Our Visit to Grant’s Headquarters and City Point

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Battlefield Visits

On a recent trip my wife and I visited Malvern Hill, Grant’s Headquarters and the Petersburg National Battlefield. Today we’ll take a look at the headquarters of General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant at City Point, (now Hopewell) Virginia.

General Grant was to spend 9 1/2 months there from mid-June 1864 until early April 1865. City Point was located eight miles behind the Union lines. Grant issued orders and coordinated the movement of all of the Union armies throughout the United States.

City Point was the main receiving port for supplies and replacements. Overnight it went from a small town to one of the busiest ports in the world. On any given day 40 steamers, 75 sailing ships and over 100 barges delivered supplies for the Union army.

Goods were unloaded at a half mile long wharf that was constructed by African-American laborers under the supervision Army engineers.Warehouses were built along the waterfront that were used to stockpile vast amounts of supplies.

On an average day, the Union Army had thirty days of food stockpiled and twenty days of forage. This translated to 900,000 meals and 12,000 tons of hay and oats for nearly 120,000 soldiers and 65,000 horses and mules.

Union Army built a rail yard, warehouses, stables and quartermaster buildings. They extended the existing short railroad so that it was 22 miles and added it to the United States Railroad system.

Initial railroad operations began along 9 miles of the Petersburg and City Point Railroad’s line. As the Union Army steadily extended its siege lines to the south and west, the construction corps followed in the Army’s wake extending rail service from City Point to positions behind the new Union left flank. Eventually the rail line added 21 additional miles of track which partially encircled Petersburg from the east to the southwest.

Click to enlarge.

NPS Map of City Point

The land that the headquarters was built on was owned by Dr. Richard Eppes. The 2,300 acre plantation and the house was over 100 years old. Dr. Eppes had a total of 130 slaves at the start of the war. This made him one of the richest men in the South. Dr. Eppes initially served in the Confederate cavalry but spent most of the war as a contract surgeon in Petersburg.

The Eppes’ eventually fled their estate when it became too dangerous to live there. Mrs. Eppes and their children moved to Philadelphia where she had come from. Dr. Eppes moved into Petersburg. After the war ended they all returned to their home and rebuilt their estate. By then all of the slaves had left.

The Eppes home, Appomattox Plantation, still is on the site. It was used by Grant’s quartermaster and other staff members while Grant lived in a cabin built by his men. That too still exists. The main house can be toured. The tour starts with a video and continues through the lower floor.



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One thought on “Our Visit to Grant’s Headquarters and City Point

  1. During the last year of the war, City Point was said to have handled more tonnage than any other port in the United Satates, including New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. My great-grandfather was a Confederate officer exchanged there in the final days of the war,. Se Nelson Lankford’s Richmond Burning for an interesting account of the exchange process

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