Cold Harbor Battlefield

VA_Richmond_ColdHarborBattlefield_KenLund_2008_01.jpg
Mechanicsville, VA
United States
Cold Harbor Battlefield

Landscape Information

Old Cold Harbor; Old Cold Harbor Crossroads

This rural site commemorates the Battle of Cold Harbor, one of the Civil War engagements associated with the Overland Campaign (May 31-June 12, 1864). Resulting in nearly 13,000 Union and 5,000 Confederate casualties, the battle was a turning point in the war in Virginia. Here, responding to repeated failures to penetrate Confederate defenses surrounding Richmond, Union soldiers changed their strategy from one of maneuver to one of entrenchment. Within two weeks of the Confederate victory at Cold Harbor, this strategic shift led to the Union siege of Richmond and Petersburg, setting the course for the war’s conclusion nine months later.

The Cold Harbor Battlefield unit of the Richmond National Battlefield Park protects and interprets 365 acres of the historic site. Surrounded by fields over which Union troops attacked Confederate defenses, the visitor center (constructed in the 1960s as a shelter and enclosed in the 1990s) houses exhibits about the battle and other aspects of the Overland Campaign, including an interactive map that illustrates troop movements. From the visitor center, a mile-long one-way loop road weaves through oak and pine forest as well as the wetland forest associated with Bloody Run, and provides access to significant stretches of both Union and Confederate fortifications, in some cases lying just 200 yards apart. The park also consists of three miles of interpretive trails passing through extant fortifications. An open meadow simulates the fields that were part of the battlefield landscape, with a representative cannon installed in the 1980s. Cold Harbor Battlefield is a contributing unit of Richmond National Battlefield Park, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.