Civil War Trails® connects visitors with the great campaigns and lesser-known sites of the Civil War. Our signature signs and distinctive red bugle guide visitors as they follow in the footsteps of the generals, soldiers, citizens, and the enslaved who found themselves in the midst of this great struggle.
Civil War Trails began in 1994 as a group of historians successfully linked together the sites connecting Petersburg and Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Since then, many people contributed to the founding and growth of the program, which is a testament to its success and grassroots nature. We thank Chris Calkins for his scholarship on the Petersburg and Appomattox Campaigns, which paved the way for the first Trail, Lee’s Retreat. Jack Berry, Don Pierce, and Mitch Bowman also contributed the inspiration, architecture, and elbow grease to the development of Civil War Trails. Their leadership created the largest open air museum in the world.
By 1999, Civil War Trails consisted of over 200 interpretive sites, including Lee vs. Grant, Peninsula and Shenandoah Valley Campaign Trails. In 2000, Civil War Trails became a 501(c)(3) non-profit, educational organization and began expanding into Maryland. The following year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Civil War Trails first among successful and sustainable heritage tourism programs in the nation. Shortly thereafter, Civil War Trails launched the Carolinas Campaign Trail in North Carolina. West Virginia and Tennessee quickly signed on in the mid-2000s. Today, the program guides visitors to over 1,200 sites, over 700 of which we are proud to interpret to the public for the first time.
Our guest-focused approach allows us to interpret—not commemorate or memorialize—the events, people, and places of the most pivotal time in our nation’s history. There’s always something new to see and do along the Trail, as our program continues to grow. We look forward to seeing you on the Trail!