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UPDATE: Saved for Future Generations: In 2014, the Richmond National Battlefield Park added these 18 additional acres to the park's holdings at Cold Harbor, thus ensuring this hallowed ground will be protected in perpetuity.

Strength in Partnership: An important part of RBA's mission is to cultivate cordial relationships with local landowners. Late in 2012, the family that sold us battlefield land at Cold Harbor in the past notified us that an additional 7 acres would soon be on the market. The RBA acted quickly to preserve this hallowed ground and placed a contract on the land. The Civil War Trust readily pledged to support the cause with a generous loan. The quick response of the RBA coupled with the strong support of the CWT once again proved to be a winning combination! (The targeted property is highlited in blue on maps below)

Opportunity Knocks: In the Spring of 2008, a phone call from an observant friend of the Richmond Battlefields Association alerted us to a "For Sale" sign that had suddenly appeared near Beulah Church, an area that saw heavy and historic fighting during June 1-3, 1864. We investigated and found a beautiful line of earthworks hidden in the woods. These field fortifications were likely constructed for artillerists of the Union 18th Corps after their disastrous attack on June 3rd. Federal forces made two attacks across this ground, on June 1st & 3rd. Upon purchase of this historic site, RBA successfully competed for matching funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia, thereby increasing the impact of our members' contributions by 50%.

June 1, 1864

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Keitt's Forlorn Charge: Col. Laurence M. Keitt led Kershaw's Brigade across this ground in a poorly-executed attack against dismounted Union cavalry. Keitt, a political appointee and former congressman was notorious for his participation in the caning of anti-slavery activist Senator Charles Sumner on the floor of the senate chamber. Keitt and his 900-strong 20th South Carolina Infantry had arrived in Richmond only two days earlier. While the band of the 1st New York Dragoons played "Yankee Doodle" and "Dixie", Keitt's command fell apart under a heavy fire. While desperately trying to rally his men, Keitt was mortally wounded and died the next day in Richmond.

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Union VI and XVIII Corps Attack: Late in the day the combined force of 6th & 18th Corps divisions met initial success, piercing the Confederate line and overwhelming Wofford's Brigade. Rebel reinforcements retook much of their lost works and pushed back the exhausted Union soldiers.

June 3, 1864

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Union XVIII Corp Attack: At dawn the 18th Corps again attacked across these fields, resulting in one of the costliest and most infamous repulses of the entire war. Union troops were pinned down in the ravines that feed the Gaines Mill pond, suffering 7,000 casualties in a matter of minutes. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant later wrote that it was his only regret in a long and bloody military career.

Cold Harbor video: RBA board member Mike Andrus describes the June 1 fighting as part of the NPS 150th commemoration.

acres saved

Above: The Cold Harbor battlefield site saved by RBA, viewed from Beulah Church.

rba tour

At an annual meeting of the RBA, members tour the Cold Harbor property they helped save. Historian David Lowe (below),an expert on Civil War field fortifications, conducted the tour (June 2010).

allison farm

allison farm

On a previous occasion, RBA members had the opportunity to explore the privately-held Allison Farm on the Cold Harbor battlefield with historian R.E.L. Krick and author Gordon Rhea (June 2005).

RBA Sign

This Beulah Church portion of the Cold Harbor Battlefield was saved by RBA and is now part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park.


Richmond National Battlefield Park Superintendent Dave Ruth accepts transfer of 18 acres from RBA president Ben Brockenbrough.

RBA Sign Out

Afterwards, RBA members tour the Beulah Church battlefield with historian Mike Andrus (November 2014).