Tours

BGES 2022 Program Schedule

Federal controls have loosened but continue to be inconsistent and so future restrictions may return; however, this guidance reflects the current practice in the country.

Covid has been a part of our tours and we recently experienced the first outbreak on an active tour and our actions were in accordance with this guidance. A few lessons learned are included within this.

  1. There is no requirement to be immunized to participate in our tours. BGES encourages everyone to get immunized to mitigate the symptoms of infections; however, we also note that immunizations are no guarantee against infection.
  2. Masks are optional, but, may be compelled for some individuals or the group for limited periods of time to reduce an immediate potential threat of infection and is at the sole discretion of the BGES tour manager. BGES will not tolerate internal intimidation in the matter of masking. The decision to wear a mask is personal and will not be criticized.
  3. Self testing is affordable and encouraged before the tour participant shows up. The most active variants of the virus seem to be infectious but generally milder. An outbreak infected 1/3 of our registrants—three on the tour and one after returning home. BGES encourages and facilitates contact tracing to make good decisions for the good of the cohort as a whole and the protection of people who are in contact with us. No person who tests positive will be permitted on the tour and will receive a refund.
  4. The tour director may require a BGES funded Covid self test be taken if a participant displays any symptoms of COVID—as they largely mirror the development of a cold or the flu that and or the appearance of a temperature above 100 degrees will trigger a test. The registrant may refuse the test, leave the tour and receive a partial or full refund at the Executive Director’s discretion.
  5. A positive Covid test will require the infected person to leave the tour immediately. They may retest that evening while in self isolation, if negative a third test will take place the next morning and if also negative the attendee may return to the tour but must wear an N-95 quality mask on the transportation and remain socially distanced at meals.
  6. A positive test that requires separation from the tour will also result in the BGES providing a CDC approved test kit for each member of the remaining cohort. Germination periods may mature after the tour ends and BGES encourages tests be conducted with consideration of self isolation until the exposed person proves negative. Obviously we have no control over what you do after you leave the tour or the tour ends but the test is painless, we are paying for it and it does stop the spread in the case you are unknowingly positive. In our “outbreak” patient zero thought they had a cold and. They had been to a large conference the week before, they proved positive. Additional infections affected two people who sat with them at dinner the night before they tested positive. The fourth positive was a second generation positive after the tour ended and is traceable to one of the two people infected by patient zero. Other folks have tested using BGES provided test kits and, so far, are negative.
  7. A positive test without symptoms requires self isolation for five days. BGES will work with a positive client and will pay for five days of hotel isolation or until the patient is released to travel. Positive individuals driving their own vehicles are at liberty to return home for their doctor directed treatment and or self isolation (if asymptomatic). In every instance the infected individual should contact their personal physician or a local physician who will determine when they can travel. We will support medical determinations and will deflect expenses associated with gaining clearance to return home. BGES does not recommend flying with a positive test without medical clearance and encourages asymptomatic individuals who are cleared to fly to wear an N-95 mask to respect the health of those flying with you.
  8. BGES will have a support person available to assist positive individuals in leaving an overnight road trip and gaining a safe space to evaluate their options. Trips that operate out of one location, returning each night may not have the extra support; however, the tour director will assist and look in on a hotel bound patient.
  9. If extraordinary circumstances compel a positive tested client to travel with us to a point of debarkation or safe haven, the tour director may compel all personnel to mask until the positive patient can be discharged. The travel vehicle will be disinfected and surfaces wiped down. Any other reasonable safety measures may be implemented at the tour director’s determination.
  10. Any ”well” individual on tour may leave the tour if they are uncomfortable with the COVID mitigations taken. They will be entitled to an appropriate refund for the portion of the program that is disrupted or missed.

COVID, like the Flu and other transmissible diseases, will be with us for the long term. It is the flavor of the week and its lethal ancestors must be respected. We are generally an audience of people who are elderly and with co-morbidities. We can shut down and stop doing tours or we can find a way to live with it. We restarted tours last spring and it took a year before COVID found us. You never know. Four people have gotten it, all were immunized and all report little to no symptoms, had they not tested they would not have known they had it. Patient Zero was screened by their physical condition. The protocol worked. We have one patient still in Kansas City in self isolation, doing well and scheduled to fly home, being asymptomatic, tomorrow. We have stayed in touch daily.

We hope you will find our experience, these procedures and mitigations will give you the confidence to travel with BGES. We understand if these procedures may give you pause—to each their own and in their own time.

We look forward to welcoming you on our field university study tours.


BGES conducts its flagship “Civil War Field University” by design for small groups usually traveling in vans to facilitate maximum access where buses cannot go. By keeping the groups small—usually between 8 and 20 people—BGES provides a stimulating and invigoratingly personal experience available from no other organizations offering Civil War tours.

