This year marks beginning of the 150th anniversary celebration of the American Civil War. Many communities throughout the country have planned an exciting array of events and programs. The following nationally significant sites are just a few of the places you can visit to learn more about the Civil War.
Mount Pleasant, SC
It all began here. The first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Since it is located on an island, Fort Sumter is only accessible by boat. You can take a boat tour and view it only from the water, or you can actually stop on the island and tour the National Park Service site. You can also visit the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square in Charleston to learn more.
The National Park Service recently opened a brand new state-of-the-art Visitor’s Center in Gettysburg featuring exhibitions about the battle and the war. You have several options to tour the battlefield itself. You can hire a “step-on guide” to ride in your vehicle, purchase a ticket for a guided tour bus, buy an audio tour to play in your car, or tour alone. Many people say they can “feel” what happened there. Visit and see for yourself!
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
To help understand the institution of slavery and the struggles of 19th century African Americans, plan a visit to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. As a free state along the northern shore of the Ohio River, Ohio was a major route on the Underground Railroad. Escaping slaves could make their way through Ohio to Lake Erie, where Canada’s shores beckoned them. The museum includes an authentic slave pen, interactive exhibits for families, and The Hall of Everyday Freedom Heroes.
When you visit Ford’s Theatre, if you stare into the darkness long enough, it is almost as if you can see President Lincoln sitting in his presidential box, enjoying the show. Today the theatre continues to offer plays that celebrate our rich cultural heritage, in addition to a wide variety of programming and events about Lincoln and the Civil War era.
For more information on special 150th programming, please visit the websites of each of the above organizations.