Last Blast: Civil War Swan Song

As the 150th anniversary of the Civil War draws to a close, head to these mid-Atlantic sites. They played a pivotal role in America’s deadliest conflict.

> Richmond, Virginia

The burning and evacuation of Richmond on April 2, 1865, signaled the beginning of the end of the war. Experience the fall of the Confederate capital from multiple perspectives (including that of enslaved residents) via exhibits; a walking tour retraces the route of President Lincoln’s visit, with his son, Tad, two days after the city was burned.

> Appomattox, Virginia

Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. They met at the McLean House, where Confederate reenactors will lay down their weapons in the stacking of arms ceremony (April 10-12, 2015). A Living History Day put on by the local historical society, a Footsteps to Freedom luminary, and other events round out the sesquicentennial observation.

> Washington, D.C. 

At approximately 10:15 p.m. on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln with a single-shot Deringer at Ford’s Theatre. Around-the-clock events re-create the frantic scene inside the theater during a special Lincoln Tribute (April 14-15, 2015). Head across the street to visit the Petersen house, where Lincoln died in a ground-floor bedroom the following morning, on April 15, 1865.

This piece, written by Maryellen Kennedy Duckett, first appeared in the February 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.