Battlefield Tours

Active Track Package Tour Description

Union Deadeyes: Berdan's U.S. Sharpshooters at the Battle of Gettysburg, with Timothy Orr (Old Dominion University)

This active-track package will focus on Col. Hiram Berdan's 1st and 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, two of the very first specialized regiments in U.S. Army history. We will allocate two days to studying the pivotal actions played by Berdan's men: the 1st U.S.S.S. at Pitzer's Woods and the 2nd U.S.S.S. at the Slyder Farm and atop Big Round Top. Both of these regiments had important roles to play. At noon on July 2, the 1st U.S.S.S. engaged Confederate infantry under Brig. Gen. Cadmus Wilcox inside Pitzer's Woods, and the resulting combat influenced Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles's decision to redeploy the Army of the Potomac's 3rd Corps to the Joseph Sherfy Peach Orchard. Then, later in the day, when Maj. Gen. John B. Hood's Confederate division attacked the Union left flank, it encountered a stubborn skirmish line consisting of men belonging to the 2nd U.S.S.S. Although Hood's Confederates outnumbered the Union sharpshooters by forty-two-to-one, the 2nd U.S.S.S. slowed and confused the Confederate advance, buying precious time for the Army of the Potomac's 5th Corps to protect the Union flank. As one Confederate officer later wrote, the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters deserved the "tallest monument" for "turning the tide in favor of the Union cause." During this excursion, we will, in essence, see how a handful of soldiers influenced the tide of battle. It's a dramatic story!

Saturday, June 11 Tours, 5:45 – 8:45 pm

Gettysburg’s African Americans in Slavery and Freedom, with Brian Luskey (West Virginia University)

Before the Civil War, fugitives from slavery and free people of color made south-central Pennsylvania a battleground in the struggle over who could be free in America. During the Gettysburg campaign, enslaved people did important labor for the invading Army of Northern Virginia even as members of that army attempted to kidnap and enslave free black Pennsylvanians. After the war was over, African Americans buried the dead, shaped the meaning of the war, sought individual success, and created community. This tour will explore these themes through stories of African Americans who were crucial and active participants in Gettysburg’s history. This tour involves very light walking.


Medal of Honor Recipients at Gettysburg, with Therese Orr (Licensed Battlefield Guide)

Instituted during the American Civil War, the Medal of Honor was awarded to sixty-four Union participants of the Battle of Gettysburg.  This tour will explore the stories of several of the battle’s lesser-known recipients, including Francis Irsch, Henry Huidekoper, Andrew Tozier and others. Learn of their heroic actions as you stand on the ground where they fought.  This tour requires minimal walking over mostly even ground.


Following in the Footsteps of Lincoln, with Sue Boardman (Licensed Battlefield Guide)

Although President Lincoln made only one visit to Gettysburg, the timing of it was critical.  The nation's citizens were looking to their leader for justification that the Union victory at Gettysburg and the continuation of the Civil War was worth the cost. His few appropriate remarks would answer the question.  We will follow in Lincoln's footsteps from his arrival in Gettysburg on the evening of November 18th to his departure 25 hours later. A considerable amount of easy walking as we go from the train station to the Presbyterian Church by way of the Will's House, then by bus to the National Cemetery where we will resume our walk there to the tour's completion (approx. 2.5 miles total).


Culp’s Hill in War and Memory, with Dana Shoaf (Civil War Times magazine) and Jim Broomall (Shepherd University)

This walking tour of Culp’s Hill will immerse participants in a variety of source materials to create a cultural history of the desperate fighting on July 2nd and 3rd and account for its remembrance over time. First, we will use soldiers’ words to guide the program and shed light on a fight defined by, in the words of a Confederate officer, “confusion and disorder.” Second, taking advantage of the National Park Service’s recent battlefield rehabilitation, participants will consider how the natural environment facilitated the Union defense and later captivated photographers, artists, and tourists. Finally, through a consideration of monuments and relics, the tour will conclude by examining Culp’s Hill in memory.


