Eighteenth century home, Civil War battlefield, nature conservation site—the Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield at Rural Plains is all of these.
The site contains the Shelton House, Rural Plains, built circa 1725 and home to the same family until 2006, when it was transferred to the National Park Service. Family tradition says Patrick Henry married his first wife, Sarah, Shelton, in the parlor.
The Shelton house was the headquarters for Hancock’s Second Corps from May 29-June 1, 1864, during the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek in the Civil War’s Overland Campaign. Nearly two thousand soldiers died before combatants moved south and east to Cold Harbor. A trail guide and signs allow visitors to follow a part of the battle action by walking a 1.25 mile interpretative trail to view both Confederate and Union trench lines.
The 125-acre site is preserved as farm and woodland, creating an unparalleled natural area in the heart of suburban Hanover County. Deer, foxes, coyotes, owls, herons, and other wild creatures thrive there. Popular with runners and walkers, as well as history buffs, the interpretative trail connects the Studley Road entrance to the Park with the Bell Creek subdivision on the opposite bank of Totopotomoy Creek.
The Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield is open daily, from dawn to dusk. The entrance and parking lot are at 7273 Studley Road, Mechanicsville, VA 23116. The Shelton House is open on weekend afternoons, from 1-4, May 1-October 31. Admission to the site and the house is free. Donations to the Rural Plains Foundation, whose volunteers conduct tours of the Rural Plains House, are gratefully accepted.