Lincoln's Last Journey
Between March 23 and April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln embarked on what would be his last journey before his assassination on April 15, 1865. During this time he visited Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Union Army soldiers at the front lines of the American Civil War. We invite you to follow in Lincoln’s footsteps and see first-hand the sites of Lincoln’s final journey through Virginia at City Point (Hopewell), Petersburg and Richmond.
For more information or to book this tour, contact Janie Lawson at the Richmond Region Tourism 804.783.7409 or email@example.com
Arrive early afternoon and check into your Richmond Region hotel.
Our first stop will be the Appomattox Plantation in Hopewell, Va., originally named City Point. City Point’s ideal location overlooking both the James and Appomattox Rivers enabled its port to become the largest supply base in the world for a 10-month period during the Civil War. We will visit the plantation manor, which was built in 1755 by the Eppes family. Here, on the mansion lawn, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant made his headquarters in 1864. Its current picturesque appearance makes it hard to imagine that at one time it was covered with thousands of tents, including barracks and a hospital with more than 6,000 beds. We’ll also visit Gen. Grant’s cabin and walk down to the water’s edge to view the Appomattox and James Rivers, where hundreds of ships brought in supplies daily. You may also view the site where President Lincoln’s ship, River Queen, was anchored.
Our next stop will be the Weston Manor. Built by descendants of the Eppes Family in the late 1700s, the manor is an excellent example of late Georgian plantation architecture and is one of the few plantation houses left on the lower Appomattox River. During the Civil War, the house was shelled by a Northern gunboat and was later used as the headquarters of Union Gen. Philip Sheridan, a key commander at the battle at Petersburg. Mathew Brady, a noted Civil War-era photographer, recorded an image of Weston Manor during the Union Army occupation.
We’ll conclude the day with dinner at the Half Way House. Built in 1760, the Half Way House has been a fixture for the weary traveler on the road between Richmond and Petersburg since before the Revolutionary War. Enjoy the delicious cuisine of Executive Chef Raymond Allen before heading back to your hotel.
After breakfast in the hotel, we’ll travel to Petersburg and drive by the Petersburg Courthouse. The courthouse, built between 1837 and 1839, was the official Confederate headquarters during the Siege of Petersburg. On April 20, 1861, local volunteers gathered in its square to enlist. On June 9, 1864, its bell sounded the warning for the local militia to meet the advancing Union cavalry. During the siege of Petersburg, soldiers from both sides could see the courthouse clock from the trenches and they set their timepieces by it. The clock tower was a favorite target of Union artillerists, who poured an estimated 20,000 shells into the city. When Petersburg fell on April 3, 1865, a Union flag flew above it.
From there, explore the Pamplin Historical Park and the site of the Petersburg National Battlefield, which was the scene of a 10-month siege by the Federal Army. This lengthy event ultimately choked the Confederate Army’s supply lines. Only 25 miles south of Richmond, Petersburg was an important supply center to the Confederate capital. With its key roads and five railroad lines, both Grant and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee knew that if these could be cut off, Petersburg could no longer provide Richmond with much-needed supplies and Lee would be forced to leave both cities.
We will also hear the stories of the U.S. Colored Troops who fought in the Richmond and Petersburg Campaigns. By the end of the war, African- Americans accounted for 10% of the Union Army. Approximately 180,000 men, many of whom were former slaves, volunteered. Nearly 40,000 gave their lives. This event was a turning point in African-American history and one of the first major strides towards equal civil rights. First we will visit the Thomas Wallace House on Brown Street, the site of President Lincoln’s meeting with Gen. Grant on April 3, 1865. We will then explore the battlefield and the Museum of the Civil War Soldier. Stroll the grounds and imagine the many men that fought the longest siege in American warfare history.
We’ll have lunch here before exploring more of Petersburg.
After lunch, we’ll visit Blandford Church and Cemetery. The Church is only one of a handful in the country whose intricate, decorative stained-glass windows were completely executed under the direction of the famous designer Louis Comfort Tiffany of New York. A guided tour reveals its history as an 18th-century Anglican house of worship, its eventual abandonment and fall into disrepair, its use as a field hospital during the Siege of Petersburg, and its restoration by the Ladies Memorial Association as a shrine to the South’s “Lost Cause.”
The adjacent Blandford Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest in America. It is the resting place of an estimated 30,000 Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during the Siege of Petersburg.
Our next stop is Point of Rocks. It was here that Gen. F. Butler established his headquarters and built a hospital for the wounded. President Lincoln visited the injured troops here in 1865. We will hear a firsthand account of this visit.
Return to Richmond and drive down the only street in America on the National Register of Historic Places, Monument Avenue. This grand residential road memorializes Confederate leaders such as Gen. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Confederate President Jefferson Davis with impressive statues.
Visit Hollywood Cemetery, the resting place of 25 confederate generals; 18,000 confederate soldiers; Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family; and U.S. Presidents John Tyler and James Monroe.
We’ll wrap up the day with dinner at Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue. The restaurant’s owner and namesake, Buz, was challenged by Food Network’s Bobby Flay on his show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, and took away the win for his spare ribs! Famous for its barbecue and hospitality, this Richmond favorite is sure to please.
