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Civil War Trust

Antietam and Harpers Ferry

Tour Itineraries

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    family  Cool for Kids


    Hike  Fun Hike


    Scenery  Impressive Views


    Tip  Insider Tip

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1 Day Trip


Jump to our 3 day trip!

Antietam Tour Bar

If you have one day for this trip, spend it exploring the beautifully preserved Antietam National Battlefield, site of the bloodiest single day in American history and the event that allowed President Lincoln to issue his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. If you only want a brief overview, then do Harpers Ferry as well - see the 3-Day Tour below for more information. 

1. Antietam National Battlefield (kids icon)(view icon)(hike icon)

BEFORE YOU GO:
Watch the Antietam Animated Map
Download the Antietam Battle App
View the Antietam photo gallery

WHAT TO DO:

Start at the National Park Service Visitor Center:

  • Watch the introductory film.
  • Find out what Ranger Programs are scheduled.
  • See the exhibits. (45 min) (kids icon)

Tour the Battlefield. You have several options: 

  • Follow the NPS Auto Tour Route and get out and explore each stop.
  • Purchase a touring CD from the bookstore.
  • Use the Civil War Trust's free Antietam Battle App on your smart phone.
  • Hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide to accompany you.

Don't miss:

  • The Cornfield - The battle begins here on the morning of September 17, where Confederate and Union forces engage in a series of attacks and counterattacks for 3 hours.
  • Dunker Church - Stonewall Jackson's troops hold their positions here despite several Union attacks. 
  • The Sunken Road - Union forces pierce the Confederate center in the early afternoon at this bloody site. 
  • Burnside's Bridge - Named for Union General Ambrose Burnside, who pushed his corps across this bridge in an attempt to turn the Confederate right flank.
  • The National Cemetery - 4,776 Union soldiers from the battle are buried here.

If you have time:

  • Visit the Pry House, which was Union General McClellan’s Headquarters and is now an annex of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
  • Take a battlefield hike on one of Antietam’s wonderful trails. See your NPS touring map for locations. Hike the Final Attack for a rigorous walk.
  • Complete the NPS Antietam battlefield scavenger hunt.
  • Do what strikes your fancy. Antietam is a  battlefield on which you could spend hundreds of hours and never do the same thing twice. Explore what interests you!

(icon) INSIDER TIP: For a sandwich, try the Battleview Market; for ice cream, try Nutter's.

3 Day Trip


Antietam 3 Day Tour

In three days, you will be able to cover the area very well. You can chose to spend as much or as little time as you like at the various sites, you can also skip or add sites to fit your needs. No matter what, make sure you spend ample time at Antietam and Harpers Ferry—they are the stars of this itinerary! If you do it all, you’ll be covering events from John Brown’s Raid (1859), to the Maryland Campaign (1862), to the Confederates march on Washington (1864), and much more.

Jump to one of our stops:

1. Antietam National Battlefield
2. Sheperdstown
3. Ferry Hill Place /  C&O Canal
4. Tolson's Chapel
5. Harpers Ferry
6. Kennedy Farmhouse
7. South Mountain State Battlefield
8. Monocacy National Battlefield
9. National Museum of Civil War Medicine

1. Antietam National Battlefield (kids icon)(view icon)(hike icon)

Fought on September 17, 1862, this battle was the single bloodiest day in American history, with more than 22,000 casualties. President Lincoln used this partial victory to issue his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. 

ESTIMATED TIME: 4-6 hours (7-8 if you love to hike)

New York Mounument
This monument commemorates the 3765 New York soldiers who were killed, wounded, or captured at the battle of Antietam. (Civil War Trust)

BEFORE YOU GO:
Watch the Antietam Animated Map
Download the Antietam Battle App
View the Antietam photo gallery

WHAT TO DO:

Start at the National Park Service Visitor Center:

  • Watch the introductory film.
  • Find out what Ranger Programs are scheduled.
  • See the exhibits. (45 min) (kids icon)

Tour the Battlefield. You have several options: 

  • Follow the NPS Auto Tour Route and get out and explore each stop.
  • Purchase a touring CD from the bookstore.
  • Use the Civil War Trust's free Antietam Battle App on your smart phone.
  • Hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide to accompany you.

