From the first shot fired at Fort Sumter to the final surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the Civil War was a terrible time in history which pitted brother against brother and state against state. Few events have shaped America's past, present and future as this war did, and even folks without a particular knowledge of or interest in American history immediately recognize the 'big names': Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Antietam. In many cases the causes and events which made up the Civil War are still points of contention and still evoke personal pride, proving the war's wide sweep and the indelible mark it left upon American society and memory.
Many events within the broader experience of war helped to shape our nation's history, with the Emancipation Proclamation, the Articles of Confederation, and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln being only a few examples. Almost every family in 1860s America would have been affected by the conflict, and to this day many families are aware of their ancestors' sacrifices and remember those --- both blue and gray --- who died for the causes they believed in.
Thanks to the preservation efforts of various organizations and private donors, many Civil War battlefields may be toured by the public. If possible, every American should visit Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, the Sunken Road at Fredericksburg, Bloody Lane at Antietam, and many other well-known and emotionally-charged locations. You may also want to take some effort to discover and visit lesser-known sites, as these are of much interest if not of equal importance. Many battlefields are free to the public and offer driving tours, hiking trails, informational markers, and well-appointed visitor centers. Also of interest are the national cemeteries established to provide a peaceful resting place for the men who sacrificed their lives in this bloody conflict.
During my Civil War travels I've discovered, explored, and touched history, and as a result of those trips was inspired to gather resources which would not only give honor to those who fought but would also help others further appreciate this very important time in our nation's past. I hope you'll find these resources useful.