Evacuation Sunday began on April 2, 1865, when the fall of Richmond became imminent. President Davis, his cabinet and Confederate defenders abandoned Richmond and fled south on the last open railroad line. The retreating soldiers were under orders to set fire to supply warehouses, bridges and the armory as they left. The fire spread out of control and much of Richmond was destroyed. After the surrender of the city, the fire was extinguished by Union troops but would eventually become known as the Evacuation Fire of 1865.
Walk in the footsteps of President Lincoln as he witnessed the destruction of the Confederate capital. The “On to Richmond” battle cry had come full circle. Much of the city was in ashes. (At the time of Lincoln’s visit, the surrender at Appomattox was only five days away, and the assassination of President Lincoln was only 10 days away.) As Lincoln made his way through the city, he was followed by masses of newly freed slaves.
While in the city, experience the Richmond Slave Trail, a walking trail that chronicles the journey of enslaved Africans to Virginia until 1775 and Richmond to other locations in the Americas until 1865. This trail includes Lumpkin’s Jail, the Reconciliation Statue, the Slave Markets and other African-American historical sites.
Next we’ll visit the American Civil War Museum. This museum tells the story of the Civil War through the eyes of the Union and Confederate soldiers, women and African-Americans. It is located in the Historic Tredegar Ironworks foundry campus that also houses the Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center. During the Civil War, the facility produced the Confederacy’s primary supply of iron and artillery. This historic establishment also managed to survive destruction during the Evacuation Fire of 1865, continuing production through the middle of the 20th century.
After touring the museum and visitor center, be sure to visit the statute of President Lincoln and his son, Tad. The U.S. Historical Society donated the statue to the National Park Service as a symbol of reconciliation and unity. The statue depicts Lincoln with his arm draped around the shoulders of his son, who celebrated his 12th birthday during the Richmond visit. A copy of the April 5, 1865, issue of the Richmond Whig sits on the bench with them.
Walk across the canal to The Overlook of the James River rapids and relive the the three days of the burning of Richmond. Interpretative signage and overlook planks recount the event in this moving vista.
Your guide will point out many locations that President Lincoln saw during his visit to Richmond on a short driving tour. See the Confederate States of America Treasury Building marker located at the Lewis F. Powell, Jr., U. S. Courthouse, one of only two buildings in the city’s center that endured the Evacuation Fire. Next is the infamous Libby Prison, which housed captured Union soldiers during the war. It gained a reputation for the overcrowded and harsh conditions under which Union Officer prisoners were kept. The Libby Prison Escape was one of the most famous (and successful) prison breaks during the war. Late in the night on February 9, 1864, more than 100 imprisoned Union soldiers broke out of this building.
Enjoy lunch at the Tobacco Company. Once an old abandoned tobacco warehouse, this four-story building was renovated to embody the spirit of Southern hospitality and charm and is considered by most to be the cornerstone of the Historic Shockoe Slip district.
After lunch, we will tour the Virginia State Capitol. The Capitol, designed by Thomas Jefferson, was first occupied in 1788 by Virginia’s General Assembly, the oldest English-speaking legislature in the U.S. During the Civil War, the Confederate Congress also met here. One of the most striking of all the statues in the Capitol is the full length bronze likeness of Gen. Robert E. Lee. The statue is located in the very spot where Lee stood on April 23, 1861, when at the age of 54, he accepted command of the military forces for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
We’ll visit the Virginia Governor’s Executive Mansion, where Governor Lechter lived while serving as the Commonwealth’s governor during the Civil War. The Executive Mansion is the oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the U.S., housing Virginia governors and their families since 1813.
The last stop on the tour takes you to the Museum and White House of the Confederacy. The Museum of the Confederacy owns the world’s most comprehensive collection of artifacts and documents related to the Confederate States of America. This collection is comprised of more than 130,000 items, the vast majority of which were donated by the soldiers and families who lived through America’s most defining era.
A National Historic Landmark, the White House of the Confederacy, is located just steps away from the Museum in downtown Richmond’s historic Court End neighborhood. The former executive mansion of President Jefferson Davis has been meticulously restored to its wartime appearance, when it served as the social, political and military center of the Confederacy. President Lincoln entered the home on his visit to Richmond and held several meetings there with local officials over the course of three hours. You’ve now followed in Lincoln’s final footsteps through the Region. Your official tour ends here, but we hope to see you again soon!
LINCOLN’S LAST DAYS
Upon the conclusion of his Richmond visit, President Lincoln returned with Tad to City Point. Here, they joined Mary and her party on the River Queen. They revisited Petersburg on Saturday and then headed up to Washington, arriving there on Sunday evening, April 10. On April 15, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C.
DID YOU KNOW?
America's Memorial Day Holiday was inspired by events at Blandford Church and Cemetery. Soon after the Civil War ended, Mary Logan, the wife of Union Commander General John A. Logan, witnessed a group of schoolgirls placing flowers on the graves of Petersburg's Confederate defenders. Deeply moved when she saw the ritual repeated the next year, she related the story to her husband, who took steps that ultimately led to the observance of Memorial Day as a national holiday.