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American civil war tour, How long would it take?

Old 09-24-10, 12:20 PM
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American civil war tour, How long would it take?

I've always had an interest in the American civil war after seeing the excellent series by Ken Burns (I come from the UK), and have always wanted to see some of the key sights. I seem to remember most of the famous ones were in just a couple of states (Maryland and Virginia?). Has anyone done a tour of these sites and got any ideas of distance involved? My friend and I don't travel that fast, maybe 40 or 50 miles on a good day, so we'd have to take into account towns to stop in around the areas. What are those two states like for cycling in? Is it small town America, or urban sprawl? Also, other than Gettysburg, how do the rest of the battlefields hold up, are they preserved or simply farmers' fields, or worse, shopping malls?
It's just a vague plan at the minute, and would probably be done in a good few years' time, but any input would be appreciated in working out if it's viable.

All the best.
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Old 09-24-10, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
I've always had an interest in the American civil war after seeing the excellent series by Ken Burns (I come from the UK), and have always wanted to see some of the key sights. I seem to remember most of the famous ones were in just a couple of states (Maryland and Virginia?). Has anyone done a tour of these sites and got any ideas of distance involved? My friend and I don't travel that fast, maybe 40 or 50 miles on a good day, so we'd have to take into account towns to stop in around the areas. What are those two states like for cycling in? Is it small town America, or urban sprawl? Also, other than Gettysburg, how do the rest of the battlefields hold up, are they preserved or simply farmers' fields, or worse, shopping malls?
It's just a vague plan at the minute, and would probably be done in a good few years' time, but any input would be appreciated in working out if it's viable.

All the best.
I'm not a history buff, but I live in the area... It could be fairly rural and pleasant. The battle fields I have visited were fairly well preserved. The distances involved are not all that large unless you want to go more west and south. So I guess it could be easily scalable depending on how ambitious you are.

I think it could be a great tour for a history buff.

You might check out https://www.civilwartraveler.com
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Old 09-24-10, 02:48 PM
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I live between Gettysburg and Antietam battlefileds and visit them both frequently,there great places to ride.It's allmost all rural area with some small towns between exept for Gettysburg is rather large.Both battlefields are very well preserved as are other smaller battlefields in the area.There are mountains to travel through,some can be rather steep,about 60 miles from Gettysburg to Antietam could be done in one day,or if you prefer there are some state parks to camp at in between.

I also used to live near the Bull run battlefield,also well preserved,but there is alot of city surrounding it.
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Old 09-24-10, 03:09 PM
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Think outside Virginia, as well... The War was won out here in the Western Theater. A western tour running from Fort Donelson (Clarksville, TN) to Shiloh, to Corinth and Vicksburg, then maybe a little back tracking to cover Chattanooga (Chickamauga is adjacent), follow the Atlanta Campaign via Highway 41, to Jonesboro (home of Gone With The Wind), and finish by riding with Sherman from Atlanta to the Sea...
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Old 09-25-10, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
I've always had an interest in the American civil war after seeing the excellent series by Ken Burns (I come from the UK), and have always wanted to see some of the key sights. I seem to remember most of the famous ones were in just a couple of states (Maryland and Virginia?). Has anyone done a tour of these sites and got any ideas of distance involved? My friend and I don't travel that fast, maybe 40 or 50 miles on a good day, so we'd have to take into account towns to stop in around the areas. What are those two states like for cycling in? Is it small town America, or urban sprawl? Also, other than Gettysburg, how do the rest of the battlefields hold up, are they preserved or simply farmers' fields, or worse, shopping malls?
It's just a vague plan at the minute, and would probably be done in a good few years' time, but any input would be appreciated in working out if it's viable.

All the best.
Harpers Ferry, WV:



Sharpsburg:



Gettysburg:



How long depends on what you want to see. It was a big war fought over a lot of ground. DC to Harpers Ferry to Antietam to Gettysburg could be done in two to three days. New Orleans to Gettysburg will be a bit longer.

