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10 Best Civil War Sites to Visit on Veterans Day

Updated on October 19, 2013
Veterans Day
Veterans Day | Source

What is US Veteran's Day?

Every 11th of November, the United States of America observes Veterans Day to honor and pay tribute to the heroism and patriotism of all the soldiers and military personnel who served in all wars where US participated.

Although Civil War is considered to be the bloodiest conflict in the country, it is a major turning point in the history of the United States because there were a lot of lessons learned from this event. Hence, most people visit various historical Civil War sites to commemorate the Veterans Day.

Here is a list of 10 Civil War sites that are highly recommended for soldiers, military personnel, historians, students, campers or outdoor lovers, and even ordinary citizens can visit to observe Veterans Day.

Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Sumter National Monument | Source

1. Fort Sumter National Monument, Fort Sumter, SC

The US Civil War began at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 when Captain Abner Doubleday fired the shot. The defenders of Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Sadly, the Battle of Fort Sumter also led to the deadliest war in the history of the United States.

Fort Sumter National Monument holds one of the best collections of 19th century seacoast artillery around the United States. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor recreational activities on Fort Sumter but they are limited to bird watching, boating, fishing, kayaking, nature walks, and wildlife viewing. However, visitors can enjoy walking on the walls of the fort or visit the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center on Liberty Square and examine its wide collection of artillery pieces.

There is no fee charged to enter Fort Sumter, which is situated on an island that is only accessible by boat. If you do not own a boat, you can take the concession-operated ferry from Patriots Point or downtown Charleston to go to the island.

The Stone House
The Stone House | Source

2. Manassas National Battlefield Park, Manassas, VA

Also known as Bull Run, the Confederates won two important battles on the fields of Manassas National Battlefield Park in July 1861 and August 1862.

The Manassas National Battlefield Park offers various activities, historic sites, picturesque vistas, and walking trails to its visitors. The Henry Hill Visitor Center exhibits artifacts, audio-visual displays, and fiber-optic battle map presentation of the First Battle of Manassas at the Henry Hill Visitor Center. The Brawner Farm Interpretive Center displays and audio-visual programs related to the Second Battle of Manassas. Entrance to the Manassas National Battlefield Park is free for children below 16 years old. Adults are required to pay an entrance fee to explore the park.

Antietam National Battlefield Memorial
Antietam National Battlefield Memorial | Source

3. Antietam National Battlefield, Sharpsburg, MD

The goriest one-day battle of the Civil War on September 17, 1862 took place in Antietam National Battlefield.

Visitors of the park can explore the exhibits and watch the audio-visual program at the museum, join the self-guided driving tour, or listen to the talks conducted by Park Rangers. Outdoor activities, such as bicycling and horseback riding, are authorized on paved roads.

Camping at the Rohrbach Group Campground is allowed but requires a permit. Fishing and boating at Antietam Creek is permitted if there is a valid Maryland Fishing License. Hunting, picnicking, and relic hunting are prohibited. Kite flying, ball games, sunbathing, model airplane or rocket flying, and Frisbee are also forbidden at the battlefield but allowed for campers at the Rohrbach Group Campground.

Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park | Source

4. Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA

The Gettysburg National Military Park is the site of the famous Gettysburg Address by former President Abraham Lincoln.

Visitors of the Gettysburg National Military Park can experience and walk through the well-preserved sacred soil of America. Various combat sites, such as Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, Pickett’s Charge, The Angle, and Soldier’s National Cemetery should not be missed during the tour. Visitors can also hire licensed tour guides at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center. It is also highly recommended that you purchase tickets for Cyclorama, Film, and Museum Experience in advance.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park | Source

5. Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Appomattox, VA

History says that Civil War ended on Palm Sunday of April 1865 in Appomattox, VA when Confederate General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park consists of numerous historic structures, roads, and lanes. Visitors can see exhibits of original artifacts related to the surrender of Gen. Lee displayed at the Appomattox Court House Visitor Center and Museum. Park Rangers also provide tours and on-site interpretation every day.

Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh National Military Park | Source

6. Shiloh National Military Park, Shiloh, TN

The two-day Battle of Shiloh took place on April 6 and 7, 1862. It was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War. The bitter battle resulted to the successful siege of Vicksburg, led by Major General U.S. Grant.

The well-preserved Shiloh National Military Park honors the Civil War battle between Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General A.S. Johnson. The Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center houses a small but informative museum where visitors can find artifacts from the war. The center also offers an introductory film about the battle, the events leading to the battle, and its aftermath that will definitely awake your interest.

