Best Civil War Sites

Enlist your troop for a 150th-anniversary trip to the battlefields, museums, and sites that can make sense of the Civil War.

Fredericksburg, VA

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The beautiful farmland around Fredericksburg seemed especially attractive during the war because of the city’s position midway between D.C. and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Horrible and decisive battles were fought in the area. Begin at the Visitor Center at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park to get oriented with the several separate units of the park complex. Walk the trail at Marye’s Heights, where Confederate infantry, shielded by a four-foot-high stone wall, mowed down wave upon wave of assailants, leaving 9,000 Union dead before General Burnside gave the order to retreat. Salem Church, surrounded by decidedly nonhistorical development, is a satellite of the national park. The Wilderness portion, where the armies met in the overgrown and gnarled woods, is now mostly manicured, but peaceful paths are punctuated by historic markers and still surrounded by dense thickets.

Don’t Miss: A macabre side trip to Ellwood Farm, where Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm is buried in its own marked grave (open weekends, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; on weekdays, pick up a pass at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center). Jackson was famously shot by his own troops when returning from a reconnaissance trip at dusk. His wounded arm was amputated, and Jackson lived for another eight days before succumbing to pneumonia.

Best Civil War Sites

Fredericksburg, VA

The beautiful farmland around Fredericksburg seemed especially attractive during the war because of the city’s position midway between D.C. and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Horrible and decisive battles were fought in the area. Begin at the Visitor Center at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park to get oriented with the several separate units of the park complex. Walk the trail at Marye’s Heights, where Confederate infantry, shielded by a four-foot-high stone wall, mowed down wave upon wave of assailants, leaving 9,000 Union dead before General Burnside gave the order to retreat. Salem Church, surrounded by decidedly nonhistorical development, is a satellite of the national park. The Wilderness portion, where the armies met in the overgrown and gnarled woods, is now mostly manicured, but peaceful paths are punctuated by historic markers and still surrounded by dense thickets.

Don’t Miss: A macabre side trip to Ellwood Farm, where Stonewall Jackson’s amputated arm is buried in its own marked grave (open weekends, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.; on weekdays, pick up a pass at the Chancellorsville Visitor Center). Jackson was famously shot by his own troops when returning from a reconnaissance trip at dusk. His wounded arm was amputated, and Jackson lived for another eight days before succumbing to pneumonia.

Courtesy of the U.S. National Parks Service
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