Most readers remember the first battlefield they experienced. Many can also recall the moment they realized that only by walking the ground there could they understand what really happened. Thanks to the Civil War Trust, formerly known as Civil War Preservation Trust, enthusiasts can now plan such trips more easily than ever before.
CWT offers websites for several battlefields, but I invite you to visit its Fredericksburg site, dedicated to one of the war’s rare winter engagements—and the first battlefield I saw. You can read summaries of the battle’s significance by historians Frank O’Reilly and George Rable. A photo tour lets you peer over the stone wall, just as Thomas R.R. Cobb’s Georgians did. You could also print or download battlefield maps, or explore an animated map. Be sure to visit the “Voices from the Storm” page, where John Hennessy shares firsthand accounts. Readers can browse “Behind the Lines,” a collection of articles by Donald Pfanz, NPS staff historian at Fredericksburg. Preservation-minded travelers will especially enjoy Frank O’Reilly’s video lectures on Slaughter Pen Farm, where he argues the “true battle for Fredericksburg” occurred. This terrific site will inspire your first visit to Fredericksburg or remind you why you need to return.
Originally published in the February 2012 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.