Civil War Sesquicentennial

1865 Commemorations in the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area

This spring marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War as well as the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. A series of commemorative events across the Heritage Area will recognize the enormous significance of these monumental moments and honor the estimated 750,000 Americans who perished in the bloody conflict. A selected list of events is below. See a complete calendar on the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area website.

Nationwide Event:

Bells Across the Land: A Nation Remembers Appomattox
Thursday, April 9at 3:15 p.m.
The National Park Service invites partners across the country to ring bells for four minutes—one minute for each year of the war—to commemorate Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Bells will ring throughout the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, including churches, fire halls, and public buildings in Carroll, Frederick, and Washington Counties. Registration is not required to participate in the bell ringing. Curriculum materials are available for teachers.

Frederick County Events:

Illuminating Frederick 1865: from Celebration to Grief
Friday, April 10 at 7:00 p.m.
City Hall, 101 North Court Street, Frederick, MD 21701
James Swanson, author of the bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer, will discuss the assassination of President Lincoln—including the role of correspondent George Alfred Townsend. Advance registration is required. Click here to register online. The evening will also include recognition of partners involved in the Civil War sesquicentennial. Frederick residents illuminated the city in April 1865 to mark the end of the war, and following Mr. Swanson’s talk, participants will be invited to take part in a special 150th anniversary illumination. An optional walking tour of downtown Frederick featuring living history vignettes will follow the illumination.

Bell and History Day
Saturday, April 11 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Multiple Locations throughout Frederick County
The annual opening of the museum season will include tours, hands-on activities, living history interpretations and the Passport to History program with prize incentives. This family-friendly, self-guided event is free.

Handbell Festival
Saturday, April 11 at 7:00 p.m.
The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, 339 S Seton Ave, Emmitsburg, MD 21727
Handbell choirs from around the region will recall the last address that President Lincoln made—exactly 150 years ago, on April 11, 1865—with performances on the theme of “Gladness of Heart.”

Civil War Trails Gathland.jpg
South Mountain State Battlefield at Gathland State Park
Programs on multiple dates in April and May. Exhibits open during museum hours.
900 Arnoldstown Road, Burkittsville, MD 21755
Learn about the literary career of George Alfred Townsend, who covered the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and published The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth, through new exhibits and interactive, family-friendly activities at Townsend’s estate, now a state park.

Events in Washington and Carroll Counties:

Civil War Living History Reenactment
Saturday, May 2 & Sunday, May 3 at 10:00 a.m.
Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center Street, Westminster, MD 21157
The Farm Museum’s annual living history reenactment will examine the theme of “Homecoming – Soldiers Return From War.” While in Westminster, explore a special exhibit at the Historical Society of Carroll County that tells the story of Civil War veterans, including the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Civil War in memory.

Washington County Museum Ramble
Weekends in May
Multiple sites in Washington County
The annual opening of the museum season in Washington County will feature free, family-friendly programs related to the end of the Civil War.


More Information
For a complete listing of all Civil War related events, please visit the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area's full events calendar. Discover more about Frederick County's Civil War sites and stories.

tfc-hotcw-150-logo.gifFrederick County is located in Maryland's Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. For more events and to learn more about experiences "Below the Mason Dixon Line, above the Potomac, and at the Heart of the Civil War," visit