Some years ago my brother, Bob, mentioned that he wanted to go back East to visit Civil War sites. I told him that when I retired, I would go with him.

Fast forward several years….

We have returned from a 2-week trip titled Civil War: The Northern States. We saw every important Civil War anything that we could possibly squeeze into 14 days.

In this picture, Bob is shooting a musket in a Union uniform at the Samuel Mudd House. This is the house where John Wilkes Booth went to get his leg set after shooting Abraham Lincoln. That was on Day 1.

We based out of a friend’s house in Ellicott City, Maryland, took a few day trips and five overnight trips. My personal favorite days were viewing the cherry blossoms at their peak in D.C., walking a section of the Appalachian Trail, and visiting friends in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

Civil War Highlights

At the beginning of the trip, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into, but Bob’s enthusiasm for all things Civil War was contagious, and I quickly became fascinated as well.

Some of the highlights included searching for upside-down cannons at Antietam. These were the markers for the six Generals who died along with 20,000 soldiers in a one-day battle. Another was visiting Appomattox where General Lee surrendered to General Grant. We saw the incredible Gettysburg Diorama. Oh, and there was the day we spent searching for General Stonewall Jackson’s buried arm.

Check Out Our Trip Stats

  • Battlefields – 17
  • National Historic Sites – 15
  • Museums – lost count at 20
  • National Trails – 3
  • National Cemeteries – 3
  • Underground Railroads – 3
  • Amputated Limbs – 1
  • Colonial Sites – 3
  • National Park Passport Stamps – 40 each
  • States – 3 + D.C.
  • Friends Visited – 6
  • Pounds of coffee – 1, plus daily lattes
  • Wine and gin for daily debriefs – 14+

Even with the daily briefings – “here’s what we’re seeing today” – the best part of the trip was spending time (a lot of time) with my brother. We talked, reminisced, and solved a few world problems; practiced high finance as we tried in vain to keep receipts straight; and consulted about where to take the perfect selfie of the day. We also took a few wrong turns, which resulted in several unexpected adventures.

On day one I couldn’t tell you with 100% confidence which side was blue or gray. On day 14, I was prepared to win a game of Civil War Trivia.

The biggest testament to the success of our trip – we are already planning for Civil War II: The Southern States next spring.


Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.

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