Skip to comments.Top Civil War Battlefields
Posted on 06/22/2005 9:43:16 PM PDT by quidnunc
Now that it's officially summer, here's my advice to parents who want to continue teaching their kids during the next two months and learn something themselves: visit Civil War battlefields. I probably overdid it with my own children, visiting about 35 in all, but here are my top five:
1. Gettysburg (July 1863)
Much as I'd like to make a surprise choice, there's no avoiding Gettysburg's primacy and sadness, with over 50,000 soldiers becoming casualties over three days.
Driving and walking this Pennsylvania battlefield explains much: the big rocks of Devil's Den were indeed devilish, and the awesome difficulty of "Pickett's Charge" across a vast expanse, sloping slightly uphill makes it seem that Robert E. Lee's hope that day was for God to intervene. (That's what Michael Shaara suggested in his fine novel, "The Killer Angels"; it's well worth reading before a Gettysburg visit.)
2. Antietam (September 1862)
The 30-acre Maryland cornfield through which soldiers charged and countercharged is still a cornfield; the farm road worn down by erosion and called Sunken Road until it gained a new name at the battle, Bloody Lane, is also a good place to meditate on 23,000 casualties incurred in one day.
(Excerpt) Read more at townhall.com ...
Was it really a civil war, I thought the south was just trying to Secede and not try to overthrow Washington DC?
anyway, good article, been to Fredericksburg and to Gettysburg a few times http://www.yaac-bsa.org/activities/gettysburg/gettysburg.htm
I've always wanted to visit Antietam.
Too many of these fields are being nibbled away by commercial developments at an alarming rate. Unless more effort is made to preserve them our progeny will be totally dependent on other people's interpretations (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.).
Antietam is well worth seeing, and I hope you make it there sometime.
All of the battlefields mentioned in the article are worth going to, but some of the more out of the way sites left the deepest impression on me. The half dozen battlefields around the time of the Seven Days Before Richmond campaign are truly haunting, not only the large ones, like Malvern Hill, but especially the smaller ones like Gain's Mill and Bever Dam Creek.
Something you might enjoy!
Visited Antietam just last week. Very beautiful, peaceful, and isolated. The Bloody Lane. Burnside Bridge. Very difficult to imagine the horrors of 140-some years ago there. Unlike Gettysburg where, if you've seen the movie, you can see it all in your mind. Walked that mile in the footsteps of Pickett's charge. Once again, very difficult to recreate in my mind the courage that would have been required to step out across that field in 1863 under cannon fire. Instead, my little daughter picked flowers along the way. We have so little idea these days how much all we have cost our fathers and grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers.
35 is "probably?"
That sounds more like borderline child abuse.
Gettysburg is haunted.
The other thing about Antietam. A mile or so away is Sharpsburg, where it seems the whole downtown Main Street has been preserved...all the Civil War era buildings still standing and still in use.
His list (hit the source link for his reasoning):
President Eisenhower's granddaughter, who grew up on the family farm at Gettysburg, told my wife and me the same thing...that strange things happen there.
You can't say that on this forum! If you do, you'll be called an environmentalist whacko, a green Nazi, anti-business, anti-free enterprise, anti-property rights. Speaking as a right winger who works for historic preservation on a regular basis, I've been told that none of our historic lands need to be protected from sprawl, and that trying to stop them from being destroyed for the sake of a new Jiffy-Lube makes me a liberal.
Antietam is deeply moving. Especially on an early-fall day. The most amazing and moving sight is the annual Illumination, in which volunteers light a candle for each of the soldiers killed at Sharpsburg, and set it out on the field. You don't realize what a horror it was until you see those candles in their thousands, spreading out across the hillsides, each one the symbol of a single flickering soul.
They're all haunted. The rangers do quite well at chasing ghost-hunters away, though.
When my kids were younger, (13 & 10) we went to Gettysburg, after a day touring the battlefield, followed by dinner we drove out to the battlefield.
We approached the Devil's den, coming from the Peach Orchard direction. When we got to the Den, we parked, turned off the engine and stood outside and just contemplated the situation.
It was dark, forboding and a definite feeling of gloom was in the air. Lights flickered here and there, the wind did not sound right as the leaves on trees shook in a brief gust.
It took about five minutes for the kids to get creeped out and we were right behind them.
Eerie was more like it.
I assume this is held on Sept. 17th?
I give speeches while dressed as a CS soldier on the Vicksburg battlefield. I often wonder how many ghost sitings I am responsible for while I am wandering around.
I am disappointed Vicksburg is NOT on the list. I'll be over to see you after the 4th. I have a portrait to show Terry.
You should check out Vicksburg sometime. The fortifications were so daunting that when seeing them for the first time, some Union soldiers began crying. They assaulted the fortress on May 19 and 22, 1863, but could not remove the dead and wounded from the battlefield until May 25, when Pemberton implored Grant to accept a burial truce. The best time to visit the park is in winter after all of the leaves have falled, for only then can you gain an appreciation for the formidable terrain.
I look forward to it. Terry's a great guy, a real professional.
A few years ago I came back quite late from a local living-history event I'd taken part in. I was the house when, at about 1 a.m., I remembered that I hadn't picked up the mail. Still in my cream-colored silk gown, hoopskirt, and dancing slippers, I went out the front door and walked quietly down the path to my mailbox.
Just as I stepped out from beneath the trees that shaded the path, two teenagers came walking down the street. It was a neighbor boy and a girlfriend of his.
The boy saw me silently drifting out from between the trees and screamed, "OH SHIT OH SHIT OH SHIT!" He turned and ran wildly back into his house, slamming the front door behind him. The girlfriend followed him, not as fast, and pounded on the front door, calling plaintively, "Sammy! Sammy, let me in!" He wouldn't open up, though.
