This 647-acre property commemorates the Civil War battlefield where Union forces broke through Confederate fortifications on April 2, 1865, ending the nine-month siege of Petersburg. This pivotal Union victory effectively cut off remaining supply lines into Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond, forced General Lee to order the evacuation of both cities, and ultimately led to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House one week later.
Three separate battles in the Petersburg Campaign were fought on this site, land that is now protected by the 415-acre Pamplin Historical Park, established in 1991 and lying within Petersburg Breakthrough Battlefield. Of the nearly five miles of Confederate entrenchments built around Petersburg, approximately one mile of earthwork fortifications and other defensive structures survive. The Battlefield park also protects areas used by Union troops to stage their final attack.
Though Confederate soldiers harvested the site’s trees for fortifications resulting in an open landscape at the time of the battle , much of the site is now reforested. The earthworks remain visible, despite the removal of the log retaining walls and erosion of the parapets and ditches. Pamplin Historical Park offers three miles of interpretive trails that meander through fortifications, with two cleared areas maintained to illustrate the landscape during the battle. Of the more than fifty Civil War battles fought in Dinwiddie County, the Breakthrough Battlefield is one of only four that are actively protected and interpreted. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003 as the Petersburg Breakthrough Battlefield Historic District at Pamplin Historical Park, the Petersburg Breakthrough Battlefield was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.