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Links to Git Up 'N' Go Civil War Day Excursions.

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With the capitals of the Union, Washington, DC and the Confederacy, Richmond, VA, just 100 miles from each other, the initial battles of the Civil War centered on this region.

The road to Richmond from Washington had barriers of major rivers to cross and many miles of enemy territory to pass through with few major roadways, while the Union capital was almost surrounded by either the Confederacy itself in Virginia and many Confederate sympathizers in Maryland.

Just across the Potomac River from Washington were the town of Alexandria and the home of Robert E. Lee, Arlington. The Union needed to have a protective zone of defense beyond their capital in an area where the citizens’ loyalties were suspect and total control was difficult to execute. So they constructed a ring of more than 60 forts around the Union capital and began occupying Alexandria and other Northern Virginia towns. 

arlington house with union soldiersThe Union seized Lee’s estate one month after he joined the Confederacy, using the lawn and gardens to bury the Union dead, the origin of this world-famous military cemetery.

Link to Fort Ward and the outer Washington defenses

Link to Arlington.

Further away from this perimeter, Confederate raids constantly harassed Union supply depots, outposts, and patrols, with the Gray Ghost, Colonel John S. Mosby, becoming legendary for his daring exploits. Using guerilla warfare and innovative tactics, Mosby and his cavalry of partisan rangers so controlled most of five Northern Virginia counties that the area became known as Mosby’s Confederacy. He once captured a Union general along with 58 horses in a dramatic raid on a Union-held town.

The battle cry of the Union forces was “On to Richmond!” The Union troops were 90-day volunteers called upon by President Abraham Lincoln after the shocking news of the Confederates firing on Fort Sumter in April,1861. Recruited from shops and farms, these men had little knowledge of what war would mean.  They were an army of green recruits, but their confident march showed that none doubted the outcome of a quick and decisive victory.

Link to read more about the first battle of the Civil War, which started off with soldiers picking berries and thrill-seekers coming from Washingon with picnic baskets.

Link to return to the Accessible Civil War main page.


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