Just as the Appomattox River winds it way through Central Virginia, the Chesdin Reservoir, and through Petersburg itself, it has also entwined itself with Virginia and U.S. history. Headwatered in Appomattox County, the river flows through Petersburg, its head of navigation, then on through Hopewell.
The Appomattox is best known for its association with the Civil War. In April, 1865, after the fall of Petersburg, the Confederate forces attempted to burn the High Bridge over the river about 95 miles west of Petersburg in an unsuccessful attempt at preventing the capture of the bridge by Union forces. The capture of the bridge led to General Robert E. Lee's surrender in the nearby village of Appomattox Court House and brought an end to the war in Virginia. The first Battle of Bull run was fought on July 21, 1861 at Wilmer McLean's farm in Appomattox Court House. McLean's home then became the site of General Lee's surrender to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and reunification of the North and South on April 9, 1865. The reconstructed Appomattox Court House and McLean House are now the location of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park.
Currently the Appomattox River enjoys a more peaceful role as a popular destination for whitewater rafting and canoeing, nature walks and other outdoor recreational activities.
Photos of the High Bridge, Appomattox Court House and the McLean House are in the public domain. Other photos below are copyright John A. Rooney, Jr.