Civil War battlefields are among the most popular tourist destinations in America. The location of fierce and devastating conflict, today the battlefields of the Civil War are places of reflection and education, where both locals and visitors alike can gather to consider a struggle which tore apart a nation and yet helped forge modern America.
For those seeking to explore the sites where this costly war was played out, this list of major Civil War battlefields can provide a good way to start your journey. This article covers a selection of major set-piece battles of the American Civil War, and includes some of the most interesting Civil War battlefields to visit today. It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list and wouldn’t claim to be, but hopefully for those seeking to visit important Civil War battlefields it will give you a good list from which to start exploring.
You can also view a more general list of Civil War sites - covering important memorials, fortifications, cemeteries and museums.
Scene of the single bloodiest day of fighting in American history, Antietam Battlefield was the culmination of the Maryland campaign and ended General Lee's invasion of Maryland.
The Battle of Averasborough, which took place on the 16th of March 1865, was part of the Carolinas Campaign during the American Civil War.
Brice’s Crossroads Battlefield was the site of a Confederate victory on 10th of June 1864. Despite being outnumbered, the Confederates were victorious, though this victory brought few real gains.
Chancellorsville Battlefield was the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s “greatest victory” in 1863 during the American Civil War, though the huge numbers of casualties leant it something of a Pyrric nature.
Site of the a major Confederate victory in the American Civil War, the battlefield of Chickamauga is now a 5,500 acre historic park with various monuments and information centres dedicated to the battle.
Cold Harbor was the site of one of General Robert E. Lee’s final victories in the American Civil War. Fought between 31 May and 12 June 1864, the Union army suffered over 12,000 casualties. The battlefield now forms part of Richmond National Battlefield Park.
Fort Donelson Battlefield was the scene of a fierce and pivotal battle and major Union victory, fought from 11 to 16 February 1862.
Located near the heart of the Confederate capital in Richmond, Fredericksburg Battlefield is an important site of the American Civil War, where the Confederates defeated the Unionists in a fierce battle in December 1862.
Probably the most famous of all Civil War battlefields, Gettysburg saw one of the fiercest and most important battles in the American Civil War, resulting in over 51,000 casualties. It was later the setting for Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.
Scene of a pivotal battle in the Chattanooga campaign in the American Civil War, Lookout Mountain Battlefield today forms part of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.
Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park was the site of an US Civil War battle on 20 February 1864 won by the Confederates. Today the battlefield contains memorials and an Interpretive Centre with exhibits and information relating to the battle.
Among the most important battlefields of the Civil War, Richmond National Battlefield Park in Virginia was a focal point of the war and includes several historic battlefields where a number of fierce clashes took place.
Shiloh Battlefield was the site of the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing which took place in April 1862 and saw almost 24,000 casualties.
Stones River Battlefield was the site of a fierce clash during the American Civil War which proved vital for the Union.
Vicksburg Battlefield in Mississippi was the site of a pivotal Union victory during the US Civil War.