History happens in the real world. The classroom and textbooks can only provide so much information. Battlefields dot the American landscape. From the War of Independence to Pershing’s expedition against Pancho Villa in 1916, they can be found amongst the hills of Tennessee and the swamps of Florida. Battle sites are a vital part of American history, seeing as the US was born from a war, and many of them are well preserved time capsules into America’s past.
However, according to the Civil War Trust on the condition of Civil War battlefields only “20 percent is permanently protected” while another 20 percent is gone forever, and the remaining 60 remains unprotected. The state of our War of 1812 and Revolutionary War battlefields are even worse, and disappearing every day due to urbanization and other construction. Indeed, as recent as May 2018 the Trust formalized a deal with the Institute for advanced study to preserve 14 acres critical to the 1777 battle of Princeton New Jersey earmarked for housing development.
Battlefields are not alone in being erased. One cannot go to the New York of 1776, for example, but remnants of colonial life can be found in living history locales like Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. Historical Conquest is dedicated to teaching history. Through our ever-growing curriculum and the card game that put our names on the map, Historical Conquest seeks to bring history to the forefront once more. Below, are ten of what we believe to be the most fascination Revolutionary War sites to visit and appreciate:
1. Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, New York - Built by the French in 1755, Ticonderoga was the site of several battles in the French and Indian and American War of Independence. In pristine condition, the fort is a primary example of an eighteenth-century fortress, complete with ravelins and demi-lunes, redoubts and glacis, the fortress in one of the finest preserved fortresses in the world. Nestled on the shores of scenic Lake Champlain, guest can explore the works and the local museum, check out one of many daily living history programs, immersing oneself in history whilst enjoying nature at her finest. Visit the website for details: fortticonderoga.org.
2. Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Virginia - Situated within the city of Williamsburg, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history museum! They specialize in interpreting what a colonial American city was like to live in. The museum has plenty of exhibits and activities. Think of it as a Disney for Colonial American with actors in colonial costume roaming the streets, or performing daily tasks like blacksmithing and cooking old-timey recipes. Fun for the whole family awaits, learn more here: colonialwilliamsburg.com.
3. Minute Man National Historical Park, outside Boston, Massachusetts - Visit the place where it all started! The first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and later Concord Massachusetts. Follow the route of the British from Boston to Concord at Minute Men National Historic Park. Like most historical parks the land is dotted with monuments and activities for the whole family Get a bit of fresh air while you learn about our nation’s beginnings. nps.gov.
4. Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Located in the heart of downtone Philidelphia, Independence Hall is open to the public eager to explore the building wherein the Declaration of Independence was ratified by the Second Continental Congress. It was here that America was proclaimed a nation, and is a must see for anyone. As an added bonus one can see the liberty bell with its famous crack right across the street. https://www.nps.gov/inde/learn/historyculture/stories-libertybell.htm
5. Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, New York - France would join the American cause only if the Americans could prove that they could win on the battlefield, and win they did. Six thousand redcoats, including all their baggage and flags, even their commanding general, John Burgoyne, fell into American hands. This was a truly decisive affair.The Campaign of Saratoga ended in a disaster for the British Army of General John Burgoyne. Such was the scale of the defeat that Burgoyne and his entire army were taken, prisoner. This victory induced the French to join the war on the American side, and if any single event can be considered a turning point in the war it was surely Saratoga. Being one of the better-preserved battlefields of this era, Saratoga offers a wide range of events. The battle’s anniversary is marked with a live-action recreation of this crucial encounter and is the highlight of the park’s calendar year. History walks provide a foot tour over the ground itself with deeper insights provided by experienced Park Rangers, and the month of July is devoted entirely to programs dedicated to introducing young visitors to eighteenth-century life. See their website for more information: https://www.nps.gov/sara/index.htm.
6. Valley Forge, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania - The winter of 1777-78 was a desperate time for Washington’s Continental Army. Forced from Philadelphia by General Howe’s redcoats, Washington was obliged to winter his army on high ground near the Schuylkill River. Here the army suffered through the intense cold, but here also, under the tutelage of Baron von Steuben, the Continentals learned to fight as a professional army. Within the park itself, visitors can explore the Continental Army’s encampment on foot, or bike, over thirty miles of trails. Self-guided tours and those led by Park Rangers are available. Stroll upon von Steuben's old parade ground, or within common soldier’s cabins. In nearby Oaks Pennsylvania, just west of the Park visitors can explore the massive collection of old antiques and pop culture oddities at the American Treasure Tour Museum. This unique museum is a rare gem, full of countless pieces of twentieth-century American pop-culture. Check out both websites here: https://www.nps.gov/vafo/index.htm http://americantreasuretour.com/
7. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, Greensboro, North Carolina - Do you know the fighting was so desperate that the British Cornwallis ordered his artillery to fire into struggling crowds of soldiers that included his own, just to break the deadlock? The Battle of Guilford Courthouse was one of the biggest battles of the War of Independence. Though victorious, the casualties suffered by General Cornwallis induced him to begin his fateful march to Yorktown, which ultimately leads to American victory in the war. To walk this ground is to walk upon soil where countless hundred fell, a pivotal moment in the War of Independence, as the carnage wrought here forced Cornwallis upon his fateful march to Yorktown. Guilford once nestled in the North Carolina, but today is but a short trip from downtown Greensboro. Despite this nature of the ground itself has been painstakingly preserved by the national park. Modern roads wind their way along the boundaries enabling tours by foot or car. One of the true treasures of the Tar Heel state. https://www.nps.gov/guco/index.htm
8. Mount Vernon Estates, Fairfax County, Virginia - The historic home of George and Martha Washington is a sprawling estate on the banks of the River Potomac just south of the nation’s capital. Here families can visit the luxurious mansion and estate grounds, learn more of our nation’s first President all the while being immersed in an eighteenth century-long since gone. Activities include a chance to become President Washington in the interactive theater, 4-D experience of the Revolutionary War, exploring the hardships faced by Washington’s slaves, meeting Martha Washington, and more!
9. Arkansas Post National Memorial, Gillett, Arkansas - Arkansas Post was the earliest European settlement in the lower Mississippi, and at one point was under the control of Spain, France, and later the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the Spanish fort was assailed by British partisans and was the site of a crucial battle of the Civil War. In modern times the national memorial is the site to a rebuilt colonial fort as well as a Civil War battlefield. Significant as a preserved frontier site the Post offers lively entertainment and educational services as its history spans centuries. https://www.nps.gov/arpo/index.htm
10. George Rogers Clark National Historic Park, Vincennes, Indiana - Illinois didn’t become a state until 1818, so how could their have been fighting there in the War of Independence? Britain’s power in the Americas stretched into the modern midwest, and to maintain these territories forts arose in the wilderness. To eliminate them was vital to the American cause. The Illinois Campaign of George Rogers Clark in 1778-1779 wrestled control of modern Illinois and Indiana from the British by swift marches and the canny strategy of Clark himself. Operating far from any support, on limited supplies, Clark was time and again able to attack the British and overwhelm them. His actions severely reduced British power in the midwest. To commemorate the daring victories of Clark and his men a great national monument was built in Vincennes, Indiana. The memorial is a great granite building, framed with murals depicting the war, and styled in the Greek architectural manner. It is a stunning memorial to a long forgotten aspect of the War of Independence. https://www.nps.gov/gero/index.htm.