American Civil War ‘The Eastern Theatre Campaigns’
20 April – 3 May 2024
In April 1861 the North & South went to war. Nobody where ever they lived could have visualized that it would end four years later, with the deaths of over 600,000 Americans. Civil War had come to America.
At Manassas in July 1861, the armies met at the first major battle. Mainly volunteers, these citizens, fighting for what they believed in, experienced the horror of war for the first time. The cries ‘On to Richmond’ and ‘it will be over by Christmas’ echoed around the North. It was not going to be that easy. Over the next three years, under various Army Commanders, the Federals advanced, were repulsed and withdrew. It was not until early 1864 when General US Grant took command that Union might and resources began to grind the Confederates down. Over 50,000 Union soldiers became casualties in three months. Would the North continue to send their sons to die? Perseverance, bravery and industrial strength finally overwhelmed the South.
In early April 1865 it was all over at Appomattox Court House.
20 April - Day 1:
Depart Heathrow and fly to Washington Dulles to be met by your tour manager/guide.
On our way to the hotel we will make a brief stop at the Ox Hill Chantilly Battlefield Park.
Hotel tonight Manassas.
21 April - Day 2:
Visit the Manassas Battlefield where the 1st & 2nd Battles were fought.
At Henry Hill there is a statue to General Jackson, immortalized by the words of General Bee, ‘there stands Jackson like a Stonewall rally behind the Virginians’. Both battles are major defeats for the Federals; the rebellion will not be put down so easily. The cries of ‘On to Richmond’ are quiet once more.
22 April - Day 3:
Visit the Battlefields of Fredericksburg & Chancellorsville.
In December 1862, the Federal Army, under Ambrose Burnside, crossed the Rappahannock River and engaged a well-entrenched and large Confederate Army. At the Sunken Wall in one day the Union Army will suffer 12,000 casualties.
The following year, once more the Army of the Potomac appears under a new commander, ‘Fighting’ Joe Hooker. Stonewall Jackson proposes a daring plan to flank the Union’s open left flank. A great victory is dampened by the wounding and eventual death of Lee’s ‘right arm,’ Jackson.
2nd night in Fredericksburg.
23 April - Day 4:
Drive to Harpers Ferry. In 1859 John Brown and his men captured the Federal Armoury. Some might say that this was the start of the Civil War. Harpers Ferry on the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers, together with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was an important town for both sides. When Lee went north in September 1862 it had a garrison of 12,000 men. Jackson’s Corps invested the town, which was forced to surrender. His men then hurried to rejoin Lee at Sharpsburg in Maryland.
That day in September became the ‘bloodiest’ day in US history; 22,000 Americans became casualties. We will visit the Battlefield visitors centre and then drive and walk this battlefield, which has altered little in the last 150 years.
1st night in Gettysburg.
24 April - Day 5:
Early in the morning of 1 July 1863, a Confederate patrol reported that only militia held this small town. A strong Confederate force was met by not the militia but by General John Buford’s Cavalry Brigade. A skirmish soon became a major battle as more and troops from both sides arrived. Confederate success pushed the Union troops through the town on to Cemetery Ridge. The day had been won!
2nd night in Gettysburg.
25 April - Day 6:
We start this day by a visit to the National Cemetery where President Lincoln gave his address in November 1863. 2 July dawned hot and sunny. Today Lee was convinced that he could win the battle by attacking both flanks of the Union Army, which was now positioned as a ‘fishhook’. Finding the Federal left flank lightly guarded at the Big & Little Round Tops, Confederate soldiers swarmed forward. There and in the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield bloody clashes occurred. By nightfall no gains had been made.
After lunch you have a free afternoon or a visit to Monocacy Battlefield in Maryland.
3rd night in Gettysburg.
26 April - Day 7:
We visit the East Cavalry field to see where Custer George & JEB Stuart cavalrymen fought a vicious engagement; where the Union forces thwarted Stuart’s efforts to close the Federal’s possible line of retreat. By the morning of 3 July, Lee’s last Division had joined the Army; George Pickett with his Virginians.
After lunch we will walk Pickett’s charge. Following a fierce artillery bombardment, 12,000 men moved forward, their goal the centre of the Federal line. Many Confederates reached this line only to be cut down or captured. The dreams of the Confederacy were dashed.
Overnight in Winchester.
27 April - Day 8:
Winchester changed hands many times, with 5 major battles fought in and around it. We commence this morning by a visit to the Winchester Visitors Centre then to the Confederate Cemetery where the 3rd Battle of Winchester reached its climax.
Later this morning we will arrive at Cedar Creek the last opportunity for Jubal Early to destroy Sheridan’s Army in late 1864. What was nearly a victory turned into a rout.
Later this afternoon we will walk the battlefield at New Market, made famous by the charge of the cadets from the Virginia Military Academy.
Overnight in New Market.
28 April - Day 9:
As we drive out of the Shenandoah Valley via the New Market gap, spare a thought for the soldiers who had to march up and down these mountains. In the spring of 1864, Union General U.S. Grant, with 100,000 men pushed into the Wilderness. The move to end the rebellion was in sight. Here and at Spotsylvania vicious fighting took place. Over the next 3 weeks, 50,000 Americans became casualties. We end the day at Guinea Station where on the 10 May 1863 ‘Stonewall’ Jackson had died.
Overnight in Richmond.
29 April - Day 10:
Our first visit today is to the Old Tredegar Iron Works, now the site of the Richmond HQ of the National Park Service.and also the American Civil War Museum. In 1862 George McClellan and his Army advanced up the peninsula in action that would end with the 7 days battle; we will look at three, Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines Mill & Malvern Hill. Two years later during Grant’s 1864 overland campaigns, the armies met at Cold Harbor.
2nd night in Richmond.
30 April - Day 11:
Drive to Petersburg via Drewry’s Bluff (an artillery position overlooking the James River) then to City Point, Grant’s Headquarters and the major supply depot for the siege against Petersburg before touring the Petersburg Battlefield Park, which follows the Confederate defense line, including the Crater.
In April 1865 strong pressure to the south at Five Forks led to the loss of the Southside Railroad. The way to Petersburg was finally open. We now follow General Lee’s retreat to Appomattox.
1 May - Day 12:
After 4 years and with 600,000 deaths, the war is finally over. We will see where General Grant & General Lee met to finalize the surrender terms at Appomattox Court House.
Overnight Northern Virginia.
2 May - Day 13:
We will spend most of this morning at Arlington cemetery (the former home of Robert E Lee). If we have time there will be a brief driving tour of Washington DC before driving to Washington Dulles airport for your early evening flight.
3 May - Day 14:
Arrive London Heathrow early morning.