Best Civil War Sites
Harpers Ferry, WV
In 1859, two years before the war, John Brown, the righteous, Bible-thumping, angry, and awesome abolitionist, raided the federal arsenal in Harpers Ferry, attempting to rouse a slave rebellion and the conscience of the nation. He failed to incite revolt, but arguably hastened the path to war. Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times, a sought-after prize for its strategic position at the convergence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers (providing passage from the east to the Shenandoah Valley). John Brown’s Fort, which was a firehouse occupied by Brown’s raiders, was the scene of several skirmishes, including a three-pronged siege by Stonewall Jackson that captured more than 12,000 Union soldiers garrisoned here—immediately preceding the Battle of Antietam, up the road in Sharpsburg.
Don’t Miss: The extraordinary natural beauty. Hike the two-mile Cliff Trail loop from the Visitor’s Center up past Jefferson Rock. In warm weather, float downstream in an inner tube for a cool perspective.