Civil War Tour: Shades of Blue and Gray

Take a step back in time and experience what life was like during the Civil War in America’s Historic Triangle.

Follow the footsteps of both Union and Confederate soldiers on the numerous trails and battle lines within the Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Williamsburg makes a perfect middle point between Virginia Beach and Richmond, so be sure to take in all the region has to offer for Civil War history buffs.

Day One

Visit Pamplin Park
The Pamplin family has built what has become one of the finest historical sites in the South.  The award-winning National Museum of the Civil War Soldier forms the Park’s centerpiece. Here, the story of the three million common soldiers who fought in America’s bloodiest conflict is told in breathtaking fashion using the latest museum technology. An impressive artifact collection is set amidst lifelike settings. The entire experience is keyed to an audio tour featuring the words and “voice” of real participants in the war.

Depart for Williamsburg
5:00 pm

Check-in to your Williamsburg Accommodations
6:15 pm
Choose from limited to full-service properties with exterior or interior corridors, indoor or outdoor pools, with deluxe continental breakfast or full breakfast buffet, priced from budget and moderate to deluxe.

7:30 pm
Choose from a wide variety of restaurants.  For group dining information, click here.

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations
9:00 pm

Day Two

Breakfast at your Williamsburg Accommodations
8:00 am

Depart with your local guide for a full-day of touring
8:45 am

Riding Tour Introduction to the Battle of Williamsburg including Redoubt Park and Fort Magruder
9:00 – 10:00 am
At redoubts one and six and the Bloody Ravine, we’ll observe how a spirited defense delayed a numerically superior army and allowed the Confederate troops to retreat to an area around Richmond.

Guided tour of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area – the Battle of Williamsburg
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
America’s largest living history museum is best known for interpreting 18th century life.  But today we’re going to explore the year 1862 – the saddest year in Williamsburg’s history when the huge Union army of General George B. McClellan rolled up the Virginia peninsula from Old Point and overcame Confederate defenders of the town, centered around Fort Magruder, just east of Williamsburg.  From May 4, 1862 until Lee surrendered at Appomattox three years later, the 2,000 residents of Williamsburg were kept under military guard. Pickets patrolled the roadways and no one could enter or leave town without permission of Union army authorities.

Lunch in the Historic Area
1:00 – 2:30 pm
Choose from a variety of dining options, including colonial taverns, sandwich shops and fine dining.

Free time to explore the Historic Area on your own or shop at Merchants Square (suggest a 3:00pm return shuttle to hotel for guests to relax before dinner)
2:30 – 5:00 pm
Located adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area, Merchants Square is an 18th-century style retail village with more than 40 shops and restaurants. The shops at Merchants Square offer everything from traditional and designer clothing to handmade candies, antique quilts, folk art and a variety of exclusive Williamsburg reproductions. The restaurants on Merchants Square offer choices from a quick sandwich to the freshest seafood, steaks or contemporary American regional cooking.

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations.  Dinner on own and free time for additional shopping at New Town, Premium Outlets, Williamsburg Outlet Mall or Yankee Candle
5:30 pm

Day Three

Breakfast at your Williamsburg hotel
8:00 am

Depart with your local guide for a full-day of touring
8:45 am

Cruise aboard the Miss Hampton II (lunch included)
10:00 am – 1:00 pm
This double-decked tour boat provides narrated cruises of the Hampton Roads Harbor and Chesapeake Bay. Today, we’ll sail the waters of Captain John Smith and the first Jamestown settlers continuing past historic Fort Monroe and the Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in America.  After an awe-inspiring view of the Chesapeake Bay the cruise will stop for a 30-minute guided walking tour of the Civil War Island Fortress of Fort Wool.  Afterwards, get an in-depth view of the massive warships at the Norfolk Naval Base, home to aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines and various types of support ships.  The return trip to Hampton features a captivating narrative of the famous Civil War Battle of the Ironclads: the Monitor and the Merrimac.

Tour the Casemate Museum at Fort Monroe
1:45 – 3:45 pm
The largest stone fort ever built in the United States, Fort Monroe is currently headquarters for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. Within the historic fort’s stone walls is the Casemate Museum, which chronicles the history of the fort and the Coast Artillery Corps. During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was a Union-held bastion in the center of a Confederate state and helped shelter thousands of slave refugees.  See the cell where Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned.

Riding tour of Yorktown
4:15 – 5:00 pm
Best known as the scene of the decisive battle of the American Revolutionary War where American victory was achieved, the Yorktown Battlefield was also the anchor of the Warwick Line during the Civil War.  Both battles involved siege warfare and here you’ll discover why one succeeded and the other failed.

Depart for Williamsburg and return to hotel to relax before dinner
5:00 pm

6:30 pm
Choose from a wide variety of restaurants.  For group dining information, click here.

