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The Baltimore Experience > Virtual Itineraries > Civil War Sites and Attractions


Experience Baltimore During the Civil War

Although Maryland was considered a Union state during the Civil War, southern sympathies ran strong in what was then and now Maryland’s largest city. The first waves of troops from northern states, traveling through Baltimore to defend Washington, D.C., encountered hostility from the local populace. With Baltimore’s critical position as a railroad hub and seaport, the Union army maintained a strong presence in the city to quell potential uprisings and sabotage. Today numerous sites around the city offer unique experiences and the opportunity to gain new perspectives on the Civil War.

 

Not-To-Miss Civil War Sites and Attractions 

  • Completed in 1851, President Street Station served passengers traveling along the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad. Today home to the Baltimore Civil War Museum, the station is notable for its connections to the war.  In February 1861, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln, traveling incognito to avoid an assassination plot, secretly arrived at President Street Station to make the connection to trains southbound to Washington. Just two months after Lincoln’s trip, the first blood of the Civil War spilled near President Street Station as troops en route to Washington clashed with southern sympathizers. Visitors today can retrace this event along the Baltimore Riot TrailPresident Street Station and the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad were key components of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes used by slaves to escape north to free states and Canada. President Street Station is a site on the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
  • The Maryland Historical Society is home to “Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War,” a comprehensive exhibit on the war’s impact on a state north of the nation’s capital but with southern sympathies. A 3-D video takes visitors back to 1861, and on weekends performers act out short vignettes of major events that took place in Maryland.
  • Although most famous for its role in the War of 1812, Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine also played a part in the Civil War. The star-shaped fort served as a Union transfer prison camp for Southern sympathizers and confederate prisoners of war. 
  • The B&O Railroad Museum is located at the historic Mount Clare Station in West Baltimore. The museum boasts the largest assemblage of Civil War railroad equipment in the world including eight locomotives and cars that served during the war. Interpretive signage, video presentations, and life-size historic dioramas illustrate the key role of railroading in the Civil War.
  • The USS Constellation is a Civil War-era sloop-of-war now docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Constructed in 1854, the ship was the last sail-only warship constructed by the U.S. Navy. During the Civil War, the USS Constellation disrupted slave trade to the American South, capturing slave ships and releasing imprisoned Africans.

 

Off the Beaten Path (but Worth a Look)

  • The oldest and grandest example of Georgian architecture in the city, the Mount Clare Museum House was once the center of the Georgia Plantation. A U.S. Army training facility was established on the grounds of the mansion in 1861. Today the home, a National Historic Landmark, is a house museum located in the expansive Carroll Park. 
  • As a high point at the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill served as an observation post and signal station from 1797 to 1899. After the Pratt Street Riots, Union forces fortified the hill with a battery of six cannons, one pointed directly at the heart of downtown Baltimore.
  • One of the oldest rural, park-like cemeteries established in the country, Green Mount Cemetery is the final resting place of many notable Civil War figures. Lincoln’s assassin, John Wlikes Booth, is buried at the cemetery along with several of his co-conspirators.
  • Located five miles west of downtown Baltimore, the Loudon Park National Cemetery is one of the 14 national cemeteries established during the Civil War. The national cemetery was officially established in late 1862, although interments of Union soldiers at the site began earlier in the year. In addition to the Union soldiers who died at the two military hospitals in Baltimore, the cemetery is also the final resting place for 35 Confederates (31 soldiers and four civilians) who died while being held as prisoners of war at Fort McHenry, the military post at the entrance of Baltimore Harbor.  In 1884, the cemetery saw the reinterment of approximately 200 African American Union veterans from government-owned soldiers’ lots in historically black Laurel Cemetery in northeast Baltimore.
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