Battlefields everyone should visit
Over the course of three long days in the summer of 1863, 165,000 men met a Gettysburg and fought one of the most dramatic battles in Americans history, engaging in a fierce struggle over what kind of country the United States should be. Today, visitors can walk in the footsteps of the brave soldiers who fought and died at such iconic places as Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, Cemetery Ridge, and Culp’s Hill. While you’re there, make sure to pay your respects at the Soldiers National Cemetery and visit the David Wills House, where Abraham Lincoln stayed the night before he delivered his Gettysburg Address. The Civil War Trust is proud to have saved more than 900 acres of hallowed ground at numerous key sites at and around Gettysburg, including the site of Lee's Headquarters on Seminary Ridge.
Ulysses S. Grant is sometimes remembered as a blundering butcher. Those who study his audacious campaign against Vicksburg know better. Over the course of three months in the summer of 1863, Grant carried out one of the most brilliantly executed campaigns in the annals of military history, ultimately capturing the “Gibraltar of the South” and severing the Confederacy in two. Today, visitors to the Vicksburg National Military Park can walk the trenches and scenes of battle where Lincoln’s great general changed the course of the Civil War. Be sure to also visit the USS Cairo ironclad warship, recovered from a river bottom and on display.
When President Abraham Lincoln learned of the Union defeat at Fredericksburg in December 1862, he responded, “If there is a place worse than hell, I’m in it.” Lincoln’s horror was understandable. At Fredericksburg Confederate General Robert E. Lee won one of his most decisive victories, inflicting massive casualties on the Union Army despite being heavily outnumbered. Almost a century and a half later, the Civil War Trust won a victory at Fredericksburg almost as decisive, successfully preserving more than 200 acres of hallowed ground at the Slaughter Pen Farm. Thanks to the efforts of the Trust, visitors can follow the Union’s attack on Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia from beginning to end.
On October 19, 1781 at Yorktown, Virginia, General George Washington shocked the world when he secured the surrender of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis . While the war that started at Lexington and Concord in 1775 would officially continue until the signing of the war-ending Treaty of Paris in 1783, the decisive victory of the Americans and their French allies at Yorktown ensured the success of the United States’ movement for independence. Today, visitors to Colonial National Park can see with their own eyes the site of Washington’s most decisive victory.
Early on the morning of April 19, 1775 a shot rang out in Lexington, Massachusetts. While historians do not know who fired that shot, its significance cannot be over overstated. Not only did the shot fired at Lexington inaugurate a day of combat that would ultimately claim 122 lives, but it also ignited a war that forever changed the world, bringing into existence a nation dedicated to the proposition that all human beings are equal. Today, visitors to Minute Man National Historic Park can discover the story of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and walk in the footsteps of men who changed the world.