Don't miss:

  • The Cornfield - The battle begins here on the morning of September 17, where Confederate and Union forces engage in a series of attacks and counterattacks for 3 hours.
  • Dunker Church - Stonewall Jackson's troops hold their positions here despite several Union attacks. 
  • The Sunken Road - Union forces pierce the Confederate center in the early afternoon at this bloody site. 
  • Burnside's Bridge - Named for Union General Ambrose Burnside, who pushed his corps across this bridge in an attempt to turn the Confederate right flank.
  • The National Cemetery - 4,776 Union soldiers from the battle are buried here.

For a longer tour of the battlefield, visit these key sites:

  • The East Woods - The first infantry engagement occurred here between Union and Confederate lines on the evening of September 16.
  • The North Woods - Site of the Union position at the opening of the battle on the morning of September 17.
  • The West Woods - Nearly 2,200 Union casualties occurred in these woods in a span of 20 minutes, as Confederate artillery and infantry cut down Sedgwick's division of the 2nd Corps.
  • Mumma Farm - This site was the only civilian property deliberately destroyed during the battle. Confederates burned the structure to avoid its use by Union sharpshooters.
  • Union Advance - The Union corps advanced across farm fields on the morning of September 17 toward the Sunken Road.

If you have time:

  • Visit the Pry House, which was Union General McClellan’s Headquarters and is now an annex of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.
  • Take a battlefield hike on one of Antietam’s wonderful trails. See your NPS touring map for locations. Hike the Final Attack for a rigorous walk.
  • Complete the NPS Antietam battlefield scavenger hunt.
  • Do what strikes your fancy. Antietam is a  battlefield on which you could spend hundreds of hours and never do the same thing twice. Explore what interests you!

(icon) INSIDER TIP: For a sandwich, try the Battleview Market; for ice cream, try Nutter's.

Watch Tower View
View from the watch tower at Antietam. (Civil War Trust)

2. Shepherdstown

Located near the Antietam National Battlefield but over the West Virginia line, the lovely (and rather hip!) Shepherdstown served as a Confederate hospital after Antietam and was the site of rearguard battle on September 20, 1862.

ESTIMATED TIME: 2-3 hours

BEFORE YOU GO:
Check out historian Nicholas Redding’s A History and Guide to Civil War Shepherdstown to discover more about this fascinating town.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Start by walking the main drag through the town. Great shops and restaurants abound!
  • Drive a few miles to the Shepherdstown Battlefield. Make sure you have a resource like the book mentioned above or some good directions.
  • See the old Cement Mill, where an intense fight took place.
  • Visit the Elmwood Cemetery, where many Confederate casualties of the Maryland campaign are buried.

(icon)INSIDER TIP: The Bavarian Inn is a beautiful hotel and Inn on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown that serves authentic German cuisine.

3. Ferry Hill Place/C&O Canal

The C&O canal served as an important transportation route for Union supplies durnig the war. Ferry Hill Place, perched above the canal opposite Shepherdstown, was the home of Henry Kyd Douglas, one of Stonewall Jackson's staff.

Henry Kyd Douglas
Henry Kyd Douglas joined Stonewall Jackson's staff after the Battle of First Manassas.

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 minutes

BEFORE YOU GO:
Learn more about Henry Kyd Douglas

WHAT TO DO:

(icon)INSIDER TIP: The Ferry Hill house is only open on weekends Memorial Day through Labor Day, but the canal trails are open year round.

4. Tolson's Chapel (kids icon)(view icon)(hike icon)

This Sheperdstown chapel was established by the local African-American community in 1866 and served as a school for African-American children following the Civil War.

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 minutes

BEFORE YOU GO:
Read more about the African-American experience during the Civil War.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Tour the chapel, thinking about how the sacrifice of the soldiers at Antietam paved the way for African-Americans to gain freedom and education following the war. 

(icon) INSIDER TIP: Tours are available by appointment only, and can be reserved by emailing tolsons.chapel@gmail.com.

Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry in June. (Civil War Trust)

5. Harpers Ferry (hike icon)

Harpers Ferry has a fascinating history of arms manufacturing and transportation – and of course, slavery and the Civil War. This beautifully preserved town changed hands several times during the Civil War, and was also the site of John Brown’s famous 1859 raid.

