U.S. Civil War Sites

What are the most important U.S. Civil War Sites?

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From the site of the first shot being fired at Fort Sumter to Appomattox County Court where Lee surrendered, there are few more powerful ways to learn about the American Civil War than through the places where it unfolded. There are many fascinating Civil War battlefields, monuments and museums to explore, many of them under the remit of the National Parks Service. A list of some of the prominent sites and monuments of the American Civil War can be found below. Click on the title of each for further information. If you're keen to visit these locations then this list of US Civil War sites will allow you to find out more information as well as the history behind each location.

1. Fort Sumter

Originally built to defend the coast against the British, Fort Sumter in South Carolina became the site of the ignition of the American Civil War. It was here that, on 12 April 1861, the Confederates fired upon the Union-held fort, signalling the start of the war. Following 34 hours of bombardment, the Union surrendered. They would not recapture it for a further four years. 

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2. Gettysburg Battlefield

Gettysburg was just a small town until the summer of 1863, when it became the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the war between General Robert E. Lee and his Confederate Army and General George Meade’s Union Army of the Potomac. The Battle of Gettysburg raged from 1 to 3 July 1863, resulting in over 51,000 casualties and victory for Meade and the Unionists. It marked a significant turning point in the war, followed twenty one months later by Lee’s surrender. Today, Gettysburg National Military Park is brimming with approximately 1,328 monuments, markers and memorials relating to the American Civil War.

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3. Appomattox County Court

It was in Appomattox, a village in Virginia, that General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on 9 April 1865, marking the end of the American Civil War. The meeting took place at the home of Wilmer and Virginia McLean and lasted approximately an hour and a half. Appomattox County Court National Park now offers visitors a myriad of experiences and exhibits relating to the Confederate surrender. You can visit the Mclean House where the surrender took place as well as the Appomattox County Court Visitors Centre, which houses a number of exhibits relating to the event.

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4. Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is both a military burial site and an iconic monument to fallen soldiers. Initially, the site of Arlington Cemetery began as a house – Arlington House – built in memory of President George Washington. The house, which still stands today, then became the property of Mary and Robert E. Lee. After the Union crossed the Potomac River and took the land around Washington, Arlington House became a Union army base. It's use as a burial site started unofficially, but by the end of the conflict it had been declared a national cemetery. By the end of the war, Arlington housed the graves of over 5,000 soldiers. 

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5. Shiloh Battlefield

Shiloh Battlefield was the site of a Union victory in April 1862. Known as the Battle of Shiloh and also as the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing, this clash saw the Confederates, led by General Albert Sidney Johnston mount an initially successful surprise attack on the Union army of Major General Ulysses S. Grant, only to be defeated the next day. Johnston was killed during the battle. The Battle of Shiloh, which raged from 6 to 7 April 1862, was an attempt by both sides to secure strategic crossroads in the area, resulting in a total of 23,746 casualties. Today, Shiloh Battlefield is part of the National Parks network and offers visitors a range of tours and exhibits to explore the area’s history.

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6. Ford Theatre

On 14 April 1865, five days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee, it was in Ford Theatre that well-known actor John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in an attempt to revive the Confederate cause. Lincoln, who had led the Union through the war, was the first US president to be assassinated. 

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7. Chickamauga Battlefield

In the fall of 1863, General William S. Rosecrans' Union army fought General Braxton Bragg's Confederates for control of Chattanooga, a key rail centre and what was considered the gateway to the South. Nearby Chickamauga became the scene of the first battle for Chattanooga and in which the Confederates emerged victorious. In fact, this was the last major victory for the South in the Civil War. Chickamauga Battlefield is filled with historical tablets and monuments related to the American Civil War.

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8. Richmond National Battlefield Park

Richmond National Battlefield Park in Virginia is a collection of several historic battlefields, representing some of the fiercest fighting in the American Civil War, including the Seven Days’ Battles. Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy, meaning that, between 1861 and 1865 Richmond and its surroundings were at the centre of a bloody tug of war between the Union and Confederate armies. Richmond National Battlefield Park spans 1900 acres of Civil War sites, including famous battle sites such as Cold Harbor, Drewry’s Bluff and Gaines Mill, as well as the Chimborazo Medical Museum, which commemorates the work done at Chimborazo Hospital.  This was one of the largest hospitals of its time, treating over 76,000 Confederates during the war.

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9. Lookout Mountain Battlefield

Lookout Mountain Battlefield is the site where General Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army to victory over the Confederate forces of General Braxton Bragg in what some know as the “Battle in the Clouds”. This battle formed part of the campaign to control nearby Chattanooga, considered to be the gateway to the South. The Lookout Mountain Battle followed the Battle of Chickamauga, which the Confederates had won and this latest victory was essential to secure Union control of the South. The site forms part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which is brimming with monuments as well historical trails and markers.

