Blue and Gray Education Society Official 2017 Schedule
August 18, 2016
February 22-26 from Vicksburg, MS with Parker Hills: The Vicksburg Campaign Part 2: The Bayou Expeditions.
Experience the genius, initiative and frustration of Grant’s Winter and Spring 1863 efforts to get at Vicksburg. After the harsh start to a campaign with so much promise, Grant assumed command in person and directed a series of efforts to bypass the fortress city of Vicksburg. These expeditions would confound the Confederates, toughen his own men for the coming campaigns and in some instances come within a whisker of total success. This trip will include Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post and even the July 4, 1863 Battle of Helena along with the Yazoo Pass Expedition, Steele’s Bayou, Williams Canal, Lake Providence Canal, the Ashton Cut and the Greenville Expedition. This is a real Kodak Moment trip that is only done by the BGES.
March 17-19 from Rome, GA with Norm Dasinger Jr: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, Rome and Resaca: Forgotten Pillars of Desire. Got the winter time blues and cannot wait to get warm—come on out for an early spring program in the backwaters of Georgia as we look at the key and indeed desirable military target of Rome—so often coveted but never central to military operations although it is in a key and prominent location. Then enjoy an insider’s look at the newly opened Resaca Battlefield Park and other sites key to this missed Union opportunity at the start of the 1864 Atlanta Campaign. Starting from 6 PM on Friday night and done by 4 PM Sunday this weekend delight is an affordable content oriented program with a real expert on the area and the military operations there and in Alabama.
March 22-25 from Pickwick Landing, TN with Jim Ogden: Shiloh: A Bloody Battle, Costly Beyond Imagination. Grant’s early victories and western politics generated a convergence of forces and the Union moved to secure its hold on Tennessee—the river from Fort Henry down to Muscle Shoals brought Grant to Savannah, Tennessee following a brief demotion for unspecified reasons the tentative Grant and his equally nervous lieutenant William T. Sherman were surprised and nearly destroyed in the first day’s fighting only to receive timely reinforcements leading to a decisive victory on the second day. This program is unique because historian Jim Ogden is branching out his offerings into other areas of interest. Justly reputed for his preparations and knowledge, Jim is looking forward to delivering a cogent series of tours over the coming years that tell the story of the war in the west as he has studied it.
April 17-21 from Marietta, GA with Gary Ecelbarger: The Atlanta Campaign Part 2; The Hell Hole to the Chattahoochie. Sherman’s maneuvers in Northern Georgia supported by forces from Alabama created a modern army group of three Union armies under one commander: The Army of the Cumberland, The Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the Ohio. These forces working in cooperation had maneuvered Confederate forces under General Joseph E. Johnston out of strong defensive fortifications around Dalton and had dropped the Confederates into vulnerable positions that crossed several rivers and compelled Johnston to seek battle. The resulting operations and fights at New Hope Church, Dallas, Pickett’s Mill, Marietta, around Kennesaw, Kolb’s Farm and Pace’s Ferry saw Johnston scrambling for defensive positions in front of Atlanta. Johnston’s inability to articulate his strategy for arresting this massive move resulted in his removal from command and set the stage for the fighting for Atlanta. Gary is a rapidly rising star who cut his teeth in the Shenandoah Valley but with biographies on John Logan and battle studies in the campaign has established his street credentials—travelers really enjoy his style.
April 21-23 from Chattanooga, TN with Jim Ogden: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, Andrews Raiders—The Great Locomotive Chase. Who among you has not seen the old Walt Disney classics featuring Fess Parker that included The Great Locomotive Chase? Buried in a prominent location in the Chattanooga National Cemetery are some of the honored dead of that risky and ultimately unsuccessful effort to steal a Confederate locomotive and disrupt the Western and Atlantic Railroad. For years this has been one of Jim Ogden’s favorite stories and now he is going to devote the weekend to telling you about it. Framed in our cost effective and friendly Weekend Warrior format is is a great add on to the Atlanta program—easily accessed and compactly organized to permit you to make the start at 6 PM on Friday and then conclude by 4 PM on Sunday. This is a unique program offered by the man most uniquely positioned and capable of telling the story. You will love this event!