Spotsylvania, VA / Photo courtesy of Chuck Lee

As a nonprofit, net proceeds underwrite charitable and educational activities of the organization. The reputation of BGES has caused it to be sought nationally and internationally for educational and leadership training, attracting some of the nation’s most respected historians and scholars both as members and teachers.

Inclusions

BGES trips offer a range of amenities that vary by the type of tour and the accessibility of resources. Field maps are often designed and used, reading books are usually featured, and suggested reading lists help interested persons prepare for the study to follow. Included meals are listed for each program. Lodging is usually not included unless the tour includes overnight stays away from the headquarters hotel.

Browse our list of upcoming tours on this page. Follow the links for detailed descriptions, itineraries and registration information.

Our 2021 Schedule

Custer’s Trail | June 20-29, 2021

Custer’s Last Stand and the Northern Plains Indian Wars
Custer’s Last Stand and the Northern Plains Indian Wars. Courtesy Library of Congress.

George Armstrong Custer is one of America’s most compelling historical figures. Personified by actors such as Errol Flynn, the flamboyant Custer rose to fame in the Civil War but eventually became a tragic  American icon with his “Last Stand on Greasy Grass Ridge along the banks of the Little Bighorn River.” This special program follows Custer on his last campaign from Fort Abraham Lincoln to the defeat at the Little Big Horn and then returns taking in some fabulous American sites such as Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Devil’s Tower, and Crazy Horse Memorial. A real “Bucket List” experience. With Neil Mangum from Bismark, ND.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


All’s Fair in War, Streight’s Raid & Forrest’s Bluff | June 25-27, 2021

Col. Abel D. Streight, 51st Ind. Inf. USA.

There is no disputing that Nathan Bedford Forrest is one of the most important figures in the Civil War. Long reviled for his brief association with the KKK after the war and his career as a slave trader, no event is more controversial than his alleged massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow. All that aside, he was a daring and usually successful cavalry officer whose ferocity on a battlefield earned him the nickname “That Devil, Forrest.”

This program through northern Alabama tracks the pursuit, interdiction, and capture of Union Gen. Abel Streight’s Union force as it trekked on mules from Eastport Mississippi toward Georgia. Controversy surrounds the purpose of the raid. Was it a poorly conceived attack against southern resources or a clever distraction from Grant’s master plan to take Vicksburg? With Brian Steel Wills and Norm Dasinger Jr, from Gadsden, Alabama.

Wills is the Director of Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center and Forrest’s biographer. Dasinger is an Alabama and southern historian.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


A Historian’s Reflections on the First Day at Gettysburg | July 9-11, 2021

Confederate troops assault the barn at McPherson Ridge”, 1887.

While Gettysburg is perhaps the most storied of any Civil War battle, and while hundreds of historians have written about the battle, there’s one Gettysburg expert who stands head and shoulders above the rest–and he’s your guide for this tour. Scott Hartwig served as Supervisory Historian for the Gettysburg National Military Park for twenty years. During his career, he won the NPS’s Freeman Tilden Award for excellence in interpretation, and he was the KEY Player in the new visitor center interpretative experience. On this tour, Scott shares his unique insights into July 1, the day that the great combat was joined. You can take any tour of Gettysburg, but it isn’t often you will get a chance to take it with Scott. With Scott Hartwig, from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

This tour is sold out.


The Retreat from Gettysburg | July 11-15, 2021

The Retreat from Gettysburg

For nearly a month, Confederate forces had brought the war to Pennsylvania, and then for three days more than 52,000 men had been killed, wounded, or captured around the town of Gettysburg. Shattered and with ammunition exhausted, and pressed by a victorious Union army, Gen. Robert E. Lee had to extract his army, supplies, wounded, and prisoners and return to Virginia. This program moves in the footsteps of Lee’s army and the adventurous but cautious Federal pursuit to the banks of the Potomac River, where high waters trapped Lee at Williamsport. Exciting, dramatic, and comprehensive. With Parker Hills from Gettysburg, PA.

Tour Details and Registration Information.

Civil War 101: The Plains of Manassas | July 16-18, 2021

There Stands Jackson Like a Stone Wall! The great Civil War may have started at Fort Sumter, but the great conflict was contested in the tranquil lands just to the west of Washington twice: the first time with a group of amateur and naive citizen soldiers, and the second with battle-seasoned veterans and a second generation of leaders who bought a different leadership skill set to the field. In the first battle at Manassas, we lost our innocence. At the second battle, the North lost its security as the victorious southern army flowed into western Maryland. Great fields, great tactics, and great stories. This is a great program for students and general interest travelers. SPECIALLY STRUCTURED AND PRICED TO BRING CHILDREN. With Rick Britton and Len Riedel from Manassas, VA. –>

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


A Weekend of History with Dennis Frye: John Brown’s Uprising and Stonewall Jackson’s Greatest Victory | July 31 – August 1, 2021

Harpers Ferry Virginia 1865. Courtesy National Archives.

