5 battlefield sites that changed history

Date Posted: 19/06/2014

Pictured: Re-enacting the Battle of Bosworth.

From the start of the Tudor dynasty to the turning point of the American Civil War, you can visit these sites of conflict and learn how each shaped history.

Battle of Bosworth (Wars of the Roses)
Leicestershire

On the afternoon of 22nd August 1485, the course of English history changed. The Battle of Bosworth was the major turning point, for it was during this battle that King Richard III was killed and his place as monarch taken by the Welsh prince, Henry Tudor.

Richard's troops are said to have camped near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, and Richard himself was said to have prayed in the church of St. James the night before the battle. You can visit this church most days, and see where Richard spent his last few hours.  

Each year, there is a re-enactment of the Battle of Bosworth with traditional jousting, soldiers in armour and the charge led by King Richard against Henry Tudor which ultimately led to his death. 

Battle of Gettysburg (American Civil War)
Pennsylvania

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought between Union and Confederate forces from 1st to 3rd July 1863, turned the tide of the American Civil War against the Confederacy.

The ‘battlefield’ is actually a series of locations in and around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, over which tens of thousands of men fought.

During a tour provided by the National Park Service, visitors learn that decades after the war, there were reunions of Union and later Confederate troops at the battle. Because of this, they know where each unit was during the three days, and as a result, monuments have been erected for individual Union and Confederate units on the site where the unit fought.

This battle is also what led to President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, one of the most powerful speeches in the history of the United States.  

Pictured: Atomic Bomb Dome.

Bombing of Hiroshima (World War Two)
Japan

On 6th August 1945, the world’s first deployed atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by an American B-29 bomber killing approximately 80,000 people.

Its target was the Aioi Bridge but it missed and exploded almost directly above a building, which was at the time an exhibition hall. Because the blast was felt from immediately above, hitting the structure vertically, a surprising amount remained intact even though, despite instant fatalities.

In December 1996 the Atomic Bomb Dome was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Its listing was based on its survival from a destructive force, the first use of nuclear weapons on human population, and most importantly its representation as a symbol of peace.  

Battle of San Jacinto (Texas Revolution)
Texas

On 21st April 1836, General Sam Houston led his troops to battle against superior forces commanded by Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. Houston’s troops were eager for revenge over the devastation and fall of the Alamo.  

In a surprise attack, the Texans were able to overtake the Mexican camp in a battle that lasted only 18 minutes. Although only nine Texans died during the battle, a monument was erected dedicated to honour those who contributed to the creation of the independent Republic of Texas.  

The 570-foot tall monument is the world’s tallest memorial column and is topped with a 34-foot star symbolising the Lone Star Republic.  

Battlefields of the Western Front (World War One)
Belgium and France

Stretching through 450 miles of the Belgian province of Flanders and regions of northern and eastern France, the fighting on the Western Front started in 1914 when Germany invaded Luxembourg and Belgium on its way to France.  

It ended in 1918 with the collapse of the German Empire and the Treaty of Versailles. It is estimated that more than 13 million soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or missing during this time.

Pictured: Notre Dame de Lorette Cemetery.

While there are numerous preserved sites and monuments to visit along the coastal stretch, arguably one of the most moving  is the Notre Dame de Lorette Cemetery in Ablain, France; the site of three battles and now the location of the world’s largest French military cemetery, holding the remains of 40,000 casualties.

This list of group holiday ideas and inspiration was compiled by VirtualTourist.com, a resource for travellers seeking an insider’s perspective.

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