Also, are you going to only hit the 'big' battles or visit other historic sites? You could ride around Gettysburg battlefield. Or you can do that and visit Caledonia's iron furnace, burned by Early's troops on the way to Gettysburg. Early disregarded the standing practice of not destroying civilian property when he discovered the furnace was owned by Thaddeus Stevens the abolisionist. It's 15 miles west of Gettysburg on a PA bike route. There are many such 'little' historic sites connected to the civil war.

 
Old 09-25-10, 04:04 PM
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Interesting! I have a friend from near Manchester/Liverpool who is planning on doing a similar tour next year. And yes he did watch the Burns' documentary too.
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Old 09-26-10, 03:09 AM
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Thanks for that, all.
IronMac, isn't it a small world?
I'd be hoping to see quite a few of the battlefields, certainly the most historic ones. Seeing Harpur's Ferry would be great as well (Am I right in thinking that was where it all started with John Brown?)
I'd also love to see some of the Southern Battlefields. But I'm not sure of the logistics. How much time we'd have, I don't know. If you were cycling it, how long would it take to get from Virginia to, say Appomatox or Atlanta?
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Old 09-26-10, 06:27 AM
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On October 17, 1859, John Brown led a small band of terrorists and seized the Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown hoped this would lead to a general slave revolt and the abolition of slavery in the US, or the formation of a 'free' nation in the mountains west of the town. Didn't happen. Troops led by Colonel Robert E. Lee captured Brown and the surviving terrorists in the arsenal's engine house. While the seizure of Fort Sumter wasn't for another year and a half, many people credit Brown with 'starting' the Civil War.

I was at the 150th anniversary events last year. These photos are from a Marine wreath laying for Luke Quinn, killed when Lee's troops stormed the engine house. The engine house, called "John Brown's fort", has been moved a number of times over the past century and a half; it's currently near the confluence of the rivers.







 
Old 09-26-10, 09:18 AM
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A couple books that might be of interest here

Bicycling Through Civil War History
https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Thro...5513626&sr=8-1

Cycling Through Georgia: Tracing Sherman's March
https://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Throug...5514002&sr=8-1

A general search of book son Amazon using the terms "tour civil war battlefields" provides a number of books from which you can choose for research, planning, generating more specific ideas.

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Old 09-26-10, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by drmweaver2
A couple books that might be of interest here

Bicycling Through Civil War History
https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Thro...5513626&sr=8-1

Cycling Through Georgia: Tracing Sherman's March
https://www.amazon.com/Cycling-Throug...5514002&sr=8-1

A general search of book son Amazon using the terms "tour civil war battlefields" provides a number of books from which you can choose for research, planning, generating more specific ideas.
Thanks for that, guys. It's a shame the engine house has been moved - it always seems like tampering, but I suppose if it preserves it from demolition, it's worth it.

Hey, and thanks for the links to the books. Really helpful.

All the best

Phil
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Old 09-26-10, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by IronMac
Interesting! I have a friend from near Manchester/Liverpool who is planning on doing a similar tour next year. And yes he did watch the Burns' documentary too.

Hey, IronMac, I don't suppose you could ask your friend what his planned route is, and whether he's taking his own bike? I'd be very interested in hearing how he plans to do it.

All the best

Phil
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Old 09-26-10, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
Thanks for that, guys. It's a shame the engine house has been moved - it always seems like tampering, but I suppose if it preserves it from demolition, it's worth it.

Hey, and thanks for the links to the books. Really helpful.

All the best

Phil
The engine house is well-traveled, having been in Chicago for the 1891 World Columbian exhibitions. It's not that far from its original location.
 
Old 09-26-10, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by The Historian
The engine house is well-traveled, having been in Chicago for the 1891 World Columbian exhibitions. It's not that far from its original location.
That is well travelled. Thanks for the info.

