US National Battlefields

National Military Park, National Battlefield, National Battlefield Park, and National Battlefield Site are four designations for 25 battle sites preserved by the United States federal government because of their national importance.

These designations apply to sites where historic battles were fought on American soil during the armed conflicts that shaped the growth and development of the United States.

In 1890, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was the first such site created by Congress. Originally these sites were maintained by the War Department, but were transferred to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933.

The different designations appear to represent Congressional attitudes at the time of authorization of each individual site, although “park” appears to be reserved for the larger sites. Only Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site, which is small, still bears that designation; others have since been redesignated.

Some battlefields are designated as National Monuments, such as Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, or National Historic Sites, such as Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site.

As with all historic areas in the National Park System, these battle sites are automatically listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

There are eleven National Battlefields, nine National Military Parks, four National Battlefield Parks, and one National Battlefield Site.

Antietam National Battlefield

Burnsides Bridge, Antietam National Battlefield

Burnsides Bridge, Antietam National Battlefield
Photo by Piotrus, GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park Service protected area along Antietam Creek in Sharpsburg, Washington County, northwestern Maryland. It commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Antietam that occurred on September 17, 1862. The area, situated on fields among the Appalachian foothills near the Potomac River, features the battlefield site and visitor center, Antietam  National Military Cemetery, stone arch Burnside’s Bridge, and a field hospital museum.

Big Hole National Battlefield

Big Hole National Battlefield

Big Hole National Battlefield
Photo Courtesy NPS

Big Hole National Battlefield preserves a Nez Perce War battlefield located in Montana, United States. The Nez Percé fought a delaying action against the 7th Infantry Regiment (United States) here on August 9 and 10, 1877, during their failed attempt to escape to Canada. This action, the Battle of the Big Hole, was the largest battle fought between the Nez Percé and U.S. Government forces in the five-month conflict known as the Nez Perce War. In 1992 the park was made a part of Nez Perce National Historical Park, which consists of 38 separate locations in five different states, following the flight of the Nez Percé tribe from the U.S. Cavalry.

Cowpens National Battlefield

Cowpens National Battlefield

Cowpens National Battlefield
Photo Courtesy of Ken Lund via Flickr

Cowpens National Battlefield is a unit of the National Park Service just east of Chesnee, South Carolina, and near the state line with North Carolina. It preserves a major battlefield of the American Revolutionary War. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan won the Battle of Cowpens, a decisive Revolutionary War victory over British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton on January 17, 1781.

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Fort Donelson National Battlefield
Photo by Hal Jespersen, GFDL, via Wikimedia

Fort Donelson National Battlefield preserves Fort Donelson in Dover, Tennessee, and Fort Heiman, in nearby Calloway County, Kentucky, two Confederate sites of the American Civil War where Union Army Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant and Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote captured three Confederate forts and opened two rivers, the Tennessee River and the Cumberland River, to control by the Union Navy. The capture of Fort Donelson and its garrison by the Union led to the capture of Tennessee’s capital and industrial center, Nashville,  and gave the Union effective control over much of Tennessee. This struck a major blow to the Confederacy early in the war.

Fort Necessity National Battlefield

Fort Necessity Battlefield

Photo by Anita Gould via Flickr

Fort Necessity National Battlefield is a National Battlefield Site in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, United States, which preserves the site of the Battle of Fort Necessity. The battle, which took place on July 3, 1754, was an early battle of the French and Indian War, and resulted in the surrender of British colonial forces under Colonel George Washington, to the French and Indians, under Louis Coulon de Villiers. The site also includes the Mount Washington Tavern, once one of the inns along the National Road, and in two separate units the grave of the British General Edward Braddock, killed in 1755, and the site of the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

Monocacy National Battlefield

Monocacy National Battlefield

Photo by Mr. TinDC, (CC BY-ND 2.0) via Flickr

Monocacy National Battlefield is the site of the Battle of Monocacy in the American Civil War fought on July 9, 1864. The battlefield straddles the Monocacy River southeast of the city of Frederick, Maryland. The battle, labeled “The Battle That Saved Washington,” was one of the last the Confederates would carry out in Union territory. The two opposing leaders were General Jubal Early, fighting for the South, and General Lew Wallace, fighting for the North.

Moores Creek National Battlefield

Moores Creek National Battlefield

Photo Courtesy NPS

Moores Creek National Battlefield commemorates the 1776 victory by a thousand Patriots over about eight hundred Loyalists at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, which is located in the Wilmington area near Currie in Pender County in southeastern North Carolina. The battle dashed the hopes of Royal Governor Josiah Martin of the Province of North Carolina for regaining control of the colony for the British crown. The Loyalist defeat ended British plans for an invasionary force to land in Brunswick Town, North Carolina. North Carolina voted to declare independence from the British on April 12, 1776, shortly after the victory at Moore’s Creek. The park was established as a National Military Park on June 2, 1926 and was redesignated as a National Battlefield on September 8, 1980.

Petersburg National Battlefield

Sutler's Store at Petersburg National Battlefield

Photo by Ken Lund, (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Flickr

Petersburg National Battlefield preserves sites related to the American Civil War Siege of Petersburg (1864–65). The Petersburg Battlefield is centered on the city of Petersburg, Virginia, and also includes Poplar Grove National Cemetery and outlying components in Hopewell (City Point served as a major command and logistics hub for the Union Army during the Siege of Petersburg), Prince George County, and Dinwiddie County (Five Forks Battlefield). A motor tour route runs from Virginia Route 36 to US Route 301. Along the way, visitors can view sites such as Fort Stedman and The Crater.

Stones River National Battlefield

Stones River National Battlefield

Photo by Thomas R Machnitzki, GFDL, via Wikimedia

Stones River National Battlefield, along the Stones River in Rutherford County, Tennessee, three miles (5 km) northwest of Murfreesboro and twenty-eight miles southeast of Nashville, memorializes the Battle of Stones River, a key battle of the American Civil War that took place on December 31, 1862 and January 2, 1863, which resulted in a strategic Union victory. Wooden signs mark and interpret battlefield locations. In 1992, the park accepted a donation from the City of Murfreesboro of an intact segment of Fortress Rosecrans, the largest enclosed earthwork built during the Civil War.

Tupelo National Battlefield

Tupalo National Battlefield

Photo by Chris Light, (CC BY-SA 3.0), via Wikimedia

Tupelo National Battlefield, in Tupelo, Mississippi, commemorates the July 14–15, 1864, Battle of Tupelo in which Lieutenant General Nathan Bedford Forrest tried to cut the railroad supplying the Union’s march on Atlanta. Disorganized Confederate soldiers fought fiercely but could not overpower the federal troops.  Neither side could claim a clear victory, but Union troops had succeeded in their main goal:  keeping the Confederates away from Union railroads in Tennessee. 

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield

Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

Photo by JeromeG111, (CC BY-SA 2.0), via Flickr

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield near Republic, Missouri, preserves the site of the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Fought on August 10, 1861, it was the first major American Civil War engagement west of the Mississippi River. The Confederate’s failure to exploit their victory here resulted in keeping Missouri in the Union. Major features include a 5-mile automobile tour loop, the restored 1852 Ray House, and “Bloody Hill,” the scene of the major battle. The site is located just southwest of the city of Springfield, in southwestern Missouri.



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