On April 12th, 1861, the first shots of the American Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, the fort still stands as evidence of the historical events that shaped the history of our country. If you're a Civil War history buff, you know where the most prominent battles took place! But do you know which lodging accommodations are perfectly suited for your visits to important Civil War landmarks? Pick a bed and breakfast or inn that has deep historic roots, dating back to the war itself. Some of these properties served as hospitals, hideaways, and homes to prominent people during the Civil War!
Here's 4 cities every Civil War history buff must visit and where they should stay when they do.
1. See where the Civil War started in Charleston, South Carolina.
The rebellious city left untouched by General Sherman.
It's pretty surprising General Sherman didn't burn Charleston on his famous March To The Sea. The holy city is, after all, where the first Confederate shots were fired at Fort Sumter, a Union fort during the Civil War.
Another Civil War fort worth visiting is Fort Moultrie. Originally a Union garrison, it was abandoned after the South Carolina Secession of 1860. Several months later, Confederate soldiers claimed it to use in the Civil War.
If you'd like to see an actual Civil War submarine, you must visit the H.L. Hunley! This is the Confederate submarine that sunk the USS Housatonic, a huge Union warship, on February 17, 1864.
The crew of the H.L. Hunley are buried at the Magnolia Cemetary, another Civil War site in Charleston, South Carolina. Dating back to 1850, this cemetery is also where more than 2,200 Civil War veterans, 14 signers of the Ordinance of Secession, and 84 Confederate soldiers are buried.
Book a stay at one of these historical bed and breakfasts in Charleston, South Carolina.
- Two Meeting Street Inn Bed and Breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina. Built in the late 1800s during the post-Civil War period, this enchanting historic mansion offers guests views of the Fort Sumter National Monument in the distance!
John Rutledge House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina. Dating back to the 1700s, this grand historic bed and breakfast was home to Charleston’s first governor and signer of the U.S. Constitution, John Rutledge. It's a short walk to gorgeous antebellum homes lining the Battery!
End at the spot where the Civil War Battle of Antietam took place.
In September 1862, Confederate and Union soldiers marched through Maryland to meet at the Battle of Antietam. Today, you can drive the routes the soldiers traveled starting where Confederate General Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac River into Maryland at Whites Ford and then on to Frederick. Along the way, stop and explore the cavalry and infantry action that took place. Once you pass Frederick, you'll continue through Middletown to South Mountain. The last stop of the driving tour is the famous Antietam Battlefield! The Antietam Battlefield was the site of the bloodiest single-day battle of the Civil War. On September 17, 1862, there were 12,400 Union and 10,320 Confederate casualties.
Book a stay at a bed and breakfast just minutes from all of the Civil War action in Antietam, Maryland.
Antietam Overlook Farm Bed and Breakfast in Keedysville, Maryland. This 95-acre farm is conveniently located 6 minutes from the Antietam National Battlefield, 20 minutes from Harpers Ferry, and an hour from Gettysburg. Both armies passed through Keedysville, on their way to Sharpsburg. Many of the wounded soldiers were also treated here after the battle!
3. Relive Lincoln's most famous speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation...
Who can forget the Gettysburg Address? Delivered on November 19, 1863, this is the most famous speech ever given by President Abraham Lincoln. In under three minutes, he reiterated the importance of human equality set forth by the Declaration of Independence.
This speech took place four and a half months after the Union soldiers defeated the Confederates at the Battle of Gettysburg. Given at the Soldiers' National Cemetary, this was Lincoln's proclamation of the war as a new birth of freedom that would finally result in true equality for everyone!
A major turning point in the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg marked the end of General Robert E. Lee's second and most daring invasion of the North. The battle lasted three days and ended with 51,000 casualties, making it both the bloodiest Civil War battle and the largest battle ever fought in North America.
Book a stay at a bed and breakfast in or around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
- Inn at Herr Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Built in 1813, the main building of this historic bed and breakfast was the first Confederate hospital during the battle of Gettysburg. Today, you can see a panoramic view of the famous battlefields from its rooftop terrace!
- Hickory Bridge Farm in Orrtanna, Pennsylvania. Just 15 minutes away from Gettysburg, this historic farm dates back to the late 1600s when the King of England granted the land to Charles Carroll, the father of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. During the Civil War, two soldiers stayed in the mill just past the farm near the bridge until the war ended. It is rumored they escaped the war by fleeing up the hollow and into the mountains!
- Antrim 1844 Country House Hotel in Taneytown, Maryland. A short 22-minute drive to Gettysburg is another historic hotel worth visiting! Unfortunately, not much history was recorded until it was bought by George Washington Clabaugh in 1873. Clabaugh's son, Harry Morris, was the Attorney General of Maryland in 1895-1898 and later appointed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by President Roosevelt in 1903!
4. Imagine the life of a famous Civil War diarist in Camden, South Carolina.
Get to know one of the most respected Southern ladies.
Mary Boykin Chestnut was an eloquent and well-educated woman of the South. Born to Stephen Decatur Miller, a prominent South Carolina politician, Mary later became the wife of James Chestnut, a U.S. Senator who also served as a brigadier general in the Confederate army and a personal aide to Jefferson Davis. With politics in her blood, it's no wonder Mary became famous for a diary she kept during the Civil War. In it, she describes the struggles of people from all classes despite her prominent social status. Towards the end of the war, she returned home to Camden, South Carolina. On May 4, 1865, Mary wrote, "Bloomsbury. Home Again." She also wrote of the atmosphere of the town, "And yet from my window I look out on many a gallant youth and maiden fair. The street is crowded, and it is a gay sight. Camden is thronged with refugees from the low country, and here they disport themselves. They call the walk in front of Bloomsbury 'The Boulevard'."
Book a stay at the bed and breakfast where Chestnut wrote in Camden, South Carolina.
- Bloomsbury Inn in Camden, South Carolina. Originally named Bloomsbury, this award-winning antebellum bed and breakfast was the home of Mary during her time in Camden. Here, she wrote passage after passage in her famous Civil War diary that would be quoted in history books many years later!
Are there any cities you'd like to add to our list? Let us know if you think we missed a prominent place for Civil War history buffs!