Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Virginia is For History

Images from Balls Bluff Battlefield

What do you think of first when it comes to Virginia as a travel destination?

If you are like the hundreds of travelers that were interviewed by the Virginia Tourism Corporation in their 2009 Attitude Study the answer was History. 37% of those asked responded with historic sites, the highest ranked category for this question.

This presents a huge opportunity for tourism in 2011 which is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Already groups and individuals are booking their reservations to come to Northern Virginia to see the many sites of significance to the Civil War.

This was not only America's most deadly war, it did as much to define America as the Revolution had. To understand American history means to understand the Civil War.

Particularly during the first half of the war, Northern Virginia was at the center of the conflict. The first battle of Manassas was the first real battle of the war. Ft. Sumter where the first shots were fired was an artillery bombardment with on casualty that happened after the main bombardment was over. Manassas was the first time the armies of the north and south face off against each other. A few months later the Battle of Balls Bluff near Leesburg brought home the political reality that this was going to be a long hard fought war.

Then in 1862 there was the Second Battle of Manassas, the Battle of Ox Hill (or Chantilly). There was also the Battle of Dranesville and the Battle of Aldie, all in Northern Virginia. Arlington and Alexandria Virginia were armed camps with forts ringing the Nations Capital. All along the Bull Run and Occoquan Rivers were numerous forts and camps that were used by both sides as the lines of control shifted.

Northern Virginia was the base of operations for the most famous scout and partisan ranger of all times, John S. Mosby, who carried out his hit and run raids all over the region from 1863 -65.

60% of the combat of the Civil War was fought in Virginia. And with so much of the action centered in the Northern Virginia area outside of Washington D.C. this is one of the best possible destinations for historic tourism.

Beyond the Civil War, this area also boasts some of the best colonial historic sites anywhere with places like Mt. Vernon, Gunston Hall and the Carlyle House and many other sites to educate and entertain visitors.

With all of these resources it is little wonder that Virginia is for History.

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