Dennis Frye is a man of western Maryland, born, raised and employed in and around Sharpsburg. From earliest days he has lived in and mastered the nuanced and fabled history of the area where Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia come together. His career was as the Chief Historian and Harpers Ferry National Park and his life’s work is the preservation of Civil War sites in the midst of modern expansion. Join Dennis as he presents two of the area’s most important events: The John Brown Raid of 1859 and Stonewall Jackson’s capture of Harpers Ferry in 1862.

In these two “Days of History,” Dennis will focus on the seminal event that lit the fuse for Civil War–the attempted Slave uprising led by the wild-eyed and purposed avenger, John Brown.  A man whose propensity for violence against slavery and slave holders immortalized him in the annals of the freedom movement.  Conversely the next day will find us immersed in the military experiences of Stonewall Jackson primarily in and around the 1862 Maryland Campaign–spending a morning on Schoolhouse Ridge overlooking Harpers Ferry and then the afternoon with Stonewall in and around the North, East, and West Woods on the Antietam battlefield. A lot of insight into two of America’s most intriguing figures. With Dennis Frye, from Harpers Ferry, WV.

CANCELED DUE TO COMPLICATIONS CREATED BY DELTA VARIANT OF COVID. REGISTRATIONS WILL BE REFUNDED IN FULL.


The Real Horse Soldiers, Grierson’s Raid | August 11-14, 2021

In the spring of 1863, a Federal cavalry force under the command of Col. Benjamin Grierson sliced through eastern Mississippi, creating chaos and consternation within this deep southern state. With Federal troops under Gen. U. S. Grant angling to cross the Mississippi River to get at Vicksburg, this ride–which has been romanticized by John Wayne and William Holden–turned the eyes of Confederate Gen. John Pemberton away from the Federal crossing near Grand Gulf and allowed Grant an uncontested operation. This is the first time Smith has presented the meticulously researched results of his study to a tour group–you’ll have great access to private land as the secrets of his diary are revealed. With Timothy Smith from Jackson, MS.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


The Tullahoma Campaign | August 17-20, 2021

William Rosecrans and Braxton Bragg. Photo montage by Hal Jespersen.

While hard and decisive combat was being waged in Mississippi and in Pennsylvania, the pace of military operations in Tennessee since the titanic fight along the banks of Stones River had ground to a halt. Union Gen. William Rosecrans contemplated an operation to eject the Confederate forces from Tennessee and to secure the key Confederate rail junction at Chattanooga. Rosecrans is one of the war’s most interesting characters, but this plan did not fit President Lincoln’s view of how the war should be ended. As the Tullahoma Campaign unfolds, you will see an effort unlike any other you may see studying the Civil War. A very interesting and overlooked campaign. With Jim Ogden from Murfreesboro, TN.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


Civil War on the Ohio | August 27-29

The Ohio River was the key to middle America, cross it and the Civil War took on a whole new dimension for the North. Fortunately for them that formidable obstacle was never significantly breached due in large part to Kentucky’s Union leaning neutrality that buffered Ohio from major military operations. There is much to see of Kentucky’s Civil War and of Civil War Ohio along the river. Join us as western historian, Darryl Smith launches his BGES career with a study of Civil War Cincinnati and the two battles involving John Hunt Morgan at Cynthiana. Our Sunday morning wrap up takes you to the unheralded battle of Augusta, Kentucky. With Darryl Smith from Newport, KY (Cincinnati area).Tour Details and Registration Information.


Sheridan Recovers the Valley | September 7-11, 2021

Sheridan’s army following Early up the Valley of the Shenandoah

Following Hunter’s Raid, he abandoned the Shenandoah Valley to Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early, who for two months ruled the valley while probing into Maryland and Pennsylvania. The operations so scared the Lincoln Administration that they called on Grant to take dramatic action to neutralize the Confederate threat before the coming presidential election of 1864. Grant’s solution was to assign Maj. Gen. Phil Sheridan to command the district. His military operations ruined Early’s reputation and denied the assets of the valley to Lee’s besieged army at Petersburg. This program focuses on his operations in September and October 1864. With Scott Patchan and Gary Ecelbarger from Winchester, VA.

