Saving Cold Harbor

Federal aid to protect Civil War battle site. 

Gen. Robert E. Lee

Image courtesy of John Adams Elder

On the morning of June 3, 1864, three Union corps lunged forward in a massive frontal attack against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s lines at Cold Harbor near Mechanicsville, about 10 miles northeast of the capital at Richmond. It was the last major battle of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign, and it ended in a bloody defeat for the Union, with 7,000 of Grant’s troops killed, wounded, or missing.

In recent years, the 50-acre site has faced threats of damage or destruction by suburban development. But a $440,000 grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program will be used to acquire a portion of the battlefield, and the property will be protected with a conservation easement held by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “Through public-private partnerships, local communities are able to permanently protect and preserve historic battlefield lands, so future generations will be able to visit and learn about the events that helped shape this country,” National Park Service deputy director David Vela said in a statement.

For visitors, the most effective way of exploring the site is to take the foot trail that begins across the street from the visitor’s center. NPS.gov


This article originally appeared in our April 2020 issue.

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