About the Cold Harbor Tavern
Despite succumbing to a fire in the early 1900s, the Cold Harbor Tavern amassed over 100 years of memories and had particular importance during the Civil War. Its position in the southeastern corner of the intersection of the Gaines’ Mill and Cold Harbor Battlefields guaranteed the tavern’s front-row seat to combat...
In late May of 1862, as he led his troops into Virginia on his Peninsula Campaign, Union Gen. George B. McClellan made his headquarters at the tavern, likely working from tents set up within the tavern yards.
A month later, in late June 1862, Confederate forces had taken control of the crossroads. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson also made camp at the tavern and remained in the vicinity for the duration of the fighting that took place in the area. On the night of June 27, 1862 — following Confederate victory at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill — Jackson and Confederate cavalry chief Gen. J.E.B. Stuart reportedly slept beneath a tree in the tavern’s yard.
From May 31–June 12, 1864, combat raged across the tavern’s surrounding acres in the Battle of Cold Harbor, with the climax of battle sweeping over this 29-acre tract. Gen. James B. Ricketts, who earned a medal for meritorious service during Cold Harbor, also made the tavern his headquarters at least once over the course of the battle.
In the days following the Union defeat at Cold Harbor, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock oversaw the progress of the 2nd Corps from a spot near the tavern, a 6th Corps physician set up a field hospital “among the trees in the yard” and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant himself stopped at the site on June 3 while surveying the state of his troops.
Suffice it to say, this tavern became a familiar sight to soldiers of both sides. Learn more about the significance of this structure and the American Battlefield Trust's recent preservation victory upon this very site.