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Revolutionary War 101: The Shot Heard Around the World, Boston, Lexington, and Concord | October 1-3, 2021

Battle of Lexington, April 19, 1775. Courtesy New York Public Library

The American Revolution burst into full reality in April 1775 with the fighting at Lexington and Concord. In the wake of the Boston Tea Party, the British government closed the maritime port of Boston and the area around it. The ramifications were extraordinary and, with martial law in effect in the area, the movement of British soldiers on punitive expeditions inflamed a region that was fertile for rebellion. A wonderful “on the ground” introduction to the causes and events that brought on America’s revolution. With Len Riedel, from Concord, Massachusetts.

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The 1864 Overland Campaign Part 1: Grant versus Lee | October 18-23, 2021

Higgerson House
Higgerson House. Courtesy of National Park Service.

U.S. Grant was brought to the East to confront and defeat the Confederates’ legendary leader, Robert E. Lee. For nearly two years, Lee had out marched, out thought, and out fought five commanders, having only been checked at Gettysburg in July 1863. Conversely, Grant had captured two Confederate armies and pushed the Confederates out of Mississippi and Tennessee. Elevated to the command of all the Union armies with the rank of Lieutenant General, his mission was to win the war before the next presidential election. Commencing at the start of May 1864, Grant would batter and be battered by the aggressive Confederate commander. Six weeks later, Grant would find himself facing a considerably weakened Lee in front of Petersburg–mission not quite accomplished but pretty impressive. With Gordon Rhea.

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Understanding the Seven Days Campaign, with Paul Severance | October 28-31, 2021

The Confederacy’s most famous general, Robert E. Lee, began to earn his reputation with this brilliantly conceived but poorly executed effort to destroy the Federal army under the command of Gen. George McClellan. Following his appointment in early June 1862, Lee began to plan a way to isolate the docile Federal forces with an operation that would destroy a key element of the Federal force that was isolated north of the Chickahominy River, and then entrap the remainder between the York and James Rivers. Using maneuvering blocks of Confederate troops moving along intersecting roads leading from Richmond, Lee hoped to chop up the surprised and retreating Federals. What did Lee intend and why did it fail? You will find out. With Paul Severance and Len Riedel from Sandston, VA.

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


The Atlanta Campaign on the Weekends, Chapter 3: “The Hell Hole,” | November 3-5, 2021

As Grant ground his way south toward Richmond, Federal forces organized as an army group (Army of the Tennessee, Army of the Cumberland, and Army of the Ohio) in seven army corps, and a cavalry corps under William Sherman continued to thrust and parry against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. Here Sherman attempted to get behind Johnston’s mobile defense and engaged in a series of battles north of Atlanta. With Robert Jenkins from Marietta, GA.

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The Atlanta Campaign on the Weekends Chapter 4: Confrontation at Kennesaw | November 5-7, 2021

Sherman had carefully marshaled his forces and maneuvered Johnston out of his mountainous fortifications, and now that the Western and Atlantic Railroad was in sight again, Sherman gambled on a reckless attack against that key communications feature and the Confederates holding the high ground. The assaults against Little Kennesaw and Big Kennesaw Mountains were worthy of a National Military Park. Scenic vistas reveal the expanse of the fields of operations, and the skyline of Atlanta from the heights of the mountains juxtapose all the chips that were on the table in this high-stakes operation. From this point on, Atlanta would be under direct assault. With Robert Jenkins from Marietta, GA.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


Fortress Vicksburg | November 16-20, 2021

Abraham Lincoln had declared that “Vicksburg is the key.” Noting that this formidable position situated on a hairpin turn of the Mississippi River closed essential access to the liberated and critical port of New Orleans, Lincoln knew that the landlocked northwestern states were economically dependent upon the river to survive, and he demanded that Union military operations be oriented toward achieving that end. Vicksburg was the primary obstacle in early 1863. This program focuses on the Union efforts to take Vicksburg once they arrived in front of the imposing earthworks. This physically rigorous program will climb the hills and descend into the ravines that made Vicksburg so imposing. With Timothy Smith from Vicksburg, MS.

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


The Civil War in and Around New Orleans | November 12-15, 2021

In 1862, New Orleans was the largest city in the Confederacy, and before the Civil War it was a city of international dimensions. Wharves teemed with activity around cotton bales, and bankers from every major developed country in the world had a presence, with many nations having envoys and consulates in the town. How was it then that this city fell so quickly and was indeed allowed to fall in April of 1862? Once occupied, how did the Union military governors interface with the citizens and city leadership? This is a fascinating look at New Orleans as a key component of a growing nation and the means of protection that evolved over the years. With Len Riedel from Slidell, LA.