May 5-7 from Fredericksburg, VA with Rick Britton: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, Lee Triumphant, Lee Crippled: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Robert E. Lee owned the Army of the Potomac. Since his dramatic successes in front of Richmond, the movement of the armies to the northern portion of Virginia and then the entry into Maryland and the capture of Harpers Ferry in exchange for a bloody day at Antietam, Lee held the northern leadership’s fearing attention. In this weekend warrior offering, historian Rick Britton takes the pilot’s seat for the first time since his successful cameo at Charlottesville in October 2015. What could be better than lectures on Friday night followed by a day of studying first the dramatic, but, unequal fight at Fredericksburg followed by Lee’s most dramatic victory turning the tables on a brilliant opening gambit by the Federals to route and nearly destroyed the Union Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville. During the two large battles, Lee destroyed the careers of both Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker. Great sites, great story and handy weekend format. Meet at 6 PM Friday and finish by 4 PM Sunday.
May 24-28 from Cleveland, OH with Stephen Wise (of Toledo): Ohio, Cradle of Victory. Of course the Civil War was fought primarily in the South and border states; however, the northern states were integral to the eventual triumph of the Union. Many of the sites of profound interest are preserved and extant—Grant, Sherman, Rosecrans, McPherson, Garfield, Hayes, Cox and so many others were all natives of the Buckeye State. While many believe the state is essential in modern political campaigns so too is Ohio critical as the anchor of the Midwest and really the measure of an expanding country—Lincoln from Illinois had been one president and Grant from Ohio would be another to be followed by fellow Ohioans Hayes, McKinley, Benjamin Harrison, and Garfield. Come see how the North and Ohio honored and commemorated the lives of the men whom directed the destiny of America.
June 2-9 from Kansas City, MO with Neil Mangum: The Road to Fortune, The Santa Fe Trail. The popular historian Neil Mangum continues his string of western themed programs that introduce the great frontier conflicts that shaped the developing nation. With so many settlers seeking fortune and a better life the late 18th century trail which stretches some 900 miles has had many uses and because is slashed through Comanche country, the army built fortifications along it. Indeed the trail was used as a route of invasion into Mexico during the Mexican War of the 1840s. As the National Park Service’s Southwest Regional historian, Mangum has the intricate knowledge of the history, the route and the archeology of the road. The road trip that will end in Albuquerque (you can fly into KC and out of Albuquerque) goes from Kansas City BBQ and the National Trails Museum to the land of Green Chile Cheeseburgers and New Mexican (not Tex-Mex) cuisine. Travelers with Neil join a loyal family who know the historian, his engaging and enjoyable style and who enjoy each other. Many of these programs become eclectic and leave memories for a lifetime.
June 23-25 from New Market, VA with Keith Gibson and Troy Marshall: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, VMI in the Lower Valley 1862 and 1864. Get the insider’s scoop from the Director of the VMI Museum system and his New Market Battlefield/Hall of Valor Director in a special access program. Meet in the VMI Hall of Valor Museum on Friday night for lectures by Marshall and Gibson on the 1862 and 1864 Valley Campaigns before a behind the scenes look at the artifacts of the New Market Museum. Enjoy light refreshments afterwards. Saturday tours will involve an extensive walk on the battle of New Market and then down to see General Hunter’s battle at Piedmont near Fishersville. On Sunday we will turn to the 1862 campaign and juxtapose the fights at Cross Keys and Port Republic. This is a full program packed in a short period of time at a great price. You can only get this kind of access from VMI guys proudly showing off some of their heritage (full disclosure—I am a VMI man class of 1975).
July 28-August 4 from Chicago, IL International Travel with Tim Milligan: The Battle of the Atlantic 1940-1943. Join National Archives Historian, Tim Milligan as we examine the essential and decisive battle to control the shipping lanes of the Atlantic. The battle to supply Great Britain and the USSR under Lend-Lease terms provided ships, airplane and provisions from the economically abundant United States in defiance of Nazi Germany’s strangle hold grip on the Western and Eastern European countries. Engineered by naval genius Karl Doernitz, German U-Boat and E-Boat pens along the occupied French coast and northern German ports plotted and for a long period controlled access into Europe. So aggressive was the campaign that German submarines patrolled off the east coast of the United States and in the Gulf of Mexico sinking oil laden tankers within site of the very refineries where the ships had been loaded. Eventually escort vessels, lighter than air airships, aircraft and naval vessels all participated in convoys against the assembled “Wolfpacks.” The Allies had one great advantage—they had cracked the German Enigma code and use of the intelligence gained helped win the battle of the Atlantic. This tour visits the U-505 before flying to Manchester, England where we will visit Battle of the Atlantic sites in Liverpool, in London, Bletchley Park, HMS Belfast and in Portsmouth before flying home.
