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Traveling to Richmond, Virginia’s Civil War Sites

If you think the Civil War ended nearly 150 years ago, you’ve never been to Richmond, Virginia. It’s a place where people still have the last name of Lee and are most likely direct descendents of the famous General who almost, or at least could have, worked for the “other side.”

Although Robert E. Lee was not born in Richmond (actually at his family home of Stratford Hall near Lerty, Virginia), nor is he even buried there (that would be in a chapel at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia), his legacy lives on if not more than in a large statue on Monument Avenue.Ironically, Lee was not a proponent of the Virginia’s succession from the Union. The West Point Military Academy graduate reluctantly turned down President Lincoln’s offer to lead the northern troops due to his loyalty to his home state.

Also ironically, not much of anything is actually embossed with the name of Robert E. Lee in the city. But that doesn’t mean the Civil War and the Confederacy for which he led troops for Jefferson Davis is not alive and well in and around Richmond.

The National Park Service operates the Richmond National Battlefield Park. The name is actually a misnomer, as there are actually 11 battlefields, and 2 major museums, which make up the park system. (the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond is not part of the RNBP)

The thing to recognize from the start is that none of these sites are within walking distance of each other. PERIOD! If you wish to see more than one site, a car is necessary, along with a good map or GPS. A full day will be needed for the 80-mile driving tour.

The original visitor’s center within the city was located at Chimborazo Medical Center, up on the hill in the southeast section of the city. The main visitor’s center is now located at Tredegar Iron Works near the center of the city next to the James River.

Lee may not totally be the center of attention in Richmond, but he was still a true southern gentleman. So, take my advice, don’t ridicule him in front of the true locals, and whatever you do …

Whatever you do, DON’T CALL HIM “BOB”!

Next Week: Civil War Visitor Center at Tredegar Iron Works

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