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


Death of an Army: The Battle of Nashville and the Long Retreat to the Tennessee River | December 3-5, 2021

Gen. John Bell Hood’s grand invasion had ground to a halt in front of Nashville. Bled by missed opportunities and a devastating assault at Franklin nearly two weeks earlier, sorties near Murfreesboro had not brought any promise of success, and now Hood’s army waited on the hills south of the Union occupied Tennessee capital city. General Grant was impatient for the final act and dispatched a relief commander to replace General Thomas. He need not have bothered. In two days of bloody fighting, the Confederate offensive was over, and the last major Rebel army in the West was wrecked and in headlong retreat to Mississippi. An instructive and interesting study of one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War. With Lee White, from Franklin, Tennessee.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


A Comprehensive Study Tour of the Battle of Fredericksburg | December 9-12, 2021

Ambrose Burnside was the new army commander, and he had been hired because his predecessor was not aggressive enough. After stealing a march on Robert E. Lee, he found himself positioned in front of Fredericksburg. If he crossed the river rapidly, he would be positioned between Lee and the Confederate capital of Richmond. What followed was mismanagement on a gross level, resulting in one of the American military’s most tragic episodes. Come learn what the plans were, where they went awry, and what the long- and short-term consequences were. Less than 6 months later the armies were back again but Fredericksburg was no longer the target and was a meaningful distraction from a major movement of the Federal army under Joseph Hooker. Learn about the second battle of Fredericksburg and Salen Church. An insightful study with one of the nation’s best leadership teachers teamed with one of the area’s most knowledgeable historians. With Paul Severance and Greg Mertz, from Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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“The March” | January 26-30, 2023

It is burned in the psyche of every Old South mind–SHERMAN. In late 1864, following his success in the Atlanta Campaign, General Grant’s friend and trusted subordinate proposed a march with two wide wings sweeping over 60 miles wide for more than 200 miles against the southern port city of Savannah. This tour will put you in the footpath of the infamous march as experienced by the soldiers and residents. You will learn what it was and wasn’t–legends will be addressed head on and you will determine for yourself what this was really about. With John Derden from Atlanta, GA.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


The Bayou Teche and Port Hudson Campaigns | February 16-20, 2022

The Battle of Baton Rouge, La. Aug. 4th 1862. Currier & Ives, 1862. Courtesy Library of Congress.

BGES completes its four-year series on the Vicksburg Campaign by showing the southern component of the campaign. Here we will start with the August 1862 battle of Baton Rouge and progress to the operations against Port Hudson. Made anticlimactic with the surrender of Vicksburg, this rarely done and easily overlooked component of the campaign to control the Mississippi River was real enough for the people who fought here. With Parker Hills from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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Sherman’s March Through South Carolina from Beaufort, SC with Stephen Wise | February 23-27, 2022

Finding his supply lines vulnerable and his aggressive young opponent, John Bell Hood attempting to redefine operations in Georgia, Sherman left Hood to be handled by George Thomas and John M. Schofield as he moved to the Georgia coast and the northward through the Carolinas to meet the remainder of Hood’s decimated forces now again under then command of Joseph E. Johnston.

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Burnside takes a foothold in North Carolina with Wade Sokolosky | February 2022


The Atlanta Campaign on the Weekends: Part 5 Across the Chatahoochie River and Peachtree Creek by Bob Jenkins | March 4-6, 2022

For many years the pivotal Atlanta Campaign has been presented in the shadow of the great eastern showdown between Grant and Lee, yet the capture of Atlanta is widely regarded as the final nail in the Confederacy’s coffin. It provided the national morale lift needed to propel Lincoln to be the first president to be reelected since Andrew Jackson. Several notable historians have undertaken campaign studies but none has shown more fresh scholarship than Dalton attorney Robert Jenkins.

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The 1862 Peninsula and Seven Days Campaigns with Paul Severance and Len Riedel from Williamsburg, VA | March 20-26, 2022

Abraham Lincoln inherited a broken nation split by secession and ideological differences. With the commencement of hostilities in April 1861, Lincoln had called into service volunteers from across the country in numbers never before seen on the continent. Early confrontations resulted in embarrassing defeats and changes in the war plans. Experience had been replaced with Youth, and Youth determined to know better than Authority, so in January 1862, President Lincoln ordered the armies of the United States to all be in motion against the rebellious forces by George Washington’s Birthday (February 22), 1862.

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The Central Plains Indian Wars | April 22-30, 2022

The promise of free land and wealth in the west near Santa Fe and the Nebraska & Colorado territories sparked an unprecedented migration west with a concurrent need to protect settlers from the free-ranging lifestyle of various Indian tribes. Originating out of Independence, Missouri, this program will thoroughly ground you in life on the American frontier in the 19th century both before and after the Civil War. As we move into the heartland of the Great Plains of Kansas, you will see great names in American history such as Dodge City, Fort Leavenworth, and the important string of forts manned by U.S. cavalry who would be charged with keeping the westward trails free from Indian interference. This is an important American history story told by a fabulous American history storyteller. With Neil Mangum from Kansas City, MO.

