Antietam & Gettysburg
Fate of a Nation Hangs in the Balance
October 13-19, 2013
Historian Guide: Edwin C. Bearss
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.
Ed Bearss's vast and insightful knowledge will bring to life all the drama of events on these two important battlefields. With unquestionable authority and striking narrative, he will shed light on the momentous issues of the Civil War and explain why it still resonates today as a "second American Revolution."
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.