington and Baltimore defenses and sent to the field, many just weeks before the battle of Cold Harbor. These were over-sized regiments, and while they were veteran units, they had not seen active campaigning or battle as infantry (they were trained as infantry as well as heavy artillery). Several of the units did well during the battle, but their casualty rates were very high (20% for at least one unit). The displays in the visitor center also described the change of tactics that occurred following the Union debacle at Cold Harbor. Grant later stated that this was the only battle that he should not have ordered.

Overall, I spend a little over an hour at Cold Harbor. I'll have to come back to explore along the extended trail through this battlefield unit and to visit the other units in the Richmond Battlefield Park.

Notes:
There are restrooms at the Cold Harbor Visitor Center.
There is no admission cost for Cold Harbor.
There are water fountains at the VC, but no food or drinks for sell.
Most of the 1-mile trail is through woods, but there are some exposed areas at the beginning and end of the trail, so plan accordingly for exposure to sun.

5  Thank OhioHick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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61 - 65 of 70 reviews

Reviewed August 26, 2012

We spent two days exploring the battlefields and forts in and around Richmond. The NPS at Tredegar was a good starting point. We also downloaded the free podcasts from CivilWarTraveler.com and found them very informative as we hiked the battle sites. The Park Rangers at each site were pleasant and went out of their way to answer questions and give suggestions on how to enjoy our visit.

2  Thank S0j0urner54
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 22, 2012

Richmond, Virginia, is a history book that never stops giving with memories of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, from Patrick Henry's church to John Marshall's home to Robert E. Lee's home, from Hollywood Cemetery to Chimborazo to Monument Avenue. It takes more than a day to view all of the sites but it is well worth the time, even if you aren't a Civil War person. It is quite an education in our country's history. Don't miss Hollywood Cemetery, where U.S. presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Jefferson Davis, Jeb Stuart and George Pickett are buried. Pick up a guidebook at the gate house and it will lead you to all of many prominent people who are buried there. Don't miss Monument Avenue, which features the statues of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Maury and Arthur Ashe. Don't miss the White House and Museum of the Confederacy or the Virginia State Capitol or the Tredegar Iron Works on the James River or the Franklin Street house where Lee lived during the Civil War or the church in which Davis was worshipping when he received word from Lee that the Confederate lines at Petersburg had been overrun and Richmond had to be evacuated, or Chimborazo, site of the largest Confederate hospital. Make it a point to walk along the Riverwalk from the Tredegar Works to downtown Richmond. We've been to all of them more than once and we're going back again next year.

4  Thank Taylor B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 18, 2012

a unique insight into the making of confed weopons, interesting conversion of iron works, car park at sight is free if you pay into the civil war museum at the same site. there are no refreshment or food concessions at this site. eat before you go !!!

1  Thank fozzie555
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 16, 2011

started our tour at the visito center-very little artifacts and the iron works next door are placques and rumble.asked for the tour route in the visitors center. they have ery good directions written out for you along with a map. the only correction I would make was turn onto the road marked with sign to glendale visitors center for the glendale cementary and the willis church sites. go out the same way in and turn left and follow the detour signs to maverh hill and parsonage sites. when we were there the road was blocked after the willis church to marvern hill site. if you dont go down the road, you'll miss seeing the church. dewey bluff is good to see but all the rest are earthworks and placques to read. didnt go to the chimborazo medical museum. we were too disappointed with the tour.

Thank civilwarloco
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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