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Visiting Civil War Battlefields

Updated on October 11, 2016
Virginia Allain profile image

In researching my Civil War ancestor, I became fascinated by all aspects of that war. If you're a Civil War buff, check out my topics.

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Explore the American Civil War with Trips to Battle Sites

The sesquicentennial of the American Civil War makes it a perfect time to take the family to see historic battlefields from that war. The sites already attract travelers who are Civil War buffs and those seeking family history, but make a great daytrip or longer vacation for anyone.

You may not think you are much of a history buff, but wait until you hear the stirring stories of what happened on these battlefields and actually walk for yourself on the same ground where hundreds of soldiers fought and died.

The Civil War was an epic upheaval that shaped the way the U.S. is today. Learn more about it with a fun and informative trip to a Civil War battlefield. Below are some recommended sites to visit.

The graphic is Cannons Photo by keyfinds (available from Zazzle)

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A Civil War Memory Game - to play on your vacation

Get the kids intrigued by playing this game on the trip. This game can make the road trip go faster or provide some evening fun in the motel after a day of visiting a battlefield.

Civil War Memory Challenge
Civil War Memory Challenge

For ages 8 and up, this game is fun and challenging. Playing a game while learning facts about the Civil War is a great way to engage children.

 

Visiting a Battlefield Brings the Battle to Life

Allow At Least One Full Day or More for Gettysburg

Walking the battlefield and reading the signs explaining what happened at each spot takes considerable time to do thoroughly.

The museum exhibits are not-to-be-missed as well. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit there.

Some of the Sights You'll See at Gettysburg - Photos by Virginia Allain

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Docents at Gettysburg answer questions for visitors to the battlefield. Here, they are taking a break. Statue at Gettysburg.
Docents at Gettysburg answer questions for visitors to the battlefield. Here, they are taking a break.
Docents at Gettysburg answer questions for visitors to the battlefield. Here, they are taking a break. | Source
Statue at Gettysburg.
Statue at Gettysburg.

Guides to Civil War Battles

The Civil War Battlefield Guide, Second Edition
The Civil War Battlefield Guide, Second Edition

You can find some information online about various battlefields, but this gives you loads of information all in one place. Browse this and plan your vacations around the locations of Civil War battlefields.

 

This Battle Was the Prelude to War

The Battle of Blackjack was part of the struggle for control of new states as free or slave states.
The Battle of Blackjack was part of the struggle for control of new states as free or slave states. | Source

Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide

Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide
Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide

Besides a wealth of battlefields to visit, there are marvelous museums related to the war in Virginia.

 

I Recommend the Battlefield and Museum Near Petersburg, Virginia

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Look for Battle Re-Enactments

These events are colorful, full of action and try to be as authentic as possible.

The Battle of Narcoosie Mill - A Reenactment in Florida

The 2015 reenactment of the Civil War battle.
The 2015 reenactment of the Civil War battle. | Source

Search Online for Hours and Directions before the Visit

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This is available from Zazzle: Howitzer Cannon Row Vicksburg by Soulshine51

Vicksburg - Well Worth a Visit

Vicksburg was a long drawn-out siege and the battle spread over quite a bit of land. You drive around to the significant points of the battle, park and walk around to see what happened at each place. The signs showing the positions of the troops were most helpful.

Some Battlefields Have Museum Exhibits Too

Pamplin Civil War Museum in Virginia
Pamplin Civil War Museum in Virginia | Source
Display at Pamplin.
Display at Pamplin. | Source

Research the Battlefield before Making the Trip - Not all battlefields have interesting displays

I was planning to travel to Mississippi to see the site where the Battle of Brice's Crossroads occurred. My great-great grandfather, Abraham Bates Tower, was captured there during the Civil War and spent the rest of the war in the infamous Andersonville Prison.

From the sounds of this video, Brice's Crossroads doesn't have much of a display. Perhaps the best time to go would be when there is a battle re-enactment. I've included several videos for those.

Check to See What There Is at a Battlefield before You Go

My Experience at Brice's Crossroads

In October 2016, we toured the battlefield near Tupelo, Mississippi. There were interesting plaques explaining the terrain and the events of the battle. You can drive from one to another, pulling over to read the details.

There are larger parking areas in several places so you can park and get out to walk around seeing more plaques and details of the landscape. One of the parking areas was the location of the fateful bridge that hampered the retreat of the Union troops. A wagon overturned on the bridge, then the infantry was blocked from escaping the Confederate cannon fire.

This is likely where my ancestor was captured. The plaque showed the location of the 93rd Indiana Infantry that he was part of. After being captured at this battle, he was taken to the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia. After six months there, he was paroled, but his health was damaged and it took many years for him to recover.

Information plaque at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads.
Information plaque at the Battle of Brice's Crossroads. | Source

The 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Brice's Crossroads (where my ancestor was captured)

Visitors to This Page Come from Many Places

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© 2011 Virginia Allain

What Battlefields Do You Recommend Visiting?

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    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 5 years ago

      I've visited Wilson's Creek as I grew up in SW Missouri, and it was considered one of the most influential battles of the American Civil War. I haven't visited other Civil War battlefields, but I have been to Omaha Beach and several other historic WWII sites.

    • profile image

      PhillipConte 5 years ago

      I have been to all the major civil and revolutionary war sites. Each place has it's place with me. For the Civil War, one can't go wrong with Gettysburg, Andersonville or Elimira.

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 5 years ago from So Cal

      I've also been to Wilson's Creek and learned a great deal about the battle and the area. I spent a week in Gettysburg tramping through the undergrowth to see the monuments that are scattered throughout the area. It is a treat to be able to visit Civil War sites as there is only one in California.

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 5 years ago

      I've been to Wilson's Creek near Springfield, MO. It was a fairly significant battle... that few people know about.

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