Washington D.C. and Vicinity – a Revolutionary War Tour

Many student travel groups I have toured with are visiting the East Coast for the first time. I like to offer these types of groups a view of Early American life that spans many of the Eastern states, with a focus on the Revolutionary War period.
In order to understand the Revolutionary War within the larger scheme of things, I advise teachers coordinating student tour groups to visit Yorktown and Mount Vernon in Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. Boston, Massachusettes is also on the list of destinations for the Revolutionary War Tour, but in the interest of keeping the trip brief and manageable, Boston is usually excluded. History and government teachers may want to offer an overview of Boston and the role it played during the Revolutionary War period prior to the student travel trip.

For student tour groups taking the tour from the West Coast or the Midwest, flying into Norfolk, Virginia, and flying out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania makes a great deal of sense for the Revolutionary War tour because it saves time. Students coming from closer locations may want to consider alternate flying routes to save time and cover the most distance possible. The educational travel professionals at my company schedule the student tour with everyone’s comfort and convenience in mind.


Yorktown Virginia – A Must See on the Student Travel Tour

Yorktown Battlefields are a primary destination for the Revolutionary War tour of the East. In 1781, General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered with 8,300 troops, ending the American Revolution in Yorktown. Yet the story leading up to this surrender, and the battles fought before it took place are engaging and numerous. Student travel groups will want to take the 7-mile or 9 mile driving tours of Yorktown Battlefields to have a fuller understanding of the scope of this final battle and Cornwallis’ surrender.

Yorktown Battlefield Museum
The Yorktown Battlefield Museum details it as the place where Virginia’s colonial government was established in 1691. Because of its strategic location on the York River, one of the main tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, Yorktown was a highly contested Naval post during the Revolutionary War, and so was the appropriate place for the final battle to be fought. Student tour groups will learn a great deal about the culmination of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown and therefore, should not miss this destination.

Teachers may visit http://www.nps.gov/york/forteachers/yorktowneducationalprograms.htm and with enough advance notice, may book special interepretive programs that are in sync with curriculum objectives.


Historic Revolutionary War Sites Near Washington D.C.

Not far from Washington D.C. is one of the most famous estates on American soil. Mount Vernon was George Washington’s Home, and was a working farm as well as an estate home in the Early American style. Both are well preserved. Living history programs including an actress who plays the part of Martha Washington, Our First Lady, and demonstrations of Early American farming techniques are some of the highlights of the Mount Vernon tour. Students can visit the Eighteenth Century house, farm, and gristmill for an authentic glimpse into what it must have been like to live during Washington’s time.

Philadelphia: Important Sites for a Student Tour of Revolutionary War
Since the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence from British Colonial rule occurred in Philadelphia, many would consider it the birthplace of democracy. Thus, Philadelphia is on the Itinerary for the Revolutionary War Tour. There are many prominent sites to enjoy in Philadelphia.

Independence Hall: Visit the place where the signers of the Declaration of Independence sat and had discourse on this historic document before penning their names in old fashioned ink. Independence Hall is a well preserved and maintained site and is well worth the visit.

Liberty Bell: Though it is broken and not in use the Liberty Bell is on display for all to see now at a special location between 5th and 6th on Market Street in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell Center has exhibits and a movie to explain the significance of the Liberty Bell in American History.

Betsy Ross House: Nestled in Old City Philadelphia, not far from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall is Betsy Ross’s historic home. Betsy Ross made the first American flag and is one of the earliest women patriots. Student tour groups will enjoy a short tour of her home and the story of how she made the first American flag.

Christ Church: Located near 2nd Street and above Market, Historic Christ Church dates to 1695 and is an appropriate place to visit for the revolutionary War Tour. Christ Church was one of the first parishes of the Church of England in the new world. The Christ Church Burial Ground includes the tombs of some famous early Americans including Ben Franklin who was interred there. This historic, early American landmark is a site that student groups will not want to miss.

