Epicenter of the Rebellion: Great Richmond Civil War Sites Itinerary

August 10, 2019

A 2019 BGES Day of History Program

Welcome to the Capital of the Confederacy, scene of so much drama and center of the Confederate universe from the spring of 1861 through the evacuation and burning on April 3, 1865. It is a location of great promise, pathos, anxiety, high drama, and sorrow. Today the modern city struggles with the symbols of its extraordinary past. One could take days to examine and discuss the multitude of sites and personalities that cover the storied pages of her history, but we have but a day, and we have selected four significant and indisputably dramatic venues for our visit. Join us at Cedar Mountain for our second tour of the weekend or, if time permits, enjoy a second day in the city—you will not regret it.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

8:15 AM. We will meet at the American Civil War Museum parking lot at Tredegar in downtown Richmond. From there, we depart for Fort Darling on Drewry’s Bluff, where Confederate gunners stopped a Union naval attempt against Richmond on May 12, 1862. So much happened at Drewry’s Bluff that it is maybe the most important and defiant of the four stops we will make—all significant to the Confederacy. We will then head to the seat of Confederate power: Jefferson Davis’s White House of the Confederacy. Here so many meetings and decisions were taken that affected the entire course of the war. We will discuss some of them, but more importantly we will see how the Davises lived. The house is immaculately restored, and the docent leading the tour is exceptional.

After lunch, we will walk the beautifully preserved Gaines’s Mill Battlefield, the third of the Seven Days’ Battles, fought on June 27, 1862. Here Robert E. Lee turned the campaign against George McClellan’s Army of the Potomac into his favor, and the fighting did not stop until July 1. Fittingly, our final stop today will be Hollywood Cemetery, where we’ll see U.S. presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, Confederate president Jefferson Davis, the famous Confederate Pyramid, as well as Generals Henry Heth (of Gettysburg fame), Fitzhugh Lee (R. E. Lee’s nephew, later Governor of Virginia), George E. Pickett (of Gettysburg and Five Forks infamy), and J. E. B. Stuart (who never brought Lee a bad piece of intelligence). We will return to Tredegar by 5:30 so you can get on your way or head up to our tour of Cedar Mountain on Sunday in Culpeper.

About the Faculty

Rick Britton is an award-winning historian who specializes in 18th- and 19th- century Virginia history. A much sought after speaker, he also conducts tours, illustrates books, draws maps, and teaches courses on central Virginia history. With over 200 published articles and essays and two books under his belt, he is a master of his portfolio and an entertaining presenter.

Travel Details

Hotel Information

This one-day program does not require a hotel, but should you wish to stay a night you can find many suitable properties in and around the Richmond International Airport. We will depart from the parking lot of the American Civil War Museum, where you may leave your car for the day.


The servicing airport is Richmond International Airport (RIC), which is served by Southwest Airlines. The departure point is centrally located and easily accessible via I-64 and I-95.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a handout upon arrival. We recommend the following books to enhance your preparation for this tour. Amazon.com has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

George M. Brooke Jr.: Ironclads and Big Guns of the Confederacy, The Journal and Letters of John M. Brooke
Brian Burton: Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles
William Cooper: Jefferson Davis, American
Mary Mitchell: Hollywood Cemetery, The History of a Southern Shrine

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Epicenter of the Rebellion: Great Richmond Civil War Sites