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The Road to Appomattox with Rick Britton | April 2022


Civil War 101: Antietam, Historian TBD | July 2022


Revolutionary War 101: Yorktown, Historian TBD | October 7-9 2022


The Peninsula Campaign through Seven Pines with Len Riedel | November 2022

Our 2022 Schedule as it Develops

Where dates are given the programs are agreed at this time. Programs will be added as agreed.


The Red River Campaign, from Alexandria, LA | May 24-28, 2022

With the 1864 presidential election on the horizon, politics, economics, and military necessity all clashed in this expedition deep into divided Louisiana. With a fugitive state government operating in the western part of the state and the forces of the United States occupying New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and the Mississippi River, the Union commander Nathaniel Banks was determined to liberate the remainder of the state and restore it in time for the election. With cotton coming to harvest and U.S. mills starved for product, it seemed the right move–but it wasn’t. With Parker Hills.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


The Overland Campaign Part 2: To the North Anna through the Crossing of the James River | June 5-10, 2022

Higgerson House
Higgerson House. Courtesy of National Park Service.

U. S. Grant was brought to the East to confront and defeat the Confederates’ legendary leader, Robert E. Lee. For nearly two years, Lee had out-marched, out-thought, and out-fought five commanders, having only been checked at Gettysburg in July 1863. Conversely, Grant had captured two Confederate armies and pushed the Confederates out of Mississippi and Tennessee. Elevated to the command of all the Union armies with the rank of lieutenant general, his mission was to win the war before the next presidential election. Commencing at the start of May 1864, Grant would batter and be battered by the aggressive Confederate commander. The proof is in the numbers, and in just two weeks more than 60,000 men were killed, wounded or captured. It had just begun. With Gordon Rhea.

Tour Details and Registration Information.


The Great Exploration: Lewis and Clark in the Pacific Northwest with Neil Mangum, from Great Falls, MT | June 20-29, 2022

Lewis and Clark at Three ForksThe United States had acquired the Louisiana Territory. Wanting to know what he had purchased, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and a Corps of Discovery to assert American control over the region and to discover and bring back sample of the region. Join us as we pick up the journey 13 months into the trip at the Great Falls of the Missouri River and follow up to the Pacific and part of the return trip.

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Between the Fourths, Part 1 of 3: George Washington’s Decisive Period, with Gary Ecelbarger, from King of Prussia Forge, PA vice Valley Forge | June 20-24, 2022

In 1777, George Washington reached a new nadir in his struggle to win independence for the fledgling American nation. With the British on the move against Philadelphia, Washington would find himself defeated at Brandywine Creek and falling back. Less than a year later the circumstances will have changed dramatically. See the events that forged a nation and made a President.

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Civil War 101: Chickamauga with Norm Dasinger from Chattanooga, TN | July 8-10, 2022

CanonThe Civil War is filled with thousands of engagements but everyone knows the BIG Battles, Gettysburg, Antietam, Fort Sumter, Vicksburg and Chickamauga–the largest battle fought west of the Allegheny Mountains and a empty Confederate victory because of what followed at Chattanooga. This program often takes 3 or 4 days just to do Chickamauga but our Civil War 101 theme is phrase Sergeant Joe Friday in the old series Dragnet “Just the Facts Mam.” This wonderful program is meaningful for Civil War buffs and novices alike. Indeed it is designed and priced for you to take that shared trip with your son or daughter or grandchild that you have long wanted to take and which reminds you of the trips you took in your earlier days.

Here in just two days and an evening capture some magic, enjoy an excellent historian who will not lose you or your guests in the minutia. A special summer weekend for a short summer vacation.

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Grant Moves South: A Star Ascends in the West | July 11-16 2022

Battle of Belmont, Missouri, on the Mississippi River, opposite Columbus, Kentucky. Fought November, 1861. originally published in Frank Leslie’s Pictorial History of the American Civil War. Courtesy Library of Congress.

General Grant is the man who won the Civil War, yet he had a hard time establishing his credentials. This road trip follows Grant in his early Civil War exploits, from his nearly disastrous start at Belmont, Missouri; through Kentucky, Forts Henry and Donelson; his shelving, resurrection, and near ruin at Shiloh; through the siege of Corinth, Iuka, the battle of Corinth, and Davis Bridge. This fast-paced but insightful program helps you understand how Grant was positioned to tackle the greater challenges that would arise at Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and, ultimately, in Virginia as General in Chief. A lotta bang for your bucks! With Tim Smith, from Memphis, Tennessee.

