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Civil War Anniversary Events

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A child's hand touches the names of slaves etched into a wooden pillar at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

A sampling of sesquicentennial events and locales around the country.

Civil War observations will continue over the next four years, and plans remain incomplete. For lists of commemorations, see, run by the Civil War Trust, which also maintains links to many state sites, and the National Park Service’s regularly updated website at

The Museum of the Confederacy › Richmond, Virginia

Holding the world’s largest collection of Confederate artifacts, the Virginia institution located in the former Confederate capital has mounted “The War Comes Home,” a springtime exhibit depicting life in the Confederate States of America, or CSA. Items include mourning dresses, slave-made products, and smuggling dolls—toys filled with contraband that passed through the Union’s sea blockade. Other attractions include walking tours of antebellum neighborhoods and the Confederate White House, home to President Jefferson Davis.

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center › Cincinnati, Ohio

In April, the center will highlight the exploits of Cincinnati’s “Black Brigade,” who valiantly defended the Union city during the 1862 siege. The museum explores and documents the evils of slavery and honors the Americans who threw off their chains and escaped to freedom north of the Ohio River. This year, Juneteenth celebrations feature Civil War reenactors and period games. In August, the center will kick off self-guided walking and driving tours that highlight nearby stops on the Underground Railroad.

Margaret Mitchell House › Atlanta, Georgia

In May, Atlanta observes the 75th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel set during the Civil War with a variety of public programs unfolding in the Tudor Revival-style building where Margaret Mitchell penned the memorable tale of the fiery Scarlett O’Hara and dashing Rhett Butler. Also on the premises: a Gone with the Wind shop featuring dolls, figurines, books, and other collectibles that prove fans, frankly, still give a damn for the epic tale of the Old South.

Manassas National Battlefield Park › Manassas, Virginia

On July 21, politicians and dignitaries gather to observe the 150th anniversary of the Battle of First Manassas (the South’s name for the first battle of Bull Run). The site of the South’s first big military victory over the North, the battle with its many casualties caused both sides to realize this would be a long and brutal fight. Expect historic weapons demonstrations, combat reenactments, musical performances, and special tours and lectures scheduled throughout the summer.

Shriver House › Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The epic three-day battle at Gettysburg in 1863 marked the beginning of the end for the Confederacy, and the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, will host a series of events over the next five years. A contrast to the killing fields is a candlelit Christmas tour in December of the Shriver House Museum, the home of a civilian family; visitors discover how Yuletide was celebrated in the 1860s.

Shiloh National Military Park › Shiloh, Tennessee

From March 31 to April 2, 2012, Civil War reenactors plan to re-create the searing battle on private land adjacent to the military park in southwestern Tennessee. It will feature a cast of more than 10,000. The park itself will debut a new film and present in-depth, ranger-led tours that walk visitors through the actual battle site.

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