Into The Breach

Cold Mountain misses the real story of a big battle. A new tour fills the gap

The sound of exploding gunpowder no longer roars across the grassy ravine nestled in Petersburg National Battlefield Park in central Virginia. But to hear park historian Jimmy Blakenship talk about the battle that took place there 140 years ago, you have to wonder whether he can still hear the blast's echoes. "[Ulysses S.] Grant said, 'It's the saddest affair I've witnessed in this war,'" Blakenship says with a shake of his graying head.

The Civil War movie Cold Mountain, based on Charles Frazier's best-selling novel, opens with the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg in 1864, when Union forces dug...

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