“Come on you Wolverines!”: The Clash at East Cavalry Field, with Jim Hessler (Licensed Battlefield Guide) and Chris Army (Licensed Battlefield Guide)

On July 3, 1863, Union cavalry led by General David M. Gregg and General George A. Custer were positioned along the Hanover Road, east of Gettysburg. They collided with Confederate horsemen under the legendary General J.E.B. Stuart in one of the most spectacular cavalry fights of the war. The reasons for this clash and its impact are still misunderstood and debated today. This tour will traverse one of the least visited parts of the battlefield and discuss the action, terrain, the colorful personalities, and the command decisions made during this fateful attack.  The tour will include easy walking over mostly even ground.


Monday, June 13 Tours (times vary by tour)

7:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.: The North Anna Battlefield and the Overland Campaign, with Robert E.L. Krick (Richmond National Battlefield Park)

North Anna is the forgotten fight of the Overland Campaign, the period that connected the conclusion of Spotsylvania with the start of Cold Harbor, both chronologically and geographically.  This tour will visit several of the key locations connected with the stay of the armies there in late-May 1864.  The heaviest combat erupted on May 23 near Jericho Mill.  That land is now preserved but not usually accessible to the general public.  We will visit the most significant portions of that unspoiled ground, together with the Ox Ford battlefield of May 24.  Both sites involve long walks:  The Jericho Mill battlefield hike mostly in a dirt road and along a field’s edge; the Ox Ford portion being on an excellent maintained trail, but with several steep and hilly sections. 


8 am – 5 pm: The Battle of South Mountain, with D. Scott Hartwig (Independent Scholar)

The September 14, 1862 Battle of South Mountain was the first major battle of the Maryland Campaign and first defeat of the war that the Army of Northern Virginia experienced under Robert E. Lee.  The tour will stop at the Mountain House in Turner’s Gap, used by Confederate General D.H. Hill as his headquarters, and hike slightly over one mile along the Appalachian Trail to Fox’s Gap, where the first fighting began.  After hiking around Fox’s Gap, the group will board the bus and drive through the area where the Union 1st Corps attacked.  From Fox’s and Turner’s Gaps, we will then drive five miles south to the Crampton’s Gap battlefield, where the Union 6th Corps broke through Confederate defenses.  There will be limited walking at this final stop.


8 am – 5 pm: Confederate Desperation: The 1864 Maryland Campaign and the Last Invasion of the North, with Dennis Frye (Independent Scholar)

Robert E. Lee required a diversion. Why not Washington, D.C.? The Confederate chieftain launched Jubal Early and Stonewall Jackson's former corps into Maryland in July 1864 in a desperate Hail Mary to relieve pressure upon Petersburg and Richmond. It almost worked. The defenses of Harpers Ferry and the Battle of Monocacy thwarted the scheme. We will examine under told stories and unknown places that frustrated Early's efforts and helped save the Union capital from capture. This tour will include moderate hiking of approximately 3 miles total. 


8 am – 7 pm: The Evolution of the Charge: Bristoe Station, Fredericksburg, and Spotsylvania, with Jennifer Murray (Oklahoma State University)

This tour will explore three Civil War frontal assaults and consider the ways in which Civil War tactics, namely frontal assaults, evolved during the war, and specifically from 1862 to 1864.  The discussion at Bristoe Station will center on the engagement between General A.P. Hill and General Gouverneur K. Warren.  The stop at Fredericksburg will focus on the charge of General George Meade and the Pennsylvania Reserves against the Confederate position at Prospect Hill.  Finally, the stop at Spotsylvania will focus on Colonel Emory Upton and General Winfield Scott Hancock¹s futile assaults against the Mule Shoe in the spring of 1864.  In considering these three engagements, we will be able to walk the landscape of three battlefields and explore the nature of Civil War tactics.


8 am – 7 pm: The Battle of Second Fredericksburg, with Eric Mink (Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park) & Keith Bohannon (West Georgia University)

The tour will focus on the 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg, fought May 3, 1863, and part of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It is a battle that is often overlooked, as it falls in the shadow of the larger Battle of Chancellorsville. Although the battle is scantly interpreted on the ground today, many sites and features of battle still exists if one knows where to look, which is what we will do. Many of the stops made on this tour will be inside the Fredericksburg Battlefield Unit of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, but we will also visit surviving battle sites on the campus of the University of Mary Washington and within the city of Fredericksburg itself.  Participants will follow in the footsteps of the Union brigades that attacked and carried the Confederate defenses in Sunken Road and on top of Marye's Heights. The tour will involve about two miles of total moderate walking.


