Battlefields and cemeteries to visit this Fourth of July

Everyone’s heard of Bull Run and Arlington National Cemetery, but Virginia has so much more to offer in terms of historical war landmarks.

Chancellorsville Battlefield
Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Military buff or not, everyone can appreciate the rich history of war in Virginia dating back to when explorers first settled here in 1607. The Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to commemorate that history, and there are plenty of historic war sites spread across Northern Virginia to do just that.

Ball’s Bluff Battlefield and National Cemetery

Looking for a self-guided tour? Ball’s Bluff is the site of a historic Union defeat during the Civil War and houses the third smallest national cemetery in the country. The views throughout the surrounding trail are stunning, giving visitors a look at different parts of the Potomac River.

Grab a brochure and give yourself a free taste of history. The site may not be going anywhere, but Ball’s Bluff offers a golden opportunity to honor this country’s history.

Chancellorsville Battlefield
Spotsylvania County

One of the most important battles of the Civil War proved to be a huge military victory for the Confederates, but it came at a high cost. Gen. Stonewall Jackson was killed by friendly fire during the battle, costing the South one of its most important leaders. There is a monument marking the spot Stonewall was shot at Chancellorsville and a shrine nearby, and tours are offered of the plantation where he later died.

Quantico National Cemetery

The land that the Quantico National Cemetery sits on has been used for military purposes since 1775. While it’s primarily dedicated to the Marine Corps, the cemetery serves members of all branches and has several highly decorated military war heroes buried there. Visitors can view the tomb of Louis R. Lowry, the World War II photographer who took the famous picture of soldiers raising the American flag in Iwo Jima, as well as nine different memorials commemorating service members.

Yorktown Battlefield

No battle is more important than the final one, and with the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, the United States finally defeated Great Britain to win its independence and end the Revolutionary War. Tours of the battlefield and surrounding town are offered to educate visitors on just how the American forces were able to corner the British and end the war. Non-firing artillery demonstrations are also offered for an interactive experience of how soldiers handled weapons in the 18th century.

(Fourth of July Guide)