The Civil War is an integral part of United States history that has fascinated Americans for generations. The war began one hundred and fifty years ago, but its battlefields remain some of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Each year, thousands of Civil War enthusiasts, schoolchildren, and master’s degree students visit such sites as Gettysburg, Manassas, Antietam, and Shiloh.
Though it’s not possible for everyone to see these places in person, virtual Civil War battlefield tours provide a way for Civil War buffs and educators to bring these battlegrounds to life in a matter of clicks. Here are some of the most popular websites for Civil War battlefield tours:
The Civil War section of John’s Military History Page features maps, concise descriptions, and present-day pictures of Civil War battlefields. A bonus of this page is it offers information on both famous and lesser-known battles. The color photographs on the page give viewers a clear idea of what the landscape and buildings on each battlefield actually look like, enabling them to see the battlefields as Civil War soldiers would have seen them.
Stephen Recker’s Virtual Gettysburg site offers panoramic views of the Civil War’s bloodiest and perhaps most decisive battlefield. Users can scan the area from various angles. By accessing the panoramas of Gettysburg, viewers will gain an appreciation for the immense size of the battlefield and realize what a peaceful, rural place it was before more than 50,000 soldiers died on its soil.
CivilWarAlbum.com prides itself on featuring modern photos of Civil War battlefields, and does so quite comprehensively. The site hosts panoramas of famous and obscure battles alike. It also features detailed maps of nearly 80 battlefields. These maps are particularly helpful, providing students with insight into the strategies and tactics of both the Union and Confederate armies.
Virtual Civil War battlefield tours can also be found at the National Park Service’s web site, which includes virtual tours of Fort Donelson, Tennessee; Fredericksburg and Petersburg, Virginia; and Wilson’s Creek, Missouri. The National Park Service has provided funds for other virtual Civil War battlefield tours as well. The Museum of the Middle Appalachians will begin hosting a virtual tour of the Battle of Saltville, Virginia next year.
Virtual Civil War battlefield tours are a practical alternative for history-lovers who wish to explore Civil War sites but don’t have the time or financial resources to travel to them. They’re also ideal for teachers who can’t take their students on physical field trips to Civil War battlefields. Whether individuals are seeking to learn about the Civil War out of personal interest or as part of a curriculum, they can now experience some of its key locations almost as vividly online as they could in person.