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Setting the World on Fire: George Washington in the French and Indian War, with Scott Patchan | July 26-30, 2022

The journey of George Washington to his destiny as the “Father of His Country” is so immense as to demand seven volumes and nearly 5,000 pages of text from one of the world’s most significant biographers and countless lesser works that have spread from the late 18th century to modern day. Indeed, this is the first of three Washington-themed tours we are featuring this year.

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Wizards of the Saddle, from Chattanooga, TN | August 16-18, 2022

Operations around Chattanooga and in middle Tennessee depended in large measure on supply lines, and there was no greater threat to the operational security of maneuvering or encamped armies than the operations of cavalrymen–the intelligence and interdiction missions of men like Joseph Minty, Joe Wheeler, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and others all affected commanders’ decisions. With Lee White.

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


Bragg’s Chattanooga Strategy with Jim Ogden from Chattanooga, TN | August 18-21, 2022


Battle Along Antietam Creek with Scott Hartwig and Tom Clemens | September 9-11, 2022


Kentucky Invasion of 1862 with Darryl Smith from Danville, KY | September 29-October 1, 2022


Kings of the Mountain, The 1780 British Southern Campaign, from Spartanburg, SC | October 10-14 2022

Having failed to end the American rebellion in New England, British forces turned toward a southern strategy that hoped to pacify the colonies of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Entrusting the control of British forces to its most experienced commander, Charles Cornwallis, and an enthusiastic and capable group of subordinates such as Banastre Tarleton, Lord Rawdon, and Patrick Ferguson, Tory loyalists proceeded to subdue the American countryside, resulting in some of the most severe and inhumane combat and terrorism in American history. With Gary Ecelbarger and Scott Patchan.

If you are interested in this program, please contact us.


My Old Kentucky Home, A Broad History of the Blue Grass State with Neil Mangum | October 21-29 2022

In 1860–1861, two natives of Kentucky were elected President, and one ran but was not elected. Two other dominant politicians, including “The Great Compromiser” and the architect of the Crittenden Compromise, also were representatives of the Bluegrass State. Long reputed for fast horses and rightfully famous for Bourbon whiskey, the state gave us Kentucky Fried Chicken and the “Louisville Lip”—Muhammed Ali. In baseball, no place is more famous than the factory making the “Louisville Slugger” bat and the home of the first American baseball team—the Cincinnati Red Stockings—just four years after the Civil War.

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America’s Greatest Warrior? General George Thomas in the West with Brian Steel Wills | November 4-10, 2022

There are some people who just keep appearing in the center of things. In the American Revolution, British peer Lord Charles Henry Cornwallis seemed to be in every major military engagement of the war. So, too, it is with George Henry Thomas in the American Civil War. If the war is won in the West, then Thomas by definition plays a key role. Some historians of note, such as Thomas Buell (Warrior Generals) and Albert Castel (Articles of War), have suggested that Thomas may have been the best officer in the Civil War. What does his contemporary biographer think?


Atlanta Campaign on the Weekends, Part 6: Fighting for Atlanta with Bob Jenkins | November 11-13, 2022


Revolutionary Georgia: Kettle Creek, Briar Run, Savannah and the Coast, with John Derden, from Pooler, GA | December 1-4, 2022


Washington’s Desperate Gambit | December 7-11, 2022

By the end of 1776, the American Revolution was on its last legs. Continental Army Commander George Washington had been defeated around New York and had been chased from New Jersey. With failure permeating his diminishing ranks, he escaped with a dispirited army to Pennsylvania along the banks of the Delaware River. With the British and their hired mercenaries from the German state of Hesse, the Hessians settled in for the winter and Christmas in barracks in Trenton and in Princeton. Washington conceptualized a bold and risky plan to inspirit his dissolving force: He would attack the Hessians. His efforts would reignite the revolution and inspire the Continentals into the critical year of 1777. With Gary Ecelbarger and Scott Patchan from Princeton, NJ.

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To the Bitter End, North Carolina in 1865 | February 16-20, 2023

After refitting his force, Sherman was called to bring his forces north to join the two Federal armies besieging Petersburg. Sherman agreed to march through South Carolina and North Carolina to destroy the remaining industrial infrastructure in the eastern Confederacy. This program picks up Sherman after he has moved through South Carolina from Cheraw and brings him north into North Carolina from the engagement at Monroe Crossroads through the last major battle of the war at Bentonville and the surrender of the Confederate forces at Bennett Place. With Wade Sokolosky from Fayetteville, NC.

