Virginia Scenic Drives: Lee's Retreat

Highlights of Lee's Retreat

General Lee had advisors and surveyors to help him choose his path. You can use the following itinerary as you travel the road to Appomattox, otherwise known as Lee's Retreat.

Siege Museum: The civilian story of the Petersburg siege -- the lives of the 18,000 people who endured both hunger and cannon bombardment -- is told at the Siege Museum. During the Christmas of 1864, exhibits relate, the townsfolk kept up their spirits by staging "starvation balls." Festive music was played, but there was not food on the plates.

Petersburg National Battlefield: Site of the nearly ten-month siege, the park's most notable sight is the Crater, symbol both of Union ingenuity and bungled opportunities. Early in the siege, military mining experts devised a plan to dig a nearly 500-foot tunnel under a Confederate fort to blow it up. The blast succeeded, digging a huge hole and leveling 500 yards of Confederate lines. But the Union attack force, stunned by the violent spectacle, delayed its advance, giving defenders a chance to rally.

Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier: Seven galleries re-create the life of the common soldier in camp, on the march, and in battle. The museum is located on the site of a Union attack that breached Lee's defenses shortly before his flight to Appomattox. A one-mile trail explores the battlefield.

Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historic State Park: Fought here on April 6, 1865, dubbed "Black Thursday," the battle resulted in a harsh Confederate defeat. It proved a key in Lee's decision to surrender. His already shrunken army lost 7,700 men, including eight generals.

Farmville: A central Virginia commercial hub, Farmville boasts an attractive downtown center, where visitors can browse for antiques and enjoy a lunch alongside the Appomattox River. Lee hoped to feed his army here, but the federal cavalry intruded. Just to the south, Twin Lakes State Park operates a swimming beach on Goodwin Lake.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park: Other Civil War parks commemorate the violent clash of armies. Appomattox is a place of peace, a beautiful and quiet memorial to the end of four long years of war. As such, it honors the remarkable dignity and the generosity of the combatants in the final hours of the conflict.

Holliday Lake State Park: Ringed by public forest, the park is a recreational antidote to the somber story told on Lee's Retreat. Swimming, fishing, canoeing, rowboats, and paddleboats can be found here.

The path of Lee's Retreat passes through lush farm country that has changed little since the end of the Civil War. However, the final days of that war still loom large over this serene trail.

Find more useful information related to Virginia's Lee's Retreat:

  • Virginia Scenic Drives: Lee's Retreat is just one of the scenic byways in Virginia. Check out the others.
  • Appomattox, Farmville, Petersburg: Find out what there is to do in these cities along Lee's Retreat.
  • Scenic Drives: Are you interested in scenic drives beyond Virginia? Here are more than 100 scenic drives throughout the United States.
  • How to Drive Economically: Fuel economy is a major concern when you're on a driving trip. Learn how to get better gas mileage.