Several months ago when W- asked me to be his plus one for a friend’s wedding in Maryland, we started dreaming up a road trip vacation we could take instead of just flying in and out for the weekend. I had never seen Washington D.C. and he’s a massive American Civil War and history buff, so we concocted a route that would allow each of us to explore new things we’re interested in together while camping at various places along the way.
After leaving work on Friday, driving til 1am, and sleeping in the back of my car at a KOA (think system of campgrounds across the U.S. which allow for campers and tents) in Natural Bridge, Virginia, we started Day #1 of our vacation by driving a little over an hour to our first Civil War stop – Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. W- kept making jokes about how ironic it was that we began our Civil War mini-tour with where the war ended, and all I could think was how grateful I was that he was with me to answer any questions if I started getting my dates and details confused throughout the week.
Upon arriving, we took an intimate ranger tour with three other people. The ranger explained that the people of Appomattox Court House left after the Civil War when the railroad went around the town, and then subsequently how the site became a National Historical Park. He also walked us around the site, showed up the different buildings, and talked through the events of April 9-12th, 1865.
The Buildings of Appomattox Court House
Personally, I thought the most interesting detail was the surrender of General Lee’s army took place in the house of Wilmer McLean, who had moved to Appomattox Court House in an attempt to get away from the fighting after the First Battle of Bull Run took place on his farm in Manassas, Virginia in July 1861. So essentially, the war began in his yard and ended in his living room.
The McLean House