Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cold Harbor Battlefield

Despite the beautiful fall weather finally arriving in Virginia, after 88 degrees a few days ago, I didn't have a lot of time today for a long hike. But it was too nice a day to not get some kind of time outdoors, so we went for a short hike on part of the Cold Harbor Civil War Battlefield. The area I walked would have been behind the Union lines facing the Confederates a few hundred yards away.

The trees are just starting to turn, and the air is crisp and cool. The path, being totally paved in this part of the park, is very easy. The area is all woods now, but in June 1864, it would have been mostly fields. In such a peaceful area today, it is hard to visualize the carnage that killed or wounded 18,000 soldiers 144 years ago. Most of the casualties happened on June 3, but the battles and trench stalemates lasted from June 1 – 12. Much evidence of the fighting and digging exist today – trenches, rifle pits, and battery pits. What is no longer there is carnage, misery, and suffering. Below are a few photos.

In this rifle pit, Union soldiers would have lived day and night for 12 days in the broiling June sun.

From this one tree, four trunks have grown. The original tree would have died and the sapling that sprouted from the remaining roots, and eventually grown into large trees.

This trench was part of a large Union gun emplacement back in 1864.

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