Washington Crossing Park
George Washington led 2,500 troops across the Delaware River on Christmas Day in 1776 from Buck’s County Pennsylvania to Trenton to attack an army of 1,500 and won. This victory came at a low point in the Revolutionary War. Students will want to visit the Pennsylvania side of Washington Crossing to see the museum, and should time permit, cross to the New Jersey side to see the landing area and the road used by the continental army to march to Trenton and attack. The trip to Washington Crossing is a short one hour journey from Philadelphia and well worth it for its historical significance during the Revolutionary period.

There are other historic sites that date back to revolutionary times and are significant. For this tour, I have concentrated on the major high points of the war and the major historic sites. Student travel groups wishing to book a tour with a Revolutionary War theme can email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information.

Civil War Sites of Interest to Student Travel Groups Around Washington D.C.

Significant American Civil War battlefields surround the Washington D.C. area and can complement a student travel tour with a curriculum based on the Civil War era, or one that includes an overview of this time in our nation’s history. Simply hearing about battle strategies and the numbers of wounded and deceased is not enough. Students gain a fuller understanding of the scope of the American Civil War when they visit the actual battlefields and hear stories about the soldiers and their struggles.

During the Civil War era, capturing Washington D.C. was the goal of the Confederate Army. For this reason, many famous Civil War battlefields are between 45 – 85 miles outside of Washington D.C., just a short distance by bus with any student travel group staying in the Washington D.C. metro area.

Following are my recommendations of Civil War battlefields within a short driving distance to Washington D.C. that are well worth the effort for student tours.

Gettysburg National Battlefield, Pennsylvania: Student Tours Learn About Civil War
As owner of Educational Travel Consultants for the past 24 years, I have taken many student tours based in Washington D.C. to Gettysburg National Military Park and the surrounding area. Our student tour of the battlefield includes a tour guide with a special knowledge of Gettysburg and the Civil War era. The tour may take two to three hours. Along with The Electric Map, student tour groups visit the National Park Visitor Center to have a better understanding of the Gettysburg National Battlefield. If the travel tour schedule allows for an overnight stay, students may dine at the historic Dobbin House and enjoy a living history presentation by Abe Lincoln or Robert E. Lee. The Ghost Tour of Gettysburg is also a popular entertainment for student travel groups in the evening at Gettysburg.

Antietam National Battlefield, Maryland: Active Student Learning About Civil War
Student tours who visit the Antietam Battlefield just an hour outside of Washington D.C. in Maryland, will find this historic site intriguing. On September 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee assembled Confederate forces for the first attack on the Union Army. This bloody battle was recorded in historic photographs by Alexander Gardner, and in a series of paintings by James Hope, a member of the Union Infantry who sketched during battle and later painted the battle scenes. These visual images provide a realistic glimpse into the intensity of the battle at Antietam, named after the creek and the bridge. Student tour groups may take the driving tour, attend interpretive programs, or participate in other educational opportunities.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Student Tour Groups Learn Armory’s History
Harpers Ferry is located in West Virginia and is at the heart of our nation’s history. Washington made it a federal armory and arsenal in 1794. In 1859, John Brown’s famous attempt to overtake the Harpers Ferry armory with the “Provisional Army of the United States” took place.

In the Civil War era, Harpers Ferry was exchanged between Confederate and Union control eight times. Stonewall Jackson trapped Union soldiers there and obtained the surrender of 12,500 troops – thus attaining the largest Federal surrender during the entire Civil War. Student tours will learn a great deal about Civil War history as well as other important moments in the history of Harpers Ferry, on a visit to this historic armory.

Bull Run in Manassas, and Fredericksburg Battlefields
Both within an hour’s drive of the Washington D.C. metro area, Bull Run and Fredericksburg are excellent Civil War sites for student visits. I have written about student travel to these historic battlefields in another article. Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com to read the article on the Government Student Tour of Washington D.C. published in November.

