In the waning days of the Civil War, Union and Confederate armies raced across the Virginia countryside to the village of Appomattox, where Robert E. Lee ultimately surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.
Civil War armies traveled mostly by foot, horse, and wagon. Today, motorists with an interest in American history can follow their path in a series of drives recalling the major campaigns in Virginia. You follow the course of action, often on the same roads used by the combatants. Directional signs guide you, and waysides along the route explain what happened. At each stop, you can tune your car radio (AM 1620) to hear more details.
The most poignant of the Civil War drives (because it culminated in the war's end), and the most scenic is Lee's Retreat, a 110-mile driving tour that follows the day-to-day, and sometimes hour-to-hour, progress of the armies west from Petersburg to Appomattox.
Perched atop a broad, grass-covered hill, the village where the two armies converged has been preserved as a national historical park. Surrounded by acres of rolling green farmland and pastures, it looks much as it did on the day of Lee's surrender, April 9, 1865.
Essentially a history lesson, the drive provides plenty of opportunities for fun-filled recess. At Farmville, where Lee hoped to find food for his hungry troops, you can lunch in an outdoor café alongside the racing Appomattox River. Just outside Appomattox, little Holliday Lake State Park tempts with a fine sandy swimming beach.
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.