Your Holiday Essentials
Our 14-day tour is set amidst picturesque American countryside which, at this time of year, will be resplendent in early autumn colours: the scenic Shenandoah Valley, 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 eastern 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 historian, Fred Hawthorne, but from selected park rangers and visit a wealth of museums, historic buildings and interpretation centres.
This is a Civil War tour like no other: we are based out of full-service hotels (including hot breakfast) where we can enjoy drinks in the bar. Every evening we experience a wealth of restaurants, including several historic taverns, in which we enjoy a wide and 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 expert historian Fred Hawthorne
- All the major and many of the minor Eastern Theater battles
- Including the iconic battlefields of Antietam and Gettysburg
- Full service hotels with bar and other facilities
- Hot buffet breakfasts, three course dinners, drinks
- All entrance fees and tips
"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 Fairfax 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 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 before descending 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 to include Hazel Grove, the Lee-Jackson last bivouac and the Chancellor 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 where Longstreet was wounded. Following in the footsteps of the Union army to Spotsylvania we visit Todd’s Tavern, Laurel Hill, 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 one night.
Day 5 - The Peninsula Campaign
We visit locations associated with the first Battle of the Ironclad Warships USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (Merrimac) and the superbly preserved Fort Monroe National Monument from where McClellan launched his campaign and where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was later imprisoned. At the Mariner’s Museum at Newport News is the USS Monitor Centre where we see how the historic ironclad is being preserved. We will also stop at Yorktown, the Warwick Line, Dam #1, and Williamsburg where we check-in for one night.
Day 6 - Richmond and its Battles
From the Chickahominy swamps we commence our exploration of the Seven Days Battles for Richmond stopping at Beaver Dam Creek, Mechanicsburg, Gaines Mill, the Grapevine Bridge, McClellan’s Trent House headquarters, Savages Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale and finally the climactic slaughter at Malvern Hill as we follow Lee’s crushing blows to destroy McClellan’s army. In the afternoon we drive into Richmond, capital of the Confederacy against which the 1862 campaign focused. We will visit the Confederate “White House” where docents will describe President Jefferson Davis and his large family’s stay in the city. We will drive down past the Virginia State Capitol which served as the Confederate Congress’s home for the duration of the war. We end the day at the magnificent and sparkling new American Civil War Museum (formerly the Museum of the Confederacy) and the National Park Visitor Centre at Historic Tredegar Iron Foundry. Continue to Chester, VA for two nights.
Day 7 - Siege of Petersburg
At City Point we walk out to Grant’s headquarters and the ‘Dictator’ siege mortar, see the eastern front restored fortifications, and visit Fort Stedman, the famous Crater and, time permitting, 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 8 - 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 an overnight stay.
Day 9 - Lexington and the Shenandoah Valley
Drive to Lexington via the Blue Ridge Mountains and the James Valley (both in early 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’. Thence to Winchester for one night.
Day 10 - Winchester and Harpers 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 11 - 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’ Centre 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 12 - 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 exploring 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 13 - Final Thoughts
We visit the Shriver House a museum in the 19th-century home of a Civil War soldier's family, exploring the civilian experience of the war. Thence to the Gettysburg National Cemetery, where we pay our respects on this final stop of our tour. We then depart for Washington and our evening flights.
Day 14 - 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
Your Holiday Essentials
View our latest Eastern Theater tour images here
Take a look at some of the images taken on our most recent tour
Take a look at some independent reviews of this tour by previous participants here