Thursday, January 07, 2010

eventually, you've got to go to the places where it happened

I've got a bunch of fun tours set up so far for 2010: a couple in Gettysburg (regular tour, and one "Unseen" tour, looking at lesser-known sites), a unique tour of little-known sites associated with the Appomattox Campaign, a full-fledged overview of the Battle of Chickamauga, and an intriguing 4-day excursion to New Orleans (14th Civil War Forum Battlefield Conference). On top of that, I've scheduled two tours in my own backyard: Civil War San Francisco, complete with a ferry ride to Fortress Alcatraz.

I'm really looking forward to this lineup, and have negotiations underway to add up to seven more tours throughout the year (Glorieta Pass, Galveston & Sabine Pass, Red River Campaign, Prairie Grove, Shiloh, Antietam, and a little jaunt from Big Shanty to Chattanooga covering the Great Locomotive Chase.

No one can say I'm giving short-shrift to the Western Theater or Trans-Mississippiin truth, I set up tours of places I want to explore myself, and am inviting others to join me. That's the beauty of starting your own tour company.

All of these are small group tours (but for the New Orleans trip, which will accommodate up to 40 or 50). None of them will be larger than a mini-bus, and some will be conducted in a commuter van (about 10 people). That will give us maximum flexibility on choice of routes, and give the registrants plenty of "face time" with the guide.

I've really enjoyed setting up these tours, talking to local historians, scoping out the best lodging and local eateries, studying maps. The New Orleans conference was especially challenging in that it's the most urban setting we've visited so far (not counting Atlanta), and the one with the least in the way of actual battlefields. With the generous assistance of a Loyola history professor, Justin Nystrom, I've begun to fine tune a pretty interesting weekend to include a French Quarter walking tour, museum and cemetery visits, stops at important sites like the Customs building, Fort Jackson, and two well-preserved Mississippi River plantation homes.

Add to that some tasty meals, a side trip to the Superdome for son Sam, and a talk based on Professor Nystrom's forthcoming book, and it will be a fine weekend. Join us, if you can.

Photo at top: Oak Alley plantation; lower image: Benjamin "the Beast" Butler, as the people of New Orleans remember him.