The Civil 
War Institute

300 North Washington Street
Campus box 435
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: 717.337.6590
F: 717.337.6596

Battlefield Tours

Monday, June 12, 2017

Christian Keller, “Staff Ride: Chancellorsville,” 7:30 am- 9:30 pm

This will be a War College-style staff ride, not a tour.  Participants should already possess a reasonably sound background knowledge of the Chancellorsville campaign.  We will have 7-8 principal stands (stops) throughout the day, and at each stand participants--divided into Federal and Confederate command teams--will have the opportunity to evaluate the tactical, operational, and strategic decision-making of relevant military and political leaders from the perspectives and contexts they understood in 1863.  Using the Socratic method, the facilitator will briefly set the historical stage and then question the command teams:  What options did they have?  Why did they choose to do what they did?  Who made the better decisions, and how did these have later ramifications?  How did tactical events translate into operational and strategic consequences, and vice-versa?

Finally, what can we learn from these leaders and their decisions that may enlighten current and future operational and strategic thought?  Walking for the staff ride will be relatively easy and non-strenuous.

Dennis Frye & Richard Gillespie, “The Gray Ghost becomes Visible: A Ride through Mosby's Confederacy,” 8:00 am – 7:30 pm

No word terrorized Union soldiers more than the word "Mosby." The guerrilla operations of John Singleton Mosby in Northern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley generated a fame, and fear, that few could match. We will explore a myriad of Mosby's famous exploits as we ride through Mosby's Confederacy - following his roads; visiting his hideaways; pursuing his foes - in one of the best preserved Civil War heritage areas in the nation. This tour will involve moderate walking.

Greg Mertz, “ ‘Another Awkward Victory for ‘Stonewall’ Jackson:  A Tour of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield,” 8:00 am – 8:15 pm

Confederate General Thomas. J. Jackson acquired the best sobriquet of the war at 1st Manassas and during the spring of 1862, his actions in the Shenandoah Valley were the most successful Confederate exploits among an otherwise dismal period for the Confederacy.   But when Jackson joined Lee’s army on the outskirts of Richmond for the Seven Days Battle, the famous “Stonewall” turned in a disappointing performance.  When a new Union army was forged under General John Pope and Lee had the need for someone to take on an independent assignment, he turned to Jackson, hoping that “Stonewall” could duplicate his autonomous achievements from his days in the Valley.  However when Lee reinforced Jackson, he felt to need to send his subordinate some advice on how to manage his larger force – advice Jackson did not heed.  The result was a close call for Jackson at Cedar Mountain on August 9, 1862, where a smaller Union force, under political General Nathaniel P. Banks nearly defeated Jackson, who drew his sword (albeit rusted into its scabbard) and rallied his men in what he considered to be his greatest exploit of the war.

This will predominantly be a walking tour, spending about 2 ½ hours walking about a 1 ½ miles, all on trails with only slight changes in elevation.  A substantial part of the trail will be in the open, so hats and sunscreen are a must.

Eric Mink, "The Mine Run Campaign," 7:30 am - 9:00 pm

Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the armies of George G. Meade and Robert E. Lee returned to Virginia and once again took up positions along the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers. The fall of 1863 saw numerous clashes between the armies as Meade and Lee played out a large-scale game of chess, with numerous aggressive moves and countermoves in central and northern Virginia. Meade felt the sting of criticism for not having been more assertive in following up his victory at Gettysburg and in November, under pressure from Washington, he pushed the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan River into Orange County. Meade’s hope was to move quickly and descend upon Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and take advantage of the absence of James Longstreet’s corps, which was in Tennessee. Sluggish movement, followed by a sharp engagement on the Madison Payne farm, hampered Meade’s plans and Lee’s ability to heavily entrench along the banks of Mine Run thwarted Union efforts. After a couple of days weighing options and surveying the Confederate position, Meade was convinced not to follow through with an assault on Lee’s entrenched position. Lee’s use of earthworks foreshadowed the style of warfare that would become commonplace the following year. The armies would wait for spring before once again taking to the field of battle.

Historian Eric Mink will lead a tour of sites associated with the November 1863 Mine Run Campaign in Orange County, Virginia. Aside from property set aside at the Payne’s Farm Battlefield, the sites associated with the Mine Run Campaign are overlooked and certainly under-interpreted. On this tour, Eric will take participants to sites and landmarks such as Germanna Ford on the Rapidan River, the location of Robertson’s Tavern and the Payne’s Farm Battlefield. Some walking will be involved and participants are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes.


Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler, “Antietam: The Civil War's Bloodiest Day,” 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

On September 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia faced off against Major General George B. McClellan's Army of the Potomac near Sharpsburg, Maryland.  Twelve hours of complex maneuvering, ardent attacks, and timely counterattacks, all revealing an uncommonly high degree of sheer determination by soldiers in both armies, resulted in casualty lists that exceeded over 23,000 names.  The fighting outside Sharpsburg on the verdant fields near Antietam Creek gave the Civil War its bloodiest day.  Lee withdrew to Virginia two days later, ending his first major incursion into Union territory and providing President Lincoln an opportunity to issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation just five days later. 

This tour of the well-preserved Antietam National Battlefield will include many of the stops profiled in Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler's A Field Guide to Antietam (2016).  We will make frequent stops, and while most will require some walking on paved and mowed grass or dirt paths, we will seldom leave sight of the bus. 

Brooks Simpson, "An Introduction to the Battle of Gettysburg," 8:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m.

The battlefield at Gettysburg can be an overwhelming place to visit. This tour offers an overview of the three days of fighting by exploring the major (and some not-so-major) features of the battlefield, while helping visitors learn how to interpret the field and its monuments. Even those who have been to Gettysburg a few times may learn something new: others will gain a foundation that will serve as a point of departure for future visits or will simply gain an understanding of what happened, where, and why it's important. There will be some short walks, but most of the time we will be standing in place or traveling on the bus.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wayne Motts & Jim Hessler, “Armistead’s Brigade,” 8:30 am- 12:30 pm

Join historians, authors, and licensed guides James Hessler and Wayne Motts on a walk in the footsteps of Confederate General Lewis A. Armistead's Brigade during Pickett's Charge on July 3, 1863. This tour will focus on the five regiments and men comprising these commands during the fateful attack on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The tour will consist of long periods of standing and walking over at least one mile of uneven terrain. Participants should wear comfortable shoes with a closed toe and/or boots. Long pants are also recommended.

Timothy Orr, “Into the Rose Wheatfield,” 8:30 am- 12:30 pm

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, Brigadier General Samuel Zook’s 3rdBrigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps, lost 37% of its number in its counterattack across the George Rose Wheatfield. During this tour, we will discuss the brigade’s chaotic experience, profiling harrowing tales of courage and cowardice. Tour goers will follow in the footsteps of the 52nd, 57th, and 66th New York and the 140th Pennsylvania and learn the tales of three soldiers whose Gettysburg experiences ended differently: a Medal of Honor winner, an officer court-martialed for misbehavior before the enemy, and a soldier executed for desertion.This tour will involve medium-level difficulty, mostly on foot, but it will not cover great distances. The hike will primarily follow roads and trails, but occasionally it will also cross rocky terrain and tall grass. The tour will mainly keep to shaded areas, but please keep in mind, a few areas of the Rose Wheatfield will lack shade. Prepare for sunny weather accordingly.

Christopher Gwinn, “Schimmelfennig’s Brigade,” 8:30 am - 12:30 pm

During the brutal fighting on July 1, 1863 Brig. Gen. Alexander Schimmelfennig led his Union troops into the fields north of the town of Gettysburg, just beyond the present day campus of Gettysburg College. There, they confronted elements of Richard Ewell's Confederate Corps and made a desperate stand until they were ultimately driven back  through the town. Following the battle, Schimmelfennig and his men would be blamed for the Union retreat on that first day of battle. The reality of the story, however, is much more complicated.  In fact, the blame placed on Schimmelfennig speaks as much to the social and political tensions of the era as it does to the military complexity of the July 1 battle. Join National Park Service Historian Christopher Gwinn and explore the fields and farms where Schimmelfennig and his men fought that day and discover the story of this fascinating immigrant soldier and the men he commanded.

Jen Murray, “The Last March of the Iron Brigade,” 8:30 am - 12:30 pm

"The Last March of the Iron Brigade, July 1, 1863” explores the role of the five regiments that constituted the famous “Iron Brigade” in the fighting north and west of town on the opening day of the battle, July 1, 1863.  This program follows the route of this brigade (1,800 men) starting near the Codori Barn and walks their path through Seminary Ridge and McPherson Ridge as they engaged the advancing Confederates on the morning of July 1st.  We will follow the route of Colonel Rufus Dawes and the 6th Wisconsin to their climatic, and ultimately desperate and costly, fighting near the railroad cut. Total walking approximately 2 miles over relatively flat terrain, but will include areas of high grass and crossing of fences.




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300 North Washington St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
P: (717) 337-6300