Inside Shiloh National Military Park, visitors can walk through the National Cemetery, a cemetery where fallen soldiers were buried, and on to the Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River. Visitors should not forget to drop by Iowa Monument, the tallest monument in Shiloh National Military Park.

Richmond National Battlefield Park
Richmond National Battlefield Park | Source

7. Richmond National Battlefield Park, Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA served as the capital of the Confederate States of America for the bigger part of the war. There are more than 30 American Civil War sites around Richmond, VA. The Richmond National Battlefield Park was established to honor these Civil War sites.

Located in Central Virginia, Richmond National Battlefield Park comprises thirteen (13) battlefield sites, encompassing 763 acres of historic ground. These battlefield sites include Cold Harbor, New Market Heights, Gaines Mill, Chicakhominy Bluffs, and Malvern Hill.

Statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son
Statue of Abraham Lincoln and his son | Source

Within the city of Richmond, visitors can find the foundry Tredegar Iron Works, which serves as the main visitor center and museum, and Chimborazo Hospital, which was the largest hospital camp of the Confederacy during the wartime.

Visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities, such as walking tour on each park or the 80-mile route driving tour at the battlefields. Visitors should not also miss the 22-minute movie shown at Tredgar Iron Works depicts the different wars that took place in and around the city. The Visitor Center also exhibits artifacts of the Civil War, especially those relevant to the Richmond area.

Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park | Source

8. Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, MS

Established on February 21, 1899, Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg.

With more than 1,330 monuments, markers, tablets, and plaques, Vicksburg National Military Park is considered as one of the most monumental parks in the world. Because of its beauty and artistry, a Civil War veteran nicknamed Vicksburg National Military Park as "the art park of the world".

There are many activities that visitors of the 1,800-acre Vicksburg National Military Park can do. The Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center offers general and historical information services, orientation film, and exhibits on various topics during the Civil War. A 20-minute movie, "Here Brothers Fought," is shown every 30 minutes at the auditorium of the Visitor Center.

Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park | Source

The U.S.S. Cairo Museum and Gunboat offers general and historical information services, exhibits on naval operations of the Civil War, and picnic area. The Union iron-clad gunboat houses thousands of artifacts, weaponry, sailors' personal properties, cookware, and medical supplies.

Approximately a mile away from the main entrance of Vicksburg National Military Park, visitors can find the Heritage Garden along Pemberton Avenue. A classic Victorian-era kitchen garden, flower beds, and traditional commodities grown on 19th-century southern farms, the Heritage Garden was established to provide an outdoor classroom for school groups and adult education classes.

There are also three different hiking trails for interested hikers and Scout groups who want to explore the natural resources of the park. The park also offers a 16-mile tour road with three intersecting roads and thoroughfares, 15 designated Tour Stops, and wayside markers and exhibits.

Andersonville National Cemetery
Andersonville National Cemetery | Source

9. Andersonville National Historic Site, Andersonville, GA

Located in southwest Georgia, Andersonville National Historic Site is also known as "Camp Sumter", one of the largest Confederate military prisons built during the American Civil War.

Andersonville National Historic Site offers tours, programs, and special events to its visitors to better understand the exhibits and the history of prisoners of war. The National Prisoner of War Museum presents a synopsis of the prison camp during the Civil War and the experiences of American prisoners of war through time. Andersonville National Cemetery was created to serve as a permanent place of honor to almost 20,000 prisoners and war veterans of the U. S. Armed Forces since the Civil War for dying in military service to our country.

Turchin Reservation
Turchin Reservation | Source

10. Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia/Lookout Mountain, TN

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park is considered to be the first and largest military park in the United States.

Chickamauga Battlefield offers a seven-mile self-guided driving tour, monuments, historical tablets, hiking trails, and horse trails. Visitors can find artifact exhibits at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center. Likewise, the Fuller Gun Collection contains more than 300 samples of military long arms. There are also 1,400 monuments and historical markers that visitors can find on numerous battlefields inside the park. There are also several hiking trails available for individuals or groups who wish to hike a couple of miles while learning along the way.

One Last Word

It is highly recommended to visit the above-mentioned sites as the Veterans Day approaches to easily imagine what exactly transpired during the Civil War and have a better understanding of the American history.

Have you visited at least one of the Civil War sites listed on the article? Then, answer the poll question now! Did you enjoy your visit to the site? Share your experience with us. Write it down on the comment box below.

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