If you know that your Civil War ancestor participated in a specific battle, visit that site to learn all you can about his experience there. Just standing on the ground where he endured fire from the enemy lets you picture what he went through.
Most battlefields provide information on plaques that you can walk or drive to. Often there is a visitor’s center with a documentary film and exhibits to further inform the visitor. Check for a webpage for information on what can be seen there and for the hours.
Recently, I traveled to Mississippi to the location of the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads. There was much to learn about the location, the conditions and the placement of the troops.
I looked at the rolling hills with clumps of trees and could imagine the panic in the Union troops trapped by the flooded river, unable to cross to safety. The bridge, blocked by a turned-over wagon doomed hundreds to capture and imprisonment.
In the case of my ancestor, Abraham Bates Tower of the 93rd Indiana Infantry, this battle was a major turning point in his life. He went to Andersonville Prison with the other captured soldiers and emerged six months later as a wreck of a man. Starvation and illness there almost killed him, and according to his medical records he suffered for years trying to recover from that.
Andersonville is well worth a visit if your Union ancestor was a prisoner there or if a Confederate soldier, he might possibly have been a guard there.
Many of the sites are under the care of the National Parks (list of Civil War related parks) but some are maintained on the state or local level. Just search the name of a battle online to see what museum or park is preserved for it. Then you can start working that into your vacation plans for this summer.