GPO Summer Travel Series: Historic Virginia

Hey there our tenacious tourists! How are you holding up? If this humidity hasn’t worn you out yet, come along! There are still a couple more places we want to take you in our Summer Travel Series. Don’t worry, they’re going to be super cool. Oh sorry, we mean super awesome. The heat isn’t letting up yet. We’re headed to the home of American Civil War action. It’s where Federal artillery dueled Confederate cannons, brigades formed, men hunkered down behind embankments, dismounted Confederate cavalrymen held their ground against thousands of Federals, and soldiers rescued wounded comrades. Virginia, we’re ready to experience all your history has to offer!

Our first stop is Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, located in south central Virginia between Richmond and Lynchburg. Appomattox Court House from the GPO Bookstore tells the story of Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, which led to the conclusion of the Civil War. It also details the battles fought in the days before it. The book contains essays by three eminent historians on events leading up to the Civil War and the implications of Appomattox for the post-Civil War generation. You’ll learn interesting details of the Civil War you never knew before! For example, Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan’s most effective unit was a small group of clandestine horsemen who dressed up in Confederate uniforms and infiltrated Confederate lines to gain valuable information. Another fun fact? On the ride back to his headquarters from the McLean house, Ulysses S. Grant actually forgot to notify the War Department of the day’s events in the rush to finalize details of Lee’s surrender. The handbook also offers a tourist’s guide to the park and invites you to “imagine the activity of those April days when Lee’s veterans laid down their flags, stacked their weapons, and began the journey back to their homes.” All the restored and reconstructed buildings in Appomattox Court House National Historical Park are within easy walking distance and there is no established order you have to follow. So just walk around and take it all in.

Next we’re making our way to The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Fredericksburg Battlefields from the GPO Bookstore describes the Civil War battles fought in Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House and the condition of those battlefields today. Here, within 17 miles, more than 100,000 American soldiers fell in the midst of chaotic, bloody battles involving strategy and tactics beyond their understanding. Want a little taste of the chaos that ensued? Stonewall Jackson was badly wounded by the mistaken fire of his own troops. And Maj. Gen. Edward “Allegheny” Johnson used his cane as a weapon during the Battle at the Bloody Angle where hand-to-hand fighting raged for 20 hours along a curving portion of the line that came to be known as the “Bloody Angle.”

Now that was a history lesson if we’ve ever had one. Virginia might be one of our favorite stops yet. What’s been your favorite adventure so far this summer? Have you dangled your feet off a dock? Napped in a hammock? Gone for a bike ride? If not, keep living up the summer! Its suns are setting, its boardwalks are clearing and its days are fleeting. Until next time!

More from our Summer Travel Series:

GPO Summer Travel Series: Visiting Massachusetts

GPO Summer Travel Series: Seeing Stars

GPO Summer Travel Series: Cave Dwellers, Fossil Finders and Dinosaurs Galore

GPO Summer Travel Series: Beach Health and Safety

GPO Summer Travel Series: California, Here GPO Comes

GPO Summer Travel Series: Exploring the Everglades

GPO Summer Travel Series: A Cape Cod Vacation

GPO Summer Travel Series: Your Trip to Yellowstone

GPO Summer Travel Series: Discover the Grand Canyon

GPO Summer Travel Series: What to Do and See in Washington DC

Don’t forget to check out our latest catalog America The Beautiful.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Cat Goergen is the PR Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations office.

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