Today is the 145th anniversary of “The Breakthrough” or the fall of Petersburg in 1865.
After dark on April 2, 1865, Confederate Gen, Robert E. Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. Union Gen. Ulyssess S. Grant had achieved one of the major military objectives of the war: the capture of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. In a week, the Civil War would effectively be over, with Lee surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.
Each year, the momentous events of the Civil War are commemorated. This past weekend, the National Park Service held infantry and artillery demonstrations at Five Forks Battlefield. The April 1, 1865, Battle of Five Forks in Dinwiddie County is also called the Waterloo of the Confederacy – it was there that Gen. George Pickett’s left flank was overwhelmed, which threatened Lee’s last supply line. It was after the battle, that Lee realized the nearly 10-month siege of Petersburg was over and the war was drawing to a close.
But the events and commemorations held every April in the area is not just a history lesson. This year, it marks an unofficial beginning of a planning period that will lead the nation into the observation of the Civil War Sesquicentennial. Virginia is likely to play a large role in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, since much of it occurred here. And the last year of the war was largely focused on the Petersburg area.
The 150th anniversary gives the Petersburg region a rare opportunity to promote itself and to promote historic tourism. Planning has already begun and there is a Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission – Petersburg Committee that is planning events for the four-year anniversary period.1
To read the entire article at The Petersburg Progress-Index, click here.
- “Clock starts ticking for a historic anniversary.” Petersburg Progress-Index. Petersburg Progress-Index. Web. 2 Apr. 2010. ↩