American Battlefield Protection Program Rating System

There were about 10,500 Civil War armed conflicts, ranging from major battles to minor skirmishes. Using military significance criteria, the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission identified 384 such conflicts, or 3.7% of the total. These sites include virtually all of the principal land battles that were of special strategic, tactical, or thematic importance to local operations, campaigns, theaters, or to the war as a whole.

The 384 battles in the Commission's battlefield listing represent all of the primary military campaigns and operations of the Civil War. Documentary research and field inspections were carried out to determine the significance of each battle, whether its site still exists, its current condition, and other circumstances. These sites are recommended as the appropriate focus of nationwide interest.

The Commission ranked military importance of the 384 battles (and their associated battlefield sites) according to the relative influence each had on the outcome of its operation, campaign, or on the war. The Class A and B battlefields represent the principal strategic operations of the war. The 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).

We have further refined this list to focus on the 149 A and B rated sites.  These sites are the subjects of our battlefield journeys.  In some cases we have included C and D sites where Federal, state or local governments have maintained the battlefields and provided  descriptive information and trails at the site. Please see Battle Rating Listings for our list.

For further information on the Commission's study, please see Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields.