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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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