Civil War 150th Anniversary: Places and Events that Shaped Our Nation 150 Years Ago
The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War is an unparalleled time to discover, discuss, and commemorate America's greatest national crisis, and explore its relevance to today’s world. More than 70 national parks across the U.S. preserve sites and stories where this epic struggle took place from 1860 to 1865. Here are some upcoming events and several historic locations to visit year-round.
Civil War 150 Commemorative Events
January 2013 – February 2013
January 19-20, 2013 – The Battle of Arkansas Post Sesquicentennial
What does the first semi-permanent French settlement in the lower Mississippi River Valley, Poste de Arkansea have in common with the Civil War? Throughout its history, the former trading post at the Quapaw village of Osotouy became the site of numerous power struggles between France, Spain and England for dominance of the Mississippi River Valley. It was later strategically important to the Confederates during the Civil War.
Confederate troops constructed Fort Hindman at the Post in 1862, hoping to control the area at the confluence of the Arkansas and White Rivers. However, in January 1863 Union troops destroyed it and gained control.
On Saturday, January 28th the park will host a special memorial ceremony, interpretive programs and an open confederate camp from 9-5 pm. On Sunday the 29th, interpretive programs and the confederate camp will be open from 10-3 pm. Arkansas Post State Park Museum and private reenacting groups will host simultaneous events near the park. Parking will be at select locations in the town of Gillett with free shuttle service. A specific schedule of this event will be available soon. Check the schedule of events for more details.Learn more...
Monthly, January through August 2013 – Bike Tours
Civil War Defenses of Washington, DC
Do you know how vulnerable our nation’s capital was at the start of the Civil War? In 1860 Americans realized that whoever controlled the city could define a nation.
Washington, DC was a significant part of the Union’s strategy. The city was almost completely unprotected with the exception of Fort Washington, 12 miles south of the city along the Potomac River. Its neighbors, Virginia, a Confederate state, and Maryland, a slave-owning state, left Washington in a risky position. To protect the city, the Union army constructed additional fortifications and by 1865, the defenses of Washington included 68 forts, supported by 93 detached batteries for field guns, 20 miles of rifle pits and covered ways, wooden blockhouses at three key points, 32 miles of military roads, several stockaded bridgeheads, and four picket stations. Once the 37-mile circle of fortifications was complete, the formerly defenseless city of 1860 became one of the most heavily fortified cities in the world.
Explore the DC forts and Civil War Defenses around the nation’s capital, starting at Fort Dupont, on foot or by bike. To DIY, download the Civil War Defenses of Washington Hiking and Biking Trail Guide, or join a ranger at Fort Dupont for a guided walking tour each Saturday or a bike tour the last Saturday of each month. Download the Bike Program flyer or call the Fort Hunt Activity center at 202-426-7723 to sign up, to ask questions, or even to borrow a bike (with advance notice).Learn more...
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Abraham Lincoln believed in the idea that everyone in America should have the opportunity to improve his or her economic and social condition. Lincoln’s life was the embodiment of that idea. Many of Lincoln's social and political beliefs were formed while he lived in his home at Eighth and Jackson Streets in Springfield.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the Lincoln Home every year to learn more about the man who fought for the ideals of freedom and democracy. Even during Lincoln's life, when he was an attorney turned president-elect, people came to Springfield to learn more about Lincoln, his family, and his home.
With a visit to Lincoln Home, follow in the footsteps of the father, husband, lawyer, and statesman who led the nation through the turbulent Civil War.Learn more...
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
St. Louis County, Missouri
Ulysses S. Grant is well known as the victorious Civil War general who saved the Union and was also the 18th President of the United States. However, few people know about his rise to fame or his personal life.
Grant first met Julia Dent, his future wife, at White Haven, her family home. Grant opposed his father-in-law’s ownership of slaves at White Haven, but recognized his legal right to do so. In March 1859, Grant acted on his beliefs; purchasing William Jones in order to “manumit, emancipate and set free said William from slavery forever.” Today, White Haven, now Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, commemorates their lives against the turbulent backdrop of the 19th century.
When the Civil War began in April 1861, Ulysses felt it was his duty to re-enter the military. He soon rose to fame following the battles at Forts Henry and Donelson. Grant soon acquired the nickname "Unconditional Surrender” since those were the terms he gave to the Confederate forces at Donelson. Other battles, especially Vicksburg, brought Grant to the attention of President Abraham Lincoln, who named him general of all Union armies in March 1864.Learn more...
Stones River National Battlefield
The Battle of Stones River began on the last day of 1862 and was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Civil War. The battle produced important military and political gains for the Union, and forever changed the people who lived and fought there.
As 1862 drew to a close, President Abraham Lincoln was desperate for a military victory. His armies were stalled, and the terrible defeat at Fredericksburg spread a pall of defeat across the country. The nation needed a victory to bolster morale and support the Emancipation Proclamation when it went into effect on January 1, 1863.
On December 26, 1862, the Union Army of the Cumberland left Nashville to meet the Confederates in Murfreesboro where they were camped, protecting the rich farms of Middle Tennessee that were feeding their men. This was the beginning of the Stones River Campaign.Learn more...
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad refers to the efforts – sometimes spontaneous, sometimes highly organized – to assist persons held in bondage in North America to escape from slavery. Historic places along the Underground Railroad are a testament to African American capabilities. The network provided an opportunity for sympathetic white Americans to play a role in resisting slavery, and brought together, however uneasily at times, men and women of both races to begin to set aside assumptions and try to work together on issues of mutual concern.Learn more...