My favorite battlefields.

Tidewater

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My other favorite in the western theater is Shiloh. Beautiful park. Largely untouched since 1862 (except by units erecting monuments to themselves in the late 1800s).

1. The battlefield appears almost exactly like it did in 1862. It is not near a large city (Corinth, Miss. is closest).
2. The battle was very significant. Albert Sydney Johnston' death and Grant's victory which launched him to further prominence.
3. The battlefield is covered with markers. I think every state whose troops fought here has a monument as well. Markers down to brigade level are all over the battlefield showing when that brigade was there. These markers are square or oval, if memory serves showing whether the unit was there on the first day or the second. The visitor's center is also good.
4. The setting is serene. Right on the banks of the Tennessee.

Added bonus, Hagy's Catfish Hotel (restaurant) is on the banks of the Tennessee just north of the park. Good place if you like catfish.

At the end of the first day, Sherman found Grant taking a nap under a tree with his hat over his face. Sherman said, "Well, Grant, we have had the devil's own day."
Grant looked up and said, "Yep. Lick'em tomorrow though." Vintage Grant.
 
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Tidewater

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Gettysburg is the grand-daddy of them all.
1. The battlefield appears almost exactly like it did in 1863. It is not near a large city (Hagerstown, Md, or DC or Phillie is you want a large city.).
2. The battle was very significant. The Confederates won every major battle in the East before that and rarely won after it.
3. The battlefield is covered with markers. Again, every state whose troops fought here has a monument as well. I'm partial to the Virginia monument. The visitor's center is also good, great displays, recent film, but the full Monty (film, cyclorama, and museum) will cost you $20.75 a head. Very well-marked down to brigade level. Tour guides available. 3,965 acres including the cavalry fight of 3 July.
4. The setting is serene. Rolling Adams County, Penn. countryside. Appalachians clearly visible to the west.

The Park bought the "Gettysburg National Tower" which was just off the park but marred the skyline of the park.
Gburg Nat Tower.jpeg
It allegedly had great views of the battlefield. The Park Service demolished it (but forgot to coordinate a bus the park in front of the camera at the moment of demolition).

More controversy came when the Park Service demolished the old Visitors' Center and planted grass. They built a new one in a piece of virgin woods behind the Union position. Environmentalists pitched a fit, but preservationists were happy to return Cemetery Ridge more to its 1863 appearance.

Beautiful park. Strollable (23.5 miles driving, say, 2 to 5 hours depending on how curious you are).
 
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Tidewater

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In the Trans-Mississippi there are two federal battlefields: Wilson's Creek (Mo.) and Pea Ridge (Ark.). Both are nice, but I prefer Pea Ridge.

1. The battlefield appears almost exactly like it did in 1863. The closest town in Fayetteville/Bentonville Ark. so there is not too much encroachment.
2. The battle was not terribly significant. The Confederates won but could not translate that into an advantage, but is was one of the largest battles West of the Mississippi.
3. The battlefield is not that well marked. The visitor's center is good, not great.
4. The setting is serene. Northwest Arkansas is really pretty.

Soldiers west of the Mississippi tended to be not as polished as those further east. On Arkansas cavalry commander, who had heard the drill manual, but had not yet mastered the vocabulary, wanted his men to mount up. He gave his troopers the following preparatory command and command of execution: "Prepare fer to git on your critters, git."
 
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CB4

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I go to Shiloh every fall. One of my best friends is a professor of history at Tennessee-Martin. He has written several books on Shiloh, Vicksburg, Donelson, Champion Hill, and Benjamin Grierson’s 1863 Raid into Mississippi. My great grandfather was taken prisoner twice- once at Vicksburg (paroled) and second at Kennesaw Mountain/Big Shanty.

My favorites in the East are Gettysburg, Antietam and Manassas. Still plan on getting to Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville at some point.
 
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Tidewater

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There are a number of state battlefields, some of which are quite well done.
In Virginia, Sailor's Creek (April 1865) is a state battlefield. No visitor's center.
Bentonville, NC (March 1865) is a state battlefield, the Cole House (hospital after the battle) serves as the visitors center. There are a lot of trenches still visible.
Carnifex Ferry WV (1861) is also in a beautiful setting.
Olustee (February 1864) is a state park in Florida. The 54th Massachusetts of Glory fame was one of the few Union units that fought well there.
Prairie Grove (Dec 1862) in northwest Arkansas is quite well done.
Mansfield (April 1864) in Louisiana is from the Red River Campaign.
Lexington (August 1861) in Missouri is quite interesting. Confederate troops in 1861 used cotton bales as "rolling breastworks" to advance on surrounded Union troops.
Mine Creek (November 1864) is the largest battle in Kansas in the war.

