Harpers Ferry is located at the confluence of two great rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah, and three states, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland. Thomas Jefferson described the scene in his Notes on the State of Virginia: “The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea… This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” At Harpers Ferry, you can hike up to Jefferson’s Rock to enjoy the view that Jefferson described. If you’re up for a more strenuous hike, cross the river to Maryland Heights, 1,448 feet above the Potomac, for a breathtaking view of Harpers Ferry and the rivers. Explore Virginius Island along the banks of the Shenandoah River, where mills and factories operated until the Civil War and record floods in 1870 and 1889 reduced the island to ruins. And, of course, stroll the Lower Town Historic District, where George Washington built a federal arsenal, and John Brown launched his ill-fated raid in 1859.
Location Map and Directions: Click Here
Links: Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
The Belle Boyd House in Martinsburg was the girlhood home of Belle Boyd, one of the most famous Confederate spies. She provided valuable military information to General “Stonewall” Jackson during the spring 1862 campaign in the Shenandoah Valley. Her exploits are legend in this region, and in 1992 The Berkeley County Historical Society purchased the home, saved it from destruction and preserved it in her memory. Renovations were completed on the Greek Revival home that was built in 1853 by Belle’s father, Ben Boyd. Today, the premises is the permanent home of The Berkeley County Historical Society and the Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission and two museums. Visitors are welcome to browse The Boyd Mason Civil War Museum collections that focus on local Civil War events and Belle Boyd. The Berkeley County Museum presents a general history of the area, and The Archives Section is available for genealogical research. Belle Boyd’s birthday is celebrated on the third weekend each May with a full schedule of Civil War activities.
The Belle Boyd House is located at 126 East Race Street in Martinsburg. WV.
Fort Popham is located at the mouth of the Kennebec River, near the place where English colonists made their first attempt to establish a settlement in New England in 1607. (The Popham colony, unlike the colony established at Jamestown the same year, did not survive.) Fortifications were erected at the site of Fort Popham to protect the communities along the Kennebec River during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Fort Popham itself is a semi-circular granite fort with thirty-foot walls. It was built in 1861 to protect the maine coast from Confederate raiders. Modifications were made during the late nineteenth century and the fort remained garrison in the Spanish American War and World War I.
Fort Popham State Historic Site is located on Route 209 near Phippsburg, Maine 04562, 15 miles from Bath and two miles away from Popham Beach State Park.
Fort Constitution was one of seven forts that once constituted the defenses of Portsmouth Harbor. The first fortification on the site was an earthwork with four “great guns” erected in 1632. A timber blockhouse was built in 1666. A stronger fort, named Fort William and Mary, was erected later as one of the “castles” established along the Atlantic coastal to protect the colonies of British America. This fort was seized by Patriots at the beginning of the American Revolution. In 1791 the State of New Hampshire gave Fort William and Mary to the United States. The fort was repaired, renamed Fort Constitution, and garrisoned with a company of United States artillery. The fort was used during the War of 1812 and was a training center during the Civil War. The old fort was replaced after the Civil War with a massive, three-tiered granite structure that served as part of the modernized coastal defenses in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Fort Constitution State Historic Site is located on a peninsula at the northeast corner of New Castle Island, overlooking both the Pisquatua River and the Atlantic Ocean.
Fort Constitution Historic Site is located on New Hampshire Route 1B at the U.S. Coast Guard Station, New Castle.
Confederate Memorial Park is the site of Alabama’s only Confederate veterans home, which operated from 1902-1939 to care for elderly veterans, wives of veterans, and the widows of veterans. The park has two cemeteries where more than three hundred residents of the veterans home are buried. A museum houses artifacts from the “Old Soldiers Home,” as well as an extensive collection of uniforms, weapons, equipment and other items associated with the Civil War.
Confederate Memorial Park is located between Birmingham and Montgomery, a few miles off Interstate 65 and Highway 31 at 437 County Road 63, Marbury, Alabama 36051.
