Chris Calkins worked for the National Park Service for 34 years and served at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, ending his career as historian and Chief of Interpretation at Petersburg National Battlefield. In 2008 he accepted the position of first full-time Park Manager of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park. He retired from Petersburg National Battlefield July 2009 and began his work permanently with the Commonwealth.
Chris has authored twelve publications, numerous articles, and spoken nationally to many Civil War and preservation groups. He is the author of the highly acclaimed “Lee’s Retreat” driving tour (featured in LIFE and SOUTHERN LIVING magazines) which is now being used as a successful example of Heritage Tourism in the Commonwealth and nationwide, and is the “grandfather” of Virginia Civil War Trails.
Active in battlefield preservation efforts, he served on the board of directors for eight years with the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, Inc. (now merged with the Civil War Trust) and helped broker the preservation of seven sites around Petersburg and Appomattox. These include: Five Forks, White Oak Road, Hatchers Run, Reams Station, The Sixth Corps Breakthrough (now Pamplin Park), Sailor’s Creek, Lee’s rearguard at Appomattox and Appomattox Station. He is responsible for developing the battlefield preservation plan for the expansion of 7,238 acres by Petersburg National Battlefield to include twelve major battlefields around the city.
Chris has been interviewed on the History Channel, A & E, Discovery Channel, HGTV and ITV in the UK. He was selected as a “2014 Award of Merit winner by the Leadership in History Awards committee” “for his dedication to preserving the Civil War battlefield landscape of Virginia” by the American Association for State and Local History; one of three Virginians to receive this award.
Calkins is a native of Detroit, Michigan, graduated from Longwood College (now University) in Farmville and is married to the former Miss Sarah Brown of Appomattox. They live in a restored National Register listed 18th century Georgian mansion in Petersburg’s Old Town Historic District.