The Civil War Crucible of Freedom expedition explores the Antietam and Gettysburg battles as they shaped, more than any other in the Civil War, the destiny of freedom in America. In the space of about nine months, these fields, just 43 miles apart, saw the bloodiest day in American history and the largest battle ever fought on the continent. This expedition will take us back 150 years to some of the most crucial days of the Civil War where brother fought brother to determine America’s future as a beacon of freedom. The beautiful foliage of South and Catoctin mountains will enhance the journey as we visit these beautiful, pastoral scenes, so rich in history.
The Antietam campaign, including the siege of Harpers Ferry and the battle of South Mountain, resulted in the blunting of General Robert E. Lee’s first invasion of the North and enabled President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Some of the fabled sites we will visit include the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park with its exhibits on the industrial revolution and the National Armory, westward expansion, the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Storer College/WEB DuBois Niagara Movement, and John Brown’s Raid among others. On the Antietam tour, we will visit iconic battlefield sites including the Cornfield, the East and West Woods, the Sunken or Bloody Lane, Burnsides’ Bridge and the National Cemetery.
The battle of Gettysburg was a titanic, three-day engagement and we will visit famed sites including McPherson’s Ridge, Oak Knoll, Barlow’s Knoll, Culp’s Hill, Big and Little Round Tops, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, and Cemetery Hill. We will take two extended hikes – one with John Bell Hood’s division in James Longstreet’s attack on 2 July and the second with George Pickett’s division in Longstreet’s Assault on the afternoon of 3 July. We will complete our Gettysburg guided tour in the National Cemetery where President Lincoln gave his dedication address that forever changed America.