Historic Petersburg, 20 mi south of Richmond on I–95, lies along the Appomattox River. During the Civil War, the city was under siege for 292 days by Union forces from June 1864 to April 1865—the so-called last stand of the Confederacy. A major railroad hub, the city was a crucial link in the supply chain for Lee's army, and its surrender brought about the evacuation of Richmond and the surrender at Appomattox. Lee's Retreat is a 26-stop self-guided driving tour from Petersburg to Appomattox. For a route map and other information, contact the Petersburg Visitor Center.

These days, like many other small Southern towns, it is struggling to overcome decades of depression, and this is readily apparent on the drive from I-95 to the downtown area. However, a great effort has been made in the area around the Petersburg Visitor Center, and there are many beautifully maintained houses in the historic residential area just to the west.

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