There are many Civil War battlefield sites that are not well known but are still worth visiting. Many battlefields are lesser known because of their geographic location, they had fewer combatant/casualty numbers, were not well defined by battlefield preservation, or lack of attention in Civil War media and popular culture.
These battlefields are still worth visiting because they have great lessons to learn from and are often the missing pieces to complete the Civil War narrative to have a much better understanding.
A local battlefield guide can show you these little-known places as you make new discoveries on and off of the preserved battlefield area.
First Kernstown (March 23, 1862)
Located outside of historic Winchester, Va. this was the opening battle of Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign and among the many Northern Shenandoah Valley Campaigns.
It was Jackson’s only tactical defeat. However, it was a big Confederate strategic victory because the Union will divert 60,000 troops from McClellan’s drive for Richmond up the Peninsula resulting in the Seven Days’ Battles.
Port Republic (June 9, 1862)
This is the climatic ending of Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign and among the many Southerthern Shenandoah Valley Campaigns. This battle will secure the Valley for the south and allow Jackson’s Army of the Valley to join the defense of Richmond and take part in the Seven Days’ Battles.
Today, one can visit the Port Republic Museum in the quaint historic village along the Shenandoah River. One can also stand at the top of the infamous Union defense known as the Coaling for dramatic views of the battlefield and the Valley.
Cedar Mountain (August 9, 1862)
Located 6 miles south of historic Culpeper, Va. this was Stonewall Jackson’s last independent command. An important keystone battle, it’s both the end of the defense of Richmond and the genesis of the Second Manassas campaign.
Fredericksburg – Slaughter Pen Farm and Prospect Hill (December 13, 1862)
Located 2 miles south of the historic town of Fredericksburg, one can find the lower portion of the battlefield which is off the radar of most people.
While visitors today are largely focused on the upper portion of the battlefield at Marye’s Heights, the lower portion is where the most decisive military action occurred between George Meade and Stonewall Jackson at Prospect Hill.
The American Battlefield Trust preserved 208 acres at Slaughter Pen Farm, one of the largest single battlefield preservation purchases in U.S. history.
Brandy Station (June 9, 1863)
Located just outside of the historic town of Culpeper, Va. this is the opening battle of the Gettysburg Campaign resulting in the largest cavalry battle in North America. The most dramatic action swirled around Fleetwood Hill where one can view the many charges and sites through a public telescope.
Preserved by the American Battlefield Trust and owned by the Virginia State Parks, one can learn more at the Graffiti House visitor center or take advantage of their horse trails.
Mine Run (November 27 – December 1, 1863)
Only 10 minutes away from The Wilderness battlefield in Orange County, Va., one can find George Meade’s last battle of 1863 to get at Robert E. Lee before Ulysses S. Grant comes out east. Part of the Forgotten Fall of 1863, one can learn what happened in the months that followed Gettysburg.
Today, the American Battlefield Trust preserved a portion of the battlefield at Payne’s Farm where intense action occurred. The rest of the battlefield is still there waiting to be discovered and preserved.
North Anna (May 23-24, 1864)
The third battle of Grant’s Overland Campaign can be found in Caroline and Hanover County, Va. between Fredericksburg and Richmond.
This is the last time both armies will be the most evenly matched and perhaps Lee’s last best chance to get at the Union army as he sets a trap in the shape of an inverted-v.
You can find some of the best preserved Civil War earthworks in Virginia at one of the fastest-growing battlefields today, with portions preserved by the American Battlefield Trust, Richmond Battlefield Park, and the Hanover County Parks.
If you want to further your knowledge about these little-known battlefield sites, there’s no better way to discover them than in the company of an expert guide. Browse our Battlefield Tours, Combo Tours, and Custom Tour options. If you have any questions, please get in touch.