Best Civil War Sites
“The slain lay in rows precisely as they had stood in their ranks a few moments before. It was never my fortune to witness a more bloody, dismal battlefield,” wrote Major General Joseph Hooker. In just 12 hours, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing—making that September day in 1862 the bloodiest in U.S. history. Devastating casualties and the nighttime retreat of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia back across the Potomac spurred Lincoln to write the initial Emancipation Proclamation. Pick up a map for a self-guided driving tour of the battlefield, and be sure to climb the observation tower for an overview of the 8.5–mile site. Guides are available (and recommended) for walking tours that trace individual skirmishes.
Don’t Miss: Pry House, a medical museum on the park grounds, merits a visit for its chilling look at battlefield medicine (when supplies ran low, field surgeons bound wounds with corn husks). Clara Barton was here!