Tuesday, June 14 Tours, 8:30 am- 12:30 pm: “From Battlefield to Field Hospital”

 53rd Georgia (Semmes’s Brigade), with Keith Bohannon (University of West Georgia)

This tour will follow the path of the July 2, 1863 assault of Confederate General Paul Semmes's Brigade of Georgians.  This brigade, including the 10th, 50th, 51st and 53 Georgia Infantry Regiments, advanced across the Emmitsburg Road, past the Rose House and into the Rose Woods to engage Federals there.  After suffering heavy casualties, including the mortal wounding of Semmes, the Georgians crossed the Wheatfield before ultimately falling back.  The tour will include stops in the field on the Rose Farm where several famous photographs were taken of the dead of Semmes's Brigade and at a privately owned farm that served as the brigade's field hospital.  The tour will involve several hundred yards of fairly level walking in the vicinity of the Rose Farm and Wheatfield.


19th Indiana (Meredith’s “Iron Brigade”), with Peter Miele (Seminary Ridge Museum)

This tour will provide an overview of the political and social motivations of these Iron Brigaders and follow them into battle on July 1, 1863.  The tour will closely examine the fighting in Herbst Woods in the morning and afternoon of the first day’s battle, as well as the unit’s important role on the barricade line behind the Seminary during the “Last Stand.”  The tour will end with an exploration of the Seminary Hospital and a discussion of its importance during the battle and for months after.  The tour will require between 1-2 miles of walking over undulating terrain, both in open fields and woods.


 23rd North Carolina (Iverson’s Brigade), with Ashley Whitehead Luskey (Gettysburg College)

On the afternoon of July 1, 1863, 284 Tar Heels from the 23rd NC set out alongside three fellow North Carolina regiments from Alfred Iverson’s brigade on an ill-fated assault against the right flank of the Union first corps atop Oak Ridge.  Less than two hours later, only 17 would return from the battlefield unscathed.  Iverson’s attack would go down as one of the worst disasters of the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 23rd NC would suffer the highest casualty rate of the entire brigade.  After the battle, the regiment’s mortally wounded commander, Colonel D.H. Christie, delivered an impassioned speech to his wounded subordinates from the porch of the nearby Hankey farm, promising that although he “might never live to again lead you in battle, I will see that the imbecile Iverson never should.” This tour will follow the final footsteps of the doomed Tar Heels from Oak Ridge to the historic Hankey farm, exploring the experiences of the attackers through their own words, the survivors’ quest for honor and redemption in the wake of the battle, as well as the human cost and home-front reverberations of the disastrous July 1 assault. The tour will require less than one mile of walking over mixed terrain.


13th Massachusetts (Paul’s Brigade) and Robinson’s Division, with Christopher Gwinn (Gettysburg National Military Park)

On the afternoon of July 1st, the 284 men of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry participated in some of the most brutal combat of the American Civil War. This tour will journey from the shadow of Oak Ridge where the men of the 13th faced off against Confederates of Robert Rodes’s division, and continue through the streets and alleys of Gettysburg, ending at the Christ Lutheran Church where many of the wounded were treated. This program will involve moderate walking of approx. 1.5 miles.


18th Virginia (Garnett’s Brigade), with Jennifer Murray (Oklahoma State University) & Peter Carmichael (Gettysburg College)

This program will follow in the footsteps of the assault made by General Richard Garnett's Brigade, of General George Pickett's Division, on July 3, 1863.  The. Tour will focus specifically on the experiences of the men in the 18th Virginia.  Our program will begin on Seminary Ridge, near the Virginia Memorial, cross the fields of Pickett's Charge and culminate at the angle on Cemetery Ridge.  We will then board our bus and conclude the program near Black Horse Tavern, which was the field hospital for many of the men in Garnett's Brigade.  Total walking distance is approximately one mile.