Harris, Public Information Officer, 804-365-6402
Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield Park Now Open
Shown: Two citizens read about the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek from the new interpretive signs next to the site’s new parking lot.
The newest addition to the Richmond National Battlefield Park system of Civil War battlefields -- the Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield at Rural Plains -- is now open to the public seven days a week (sunrise to sunset).
Home to eight generations of the Shelton family, Rural Plains was built around 1725 and was the scene of the marriage of Patrick Henry and Sarah Shelton in 1754. It stood between the Union and Confederate armies during the May 1864 battle of Totopotomoy Creek.
As the two armies formed lines on either side of the creek, the Union Second Army Corps entrenched near the Shelton house facing Confederate forces dug in on the opposite ridge. Despite the fighting that raged around them, members of the Shelton family refused to leave the house and sought shelter in the basement.
On May 30 and 31 Union infantry launched repeated assaults but failed to break the Confederate line. Artillery firing from both armies erupted periodically into ear-shattering cannonades. (The home still shows the scars of Southern cannonballs that crashed into it during the battle.) Foiled, Union General Ulysses S. Grant decided to move his army east, where they were blocked again by Gen. Robert E. Lee’s forces at a crossroads known as Cold Harbor.
New interpretive signs have been placed beside the new parking lot off the Studley Road site. These handsome signs describe not only the battle but its place within Grant's "Overland Campaign". Another new sign marks the property as a stop along "Patrick Henry's Road to Revolution" Heritage Trail.
The Shelton family owned Rural Plains for more than 280 years before its last owner, Bill Shelton, sold the home and nearly 125 acres to the Totopotomoy Battlefield at Rural Plains Foundation in 2001. The Foundation donated the house and land to Richmond National Battlefield Park in 2006.
Totopotomoy Creek is one of 13 Civil War sites protected by Richmond National Battlefield Park around Richmond, including five in Hanover County: Cold Harbor, Garthright House, Gaines Mill, Beaverdam Creek and Totopotomoy Creek. (Garthright House is a private residence for employees and so is an outdoor exhibit only.)
For further information, visit www.nps.gov/rich or call 226-1981.