Some 10,500 armed conflicts occurred during the Civil War ranging from battles to minor skirmishes; 384 conflicts (3.7 percent) were identified as the principal battles and classified according to their historical significance.
Class A and B battlefields represent the principal strategic operations of the war. Class C and D battlefields usually represent operations with limited tactical objectives of enforcement and occupation.
- 45 sites (12%) were ranked “A” (having a decisive influence on a campaign and a direct impact on the course of the war);
- 104 sites (27%) were ranked “B” (having a direct and decisive influence on their campaign);
- 128 sites (33%) were ranked “C” (having observable influence on the outcome of a campaign);
- 107 sites (28%) were ranked “D” (having a limited influence on the outcome of their campaign or operation but achieving or affecting important local objectives).
The 384 principal battles occurred in 26 states. States with fifteen or more include: Virginia (123), Tennessee (38), Missouri (29), Georgia(28), Louisiana (23), North Carolina (20), Arkansas (17), and Mississippi(16).
Some counties, such as Henrico and Dinwiddie counties in Virginia and Charleston County in South Carolina have a great concentration of battlefields. Yet, even in Virginia, where two great armies fought for most of four years, only one third of the counties have any of the principal Civil War battlefields.
Forty three percent of the battlefields are completely in private ownership. An additional 49 percent are under multiple kinds of ownership (e.g., private, state, and Federal). Only 4 percent of the principal battlefields are owned primarily by the Federal, state, or local governments.2
Nineteen percent (71) of the Civil War battlefields are already lost as intact historic landscapes. Half of the 232 principal battlefields that currently are in good or fair condition are now experiencing high or moderate threats. Most of these sites will be lost or seriously fragmented within the coming 10 years, many very soon. Only one third of the principal battlefields currently face low threats.