The best of US battle sites
Monday, July 23, 2018
I was never big on history classes in school, but after traveling and seeing historical locations in person, I feel more connected. Each place I visit means I learn and understand a bit more.
A particular part of history is our wars. Battle sites and museums can be found in many states, especially in the East.
The Revolutionary War changed American life. This struggle for freedom was important to all of us. The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements. This is where the British arrival was signaled from the Old North Church in Boston and when Paul Revere rode to warn the militia.
You can see Old North Church on the Freedom Trail in Boston. The whole trail has some pretty exciting spots to experience, including Paul Revere’s gravestone in Granary Burying Ground and the Paul Revere House.
The Lexington and Concord battlefield is at the Minute Man National Historical Park and is 13 miles from Freedom Trail. This is where the “shot heard round the world” occurred.
Two years later was the Saratoga campaign. This included a battle in Bennington in Vermont. The Patriots won this battle. The monument is terrific.
Take the trip to the top, and look for the kettle and the story that goes along with it. The Saratoga National Historical Park is 35 miles away.
Battlefield at the Ninety Six National Historic Site
The two battles here resulted in the British Army surrendering and proving to the world that the American cause could be taken seriously.
For the fun of it, visit the Ninety Six National Historic Site in South Carolina. While it is not a super-popular park (it ranked 233 for park visits in 2017), two different battles were fought here.
I thought the park was excellent, with both the museum exhibits and the paths among the battle sites.
Gettysburg National Military Park
The Civil War was important to us in a different way. The struggle was to abolish slavery and to define state rights. Many battlefields and museums are located in the South.
The biggest battle, however, is located in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where there were approximately 50,000 casualties. The Gettysburg National Military Park includes museums, monuments, cemeteries, drives, and walks to important sites of the battle.
Illinois State Memorial in the Vicksburg National Military Park
The Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi is also an immense park that is well worth a visit. Union forces laid siege to this town for 47 days before Confederates surrendered the town.
There are over 1,400 monuments throughout the area. Be sure to see USS Cairo, a Union ironclad gunboat which was sunk by a Confederate torpedo. This museum is full of artifacts from the wreck.
Fort Necessity National Battlefield in Pennsylvania
Other battles fought in the United States include the French and Indian War that lasted from 1756 to 1763. It began at Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania, where a young George Washington surrendered this battle to the French.
There were battles fought in Texas against Mexico for independence. The most famous was at the Alamo, but the Goliad area includes a mission, Zaragoza Birthplace (who defeated the French in 1862), the Presidio La Bahia, the Fannin Memorial Monument, and the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek that was fought in 1836.
Visit the town of Goliad to see the courthouse with the Hanging Tree and the Market House Museum.
Monument at the site of the Battle of Coleto Creek
The most famous battle within the War of 1812 was the capture and burning of the White House and the Capitol by the British.
Other, more favorable battles to the U.S. were fought in Baltimore, where the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written, and in New Orleans. When visiting New Orleans, take some time off from the French Quarter to visit Chalmette Battlefield.
You can experience history in a more intimate way by visiting sites such as these. What sites stand out in your travels?
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