The town of Washington was founded in 1824 as a stop on the Southwest Trail used by settlers migrating to the territory of Texas in the Mexican Republic. James Bowie, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett all traveled through Washington on their way to Texas. Local blacksmith James Black is credited with inventing the famous Bowie Knife in Washington. The town later became a major service center for area planters and merchants. From 1863 to 1865 it was the capital of the Confederate state government of Arkansas after Little Rock was occupied by Union forces. Old Washington Historic State Park is a restoration town that includes both historic public and private buildings as well as much of Washington’s nineteenth-century landscape. The park offers tours of the Confederate Capitol, Tavern Inn, Blacksmith Shop, Weapons Museum, and several private residences. There is also a print museum, steam-powered cotton gin, and dining at the historic Williams Tavern Restaurant. The 1874 courthouse serves as the park’s visitor center. The park houses the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives, a resource center for historical and genealogical research.
Location and Directions
Links: Old Washington Historic State Park
Port Hudson was a crucial site in the struggle for control of the Mississippi River during the Civil War. After New Orleans fell to the Federals in late April 1862, the Confederate army needed river batteries below the mouth of the Red River to supplement its fortifications on the river bluffs at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The bluffs near the small town of Port Hudson were the perfect site for the river batteries. Batteries were constructed along the bluffs in 1862, along with a 4 and 1/2 mile line of earthworks to protect the approaches by land. Taking the Port Hudson batteries, of course, soon became a key Union military objective in the West. The Union siege of Port Hudson began on May 23, 1863 with about 30,000 Union troops under the command of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, against 6,800 Confederates under the command of Major General Franklin Gardner. Port Hudson surrendered on July 9, 1863, after 48 days of siege and thousands of casualties. The state historic site at Port Hudson now includes the northern portion of the battlefield and features an elevated boardwalk over the breastworks. The park also has three observation towers, six miles of trails, and a museum.
Location and Directions
Links: Port Hudson State Historic Site
In November 1864, John Wilkes Booth appeared with his brothers Edwin and Junius Brutus Booth in a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Junius, playing the role of Cassius, had these lines: “How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted over / In states unborn and accents yet unknown!” John Wilkes found the stage to play the role, as he thought, of tyrannicide at Ford’s Theater in Washington six months later. Ford’s Theater National Historic Site includes the theater, where Booth shot Lincoln in the presidential box, and Petersen’s Boarding House across the street, where Lincoln died the next morning. Ford’s was closed as a theater from the night of the assassination until 1968. Since then, the theater has been restored and reopened as a venue for live productions.
After the secession of the southern states in late 1860 and early 1861, the federal government retained possession of several forts in the territories of the seceded states. The new president, Abraham Lincoln, considered retaining possession of these forts to be a concrete way to assert continuing federal sovereignty over the states that had declared their secession. The forts also became the issue that led to the actual outbreak of war. Unwilling to tolerate the challenge, forces of the new Confederacy opened fire against Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor on April 12, 1861. After 34 hours of fighting, the Union garrison surrendered the fort. From 1863 to 1865, the Confederates themselves withstood a 22 month siege by Union forces at Fort Sumter. During that siege, most of the fort was reduced to brick rubble. Fort Sumter became a national monument in 1948, and has been reconstructed to its 1861 appearance.
Location Information and Directions
Fort Pulaski guarded the barrier islands off the Georgia coast and the entrance to Savannah harbor at the beginning of the Civil War. In April of 1862, Union troops attacked the fort and successfully employed experimental rifled cannon to breach the fort’s southeast angle and force its surrender. The fall of Fort Pulaski halted export of cotton from Savannah. After the taking of Fort Pulaski, Union Major General David Hunter, an ardent abolitionist, ordered the release of area slaves and recruited many of them into the Union army as the First South Carolina Colored Regiment. The park includes 5,623 acres of scenic marsh and uplands that support a variety of animal life, including white-tailed deer, alligators, and raccoons and migratory birds.
Location Information and Directions
Links: Fort Pulaski National Monument