If you live near Salisbury, Maryland, there are several Civil War battle sites within a day’s drive that make for unforgettable trips. History buffs who appreciate historic spots and informative visitor centers should look no further than these amazing destinations.
1. Antietam National Battlefield
Located in Sharpsburg, Maryland, this national park is the site of the iconic Battle of Antietam. The Confederate Army’s first invasion in the North, the Battle of Antietam is known as the bloodiest one-day battle in America’s history. More than 23,000 lives were lost that September day in 1862.
While noting the area’s history is a sobering experience, the national battlefield allows guests to bicycle, picnic, and horseback ride in specified areas. You can even go boating or fishing in Antietam Creek. But the best way to explore the site is by the 8 ½ mile self-guided driving tour through the battlefield.
2. Gettysburg National Military Park
You can’t plan a road trip to America’s Civil War sites without adding Gettysburg to the list. While the Battle of Antietam might be the bloodiest one-day battle, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was the site of the bloodiest battle of the entire war. There, 51,000 soldiers died, and survivors turned the surrounding farmland into hospitals and graveyards.
Today’s Gettysburg National Military Park features more than 1,400 markers and monuments, but what’s most impressive is that the Park Service has restored the grounds to how they would have looked in 1863.
3. Monocacy National Battlefield
Located in Frederick, Maryland, Monocacy National Battlefield commemorates the battle that took place after Antietam and Gettysburg. It’s become known as “The Battle That Saved Washington.” Although technically a Union defeat, it prevented the Confederate army from capturing D.C., making this battlefield historically significant.
Visitors to Monocacy can enjoy the brand new visitor center, which includes a special exhibit on the battle. You also won’t want to miss the Worthington House, which is where the Worthington family took shelter and witnessed the battle.
4. Manassas National Battlefield Park
This 5,000-acre park just west of Washington, D.C. commemorates the First and Second Battles of Manassas. This is a must-see locale thanks to the Henry Hill Visitors Center, which houses uniforms, weapons, and other Civil War artifacts. Visitors can watch a 45-minute orientation film before wandering around the park at their own pace.
The Manassas National Battlefield park offers several walking trails, photogenic vistas, and other activities that make it a great destination for families. It’s also an important site for the National Audubon Society, as several bird species call the park home.
5. Fort Sumter National Monument
If you’re really up for an extended road trip, consider visiting Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The very first shot of the Civil War was fired here, and the gunfire lasted 34 straight hours. Guests can enjoy several visitor centers, museums, guided tours, and outdoor activities, making this one worth the trip.
No matter the season, these historic battlefields welcome visitors to explore our nation’s past, taking time to appreciate just how far the country has come.