26 Dec 2018

Richmond, 1862 and 1864: Reflecting on Two Very Different Confederate Victories

Richmond, 1862 and 1864: Reflecting on Two Very Different Confederate Victories

I know this is a busy season, and I truly hope you're making the most of every second. That's why I want to jump right into some history to help you understand the significance of the 50 acres of Richmond-area battlefield we're trying to save before 2018 comes to a close.

In June of 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee won his first major victory with the Battle of Gaines' Mill. Two years later, on some of the same Richmond soil soil you and I have an opportunity to preserve today Lee triumphed again at the Battle of Cold Harbor. Yet while Gaines' Mill would mark the beginning of a streak of successes for the Army of Northern Virginia, the victory at Cold Harbor would mark the beginning of that same army's end.

Lee stunned North and South alike in the Seven Days Battles. With an aggressive offensive, he drove the Federal Army from within eight miles of Richmond all the way to the James River and ultimately Washington, D.C. This victory would be followed by others, launching Lee to national fame as a symbol of hope and pride for the Confederacy, and fear for the Union.

Yet there would also be Confederate losses. Antietam. Gettysburg. The Emancipation Proclamation. The fall of Vicksburg, and with-it, Confederate control of the Mississippi River.

And then, in March 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant rose to command of all Federal forces. Lee fought formidably in Grant's Overland Campaign in Virginia and made a powerful stand at the Battle of Cold Harbor. But he knew, as Grant did, that the Confederacy's supply of soldiers and resources was dwindling fast.

Lee himself believed that "we must destroy this army of Grant's before he gets to the James River. If he gets there, then it will be a siege, and then it will be a mere question of time." Despite the defeat at Cold Harbor, Grant managed to withdraw in good order, then deceive the Confederates for critical days as his army crossed the James and marched towards Petersburg. Lee would resist for another nine months before his grim prediction was confirmed.

The Battles at Gaines' Mill and Cold Harbor helped determine the trajectory and outcome of the Civil War. Today, we have the opportunity to preserve the very ground of these two major events in Lee's career. We're making slow but steady progress toward raising the $179,000 we need to buy the 50 acres. This is the hallowed ground on which the local county had imminent plans to build a sportsplex, so we cannot fail!

Through the end of the year, several longtime donors are matching all contributions to this campaign up to $100,000. Please give as generously as you can, knowing your gift will have twice the impact toward preserving this priceless American history.

Already made an annual contribution to save these 50 Richmond-area? Consider using one of our ecards to make a donation in someone else's name and give the gift of preservation to a history buff in your life.

American Battlefield Trust

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