New section of Richmond battlefield to open

The Rural Plains section of the Richmond National Battlefield Park will open to the public on Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. with a ribbon cutting, living history program and historian-guided tours. The newest unit of this park includes the historic Sarah Shelton house, known as Rural Plains, where on May 29, 1864 Shelton was told a battle was about to take place on her land but she refused to leave, instead sheltering her family in the basement.

The building was occupied by Union soldiers and fired upon by Confederates whose artillery shells struck the 19th century house 51 times, according to the National Park Service. The battle of Totopotomoy Creek, May 30 to 31, 1864, ended with no conclusive results.

Rural Plains was home to generations of the Shelton family until May 5, 2006 when the last descendant, William Shelton, died. A Park Service announcement said the property was transferred to the government at that time. Many of the furnishings that were in the house at the time of the battle were purchased for display by the Park Service.

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