Washington, D.C. is steeped in history—especially around its Civil War battlefields. They are beautiful sites to visit and pay tribute to American war heroes. The capital region was critical in the development of the war, not only as home to the federal government but also because of its close proximity to the borders of the north and south. The following battlefields are easy places to plan a day trip and experience the region's Civil War heritage. Plan a visit and explore the visitor center, view an introductory film, take a self-guided tour, or join a park ranger for an informative talk.
Located 70 miles north of Washington, D.C., The Battle of Antietam was the first invasion by the Confederate Army into the North during the Civil War. In just one day, 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. Take a self-guided eight-mile auto tour or hike through the battlefield. Regularly scheduled events are scheduled throughout the year. The new Pry House Field Hospital Museum features exhibits relating to the care of the wounded.
Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park
Prince William County's newest Civil War Battlefield Park opened to the public in October 2007. The 127-acre park features interpretive signs, a pond and nearly three miles of walking and equestrian trails through scenic woods, leading up to 203 mostly unmarked Confederate soldier graves.
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
There are four Civil War battlefields in Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania Counties in Northern, Virginia: Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. Driving tours and walking trails are available through each battlefield. It is suggested to start your day at the Visitor Centers at the Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville Battlefields to gather information, maps, and directions. Guided tours and special events are scheduled seasonally.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point of the Civil War during which 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured over a three-day period. This important historic site—80 miles north of Washington, D.C.—attracts visitors from all over the country to participate in a wide variety of activities including walking and driving tours, campfire programs, living history demonstrations, Junior Ranger programs, and specialized group tours. A new Museum and Visitor Center and Cyclorama Gallery opened in 2008. The historic town offers a wide range of activities beyond the battlefield.
The 5,000-acre park preserves the site of the First and Second Battles of Manassas during the Civil War. The Henry Hill Visitors Center features a 45-minute orientation film and a museum exhibiting civil war era uniforms, weapons, and artifacts. The park offers a variety of activities, scenic vistas, and walking trails. As home to numerous bird species, Manassas National Battlefield Park has recently been named as an important birding site by the National Audobon Society.
Monocacy National Battlefield
The Battle of Monocacy was the last time that the Confederacy invaded the North during the Civil War. This battle is important to the region's history because it saved Washington, D.C. from attack. The Visitor Center features electronic maps, historical artifacts, and interpretive displays of the battle. A variety of programs are offered by rangers and volunteers. There is a five-stop self-guided auto tour and several walking trails.