So as you can see from the pictures I posted (finally), I made a trip down to some Civil War sites around Petersburg and Richmond. I drove; the drive was almost exactly five hundred miles making it one of my longest solo excursions. I opted to avoid the Beltway and took the "western route" - the Ohio Turnpike to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to US 70 (connecting through that "mecca of civilization" known as Breezewood) to US 522 to VA 37 to I-81 to I-66 to US-17 to I-95. How I did not get lost, I haven't a clue. Oh wait. That's right. Thanks Garmin!
This route went through some absolutely beautiful country, especially along US 17 and on I-66 through the Shenandoah Valley. I saw many beautiful horses. Also, I was surprised the fall foliage was still so good in Virginia; here the trees lost their leaves fast.
So here are some of the sites I did:
Petersburg Eastern Front. This is the main Petersburg battlefield, and it includes the "big" sites - the Crater, Fort Stedman, Colquitt's Salient, etc. If you're only going to hit just one site in the Petersburg area, this is the one to do. It is pretty well preserved, and there are lots of trails you can get lost on .... (not that I would know anything about that ...)
Petersburg Western Front This is a mainly driving tour of a series of forts, the best of which were Fort Fisher and Fort Gregg. It is also called the Siege Tour. Although it is mainly intended to be a driving tour, you can get out and walk around at the forts, and Fisher and Gregg are definitely worth wandering around.
Richmond's Monument Avenue Richmond was a "side trip" this time. So I didn't aim to hit all the major Richmond sites, just a few. I was last in Richmond in December 2010. Anyway, I had a juvenile red-tail hawk decide to hang out on General Lee's head! In the same circuit, I also went out to see A.P. Hill. He's in the northern end of the city. Monument Avenue is definitely worth walking down.
Fort Harrison This is actually part of the Richmond National Battlefield park. A very cool site. There are a series of batteries and forts (including Brady and Johnson) that are part of this portion of the park. They are set off in basically little housing developments. Fort Harrison is definitely worth a visit even if you don't tour the other forts that are part of the driving tour.
Drewery's Bluff. Also part of the Richmond Battlefield. An awesome spot - very well preserved with a great view of the James River.
City Point Grant's headquarters at the confluence of the James and Appomattox Rivers. Appomattox Manor and Grant's cabin still stands, and you can walk down a set of steps to look at the James. A neat place.
Malvern Hill and Glendale. There really was not much to see at Glendale (Frayser's Farm), but Malvern Hill is definitely worth a visit - one of the best preserved sites. This is also part of the Richmond Battlefield park. Apparently Glendale is a more recent acquisition which is why there isn't much there (yet) as far as interpretation. Malvern Hill is spectacularly well preserved - rural, beautiful, with walking trails for interpretation. There are many cannons at the site as well.
White Oak Road. This is a Civil War Preservation Trust battlefield; no cannons or monuments, but there is a nicely marked trail. A nice battlefield to stop off and visit on the way to Five Forks.
Five Forks. The so-called "Waterloo of the Confederacy." There isn't a lot there as far as monuments and cannons, but they have a beautiful brand new visitor center and the site is pristine. Definitely worth a visit.
So anyway, those are some of the sites I saw on my trip. Petersburg - Richmond are of course definitely worth a visit if you're a Civil War history buff.