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Abstract

The siege of Petersburg and Richmond during the American Civil War in 1864–1865 provides a stellar example of how geology can affect military operations and thus the course of history. During the Union drive to take the Confederate capital, they used Virginia’s broad tidal rivers on the Atlantic Coastal Plain as supply lines for their huge army. During the siege, both sides took advantage of the unconsolidated Cenozoic sediments of the Coastal Plain to create a new style of combat—trench warfare—which would be taken to horrifying extremes in World War I. This trip visits seven sites of both historic and geological significance in the Petersburg area.

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