Sunday, June 8, 2008

Appomattox Court House

We have been parked at a campground in Waynesboro, VA for a month now. Gene has been patiently waiting while I have been doing a little hiking. Even though we have been in Waynesboro for such a long time, we have not done much sightseeing here. There are a few places we want to visit. Also, we have friends coming this week. That is always a bonus for us. Then we’ll be on our way to New York. Of course, there are a few things we want to see along the way.

I took off my hiking boots and put on tennis shoes. I took off those sweaty, smelly hiking clothes and put on a pair of cotton shorts and a new shirt. I even put on a little lipstick. I was ready for something besides the trail. I picked up my camera and we were out the door to see what this area has to offer.
The Courthouse

Virginia saw firsthand so much of the Civil War it is hard to go anywhere without seeing reminders of that bleak time in America’s history. Yesterday we took a drive through rural Virginia to the small town of Appomattox. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park is here—the site of Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia to Ulysses S. Grant.
P-Meeks Store

The Park Service has reconstructed much of the small village of Appomattox Court House as it was in April 1865. The Court House is now the Visitor Center and museum. As we walked around the park, you get a real since of how life was in this small community during the mid 1800s. We started our tour of the park by listening to a living history interpreter, dressed in period costume, telling his story of the war and the surrender as a private in the Union Army. The main thoroughfare through the village is still a “dirt” road, although very well maintained by the US government. Several of the town buildings have been reconstructed or renovated on their original locations. Nearly all buildings are open for touring. The fields had been cut, but I’m sure the bales were not round in 1865. Nevertheless, it was very typical of the many fields we had passed during our drive there.
Clover Hill Tavern
Tavern Guesthouse

The McLean Home was the site of the surrender, not the courthouse. Lee and Grant met in the parlor to discuss the terms of surrender. The paroles, or passes, which were distributed to each Confederate soldier to prove his release from duty, were printed in the Clover Hill Tavern.

McLean House, site of the surrender
Of course, at the time both Armies were encamped around the village. There is an interpretive History Trail which we walked. It went past several points of interest including both Lee’s and Grant’s headquarters, the North Carolina Monument, and the Confederate Cemetery. It was beastly hot here yesterday so we cut our walk a little short preferring the air conditioned comfort of the Visitor Center to anything outside.
Confederate Cemetery

We were very impressed with the park. We spent about 4 hours there and would have stayed longer if it hadn’t been so hot.

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