A number of us watched Saving Private Ryan on TNT last night to commemorate Veteran's Day. A very fitting way to commemorate the day after spending time on such battlefields were veterans from those fights were horribly maimed for life. After a peaceful night at a Holiday Inn Express (props for free wireless internet!) and a good complimentary breakfast, we got on the road around 8:15 A.M. and headed towards our third battlefield of the trip, Cold Harbor. Our tour guide for this Union slaughter was Lynn Sims. Lynn got us started by watching a pretty decent electric map program in the Visitor Center and then we headed outside to see a musket demonstration by one of his friends, who incidentally was the park ranger on duty at the Visitor Center today. We continued our tour of the battlefield by establishing both the Federal and Confederate Lines, including the Southall Freeman markers. After a brief jaunt through the woods, we headed back to the VC to watch the map program again and compare our initial viewing to the knowledge we had gained while out on the field and our new understanding of the battle of Cold Harbor.
Off to lunch we went after that, which indeed was a very curious experience. There is nothing quite like good southern hospitality at a local restaurant! After lunch, Lynn took us to one final stop before heading on to Petersburg, and that was the Chickahominy River. In just thirty minutes, we made it to Petersburg and caught up with our tour guide/park ranger, Tracy Chernault. Before tramping around the earthworks at Petersburg, we had time to explore the VC, the museum and its exhibits, and even the bookstore where several purchases were made (No Junior Ranger hats!) Like Cold Harbor, we started the tour by checking out the electric map program. On par with the Cold Harbor map program, I can only hope that Gettysburg National Military Park upgrades their map program to this level with the new museum in 2007. Gaining 9 ? months worth of actions in a 17 minute program it was nice to meet up with Tracy and find out what all that information meant and where it actually happened.
Our first stop on the tour, which was just outside of the Petersburg Visitor Center, was battery five. Moving along in the tour, the next few places we visited included the 1 st Maine Heavy Artillery, site of their slaughter, Colquitt's Salient, Fort Steadman, and the Hare House and farm site. After these stops, and passing some WWI earthworks along the way, we went to one of Petersburg's more famous locations, The Crater. Here we looked at the entrance to the mine shaft, followed the mine shaft to the crater, Confederate listening galleries, and finished off at The Crater itself. Driving through a couple more stops and looking as we went, due to the setting sun, we headed to the extreme flank of the Confederate Army at Petersburg. With the sun setting quickly at this sight, we raced against the sun and the setting of the Confederacy to the battle site of Five Forks. As the sun set on us and on the Confederacy at this point it could not have been more fitting. Tomorrow is Appomattox and the official end of the Army of Northern Virginia so stop back see the photos.