The Civil War was a defining event in America’s history—and it still shapes the US today. A Civil War history tour is one way to remember this historic event that shook America to its core. You can take a guided tour or do your own tour to explore the historic sites of the American Civil War.
Option 1: Guided Tour
There are many different types of guided tours that you can take. The Smithsonian does a tour from Antietam to Gettysburg that starts and ends in Washington, D.C. This five-day tour teaches you about the history of how the war started, recounts the bloodiest day in America’s history (the battle of Sharpsburg near Antietam), and allows you to walk the sites where these battles were fought. This tour covers food and lodging as well, leaving you to enjoy the walk through history.
Another tour is offered by Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. This tour covers eight days (day nine is the departure day) and covers not only Antietam and Gettysburg, but also Manassas, Harpers Ferry, Fredericksburg-Richmond, Petersburg, and Appomattox. This tour also includes a visit to the remarkable National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, heralded as one of the best US museums on the Civil War. This museum shows an exhibit called “Duty Called Me Here” where you get to interact with the men who served in the war through video screens, life-sized dioramas, and over 1000 objects from the Civil War era.
Option 2: Road trip
If guided tours aren’t your style, you can always build your own Civil War history tour by selecting spots along the way to see. There are several national battlefields to visit, including Gettysburg, Antietam, and Manassas. You can also visit Fort Sumter (though you’ll have to take a ferry to get there), which is where the war started, and the Appomattox Courthouse, where the war ended. Both stops are monumental to your history tour. In addition to battle sites, there are many Civil War museums to add to your itinerary, such as the aforementioned National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, Virginia. There are also many amazing places to stay along your way, including the Twelve Oaks Bed and Breakfast in Covington, Georgia, which is one of the best pieces of antebellum architecture in the South.
Either option is a valid way to go and tour the sites of the Civil War. With planning your own road trip, you have more freedom, but it will require you to do more legwork upfront. Purchasing a tour may be expensive, but it relieves a lot of the stress of planning things out because it will already be done for you. Whichever you choose, there is definitely something for everyone.