The Civil War: 150 Years

Top: Civil War 150 Years Webby Award Nomination. Bottom: Fort Sumter, before the war
Fort Sumter before the war

National Park Service Sesquicentennial Commemoration

One hundred and fifty years after it was contested, the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War offers an unparalleled opportunity to discover, discuss, and commemorate America's greatest national crisis, and explore its enduring relevance in the 21st century.

More than 70 national parks preserve the places and stories where this epic struggle occurred. Each is remembering the war in its own way, from formal ceremonies to academic symposia. Search the Calendar of Events to see what's happening or head straight to Plan Your Visit to plot your route to a Civil War national park or one of our partner sites.

Engraving of the Battle of Shiloh
Engraving of the Battle of Shiloh

Library of Congress

Coming up in 2012

April - Battle of Shiloh

The April 6-7, 1862, battle that raged around Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing was the largest engagement in the Mississippi Valley campaign. Shiloh National Military Park will offer Ranger-led battlefield hikes and present a "Grand Illumination" on April 7, with luminaries placed around the battlefield to represent each casualty of the battle.

September - Battle of Antietam

The bloodiest one day battle in American history saw 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing after 12 hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. Antietam National Battlefield is planning tours, hikes, children's activities, living history, guest lecture, and memorial ceremonies, part of a regional effort to commemorate the entire Maryland Campaign of 1862.

Engraving of the Battle of Bull Run
Engraving of the First Battle of Bull Run

Library of Congress

What Did I Miss?

July 2011 - First Battle of Manassas, Virginia

On July 21, 1861, two armies clashed for the first time on the fields overlooking Bull Run. Heavy fighting swept away any notion of a quick war. 150th anniversary events took place over four days at Manassas National Battlefield Park.

April 2011 - Fort Sumter, South Carolina

Decades of growing strife between North and South erupted in civil war on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. One hundred and fifty years later, thousands turned out to remember the first shots of the Civil War at Fort Sumter National Monument.

Small graphic icon of 'Then and Now' page
"Civil War: Then and Now"

"Then and Now"

The Civil War set the stage for numerous transformations of the fundamental structure of American society, influencing basic concepts of human and civil rights and equality. Explore some key events of 150 years ago and contrast them with how things have changed - or in some cases, remained the same.

Small illustrative map of the United States

State Commemorations

Many states are planning significant events to commemorate their role in the Civil War.

Last updated: April 18, 2012