Civil War

By UMass Amherst Public History

The Civil War Amherst Walking Tour highlights several sites in the town that reveal what daily life was like in Amherst during the Civil War. The map on the homepage provides an overview of the route and a portal to access the content associated with each individual site. Seven sites make up the tour: the old Amherst Academy, the First Baptist Church, Amherst College, the Emily Dickinson House, West Cemetery, the old Bee Hive Tenement House, and the Town Hall.

Locations for Tour

1 Starting Point - Jones Library

The Civil War Amherst Walking Tour highlights several sites in the town that reveal what daily life was like in Amherst during the Civil War. The map on the homepage provides an overview of the route and a portal to access the content associated with…

2 Amherst Academy / Amherst House

The corner of Amity Street and North Pleasant Street, where the Bank of America stands today, was once the location of the Amherst House hotel. This prominent downtown landmark not only housed guests visiting Amherst, but also served as a focal point…

3 Baptist Church

The building before you, now owned by Amherst College and converted for secular purposes, was the town’s Baptist church at the time of the Civil War. In the period leading up to the war Western Massachusetts was one of the most vibrantly…

4 Amherst College

In the 1860s, much as today, life in Amherst was shaped by its institutions of higher education. The students and faculty of Amherst College were well known around the town, and played important roles in Amherst’s involvement in the Civil War.…

5 Emily Dickinson House

Emily Dickinson, often known as the “Belle of Amherst” is famous as an important poet. She composed her many poems while living here, near the center of Amherst, and was especially productive during the years of the Civil War. Editors estimate…

6 West Cemetery

Wealthier citizens of Amherst had the option to pay for a substitute to fight in their place. Without this possibility, the death list might have looked quite different. Following one of the wartime drafts, the Hampshire-Franklin Express reported…

7 Bee Hive

Bart’s Ice Cream’s current location was, in 1860, the “Bee Hive” tenement house. Tenement housing is the 19th-century term for a dedicated rental property. Constructed from a wing of the defunct Mount Pleasant Classical Institute, the Bee…

8 Town Hall

In 1893, the E.M. Stanton Post 147 of the Grand Army of the Republic donated six Civil War tablets to Amherst. These tablets commemorate the dead and list every person from the town of Amherst who served in the war for a total of over three hundred…