Value-Added Visits

I’m currently projecting my travel plans for the next several years, and, as part of the process, I’m considering which battlefields to visit (or revisit). That list is not restricted to American Civil War battlefields. I’ve visited Waterloo, for example, and that visit reminded me that the commercialization of battlefields is not limited to the usual American suspects. I’ve even visited several Revolutionary War battlefields.

In establishing this list, I’m aware that there are many reasons one might visit a battlefield and many things that one might learn from such a visit. Sometimes you want to go to a place simply so you can say you’ve been there; sometimes you go to a place to soak up certain sensations. In this case, I’m defining “value-added” as helping me understand what happened there as a student of military history. There are places I have visited where the visit was truly informative, indeed necessary, to understand what happened there. Port Gibson ranks high on that list. You simply must visit it to understand the terrain and how it shaped the battle. There are other places where a visit is very useful, but usually that comes in slices (walking the route of the July 3 Confederate attack at Gettysburg; standing at the junction of US 29 and SR 234 at Manassas; exploring the ground around Bloody Lane at Antietam).

My question to all of you is three-fold:

1) How do you define “value-added” when it comes to visiting historic sites, especially battlefields?

2) Of the Civil War battlefields you have visited, which one was most “value-added” for you, and why? (In a few cases, I can guess the answers.)

3) Of non-American Civil War battlefields, which ones would you single out for visits, and why?