When you have an extended weekend to enjoy, packing the family into the SUV to see some of America’s historical sites is a lot of fun. If you live along the Mississippi River or to the East, visiting the Civil War battlefields can be an entertaining and humbling experience.
What stops will you add to your itinerary this year?
List of the Best Places to Visit to Remember the Civil War
The Civil War often pitted brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor in a quest to shape our continent. These battlefields became the places where those arguments got settled.
1. Fort Sumter
This site is where it all began. On April 12, 1861, Confederate soldiers attacked the fort. It took 34 hours for the defenders to surrender, with only two soldiers killed during the battle. Over the next four years, over 600,000 more would eventually die.
The North hoped for a swift victory to make the Civil War a blip on history’s radar. Those expectations disappeared on this July 1861 battlefield. People were so confident that civilians treated the conflict as a tourist attraction. That quickly ended with a Confederate route and everyone running for their lives.
A second battle happened here in 1862. The Confederates won again, setting the foundation for an invasion of the Union.
One of the most massive battles in the Civil War was also one of its costliest. About 110,000 men fought on this battlefield, with approximately one-quarter suffering casualties. It would be an expensive Union victory, but it also helped to reinforce the North’s boundaries.
This national military park is considered hallowed ground for many. The combat sites have been well-preserved to ensure everyone can see what the battle was like when it occurred. When General Pickett ordered a charge into Union forces at Cemetery Ridge, it would become a defining point of the war. Over 50,000 casualties were counted that day.
The lessons learned from the Civil War should help us to avoid these issues today. Visiting the sacred battlegrounds is one way to teach future generations about those circumstances.