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This July Fourth, Celebrate American Independence and Major Turning Points of Civil War Sesquicentennial

The Civil War Trust recommends six historic destinations to visit for a Fourth of July combining celebration of freedom with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War

(Washington, D.C.) – In the days leading up to Independence Day 1863, two events thousands of miles apart served as a harbinger for the shifting tides of the American Civil War. In the West, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Siege of Vicksburg forced a Confederate surrender of the city, relinquishing control of the Mississippi River to the Union. In the Eastern Theater, Gen. Robert E. Lee began his retreat south following the Battle of Gettysburg, a three-day battle which resulted in a Union victory and ultimately sealed the Confederacy’s fate.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of these two important events in American history. In lieu of the sesquicentennial, events at Civil War sites across the country will combine the celebration of America’s freedom with the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the war. The Civil War Trust, the nation’s largest nonprofit dedicated to preserving Civil War battlefields, chose seven of its favorite events.

150th Commemoration of the Battle of Gettysburg on June 30–July 6 at Gettysburg NMP in Gettysburg, Pa.
Visit Gettysburg National Military Park as the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of one of the most significant battles in American history continues with an array of activities, ranging from tours of the George Spangler Farm to an event at Soldiers' National Cemetery.

Grand Illumination on July 3 at Vicksburg NMP in Vicksburg, Miss.
The Grand Illumination, a tradition dating back to the American Revolution to honor those who have died, begins at 6:00 p.m. at Vicksburg National Military Park. Visit Vicksburg to commemorate the fallen of the Vicksburg Campaign on the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender of Vicksburg.

American Limited Civil War Special on July 4 at Connersville Grand Central Station in Connersville, Ind.
Relax on this relaxing train ride commemorating the Civil War as part of Connorsville’s bicentennial celebration this Independence Day. The trip includes a two hour layover in historic Metamora, Ind., before returning to Connersville via the scenic Whitewater Valley.

Fort McAllister State Historic Park Independence Day Celebration on July 4 in Richmond Hill, Ga.
Celebrate the Fourth of July at this scenic Georgia park, the terminus to Maj. Gen. Sherman’s “March to the Sea” and home to well-preserved Confederate earthwork fortifications. Activities include live firing demonstrations, historical interpretations and more.

Fourth of July Parade: “Celebrating 150 Years of West Virginia Pride,” on July 4 in Chester, W.Va.
This year, West Virginia officially commemorates the 150th anniversary of its admittance into the Union. Join the festivities surrounding the anniversary of the state “born into turmoil” at the Fourth of July Parade in Chester. 

Gettysburg/Vicksburg Anniversary Family Day on July 4 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and fall of Vicksburg with an afternoon featuring Civil War-era music, living history demonstrations, interpretations and more. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who secured control of the Mississippi River for the Union during the Siege of Vicksburg, will be on-hand to greet visitors.

28th Annual MSO Salute to Independence on July 6 at Antietam NB, Sharpsburg, Md.
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra will continue its annual tradition of treating the public to a free “Salute to Independence” Concert at Antietam National Battlefield – the site of some of the most intense fighting of the Civil War. Enjoy the pristine surroundings, walk some of America’s most hallowed ground and listen to patriotic music at this event, known to many as “Maryland’s Most Patriotic Event.”

Civil War Trust is the largest nonprofit battlefield preservation organization in the United States.  Its mission is to preserve our nation’s endangered Civil War battlefields and to promote appreciation of these hallowed grounds.  To date, it has preserved more than 36,000 acres of battlefield land in 20 states. Learn more at, the home of the Civil War sesquicentennial.