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Antietam & Gettysburg

Fate of a Nation Hangs in the Balance

October 13-19, 2013
Historian Guides: James McPherson & Dennis Frye

Since the birth of the United States in the American Revolution of 1776, the Civil War has been the only conflict in which the very survival of the nation was at stake. The issue of life or death for two nations lay at the heart of the war, and there was no middle ground for either side. Abraham Lincoln's great dream of freedom for all could be realized only with Union victory. If the Confederacy won, the precedent would be set for further divisions, and there would no longer be a country worthy of the name "United States."

The pendulum of victory and defeat swung back and forth during the four years of the war. Two of the most important swings from Confederate triumph to Union success took place at Antietam and Gettysburg. The 23,000 men killed, wounded, and missing at Antietam constituted the largest toll for any single day in all of American history. The 50,000 casualties of both sides in three days at Gettysburg were the largest for any battle in the Civil War. If either had turned out differently, the United States as we know it today might not exist.

Historian Guides:

Due to a scheduling conflict, Ed Bearss is not able to be the historian guide for this tour. Instead, the tour will be conducted by two of our country's most highly acclaimed historians, James McPherson and Dennis Frye.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University, Dr. James McPherson received his PhD at Johns Hopkins University. In a career as America's preeminent Civil War historian that has spanned more than four decades, he has garnered many of the historical profession's top accolades. He has written many books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and countless articles for historical publications. Dr. McPherson's most famous work Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era won the Pulitzer Prize for History and is considered to be the finest and most definitive comprehensive treatment of the Civil War period.

Dennis Frye is the Chief Historian at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. He is a prominent Civil War historian with numerous appearances on PBS, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, and A&E. He helped produce award-winning television features on the Battle of Antietam and abolitionist John Brown and served as an Associate Producer for the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals." Dennis is a well-known author of 88 articles and eight books, including Harpers Ferry Under Fire and September Suspense: Lincoln's Union in Peril.

An unprecedented presentation, this HistoryAmerica tour will become the opportunity of a lifetime to recapture all the excitement of the great events at the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg

7 Days / 6 Nights

Cost: $2,975 Single Occupancy, $2,595 Double Occupancy

Click to request a 2013 printed Travel Guide.


Sunday, October 13
Gather in Washington, D.C. for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by Ed Bearss and HistoryAmerica TOURS.

Monday, October 14
We start at the September 1862 battlefields of South Mountain — Fox's, Turner's, and Crampton's gaps, where Union troops sought to break through the mountains and rescue the Federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry. Though the North ultimately gained control of all three passes, resistance by the Southerners bought time for Gen. Robert E. Lee to reunite his army, which set the stage for Antietam. After a visit to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, we travel to Gettysburg and check into the historic Gettysburg Hotel, our headquarters for the next four nights.

Tuesday, October 15
At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's Union corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's army that began the Battle of Antietam and the single bloodiest day in American history. See where repeated Union attacks pushed the outnumbered Confederates to the edge of disaster but failed to score a decisive victory. Although the battle was considered a draw from a military point of view, Lee's forces were driven from Maryland, and this gave Abraham Lincoln the "victory" he needed before delivering the Emancipation Proclamation.

Wednesday, October 16
Walk the hallowed ground of the first two days of the Battle of Gettysburg. After Robert E. Lee's astonishing victory at Chancellorsville in May 1863, he led his Army of Northern Virginia into Pennsylvania, where he hoped to win a major battle on Union soil and weaken the North's appetite for war. See where Lee's Confederates met Union Gen. George C. Meade's troops in the hills north and west of town — the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and Little Round Top.

Thursday, October 17
On the evening of July 2, the fighting escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and East Cemetery Hill. Learn how, although the Confederates gained ground, the Union defenders still held strong positions by the end of the day. On July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south. But the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,000 Confederates against the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Walk climactic Pickett's Charge and relive this attack that was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire at great losses to Lee's Army.

Friday, October 18
Follow the route of Lee's retreat from Gettysburg to the Potomac River at Williamsport, where the Army of Northern Virginia was trapped by high water before finally crossing at Falling Waters. Return to Washington and our farewell dinner.

Saturday, October 19
Depart at your leisure following breakfast.

© 2013 HistoryAmerica TOURS
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Updated on 30 August, 2013