Hah. I bet he had a great time at school the next week when his girlfriend told all her friends what a chicken he was.
It was only later I learned that when I wear that white gown, with my dark-blonde hair and tanned face you can only see the white dress in the darkness. It must have looked to that kid as if he was seeing a headless ghost-woman.
I find that this outfit works GREAT at Gettysburg on summer nights. Gives the tourists something to talk about when they go back to Iowa.
I haven't been to any sites on this list, but I do have to say that I recommend the Battle of Franklin in Franklin, Tennessee. Some historians say that Franklin had the single bloodiest hour of the Civil War and the whole war should have ended after that rather than drag on another 5 months.
Of particular interest is the story of Tod Carter who was a Confederate officer due for 2 weeks leave. The house where he was born and his family still lived was in the middle of the battlefield, being used as Union headquarters. Tod Carter was able to see his house from the top of the hill from which the Confederate Army charged. The battle began late in the afternoon and was over a few hours later.
The next morning Tod Carter's father and sister found him laying 175 yards from the house, still alive. and brought him back home. Two days later he died in the same room where he was born 20 some odd years before.
My speaking area is next to a large bushy tree. Visitors on the driving tour cannot see me until they get past the tree, which is when they slam on the breaks and do a double take. And I would never ever lead them to believe I was a ghost by staring blankly off into the distance and stepping back behind the tree after they spot me. lol
I grew up on the battlefield of the Battle of Nashville. Almost the entirety of it has been suburban development for more than 75 years. The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society has done a good job making sense of the remaining earthworks however, and Fort Negley, the big union fort guarding the city was recently restored. (No fighting took place there, since after Franklin the Army of Tennessee didn't have enough strength even to launch the planned assault on the city itself. (My dad found a union bayonet in our yard while he was mowing the lawn once.)
Somebody found a cannon ball with in about 1975. It's very picked over.
Money is not God and those who have more of it than others aren't holy or even right just by having more of it than we do. I'm sick of how these irresponsible jerks constantly try to justify their atrocities for the sake of short-term profits at the expense of the irreplaceable. Keep up the good fight and thank you for trying to preserve our heritage.
Besides a trip to the top of Lookout Mountain (take the Incline Railway for a relaxed, enjoyable ride, and virtually everything that's accesible is within walking distance at the top), drive the route of the main Confederate line beseiging the Union army after Chickamauga along the crest of Missionary Ridge. Several of the houses along the ridge still have cannon in the front yards denoting locations of Confederate Batteries. I always thought it would be neat living in one of these houses, patting Ol' Nap on the muzzle every morning as I left for work.
The National Cemetery, in the Orchard Knob area, was the site of Grant's HQ during the assault on Missionary Ridge, which produced a Medal of Honor for an 18 year old Wisconsin color bearer named Arthur MacArthur. Among the graves there are those of seven of Andrews' Raiders, participants in the so-called "Great Locomotive Chase", who were hanged for espionage and were among the very first recipients of the Medal Of Honor. You can very easily burn up a 2 or 3-day weekend in the Chickamauga-Chattanooga area.
Correct. He ordered two assaults before deciding to lay siege to the town.
A Civil War is "a war between factions or regions of the same country." That pretty much described what was going on in the US between 1861 and 1865. "South" and "secede" and "overthrow" are tricky words in your sentence. Davis's Deep South Confederacy of seven states wanted to secede, but it also wanted the four states of the Upper South. When it got them it wanted the three or four Border States as well, and possibly territories in the West. If it got them, maybe something else would have caught their eye next. The Confederacy didn't want Vermont or Connecticut or Massachusetts or Maine, but just what they did want wasn't so clear and well-defined -- certainly not to people at the time.
This guy is clueless.
I experienced Civil War battlefields the opposite way from how he did. My parents didn't drag me to them. I dragged THEM to them.
What I found was that no 150-year-old field tells the story of that era. The truth of what happened can only be found in the writings of those who lived at that time.
In the 8th grade I created a history project by taking moody slides of the battlefield, interspersing them with photos of living and dead young soldiers and setting it to music.
The song was the heart-rending "Home" by Mac Davis.
Halfway through the 4 minute presentation, the teacher made me shut it down.
Too haunting and emotional for 13 year olds.
Yep. The South was fighting for states rights and today we are still in that battle.
I have visited a number of Civil War sites. The most moving I have visited is Shiloh, which is probably the most complete and undisturbed of all the sites. It is huge and has an enormous number of cannons throughout the park..
My great-grandfather was a young Private in an Indiana artillery battery, and fought in the battle to take the mountain. I visited the site a year ago, and tried to imagine what it would have been like for him during the attack. The personal connection to the location adds a new dimension to the experience.
I saw them too.
Agreed. I have visited the field twice. The first time was without incident. The second time was July 3.
It was sunny and about 90 degrees outside but when we got to the Wheatfield and Devil's Den, for some reason, it got freezing cold. Other people we talked to at the visitor center believed something was a bit "off" that day as well.
Lookout Mountain is haunted, too.
I can't recall any threads like that, but I'll take your word for it. I will say that I engaged a hysterical woman from the Gettysburg area in a debate about the Battlefield restoration there. She was a borderline "greenie" that was AGAINST the restoration of the Battlefield because it involved logging certain tracts to restore the tree line to its "1863 look". I'm generally in favor of the Park Service's efforts in this regard, though I must say that I miss the observation tower.
Wouldn't doubt that at all. I also would not want to hang out around the Sunken Road at Antietam during the night.
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