I had a quick look at the map, and did a very rough, as the crow flies routing, and see that the major battlefields, running from Gettysburg in the North to (from memory) Appomatox in the south East, encompassing Harpers Ferry, Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and some others I can't remember off the top of my head, comes in at about 300 miles.
That's very doable.
It's just all the other logistics that are difficult - how to fly to the US from the UK with bikes, where to fly to, how far we'd have to travel to get to the start of the tour, whether that would be viable by train, whether there are any off road cycle routes (I seem to remember reading there are some old railway lines converted to cycle track, though can't remember if that's even in the same state.
It's so much fun to browse the maps, though, and try and figure out how it could work.

Again, thanks for the input.

All the best

Phil
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Old 09-26-10, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
That is well travelled. Thanks for the info.

I had a quick look at the map, and did a very rough, as the crow flies routing, and see that the major battlefields, running from Gettysburg in the North to (from memory) Appomatox in the south East, encompassing Harpers Ferry, Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and some others I can't remember off the top of my head, comes in at about 300 miles.
That's very doable.
It's just all the other logistics that are difficult - how to fly to the US from the UK with bikes, where to fly to, how far we'd have to travel to get to the start of the tour, whether that would be viable by train, whether there are any off road cycle routes (I seem to remember reading there are some old railway lines converted to cycle track, though can't remember if that's even in the same state.
It's so much fun to browse the maps, though, and try and figure out how it could work.

Again, thanks for the input.

All the best

Phil
Allow time and miles to ride the battlefields. Gettysburg is huge. Antietam is pretty big too.

The C & O Canal towpath runs from Cumberland MD to DC, and it passes by Antietam and Harpers Ferry - the latter is across the river. You could start in Gettysburg, head west on PA Bike Route S passing Caledonia furnace and Chambersburg (both towns burned by the Rebellion, and the latter where Brown plotted his raid), at Rockwood take the Great Allegheny Passage trail to Cumberland, and then head south. Lee's troops crossed the Potomac at Williamsport when retreating from Gettysburg, and you'll pass that site.
 
Old 09-26-10, 03:15 PM
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Thanks for that. I'll check out the routes you mention. Sounds like it's getting more interesting by the hour. I'll have a look on the map, and almost certainly come back with more questions.

Again, thanks for the input.

Phil
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Old 09-29-10, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
Hey, IronMac, I don't suppose you could ask your friend what his planned route is, and whether he's taking his own bike? I'd be very interested in hearing how he plans to do it.
Heya Gotte, I don't think that he even knows what his route is at the moment. I am pretty sure that his plans are to do the northern battlefields at the very least from Washington D.C. onwards and his trip will be sometime after June timeframe. Sometime in July to September but I think it will be second week of July. I was thinking of riding down from Toronto to meet up with him at Gettysburg because I have a friend who lives nearby.

He will be bringing his new touring bike over unless he goes retro and takes his older 25+ yr bike. His style of touring is to do wild camps throughout which means totally self-supported touring on his part. I do the same but I almost never wild camp. He's also waiting on his order of a set of Super Carradice pannier bags from the factory.

When is your trip planned for? What style of touring do you do? Self-supported? Credit card?
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Old 09-29-10, 12:48 AM
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The war took 4 years, (1861–1865) the residue still lingers.. today.
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Old 09-29-10, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Gotte
I had a quick look at the map, and did a very rough, as the crow flies routing, and see that the major battlefields, running from Gettysburg in the North to (from memory) Appomatox in the south East, encompassing Harpers Ferry, Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and some others I can't remember off the top of my head, comes in at about 300 miles.
That's very doable.
It's just all the other logistics that are difficult - how to fly to the US from the UK with bikes, where to fly to, how far we'd have to travel to get to the start of the tour, whether that would be viable by train . . .
Phil, if you and your friend fly into Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport, a stone's throw from my house, (and if I'm in town when you plan to come) I'll schlep you and your bikes and gear out to Gettysburg, which is about an hour and a half drive away.

Your compatriots were very kind and welcoming to this Yank during her four years of living in England, so I figure I owe some karma points.
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