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Discover Alabama, A Frontier History to Star Wars with Mike Bunn and Norm Dasinger, from Mobile, Alabama | March 10-17 2023

I love America and am constantly enlightened as I move through her diverse and interesting history. BGES created an Americana series to feed that natural wanderlust and enduring curiosity—we have done Route 66, we did Texas, and are doing Lewis and Clark and the state of Kentucky later this year. We have and will continue to do additional themes. Now our attention turns to the state of Alabama.

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War on the Lower Mississippi with Parker Hills and Len Riedel from Slidell, LA | March 26-30, 2023

In early 1862, Federal successes in Kentucky and Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas turned eyes toward the advancing Federal hordes. Far to the south, the South’s largest and most commercially successful city New Orleans was perceived to be secure. Sadly for them less than 3 weeks after Shiloh, New Orleans would fall to a naval attack up the Mississippi River. As the Federals moved north Baton Rouge and Natchez also were occupied then there was Vicksburg.


The Overland Campaign Pt 1, The Crossing of the Rapidan through the Battle of Harris Farm with Gordon Rhea from Fredericksburg, Virginia | April 2023

Higgerson House
Higgerson House. Courtesy, National Park Service.

Following Gettysburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent his first Corps west to aid General Braxton Bragg and he settled down to a conservative winter with some relatively minor engagements. In the same time, western hero, Major General US Grant continued a string of successes culminating at Chattanooga in November 1863. Grant was promoted to Lieutenant General and give overall command of all the US armies. He then came east and after making adjustments for the Spring 1864 campaigning season he settled in with the Army of the Potomac.Early in May, he ordered Major General Meade, Commander of the Army of the Potomac to strike tents and cross the Rapidan River. Lee encamped near Gordonsville and observing from Clark Mountain moved to engage. It would be the decisive campaign in the east. This program led by the Gordon Rhea, the nation’s preeminent Overland Campaign historian and author of 7 award winning books related to the campaign originally scheduled this as a two tour, 10 day study; but with COVID after 3 reschedulings it was conducted with a diminished cohort of hearty travelers. He agreed to offer this again to allow folks who got spooked by COVID to attend this and Part 2 which is being conducted June 5-10, 2022 from Richmond–space remains for that tour. Another Part 2 is dependent upon the demand to this program and the need to allow folks to complete the entire program in sequence. Don’t miss this legend in the Civil War community–he writes well, on the battlefield he is even better.

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The Trail of Tears, The Cherokee Removal with Jim Ogden, from Oklahoma City, OK | May 6-14, 2023


Civil War 101: Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, with Greg Mertz, from Fredericksburg | June 10-12, 2022

Soldiers on horses in battleIt has been said it is the bloodiest real estate in the United States—a place where over 100,000 men fell. Yet it is much more than that—it was the mythical Dare Mark Line, a no man’s land equidistant between the Northern capital in Washington and the Southern capital in Richmond. Here along the banks of the Rappahannock River a small colonial town found itself invaded by war—devastated by shelling, yard to yard urban warfare and occupation under the long range guns of each side whose command of the town was unquestioned from frowning heights outside the town and across the river. See Greg Mertz and Len talk about this program, click here.

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The Pony Express: A Romantic Failure with Neil Mangum, from Kansas City, KS | July 9-18, 2023

Original Pony Express StationCalifornia was hot–gold had made fortunes and increased migration across the trails as word spread of the boundless wealth. California organized so rapidly that it achieved statehood almost immediately. With banks and other related businesses in the new capital city of Sacramento and the port of San Francisco close by decisions made by important people and people who wanted to become important were the limiting factor. The western frontier was Missouri and the distance to the remote California settlement was nearly 2,000 miles–the California, Mormon and Oregon Trails were already well worn and so a few entrepreneurs conceived a never ending trail of lathered up ponies and riders along the trail covering some 200 miles a day–stops were planned, riders recruited, switching stations with remounts established and customers solicited. All dependent upon a leather mail pouch, the integrity and skill of young ambitious riders–10 days from St. Joseph Missouri to Sacramento California.

You cannot begin to imagine the magnitude of the task until you have seen it and ridden it–we’re gonna and we will do it in the same time as a single run. The contrasts, the terrain, the loneliness even today is a profile in American ingenuity and character. I guarantee you will be in awe. Of course the concept failed and was out of business within a few years–killed by the telegraph and ultimately doomed by the transcontinental railroad–a Civil War distracted from the wealth generating activities of the fifties. Still of the most important lessons of the century the concept ranks high as an American initiative–at another time it might have worked. Mount up!

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Refund and Cancellations

BGES is an educational organization. All registrations are open-ended and may be refunded if circumstances require the client to cancel. The general policy is a 100% refund for cancellations made before the event. Penalties are not usually assessed unless nonrefundable vendor costs are incurred. All refunds are determined and approved by the Executive Director of the BGES.