First Submarine Attack
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
As Union ships pelted Charleston with artillery fire in 1863, the local Confederate military officials pinned their hopes on a weird, 40-foot-long " torpedo fish," an experimental submarine called the H. L. Hunley. On February 17, 1864, the Hunley torpedoed the USS Housatonic, the Union's largest ship. The Housatonic sank, but so did the Hunley. The sub was finally recovered in 2001; remains of the eight-man crew were removed and buried in 2004.
What to See: In Charleston you can visit a high-tech workshop to observe conservation work on the Hunley, immersed in a tank of refrigerated freshwater.
What's nearby: If you've never before seen an albino alligator, you can visit one at the South Carolina Aquarium.
The Battle Over Cattle
Location: Fort Myers, Florida
Florida belonged to the Confederates, but Union troops used the fort in this Gulf of Mexico backwater as a base for stealing local cattle — 4,000 head in all — which would have supplied Confederate troops in Georgia. In February 1865, Confederates began firing on the fort. The soldiers there held off the attack, and casualties were light on both sides.
What to See: A monument in downtown Fort Myers honors the 2nd Regiment Infantry, U.S. Colored Troops. Flanked by marble tablets, a bronze statue of an African American sergeant stands guard, in honor of the more than 1,000 freed Florida slaves who enlisted with the Union.
What's nearby: The coolest places in town are the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates — the two mansions where the industrial giants lived side by side. Edison's lab is preserved the way he left it.