For more information on creating a Civil War tour for students visiting the Washington D.C. area, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

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Government Student Tour of Washington D.C. May Include Historic Sites in Annapolis, Baltimore, Manassas or Fredericksburg.

What better way to understand the evolution of our democratic system of government is there than to visit actual historic sites which describe it in vivid detail? Student travel groups traveling in and around the Washington D.C. area can be given a wider scope on history if the tour group goes just a little bit outside of Washington D.C. into nearby Baltimore and Annapolis Maryland, and Manassas and Fredericksburg, Virginia. These towns offer a precious glimpse into the past, as they thrive in the present.

Here is an overview of some important historic sites in these cities neighboring Washington D.C. of interest to student travel groups on tour.

U.S. Capital and White House
Of course the U.S. Capitol and the White House are two government buildings that should not be missed on a tour of Washington D.C. I have mentioned them in another article in great detail. Visit: http://educationaltravelconsultants.com/blog/?m=200707
for more information.

Annapolis, Maryland, Berth of the U.S. Navy
Annapolis is a city that dates to over 300 years old and was once a thriving mecca and cultural center in colonial times. Only one hour outside the city of Washington D.C., Annapolis is well worth a daylong visit by a student travel group on tour. Designed and built on a grid similar to Baroque cities in Europe, Annapolis is truly modeled on classical architectural and urban planning styles. The radiating streets highlight the significance of buildings in the center.

Named after Queen Ann, the city of Annapolis is rich in history. Because of its strategic location, Annapolis was a colonial seaport and offered berth to European traders as well as entrée to the Chesapeake Bay region and further south to other port cities. Annapolis is also known for horse racing. The gentry of Europe needed to indulge this passion in the new world, and so Annapolis is renowned for breeding thoroughbred champions whose lineage dates to colonial times.

Baltimore Maryland
Fort McHenry is perhaps one of the best-known historic destinations in Baltimore Maryland, and is the place where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while witnessing the Battle of Baltimore there in 1814. Yet Fort McHenry, because of its location on the Baltimore Harbor, would also be a well-defended location during subsequent U.S. Wars including the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Student travel groups maybe tour the highlights of Fort McHenry including a look at the battery, Major Armistead’s quarters, soldiers’ barracks, the place where a British bomb was dropped but not exploded, and more. Teachers may visit http://www.nps.gov/fomc/forteachers/lessonplansandteacherguides.htm for lesson plans and guides for student travel visits to Fort McHenry.

Manassas, Virginia Historic Battlefield
Bull Run is the site of two famous American Civil War battles fought there beginning in the summer of 1861 and culminating in another battle a year later. The Battle of Bull Run tipped the cards in favor of the Confederate army during this part of the war. Student travel groups may tour the 5,000 acre battlefield to learn more about the Battle of Bull Run, just an hour’s drive from Washington D.C. A one-hour self-guided walking tour is available to groups on the Henry Hill Loop Trail, or student groups may select a driving tour, or a park ranger guided hike. Bull Run is an excellent place for students to learn about the Civil War era. Teachers may obtain curriculum materials by visiting: http://www.nps.gov/mana/forteachers/curriculummaterials.htm.

Fredericksburg, Virginia
One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg, was fought there and is lauded as General Robert E. Lee’s finest victory. This was the first of four battles fought there between 1862-64. Three others include: Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania. Student tour groups can see Chatham Manor at the Fredericksburg battlefields, a well restored and preserved Georgian Manor that sits on a hill overlooking the Rappahannock River and historic Fredericksburg. Chatham Manor was at one time a hospital and Union headquarters. Student groups will also want to visit Salem Church and the Stonewall Jackson Shrine at this National Park Service site. Teachers may obtain lesson plans for student travel groups visiting Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial by visiting http://www.nps.gov/frsp/forteachers/lessonplans.htm.

Take a student travel group on a short trip just outside of Washington D.C. to help them understand the big picture of American history.

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