The American Civil War: The Classic Eastern Theater Tour
The Classic Civil War Tour
Our 13-day tour is set amidst picturesque American countryside which, at this time of year, will be resplendent in autumn colours: the scenic Shenandoah Valley, the stunning Skyline Drive along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the mighty James River and a wealth of National Parks. We explore historic American towns and cities such as Fredericksburg, Richmond, Lexington, Harper’s Ferry and of course, Gettysburg and visit the major Civil War engagements en-route. We walk over superbly preserved battlefields, often situated within their own national parkland, enjoy inspiring presentations not only from your expert guide, Fred Hawthorne, but from selected park rangers and visit a wealth of museums, historic buildings and interpretation centres. Based out of full-service hotels where we can enjoy an evening drink in the bar, in the evenings we experience a breadth of restaurants, including several historic taverns, in which we enjoy a varied cuisine.
During the American Civil War more Americans lost their lives than during the whole of WW1 and WW2 combined. An estimated 750,000 – some 2% of the population – died of battle wounds or disease. For four years, battles raged across the continent, but rarely was the fighting fiercer than in the Eastern Theater where six of the ten bloodiest battles of the war were fought. Encouraged by early victories, the Confederate forces held off subsequent Federal advances around Richmond until they felt confident enough to take the war into the North, where their advances were checked at Antietam in 1862 and Gettysburg in 1863. After achieving their ‘high water mark’, Southern forces were engaged in a fight against the inevitable which was to finally end at a small court house in Appomattox in April 1865.
- With Civil War Battlefield tour expert Fred Hawthorne
- Beautiful Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley
- The road to the iconic battle of Gettysberg
- Superb parks, museums and East Coast hospitality
"Fred Hawthorne was superb and went the extra mile all of the time - best tour guide we've ever had. We saw and experienced so much thanks to him."
Day 1 - Arrival
Fly London to Washington-Dulles. Check-in to our Manassas hotel for one night. Drinks reception and tour briefing.
Day 2 - The two Battles of Manassas
View the excellent 1st Manassas orientation film and the illuminated battlefield map prior to exploring the battlefield, its monuments and historic buildings such as Stone and Henry Hill House. After lunch we visit 2nd Manassas battlefield including the interpretive centre at Brawner Farm, ‘Deep Cut’ and the ‘Dogan House’. Thence to Fredericksburg where we check-in to our hotel for the next two nights.
Day 3 - Fredericksburg & Chancellorsville
Gain an overview of the battle of Fredericksburg from the lovely Chatham Plantation and enjoy its great views over the town and then descend to the battlefield at Prospect Hill, walk along the ‘sunken road’ and view the original section of the ‘stone wall’ against which waves of Federal troops were thrown. This afternoon we visit the Chancellorsville museum and interpretative centre and walk the battlefield including Hazel Grove, the Lee-Jackson last bivouac and the Clearing.
Day 4 - The Overland Campaign
Receive a brief on the battle of the Wilderness from the ‘Shelter’ and Saunder’s Field with interpretive stops at Widow Tapp Farm and the Brock Road intersection, the Higgerson and Chewning clearings and the spot were Longstreet was wounded. Following in the footsteps of the Union army to Spotsylvania we visit Todd’s Tavern, Laurel Hill, General Sedgewick’s last words, the Mule Shoe Salient, the ‘Bloody Angle’ and the court-house and jail. On our southward journey we see where ‘Stonewall’ Jackson spent his last hours and visit the J.E.B Stuart memorial. We end the day at Cold Harbor with its extensive earthworks including the Confederate entrenchments and the Connecticut heavy artillery line. Check-in to our Richmond-area hotel for three nights.
Day 5 Richmond and its Battles
Starting at the James River Falls from where we gain a classic view of Richmond, we drive along the city’s scenic Monument Avenue to the Civil War museum at the old Tredegar Iron Works and the Richmond National Park Visitor Centre. Thence to the Museum of the Confederacy and its ‘White House’. This afternoon we explore the Seven Days Campaign with visits or drive pasts to Chickahominy Heights, Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines' Mill, Grapevine Bridge, Trent House Headquarters, Savages Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale and Malvern Hill.
