Appomattox Court House National Historical Park sits atop one of the most important historical sites in American history. Here on April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered his men to Ulysses S. Grant, General-in-Chief of all United States Forces, signaling the beginning of the end of the Civil War. The National Park Service has rebuilt the town to look much like it did in 1865 and has developed an extensive interpretive program highlighting the lifestyles of the families living in the village at that time.
In addition to the historical village, the park supports over one thousand acres of woodlands and open meadows surrounding the village. It was in these fields and hills that the respective armies had their headquarters and camped while awaiting the negotiated terms of the Confederates’ surrender and their eventual release home. When standing at the village and scanning the surrounding hilltops, it’s almost possible to travel back to the time when this area was covered with tens of thousands of battle-weary troops.
Wildlife and tree cover in the area has since increased. Walk through each headquarter’s camp or along the banks of the Appomattox River and search for red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers wherever you hear tapping. This could also lead to white-breasted nuthatches amongst the more numerous tufted titmice and Carolina chickadees. During spring and fall the treetops support passing neotropical migrants, such as black-throated green and Blackburnian warblers, blue-headed vireos and numerous blue-gray gnatcatchers.
The open fields in the area, with the help of prescribed burning and replanting, are gradually being returned to their native grasses. Check the edges of these fields in the early morning or at dusk for white-tailed deer grazing on the young shoots and in winter, watch for northern harriers cruising for rodents. A walk through the fields could flush up a variety of sparrows including grasshopper, vesper, savannah and song sparrows. These same fields fill with numerous butterflies in spring and summer with stately monarchs and variegated fritillaries being the most numerous.
From County Park, return to Rt. 727/Evergreen Avenue and turn right, heading north 0.1 miles to Rt. 641/S. Church Street Turn right (north) on Rt. 641/S. Church Street for 0.5 miles to SR 131/Main Street. Turn left (west) on SR 131/Main Street for 0.1 miles to US 460. Proceed onto US 460 and head east for 0.3 miles to the SR 24 exit. Turn left and head northeast on SR 24 1.7 miles to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park on the left.