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by Jeff Shaara, 2007

For several years, I worked on a project that focuses on those special places in this country where people can find some emotional connection to the history of the American Civil War. Jeff Shaara’s Civil War Battlefields is that project.

After traveling extensively throughout the various theaters of the war, I chose ten sites that I believe every American should visit. Whether you have a particular passion for the subject, or are simply looking for a good place to take your kids on vacation, these sites each hold special meaning, and offer something for everyone. My choices, of course, are subjective, and I know that several major historical sites are not included. Since this is not an attempt to offer a comprehensive guide to all battlefield sites everywhere (others have done so many times before) I chose those sites that I feel best illustrate the value of historical preservation, and at the same time, provide a vivid historical and personal portrait of the Civil War.

So, why do we need yet one more battlefield guide book? I promise, this is not simply a rehash of what you will find in a Park Service pamphlet. Ultimately, I’m hoping this book will inspire readers to see this hallowed ground in a new way, to appreciate that we have sites that hold a special place in our history, sites that must be preserved. To that end, I have donated the entire publication advance from this book, $50,000.00, half to the Civil War Preservation Trust, and half directly to those groups who work so tirelessly to preserve many of the sites featured in this book. I will continue to donate a sizable percentage of the royalties from the sales of this book (for as long as anyone buys it). I hope this book will inspire you to support these valuable sites as well.

The sites are laid out in ten chapters, in chronological order to their history: Shiloh (Tennessee) ; Antietam (Maryland) ; Fredericksburg/Chancellorsville (Virginia) ; Gettysburg (Pennsylvania) ; Vicksburg (Mississippi) ; Chickamauga (Georgia) ; The Wilderness/Spotsylvania (Virginia) ; New Market (Virginia) ; Cold Harbor (Virginia) ; Petersburg (Virginia).

Each site was chosen not just for the historical significance of what happened there, but for the high state of preservation of the ground itself. Each chapter explains not only the history of each site, but why it was especially important. Then, I offer a brief look at special places to visit there, a unique part of each field. This book is designed to offer everyone a special experience, whether you’re a Civil War “buff” or simply a tourist. Within each chapter are maps, many photographs (both then and now), and also, I include several side-bars to each chapter, offering glimpses of special places to visit beyond the battlefield itself (such as Appomattox, Lookout Mountain, The Stonewall Jackson Shrine and The Virginia Military Institute).

I’ve heard from a great many readers who have been inspired to take their families to visit these extraordinary sites. Thank you!


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