Day 6 - Siege of Petersburg
At City Point we view the orientation film in the Visitors’ Center, walk out to Grant’s headquarters and the ‘Dictator’ siege mortar, see the eastern side restored fortifications, visit Fort Stedman, the famous Crater and the Blandford Church with its memorial stained glass windows. Our day ends at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War soldier, one of the finest museums of its kind.
Day 7 - Retreat to Appomattox
At the remote Five Forks Museum we handle some of the wonderful collection of reproduction weaponry and munitions and explore the battlefield. Like Lee, we then travel west to Sailor’s Creek State Park to explore the battlefield, museum and the Hillsman House. This afternoon is spent at Appomattox Museum and battlefield park where we view the surrender movie, explore the village, visit the McLean House and the ‘Surrender Triangle’ where the laying down of arms took place. Continue to Lynchburg, Virginia for our overnight.
Day 8 - Lexington and the Shenandoah Valley
Drive to Lexington via the Blue Ridge Mountains and the James Valley (both in spectacular autumn colours), where we visit the Lee Chapel and family tomb and visit the grounds of the Virginia Military Institute to view the old barracks, the commandants house and cadet chapel and museum. We continue along the magnificent Shenandoah Valley to New Market with its VMI ‘Hall of Valor’ and ‘Field of lost shoes’. Weather permitting, we’ll return to the Blue Ridge Mountains and take the famous ‘Skyline Drive’ and admire the wonderful vistas from selected ‘overlook’ stops - we may even be rewarded with a glorious sunset. Thence to Winchester for one night.
Day 9 - Winchester and Harper’s Ferry
We start at Middletown with an introduction to the battle of Cedar Creek and then return to Winchester to visit Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters which contains many of his personal possessions. This afternoon we visit Harpers Ferry, situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers and explore this historic town, perhaps climbing up to Jefferson Rock. Continue to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and check-in for three nights.
Day 10 - The Maryland Campaign of 1862 and Antietam
At Monocacy we visit the battlefield museum and discuss the lost Special Orders 191 and then drive through the South Mountain passes stopping at Crampton’s Gap and ‘War Correspondent’s Arch’ to Sharpsburg, Maryland. At the Pry House Farm we gain an appreciation of the Battle of Antietam from the Union perspective and at the Visitors’ Center we watch the orientation film. We follow the Union approach to the Sunken Lane: amongst our many stops here will be Dunker Church, Miller’s and Otto’s Cornfield, the Sunken Lane and Burnside’s Bridge.
Day 11 - Gettysburg
The greatest battle of the American Civil War and for many, the single most important event of that war. We devote our last full day to explore this site. We will tour many of the great sites associated with the battle: Oak Hill, Cemetery Hill, Little Round Top, and the famous Bloody Angle. A highlight of all our classic Eastern Civil War tours is the opportunity to walk the route of the climactic attack: Pickett’s Charge. In the afternoon we will visit the brilliantly restored Cyclorama of Gettysburg set within one of the finest military museums in the world. Our farewell dinner will be at a historic Gettysburg Tavern.
Day 12 - Final Thoughts
We visit the David Will’s House where President Abraham Lincoln penned his famous Gettysburg Address, one of the great speeches of the western world, dedicated to the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where we pay our respects in this final stop of our tour. We then depart for Washington and our evening flights.
Day 13 - Arrive London
Recommended Reading List
- Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Penguin history)
- Chancellorsville: The Souls of the Brave
- Emerging Civil War Series
- Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam
- The Civil War Battlefield Guide
- The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide: More Than 500 Sites from Gettysburg to Vicksburg
- The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia June 1864-April 1865
30th September - 12th October 2017 (13 Days)
Return flights from London, 3 and 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, 3-course dinner with drinks each evening, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.
Guide: Fred Hawthorne
Tour price: £4195.00
Single supplement: £495.00
Price without flights: £3595.00
Read our 2015 American Civil War – Eastern Theater tour report here