The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission has identified 45 sites (12%) were ranked “A” (having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the
war) out of the 384 principle sites. Most of the battles (132) took place in 1864. Thirty-three percent of the battles were fought in Virginia. The next highest state was Tennessee with 38. Forty-three percent of Civil War battles were fought in these two states. This means if you want to see Civil War sites you should start in Virginia.
Not all of the recommended sites are battlefields, some are historic places that are important in Civil War history such as Ford’s Theater and Arlington National Cemetery
Battlefields and Historic Sites
- American Civil War Museum and White House of the Confederacy (Virginia) –
- Andersonville National Historic Site (Georgia) – Union prison at Andersonville
- Antietam National Battlefield (Maryland) – The bloodiest day in American history, with a combined tally of 22,717 dead, wounded, or missing
- Appomattox Court House National Historical Park (Virginia) – Site of the surrender of Lee’s army
- Arlington National Cemetery (Maryland) – Created on the site of Lee’s home – Contains both Union and Confederate graves
- Battle of Brandy Station and Graffiti House (Virginia) – Site of a major cavalry battle and home where both sides drew images on the walls
- Battle of Cold Harbor Richmond National Battlefield Park (Virginia) – Thousands of Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified Confederate positions
- Battle of Franklin (Tennessee) – Union forces destroy Hood’s army
- Chancellorsville National Battlefield Park (Virginia)
- Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park (Georgia)
- Ford’s Theater (District of Colombia) – Site of Lincoln Assassination.
- Fort Donelson National Battlefield (Kentucky & Tennessee) – Grant rises to fame in battle won by MG C. F. Smith (see Teacher of Civil War Generals)
- Fort Fisher (North Carolina) – Earthen works fort that was the site of two battles – tour the surviving earthworks of the fort
- Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park (South Carolina) – Where the Civil War War started
- Fredericksburg National Military Park (Virginia) – MG Ambrose Burnside’s forces conducted futile frontal attacks on Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia entrenched defenders – Union casualties more than twice as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates
- Hampton Roads Naval Museum (Virginia) – Site of Monitor vs. Merrimac naval battle.
- Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park (West Virginia) – John Brown’s failed attempt to incite a slave revolt
- CSS Hunley (South Carolina) – Home of ill-fated Confederate submarine
- Gettysburg National Military Park (Pennsylvania) – The three-day battle is considered a turning point in the Civil War and a failed attempt to bring the battle into the Northern states – Pickett’s charge –
- Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (Georgia) – William Sherman’s Union army fought Joseph E. Johnston’s Confederate army – Part of the Battles for Atlanta
- President Lincoln’s Cottage (District of Colombia) – Lincoln spent his summers here
- Manassas (Bull Run) National Battlefield Park (Virginia)
- Monocacy National Battlefield (Maryland) –
- National Civil War Museum (Pennsylvania) – The National Civil War Museum’s mission is to “serve as a national center to inspire lifelong learning of the American Civil War through the preservation and balanced presentation of the American peoples struggles for survival and healing.” The museum features seventeen galleries that trace the events of the war and the end of slavery.
- New Market Battlefield State Historic Park (Virginia) – A makeshift Confederate army of 4,100 men, which included cadets from the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), defeated Union MG Franz Sigel’s Army of the Shenandoah. This battle was the 14th time VMI cadets fought during the Civil War. Sigel was relieved of his command and replaced by Maj. Gen. David Hunter, who later burned VMI in retaliation for New Market defeat.
- Pea Ridge National Military Park (Arkansas) – Union attacked from the south and Confederacy from the north
- Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site (Kentucky) – Terrain played an important role in this battle
- Petersburg Battlefield National Park (Virginia) – Part of the siege of Richmond
- Richmond National Battlefield Park (Virginia) –
- Shiloh National Military Park (Tennessee & Mississippi) – Grant’s Union forces defeated Beauregard’s Confederates – Confederate Gen. Albert S. Smith killed during attack
- Spotsylvania National Military Park (Virginia)
- Stones River National Battlefield (Tennessee)
- Texas Civil War Museum (Texas) – How Texans participated in the Civil War
- Vicksburg National Military Park (Mississippi & Louisiana) – The park commemorates the Vicksburg Campaign which led to the 47-day siege and eventual surrender of Vicksburg. Union victories at Vicksburg and at Port Hudson, gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.
- Wilderness National Park (Virginia)
- Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield (Missouri) – Union general Nathaniel Lyon attacked a Confederate force near Wilson Creek -first major military engagement in the Civil War west of the Mississippi River
- Winchester/Kernstown Kernstown I Battlefield (Virginia) – Site of Stonewall Jackson’s defeat
- Winchester/Kernstown Kernstown II Battlefield (Virginia)
- The Complete Civil War Guide Book
- Weird Civil War
- Your Travel Guide to Civil War America
- Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields
- Big Book of Civil War Sites
- The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide
Civil War Facts
- Civil War Facts – information on the Civil War to aide your travel experience.