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10. Antietam Battlefield

Antietam Battlefield was where, on 17 September 1862, General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia met Major General George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac in what became the most brutal battle of the American Civil War. In fact, the Battle of Antietam remains the USA’s bloodiest single day of battle to date. Part of the Maryland Campaign and the Confederate Army’s first incursion into the North, the Battle at Antietam raged for twelve hours and ended with a Confederate withdrawal, though only after a long, inconclusive, mutually destructive day's fighting. The total cost to both sides was estimated to be upwards of 23,000 casualties. Although not a conclusive victory for the Union, it did provide enough political cover to allow President Lincoln to move forward with his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Antietam Battlefield National Park commemorates this battle and is a goldmine of information about the War. 

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Full list of Sites, Museums and Landmarks of the American Civil War

As well as the entries above, we've added further entries to the list below and you can find out more information by clicking the individual entries.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island in San Francisco was a military base turned federal prison, which housed many of the US’s most notorious criminals.

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Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison in Georgia is a National Historic Site dedicated to all American prisoners of war.

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Averasboro Battlefield

The Battle of Averasborough was part of the Carolinas Campaign during the American Civil War.

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Brice's Crossroads Battlefield

Brice's Crossroads Battlefield was the site of a Confederate victory on 10 June 1864.

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Chancellorsville Battlefield

Chancellorsville Battlefield was the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s “greatest victory” of the American Civil War.

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Cold Harbor

Cold Harbor was the site of one of General Robert E. Lee’s final victories in the American Civil War.

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Ellwood Plantation

The Ellwood Plantation is the site of General Stonewall Jackson’s arm which was buried there after he was wounded in the Battle of Chancellorsville.

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Fort Clinch

Fort Clinch in Florida is a nineteenth century Third System fort.

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Fort Donelson Battlefield

Fort Donelson Battlefield was the scene of a major Union victory in the American Civil War.

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Fort Gaines

Fort Gaines was a fortification used in the American Civil War.

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Fort Hamilton

Fort Hamilton is a Third System Fort, a US military base and home to the Harbor Defense Museum.

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Fort Macon

Fort Macon is a nineteenth century fort which was captured by the Union in 1862 during the American Civil War.

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Fort McHenry

Fort McHenry was a 19th century defence and the site of a Civil War prison.

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Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens was one of only four Southern forts which evaded capture by the Confederates.

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Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski is a nineteenth century fortification and the site of an important military test during the American Civil War.

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Fort Raleigh

Fort Raleigh in North Carolina was the site of the famous English 'lost colony' of Roanoke.

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Fort Taylor

Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida is a nineteenth century Third System fortification.

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Fort Warren

Fort Warren on George’s Island in Boston was a fortification built during the American Civil War.

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Fortress Rosecrans

Fortress Rosecrans was built by Unionist solders in 1863 following the Battle of Stones River.

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Fredericksburg Battlefield

Fredericksburg Battlefield is an important site where the Confederates defeated the Unionists in a fierce battle in 1862.

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General Grant National Memorial

The General Grant National Memorial in New York is the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant.

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Historic Jamestowne

Historic Jamestowne was the location of the first successful English colony in America in 1607.

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Jackson Shrine

Guinea Station, the lone white building where General Thomas ’Stonewall’ Jackson died.

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Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is an iconic monument to the 16th President of the United States of America.

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Lincoln Tomb

Lincoln Tomb is the burial place of President Abraham Lincoln.

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Museum of the Confederacy

The Museum of the Confederacy chronicles the history of the seceded states under the Confederate government.

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Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez in Mississippi contains a number of historic sites and places of note including a native Indian village and historic houses and churches.

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National Museum of the Civil War Soldier

The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier explores the experiences of those who fought in the conflict.

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Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park

Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park was the site of a Confederate win in 1864.

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Petersen House

Petersen House was the site where President Abraham Lincoln died in 1865 after being shot across the street at Ford Theatre.

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Port Hudson

Port Hudson was the site of a lengthy siege during the American Civil War.

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Stones River Battlefield

Stones River Battlefield was the site of a fierce clash during the American Civil War which proved vital for the Union.

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Stonewall Jackson Grave

Grave of Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson.

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum explores the life of the 16th US president and his legacy, all in the context of wider US history.

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The Charleston Museum

The Charleston Museum chronicles the history of Charleston and the coastal region of South Carolina.

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The Texas Civil War Museum

The Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth holds an array of exhibits relating to the American Civil War.

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The US Capitol

The US Capitol is the seat of the United States Congress and an iconic building in its own right.

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Vicksburg Battlefield

Vicksburg Battlefield in Mississippi was the site of a pivotal Union victory during the American Civil War.

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Wilson’s Creek Battlefield

Wilson’s Creek Battlefield was the site of a major battle which defined Missouri’s role in the American Civil War.

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Yorktown Battlefield

Yorktown Battlefield is the site of the final major battle of the American Revolution.

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Our list of U.S. Civil War sites may not be complete. If you know of other places you feel should be added please get in touch via our contact page.