John Brown
Learn about John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry during your visit. (Library of Congress)

ESTIMATED TIME: 4 hours

BEFORE YOU GO:
Learn about the Civil War in Harpers Ferry.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Start at the National Park Service Visitor Center.
  • Take the NPS bus down to the Lower Town.
  • Tour the grounds and the many museums and exhibits in town.
  • Stand in John Brown's Fort.
  • Visit the Point at the confluence of two mighty rivers, the Potomac and the Shenandoah.
  • Tour the John Brown Wax Museum, the Industry Museum, and whatever else strikes your fancy.
  • Walk across the railroad bridge for another view of the Point - don't worry, it's safe for pedestrians!
    Tour the Harpers Ferry Battlefield.
  • Exit the Park and drive to Bolivar Heights, a crucial stie for many of the battles at Harpers Ferry during the Civil War, and walk the interpretive trail.

Don't miss:(view icon)
The moderate walk up the stone steps to Jefferson's Rock, where our third president proclaimed the view from that place was worth a trip across the Atlantic.

If you have time:
One of the best and most challenging of all Civil War hikes is to visit the overlook at Stone Fort atop Maryland Heights across the River from the Lower Town. See a Park Ranger for information and allow two hours for this seriously rigorous hike.

(tip icon) (view icon)INSIDER TIP: The Hilltop Hotel above Harpers Ferry has long been closed but from just below its parking lot you can observe a stunning Harpers Ferry view. (should be replaced)

6. Kennedy Farmhouse

This home was rented by John Brown and his followers as headquarters to prepare for their 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry.

Kennedy Farmhouse
This historic photo of John Brown's headquarters was taken in 1933. (Library of Congress)

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 minutes

BEFORE YOU GO:
Learn about John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Check out the interpretive markers outside the house.
  • Walk the grounds.

(icon) INSIDER TIP: While the house may not always be open, visitors are welcome to explore the ground and look in the windows.

7. South Mountain State Battlefield  (hike icon)

Visit the gaps in South Mountain where soldiers struggled for possession of the passes on September 14, 1862. The Battle of South Mountain produced 4,500 casualties and set the stage for the Battle of Antietam.

ESTIMATED TIME: 2-3 hours

North Carolina Monument at South Mountain
A Monument to the North Carolinians who fought at South Mountain on September 14, 1862. (Civil War Trust)

BEFORE YOU GO:

Learn more about the Battle of South Mountain.

WHAT TO DO:

  • Start at Crampton’s Gap, where the Union army pushed hard against the Confederate position in an attempt to relieve the garrison at Harper’s Ferry. Read the interpretive markers and grasp the importance of the position.
  • Visit the War Correspondents’ memorial. Don’t worry—you can’t miss it! Drive to Fox’s Gap, which the Confederates held despite strong Union pressure. Browse the markers and monuments there.
  • Walk the North Carolina trail.

If you have time:

  • While you are at Crampton's Gap, take a quick hike further up the rock-choked mountain on the Appalachian Trail-just so you can say you did!

(icon) (hike icon)INSIDER TIP: Check out the dozens of miles of hiking inside the South Mountain State Park.

Monocacy anniversary
Visitors stop at the Worthington Farm on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Monocacy. (Civil War Trust)

8. Monocacy National Battlefield (hike icon)

Visit the site of the July 1864 “Battle that Saved Washington.” Although Union forces were defeated at this battle, it gave Grant time to send veteran troops to bolster defenses around Washington.

ESTIMATED TIME: 2-3 hours

BEFORE YOU GO:
Read more about the Battle of Monocacy and its generals, Confederate General Jubal Early and Union General Lewis Wallace.

WHAT TO DO:

(icon)INSIDER TIP: Check the events page for special exhibits and commemorations.

9. National Museum of Civil War Medicine (kids icon)

Located in nearby Frederick, MD, this fascinating museum contains more than 1,500 artifacts relating to Civil War medicine.

ESTIMATED TIME: 90 minutes

Clara Barton
Learn about Clara Barton at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

BEFORE YOU GO:
Read about Jonathan Letterman, known as the “Father of Modern Battlefield Medicine.”

WHAT TO DO:

  • Tour the museum.
    Take advantage of the particularly excellent gift shop.

If you have time:

  • Walk the main streets of historic Frederick, Maryland.

(icon)INSIDER TIP: There are more than a dozen excellent restaurants and plenty of great shops along the main drags. We like Frederick Fudge for sweets and Frederick Coffee Company for a quick bite.

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