NPS - National Park Service

04/13/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/13/2024 08:41

Special Programs Commemorating the 160th Anniversary of the Overland Campaign

News Release Date:
April 13, 2024

Contact:Beth Parnicza, 540-623-5861

FREDERICKSBURG, VA - In May 2024 Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park will commemorate the 160th anniversary of the beginning of the Overland Campaign. Anniversary programming will include opportunities for people of all ages and interests to explore, discover, and reflect on these events that shaped our nation and society today. All programs will be free and open to the public. For a detailed schedule of events visit

Highlights of this year's anniversary programming include:

Friday, May 3, 2024

A Day at the Wilderness
Remember the Battle of the Wilderness with day-long programming at Ellwood and around the Wilderness Battlefield.
Virtual Talk with Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust: "The Spring of 1864 and the Meaning of Civil War Death"
7 pm-7:45 pm
Dr. Faust is a professor, former president of Harvard, and author of six books including This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. This talk will draw on Dr. Faust's expertise in Civil War memory and her examination of American cultural change around death in the Civil War. This event will be hosted on Microsoft Teams Live. To attend: Follow this event link on May 3 at 7 pm.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Community Day at the Spotsylvania Court House Battlefield
Join park staff for a day of family and community programming centered around the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House at the Bloody Angle. Programs will include pop-up tents, children's activities, and two battlefield hikes. In the evening, join us in Fredericksburg on the Brompton grounds for a special program featuring University of Mary Washington professor Michael Spencer.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Reflections on the Overland Campaign
We will be wrapping up the weekend with a hike on the Spotsylvania Battlefield in the morning and a tour of Fredericksburg Civil War hospital sites in the afternoon.

In addition, other May programming will focus on the 160th anniversary. Attend a virtual talk in partnership with Historic Germanna on Thursday, May 2. Join us on May 11, for a quieter, more reflective day at the Bloody Angle. And, on May 18, the 2024 History at Sunset programs will kick-off with a program at the Spotsylvania Battlefield.For a detailed schedule of events visit

About the Overland Campaign

In the spring of 1864, the American Civil War entered its third year with no end in sight. The United States had fully embraced a policy of emancipation, but it was unclear what, exactly, freedom meant. An upcoming US election pressured Lincoln to demonstrate progress in the war and gave Confederates hope that a different US president might accept the Confederacy. The US Army had a new commander, General Ulysses S. Grant.

Beginning with the Battle of the Wilderness, the US and Confederate armies clashed again and again throughout May and June 1864. The constant fighting resulted in the US Army advancing slowly against Confederate forces, but came with a steep cost in casualties. The Overland Campaign tested both the endurance of soldiers to continue fighting and the will of the public to continue supporting the war. The future of American democracy was at stake, but the outcome of the war was undetermined. What kind of nation would emerge from this violence?

The events that played out in Virginia in 1864 had a lasting impact beyond the Civil War and the Fredericksburg area. Follow our partners at Richmond National Battlefield Park and Petersburg National Battlefield for more 160th programs and events.