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159th Breakthrough Battle Anniversary

March 23 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Join us as we remember the 159th Anniversary of the Breakthrough Battle which ended the Petersburg Campaign and forced the Confederate withdrawal from Richmond. 

At 4:40 a.m. April 2, 1865, some 14,000 Union soldiers moved forward in the chilly gloom toward the Confederate fortifications six miles southwest of Petersburg. Less than an hour later, the American flag flew over the Confederate line following one of the most important battles of the entire Civil War. This engagement led directly to the evacuation of both Petersburg and Richmond. One week later, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House and our nation began the long process of reconciliation.

The Park is hosting a full schedule of activities and programs open to walk-in visitors. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear author presentations, living history portraying soldiers and civilians, and artillery demonstrations. Visitors can experience encounters all day with civilians at Tudor Hall and sharpshooters and skirmishers on the Breakthrough Battlefield with reenactors. Additional programming includes a guided walking tour “between the lines” of the Breakthrough Battlefield to discover the role of soldiers in the picket lines and interact with reenactors along the way. An additional battlefield tour titled “The Norfolk Light Artillery Blues” will guide visitors to the actual redan manned by the Norfolk Light Artillery during the April 2, 1865 Breakthrough Battle. There, visitors will hear about the role of artillery, the different types of ammunition used, and will see a live firing of the two-gun section.

Authors Hampton Newsome will present “Gettysburg’s Southern Front” and Michael C. Hardy will present “General Lee’s Immortals, the Branch-Lane Brigade,” which is included with regular admission.

Hampton Newsome is author of several books on the Civil War including Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864, published by Kent State University Press in 2012 and recognized as a best book of the year by the Civil War Monitor magazine; and The Fight for the Old North State: The Civil War in North Carolina, January-May 1864, which was published in 2019 by the University Press of Kansas and received the Emerging Civil War Book Award and the Richard Barksdale Harwell Award from the Atlanta Civil War Roundtable. His most recent title is Gettysburg’s Southern Front: Opportunity and Failure at Richmond. Also published by University of Kansas Press, this new book has received the Edwin C. Bearss Book Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the Chicago Civil War Roundtable as well as the Emerging Civil War 2023 Book of the Year.

Michael C. Hardy is an award-winning and widely published author. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he has written on a large array of subjects — Confederate regimentals, Southern places, and personalities — in books, articles, and blog posts. In 2010, Hardy was named North Carolina Historian of the Year by the North Carolina Society of Historians. He was also awarded the James I. Robertson Literary Prize by the Robert E. Lee Civil War Library and Research Center in 2018 for his history of the Branch-Lane Brigade, General Lee’s Immortals (Savas Beatie, 2018). When not researching, writing, and traveling, he volunteers at historic sites, sharing his love for history.

These programs are included with Park general admission. Daily admission for adults is $15, seniors (65+) and Military w/ID $12.00, children (6-12) $8, and children under 6 free.


Saturday, March 23, 2024

9:00am – 5:00pm Encounter Programs all day “Civilians at Tudor Hall” at Tudor Hall

9:00am – 5:00pm Encounter Programs all day “Sharpshooters and Skirmishers” at Breakthrough Battlefield Trail

10:00-10:45 “Gettysburg’s Southern Front,” Lecture by Hampton Newsome at Banquet Room

11:30-12:15 “General Lee’s Immortals,” Lecture on Lane’s Brigade by Michael C. Hardy at Banquet Room

1:00-1:45 Guided walk “between the lines” to discover the Breakthrough Battlefield and learn about the role of sharpshooters and skirmishers and converse with Johnny Reb and Billy Yank.

2:30-3:15 Guided walk to the “Norfolk Light Artillery Blues,” to hear from Gunner Atkinson on the role of artillery during the Civil War and the April 2, 1865 Breakthrough

3:30-4:20 War So Terrible, standard viewing at the Battlefield Center