Shadows of Gray and Blue Candlelight Walking Tour
8:00 pm
May 1862 marked the first pitched battle of the Peninsula Campaign.  Nearly 41,000 Union soldiers and 32,000 Confederate soldiers were engaged, fighting an inconclusive battle that ended with the Confederates continuing their withdrawal towards Richmond, VA.  The fighting at Williamsburg was as intense as any on the Peninsula and many soldiers lost their lives.  Some soldiers and citizens engaged in this battle did not move on to their eternal resting place, but instead have continued to linger here between the living and the dead.  Join this candlelight walking tour through the streets of Colonial Williamsburg and hear some of the legends of the tortured souls who still reside here.  Based on stories from Jackie Eileen Behrend’s award-winning book, The Hauntings of Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown.  Some stories last more than a lifetime!

Return to your Williamsburg Accommodations
9:30 pm

Day Four

Breakfast at your Williamsburg Accommodations
7:30 am

Depart with your local guide for a full-day of touring
8:15 am

Explore the Warwick Line
8:45 – 10:15 am
This morning we’ll cross a bridge into history and explore Dam 1 along the Warwick River where we’ll walk through Confederate earthworks and learn how General Magruder fooled General McClellan and extended the Civil War for over two years.

Visit Endview Plantation
10:30 – 11:30 am
The three wars fought on American soil have all left their traces at Endview Plantation. The Revolutionary War brought 3,000 militia to its fresh water spring. The War of 1812 saw its use as a training ground, while the Civil War found Endview serving as a Confederate captain’s home and a hospital for both sides. Built in 1769, Endview was home to members of the Harwood and Curtis families for over 200 years. An ongoing archaeological program and historic maps have identified the locations of several outbuildings, including a smokehouse, kitchen and barn. Artifacts from the site, as well as pictures and memorabilia of the Harwood family, are also on display.

Visit Lee Hall Mansion
11:45 am – 12:45 pm
Completed in 1859, Lee Hall Mansion was home to affluent planter Richard Decauter Lee, his wife Martha, and their children. One of the last remaining antebellum homes on the Virginia Peninsula, Lee Hall Mansion was used as a headquarters by Confederate generals Joseph E. Johnston and John B. Magruder during April and May of 1862. Hundreds of artifacts, including a tablecloth from the USS Monitor, are on display in the museum’s 1862 Peninsula Campaign Gallery.

1:00 – 2:15 pm

Guided tour of the Mariners’ Museum
2:45 – 5:00 pm
America’s National Maritime Museum offers a captivating look at centuries of seafaring adventures.  Explore over 60,000 square feet of gallery space with rare figureheads, handcrafted ship models, paintings, small craft from around the world, and much more.  Experience the dramatic new USS Monitor Center that brings to life the historic battle between the Civil War ironclads, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.  This new center features notable artifacts from the Monitor including the iconic rotating gun turret, which is on view as it is conserved in the state-of-the-art Batten Conservation Complex, the largest of its kind on the East Coast.

Depart for your Williamsburg Accommodations – dinner is on own this evening with optional shopping
5:00 pm

Day Five

Breakfast at your Williamsburg hotel – check out and load luggage
7:00 am

Depart for Charles City, VA
8:15 am

Visit Berkeley Plantation
9:00 – 10:15 am
Berkeley is Virginia’s most historic plantation. On December 4, 1619, early settlers from England came ashore at Berkeley Plantation and observed the first official Thanksgiving in America. See the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President William Henry Harrison, “Old Tippecanoe.”  “Taps” was composed at Berkeley when General McClellan headquartered 140,000 Union troops in 1862 during the Civil War.

Depart for Richmond
10:30 am

Visit the White House and Museum of the Confederacy
11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Located in the historic Court End district of downtown Richmond, the Whitehouse of the Confederacy is one of the nation’s finest historic, architectural and decorative treasures.  As the official residence of the first and only President of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War – Jefferson Davis – the building has earned a unique Stature in American history as the social, political and military center of the Confederacy.  The Museum of the Confederacy houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Confederate artifacts including the personal belongings of many legendary Confederate generals and those of the common soldier.

1:15 – 2:15 pm

Visit Hollywood Cemetery
2:45 – 3:45 pm
Much more than a cemetery, Hollywood is a living story in stone, iron, and landscape. It recalls Virginians of bygone years whose lives shaped and influenced our own. With stunning views, Hollywood overlooks the James River, near the site where Captain Christopher Newport planted a wooden cross a few weeks after the founding of Jamestown. Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 by the noted architect, John Notman of Philadelphia, and has been operating as a cemetery in Richmond since 1849. Hollywood serves as the final resting place of two American presidents, six Virginia governors, two Supreme Court justices, twenty-two Confederate generals, and thousands of Confederate soldiers. Hollywood’s paths wind through 135 acres of valleys, over hills, and beneath stately trees of natural beauty and tranquility. The architectural beauty of monuments, statues, buildings, fences, and tombs enhances the setting.

Depart for return home
3:45 pm

For more information, contact Vivian Bunting, Consumer Sales Manager, Tourism.

See All Trip Ideas