What is: General Grant’s cabin at the Eppes Plantation
What was: For nearly a year, General Grant occupied a tent and later a cabin here, while he commanded his army in the final months of the Civil War. Grant hosted several visiting dignitaries, including Secretary of State William Seward, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and President Lincoln visited the site during the siege in 1864-5.
Grant chose the Eppes family Appomattox Plantation at City Point (now Hopewell, VA) for his headquarters and supply depot because of its strategic location, situated on a bluff overlooking the James and Appomattox rivers. It had a port and railroad access. There was a telegraph station constructed in the house. The Appomattox Plantation became central for the offices of the Quartermaster.
Grants operation occupied most of the front lawn, 22 log structures, as a major supply center serving 100,000 men who were besieging Petersburg and Richmond. His supply base at City Point was one of the world’s busiest seaports and combined with the use of the Military Railroad for communication and transportation. The successful capture of Petersburg and its network of railroads was the key to the fall of the Confederate capital city of Richmond, ending the war less than a week later.
By May 1865 Dr. Richard Eppes had taken the Amnesty Oath but found that due to his wealth he did not qualify to benefit from the Amnesty Proclamation. He had to raise money to obtain the title to his land and to settle up with the Federal government, including purchase the structures the Union army left behind on his land before he could touch them. By early 1866, after a favorable transaction with the government, the plantation was back in his hands and by March his family was together again at City Point.
A major limitation to our understanding of the enslaved community is due to limited surviving archaeological sites. The family’s financial situation in the early twentieth century led to the sale of the Hopewell and Bermuda Hundred Farms, destroying the archaeological record of the slave quarters there.
What is: Appomattox Manor at City Point, Virginia, the town is now known as Hopewell, VA. It is most well known as Grants headquarters, part of the Petersburg National Battlefield
What was: The area around the plantation was first settled in 1613. Captain Francis Eppes originally acquired a large tract of land in 1635, encompassing area known as City Point, along the James River. Today the town is known as Hopewell, VA. The property remained in the Eppes family until 1979.
In 1844, at the age of 20, Dr. Richard Eppes, who had had earned his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, inherited his ancestral home, Appomattox Manor at City Point, Virginia. When war broke out, Eppes enlisted in the 3rd Virginia cavalry and helped to equip the unit. Eppes then became a civilian contract surgeon for the Confederate army in Petersburg for the duration of the war.
Prior to the Civil War, Eppes owned nearly 130 slaves and 2,300 acres. The slaves performed the hard labor on this estate, as well as all the household functions. Eppes recorded truancy in labor, feigned illnesses, and theft of food. Most of the punishments for those people consisted of a reduction of rations or a whipping.
Just days after a Union raiding party landed at City Point, the Eppes’ family departed and all but 12 of the slaves cast their fortunes with the Union army. When General grant arrived at City Point he established his headquarters in a tent on the east lawn of Dr. Richard Eppes’ plantation. From tents on the east lawn, replaced in the winter with cabins, Grant and his officers coordinated the Union campaign. President Lincoln visited City Point twice during the siege to meet with his top military officers, and tour the Depot Field Hospital, the largest of the four military hospitals. Source: National Parks Service, Petersburg National Battlefield, Virginia