Special Opportunity August 4-12: Sail in their Footsteps: The Trans-Atlantic Crossing. Britain mobilized for war and assets such as the great Cunard Liner, Queen Mary were stripped down and painted for troop and prisoner transport. Prime Minister Winston Churchill even traveled on board discretely as Commodore Spencer to meet with President Roosevelt. Your can return home on the new Queen Mary making the iconic crossing accompanied by Mr. Milligan who will deliver on board lectures and point our important maritime locations as we sail past and tour Halifax where a new Battle of the Atlantic Museum and Canadian Naval Anti-submarine vessel is housed to New York. This is an unavoidably very expensive trip that would have additional costs associated with it. Depending upon your class of service and our overhead the trip could cost as much as $10,000 per person—although it could likely be done for perhaps half of that. If you would be interested in that with a modified land program add-on in England prior to the cruise please let us know. I would think this would need 5 couples to make it viable as a BGES program.
August 18-20 from Charlottesville, Virginia with Rick Britton: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, Crossed Sabers in Virginia. Although much attention in Virginia is properly focused on infantry actions two particularly significant battles: Brandy Station in 1863 and Trevelian Station in 1864 had ramifications that showed the importance of the mounted arm to larger land operations. Historian Rick Britton will deliver two lectures on Friday evening of this Weekend Warrior program before devoting a day to the largest cavalry action on the North American continent—Brandy Station where JEB Stuart was surprised and Lee’s northern movement towards Gettysburg was nearly uncovered and a second day to a battle that denied General David Hunter mounted support for his Lynchburg/ Tennessee and Virginia Railroad Raid and opened the door for Jubal Early’s movement to Lynchburg and subsequent 1864 Valley Campaign, at Trevelian Station. For Custer students, this was a second reckless engagement that could have resulted in the total destruction of his forces. Both battlefields are preservation success stories and will be covered during an intense weekend program that will end by 4 PM on Sunday.
August 27-September 1 from West Chester, Pennsylvania with Gary Ecelbarger: American Fabius, George Washington and the Philadelphia Campaign. BGES historian Gary Ecelbarger shows his increasingly versatile mastery of American history with this Revolutionary War foray into our most revered land—Philadelphia. Here in 1777, Lord Howe, British Commander in North America drove the Continental Congress from the city and occupied it instead of supporting General Burgoyne’s movement towards Albany, New York. The disaster at Saratoga pulled the French into the War on America’s side while Howe enjoyed a social winter following the battles with Washington at Brandywine, Paoli, Whitemarsh, Germantown and Forts Mercer and Mifflin.
Optional Add-On: August 25-August 27 from West Chester, PA. A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, arrive early and enjoy a specially arranged Weekend Warrior program that will take you to Valley Forge to see the formation of the American army in the legendary encampment. If the afternoon we will go to the Crossing of the Delaware and the battles of Trenton and Princeton. On Sunday, we will go to the Battle of Monmouth Courthouse and return Philadelphia for a 3 hour viewing of Independence Hall and the area surrounding the great debates. We will finish in time to permit you to freshen up at the hotel before we start the central program with Gary.
September 8-10 from Birmingham, AL with Norm Dasinger: A BGES Weekend Warrior Program, Wilson’s Great Cavalry Raid. The growth of Federal power in an increasingly bloody war reached its climax with the fielding of Army Groups by the Union Commanding General US Grant. It was a logical progression that this prowess would also extend to the mounted arm and in early 1865, Grant protégé James H. Wilson fielded a mounted force of over 13,000 men heavily armed and capable of severe fighting. In his way were the remnants of the fierce fighter Nathan Bedford Forrest. Our opening lectures on Friday night will set the stage for a fast paced visit through the Civil War and Civil Rights history of Alabama—they are intertwined and should not be overlooked especially in Selma and Montgomery. This program has perhaps more bang for the buck than any other this year. Many of these are American sites that really should be visited and understood. You will know the names and the deeds and by the end of the weekend you will have stood literally in their shadows.
September 22-24 from Frederick, MD with Tom Clemens and Scott Hartwig: The 1862 Maryland Campaign in three parts, Part 1 South Mountain. BGES is pleased to commence a three year study of the pivotal and many would argue decisive campaign of the war in Maryland. With the editing of the papers of Ezra Carmen featuring the recollections of the men who fought in the campaign and the monumental and painstaking chronicle of the lead up to and battle at South Mountain and Crampton’s Gap you will learn the evolution of the campaign—Lee’s options and McClellan’s mandate. We will discuss in detail the ramifications of Special Orders #191, its loss, discovery and the use of the South Mountain as a screen for Lee’s operations and plans. Both historian’s works are magisterial as is their knowledge of the campaign—with the passing of Joseph Harsh, no one knows the campaign better. This is the treat of the week. Start on Friday evening at 6 with two lectures and then spend Saturday and Sunday in the field visiting all the sites that can be accessed, you will register for Part 2 before Part 1 is finished. Don’t miss this one.
