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Civil War tours: exploring America’s bloodiest conflict

Civil War tours will take you back in time 150 years, to the deepest crisis in America’s history. When rebel gunners launched the Civil War by firing on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, in April 1861, no one could have imagined that the war would rage for four bloody years and result in the deaths of more than 600,000 soldiers from both sides.

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War upon us, interest in the conflict is guaranteed to soar. Already, stories on the anniversary are appearing in the pages of newspapers and magazines, and PBS recently re-aired the 1990 Ken Burns Civil War series that captivated the nation and helped establish Burns as America’s preeminent documentary filmmaker.

Travel and tourism officials are predicting a dramatic surge in Civil War tours and in visits to battlefields and other sites connected to the conflict. Locations from Baltimore to Oklahoma have events scheduled to mark the anniversary, and a number of travel companies have created new Civil War tours. One such company, Tauck, has actually partnered with Ken Burns on a new Civil War tour debuting in September.

For anyone with even a passing interest in history, Civil War tours can provide a moving and memorable vacation. Many of the war’s pivotal places are in the mid-Atlantic region, and travelers can combine several of the sites below to create one or more interesting Civil War tours:

Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is a great place to kick off Civil War tours. Places to visit include Ford’s Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was tragically killed near the war’s conclusion, the Smithsonian’s American History Museum and Arlington National Cemetery, site of Robert E. Lee’s pre-war plantation, Arlington House.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland.
The battle of Antietam saw the single bloodiest day in American history, when 12 hours of fighting there on Sept. 17, 1862, resulted in some 23,000 casualties.

Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania.
Widely considered the turning point of the Civil War, the three-day battle at Gettysburg culminated in Pickett’s Charge, where more than 10,000 Confederate soldiers mounted an unsuccessful assault against the Union lines on July 3, 1863.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, Virginia.
Civil War tours would not be complete without a visit to Appomattox Court House. The village secured its place in American history on April 9, 1865, when Confederate general Robert E. Lee officially surrendered his army to Union general Ulysses S. Grant. Today, the restored village is operated by the National Park Service.

Richmond, Virginia.
The former capital of the Confederacy, Richmond is home to the Museum of the Confederacy and the White House of the Confederacy, which served as Jefferson Davis’ home during his presidency. The nearby Tredegar Iron Works supplied cannons for the South’s war effort and today is home to the American Civil War Center.

All of these places and more are included in the Tauck Civil War tour designed in partnership with Ken Burns. Tauck’s Civil War tours also include exclusive “insider” access to a number of places and experiences associated with the Civil War that aren’t available to the general public. For more information, visit www.tauck.com.

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