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Chapter 30 - Hopewell & City Point (Grant's HQ)

He drove the Delta across the Varina-Enon Bridge over the James River onto the Bermuda Hundred Neck, the peninsula between the James and Appomattox Rivers.

 

Across the peninsula in the spring of 1864, Confederate General Beauregard’s men dug an eight-mile earthwork called the Howlett Line.

 

Gordon took Route 10 east and crossed the Appomattox River into the City of Hopewell.

 

Hopewell had been thrown up almost overnight when DuPont came to town in 1913 to build a dynamite factory for the World War I demand.

 

The city sat on prime waterfront real estate at the confluence of the James and Appomattox, but the air and water had been heavily polluted by industry. . . . Hopewell had cleaned up most of its act.

 

Gordon hung a left at the Beacon Theatre and headed to City Point where the rivers came together.

 

Between June 1864 and April 1865, City Point became the largest supply base of the Civil War, with over 100,000 troops, and one of the busiest ports in the world.

 

Cabins and tents of the Union Army blanketed the area, and the army built a half-mile of wharves, serving as many as two hundred ships a day.

 

When the ships unloaded, the goods were placed on railcars. The US Military Railroad Construction Corps had built an eight-mile line to the Petersburg front, supplying a cornucopia to the Federal forces, while the Confederates starved in their trenches a few hundred feet away.

 

Today, the grounds of City Point were empty except for Appomattox Manor, a plantation house built in 1763, overlooking the blue wide water.

 

Besides the big house, there was only one other structure on the property that stood out, a two-room cabin. The small, simple structure of vertical beams and logs, chinked with concrete, was a reconstruction of Grant’s headquarters.

 

After parking his car on Pecan Avenue, Gordon straddled the short split-rail fence bordering the park service site and walked across a large lawn with his slouch hat shading his eyes from the sun, still a long way from setting in the summer sky.

 

He cut through an old grassed-over lane lined with crepe myrtles to get to Grant’s cabin.

 

From behind the cabin, Bet Van Lew emerged. She had changed her dress from heavy morning to full mourning, allowing white trim and a white collar.

 

Gordon looked out over the water.

 

“I’m sure you know,” Gordon said, “the last meeting of the Trinity of the North took place here on the beach below us. Would you care to stroll down to it, Miss Van Lew?” Gordon offered his arm.

 

They ambled along the bluff and

 

down to the beach as a bald eagle soared in the upper reaches of the blue sky and cumulous clouds hung on the horizon.

City of Hopewell

City Point