October 1-8 from Portland, OR with Neil Mangum: The 1872-1873 Modoc Indian Wars. When we started the Indian Wars series with Neil, little did we know what wonderful treasures would be revealed and the appreciation we would have for the settlement of the United States. It is not a pretty history at times and places and yet it is American and an important passage to identify who we are. Although the war is brief, the sites of the United States army and the Modoc tribes are at once picturesque and rugged—at Fort Humbolt before the Civil War a lonely and unsuccessful army officer with a drinking problem resigned his commission—his name was Sam Grant!. In many ways it is reminiscent of the Apache Indian Wars sites we have previously visited. Ironically, one of the key events of the war is the murder of General ERS Canby who accepted one of the last Confederate surrenders in Citronelle, Alabama in 1865. Stops will include Fort Vancover, Cascade battlefield, Coos Bay, Port Orford, Chelco River battlefield, Lost River Battlefield, Sorass Lake Battlefield and the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center. This tour was done once before by History America to rave reviews—it was an itinerary that needs to be offered again.
October 17-21 from Pickwick Landing State Park with Parker Hills: The General’s Terrain Study: Iuka, Corinth and Davis Bridge. The 1862 Maryland and Kentucky Campaigns have overshadowed one of US Grant’s defining moments and his historical relationship with one of the unappreciated enigmas of the war, William Starke Rosecrans. Here is one three week period Confederate fortunes turned in Mississippi, a controversial Major General was launched into a dark destiny and Grant jettisoned men whose performance disappointed him telling us more about Grant than perhaps the people who were dispatched. Many people do not know the campaign and its components—the Federal supply base at Iuka, the exchange of control, the decisive ground outside of town and the approach, egress and terrain that resulted in claims of acoustic shadows. At Corinth we see an interlocking defensive works system adapted by the occupying Federal forces and commanding ground that produced one of the largest battles in Mississippi and at Davis Bridge we see the desperate withdrawal of a wounded Confederate force being pursued, blocked and destroyed only to see them escape when Grant called off the pursuit. The political machinations involving both Rosecrans and Earl Van Dorn make this one of the important campaigns of 1862 and fully worthy of the study and pearls of education we will share with you. A great program rarely offered.
November 9-12 from Marietta, GA with Keith Bohannon and Lee White: Hood’s 1864 Tennessee Campaign in four parts, Part 1, The Prelude. Jefferson Davis believed the war could be won in 1864. Decisive and aggressive offensives into Tennessee and Kentucky could reverse the losses of 1863 and redeem the disaster at Missionary Ridge. The President discussed his expectations in detail and confidence to a recovering war hero who knew the turf. John Bell Hood was but 33; however as a legitimate war hero he was to be elevated to the rank of Lieutenant General and given command of one of Joe Johnston’s corps. Johnston and Davis had a history and the president was soon disappointed with the general’s failure to take the offensive and when Johnston had been pushed back to the gates of Atlanta he was replaced by the aggressive Hood. Hood lost Atlanta, as it appeared he had to, but from Palmetto, Georgia he recovered and with the concurrence of the president whom he met in person engaged in operations that would force Sherman to fight for his supply line and possibly give up all he had gained in the spring and summer to defend Tennessee. This program with two superb historians will take Hood’s army from Palmetto along the Western and Atlantic Railroad to the banks of the Tennessee River in a dramatic month of maneuver that definitely caught Sherman’s attention. This program will end with Hood awaiting supplies as he prepares to enter Tennessee. This is a real jewel of a program, and four year series, for westerners or people who want to understand the great west and its impact on the war.
December 1-3 from Charleston, SC with Richard Hatcher and Kyle Sinisi: Charleston Revisited. This program concludes the season and is one of our favorite destinations. The program which officially starts with a dinner cruise on Charleston Harbor will have a real bang up lead in with a 2 PM meeting at the Citadel with Kyle and a two hour walking tour of this picturesque and historically important post. Weather and Corps training schedule permitting the trip to the Citadel will conclude with an impressive parade complete with bagpipes, drummers and regimental band in full dress uniform—a social event in Charleston not to be missed. Following the dinner cruise, Saturday will commence with a walking tour of historic Charleston followed by a tour of critical sites like Fort Johnson and Secessionville on James Island. Sunday would be a tour de force with visits to Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie, The Hunley Conservation Lab and the sacred grounds of Magnolia Cemetery. Here are buried heroes and scions of South Carolina Society. Charleston is one of our favorite cities and this tour will help make it one of yours as well. A great wrap to a great season.