The signs on I-295 near Richmond, Virginia listed EXIT 34 as the way to Cold Harbor Battlefield. I decided to hop off the road and see how far this was. The first road east of the interstate had signs showing the direction of the Battle of Gaines Mill.
As I have been a Civil War buff for years I figured that a stop was in order. Sher and I headed down the road and followed the signs to the Battlefield. What greeted us was a sign announcing the entrance and a long narrow tree lined road winding up through the ravines to the ridge top.
I was greeted at the ridge top with an incredile vista. There was a simple two story house and large “outbuilding”, several hundred yards of spilt rail fences and a few artillery pieces. Some informational signs were scattered around. An unoccupied NPS Park Ranger squad car was the only indication that this was the year 2015, not 1862.
The grounds were totally empty. There was only one other car when we pulled in, and it left in short order. I couldn’t believe that we had the entire site to ourselves. As I walked along the line where Union artillery pounded the advancing Confederate infantry as they came up the ravine and through the trees I could not help but imagine the horror of the conflict. This is hallowed ground that is filled with the energy that remains from the turbulant times of the American Civil War.
The Battle of Gaines Mill was one of the Seven Days Battle that took place in late June/early July 1862. This day’s fighting resulted in combined casualties of 15,000 killed, wounded or captured. If you are interested in details, you can find them at this NPS website.