That just represents those designated as state parks. The American Battlefield Trust has bought up a great deal of land to preserve it, even if there are no visitors' centers on most of these battlefields.
 
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TexasBama

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My other favorite in the western theater is Shiloh. Beautiful park. Largely untouched since 1862 (except by units erecting monuments to themselves in the late 1800s).

1. The battlefield appears almost exactly like it did in 1862. It is not near a large city (Corinth, Miss. is closest).
2. The battle was very significant. Albert Sydney Johnston' death and Grant's victory which launched him to further prominence.
3. The battlefield is covered with markers. I think every state whose troops fought here has a monument as well. Markers down to brigade level are all over the battlefield showing when that brigade was there. These markers are square or oval, if memory serves showing whether the unit was there on the first day or the second. The visitor's center is also good.
4. The setting is serene. Right on the banks of the Tennessee.

Added bonus, Hagy's Catfish Hotel (restaurant) is on the banks of the Tennessee just north of the park. Good place if you like catfish.

At the end of the first day, Sherman found Grant taking a nap under a tree with his hat over his face. Sherman said, "Well, Grant, we have had the devil's own day."
Grant looked up and said, "Yep. Lick'em tomorrow though." Vintage Grant.
I have a minie ball I got there 50+ years ago.
 
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TexasBama

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If you're ever in Houston and have time to kill, San Jacinto is worth a look. The movies make it out that "Remember the Alamo" was the battle cry, but "Remember Goliad" was as much or more prominent. Fannin and his troops surrendered at Coleto Creek, and were all taken to Goliad and executed.

There is a bayou that runs south to north, a mile or so west of the battle site, that runs into Buffalo Bayou (now the Ship Channel).. Sam Houston had the bridge over that bayou burned, and when the Mexican troops fled the battlefield, they were caught at the bridge site. The Texans more than evened the score for Goliad.

And in Texas fashion, the monument was built purposefully taller than the Washington Monument.

Document.jpg
 

Tidewater

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I have been to a variety of battlefields overseas. One of the most off the beaten path was El Alamein. Let's just say you do not go by El Alamein on your way to someplace else.
1. The battlefield appear s exactly as it did when the battle happened, except most of the mines have been removed.
2. The battle was extremely significant. I had believed that in mid-October 1942 Monty had Rommel exactly where he wanted him at El Alamein: not powerful enough to push on to Suez, but very far away form the Allied landings in Morocco and Algeria scheduled for 7 November 1942. A Brit colleague explained to me that the Brits psychologically needed to beat Rommel, and El Alamein gave them that chance.
3. The interpretive aids were very successful in telling what happened where and when. The visitor's center is very good. You may visit the battlefield, but both sides placed hundreds of thousands of mines and most of them have been cleared, but bedouin still set one off from time to time. The Irish guy I went with had his 10 year old son along and was not inclined to visit any of the battelefield itself.
4. The setting is beautiful in its own right, if you like deserts. Flat and rocky/sandy.
El-Alamein-British-Military-Cemetery.jpeg
The British cemetery. That is the battlefield in the background.
 

TexasBama

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I have been to San Jac. Nice park. Its historical appearance is marred a bit by this enormous monument:

... because, Texans.
The Presidio in Goliad is where Fannin and his men were executed, and is a nice quick visit.
I was in Gonzales years ago and stopped at their museum to see the “Come and Take It” cannon. Not impressive. Think a large door stop.

ETA. The capitol building in Austin was built taller than the capitol in DC because Texans.
 
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TexasBama

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The Alamo is interesting to see the building, but as far as a battlefield, there's no perspective. You can imagine the Mexican Army at Pat O'Brien's having hurricanes. It's somewhat notable that what is the Riverwalk was the river channel back then. The river's proximity doesn't show up in the movies.

More interesting to me was the Menger Hotel across the street, built in 1859. The extant bar is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited Roughriders.
 

Tidewater

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Hooterville, Vir.
I stopped there a couple of times driving from Chattanooga to Dalton. Big battlefield.
That is a nice one. A few years back, the National Park Service found one of the metal plaques (unit makers) in a pawn shop in Fort Oglethrope.
God only knows why someone would yank a unit marker off its pedestal and try to seel it.
I suspect alcohol might have been involved.
 
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Tidewater

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I got mine at the gift shop, so ok
The battlefield at Bentonville, NC (March 1865) was 95% in private hands. A friend of mine used to go to the battlefield with a metal detector. His deal with the land owner was that the land owner got to pick 1/2 of the items dug for his collection and my friend the metal detector would keep the other half. Not a bad deal.
 

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