Civil War on the Ohio

A BGES Civil War Field University Program

With Darryl Smith

August 26–29, 2021; from Erlanger, KY

The Ohio River was the key to middle America: Cross it, and the Civil War would take on a whole new dimension for the North. That is why Kentucky neutrality was so critical. Fortunately for them, that formidable obstacle was never significantly breached, since Kentucky was largely devoid of major military operations. That being said, there is much to be seen of Kentucky’s smaller Civil War and the preparations along the Ohio River.

Join us as Western historian Darryl Smith makes his BGES debut with a study of Civil War Ohio, the two battles of Cynthiana and the different stories they share with us, and the unheralded battle of Augusta. Along the way, enjoy a few hidden jewels of Americana. The schedule will also permit you to add to your experience both before and after the organized program.


Thursday, August 26, 2021

6 p.m. Gather at the Holiday Inn hotel in Erlanger, Kentucky, near the Cincinnati Airport, where Executive Director Len Riedel will talk about the missed opportunities in the Western theater for the Confederacy while painting an interesting “what-if “scenario in which Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio were the Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania of the war. Darryl will offer his own commentary.

We will break in time for you to have dinner on your own.

Friday, August 27, 2021

8:30 a.m. If staying at the Holiday Inn, enjoy your complimentary breakfast buffet of scrambled eggs, bacon, French toast, pastries, cereals, breads, pastries, juices, and coffee from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. before heading out at 8:30 a.m.

Today’s there is Cincinnati, the Queen City, and we will spend our morning at Spring Grove Cemetery. Cincinnati was the largest city west of the Allegheny Mountains featuring key manufacturing and other industrial facilities. Darryl will overview the importance of the city to the country and the Federal war effort before utilizing the extensive resources at the beautiful and iconic cemetery.

Spring Grove features over 40 Union generals including Joseph Hooker and William Lytle. In addition, over 5,000 Union veterans are buried there—it is a Federal Valhalla.

Following lunch at the Weideman Brewery, we will use the afternoon to focus on the defenses of Cincinnati that would have faced Braxton Bragg, Kirby Smith, or John Bell Hood had they chosen to attack the Queen City. The first is the Black Brigade Memorial honoring the free blacks who enlisted and constructed fortifications to protect the city against invasion in 1862. Our second stop will be the fortifications in Evergreen Cemetery at Battery Shaler and to visit a very young Medal of Honor recipient. Finally, the day will end at the James H. Ramage Civil War Museum, which is also a battery constructed to defend the city. The museum’s namesake, Jim Ramage, is the fine biographer of John Hunt Morgan and a long-time BGES friend and professor emeritus at Northern Kentucky University. We will return to the hotel by 5 p.m.

We cannot resist—at 6 p.m. Friday night we will take you to dinner at the Greyhound Tavern in Northern Kentucky. Known for its southern cooking, this is one of Darryl’s favorite dinner stops.

Lunch and dinner are all included in your fee.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

8:15 a.m: Once again residents at the hotel should enjoy your included breakfast buffet between 6:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. and be ready and on board at 8:15 a.m. Today’s theme will be John Hunt Morgan and his raiders. We can demonstrate his rise and fall at the same spot near Cynthiana, Kentucky. This is a place very few Civil War students ever reach, but it will be instructive, and you will enjoy your day in and around it. Fair warning: We will walk a fair amount this morning.

Our walking tour this morning discusses Morgan’s Kentucky operations and his first raid that culminated in the first battle of Cynthiana. We will then have lunch at Bianckes, a local restaurant with character and ambiance.

This afternoon, the southern view becomes noticeably darker as we take in the condition of Morgan, his men, and the fortunes of the South in the last Kentucky Raid that resulted in the second battle at Cynthiana and the destruction of Morgan’s command. So much has been made of JEB Stuart, Joe Wheeler, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, but Morgan is significant and complex, and the romantic elements often mask this competitive and tragic figure.

We will return to the hotel by 5:30 p.m., where you can have dinner on your own.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

9 a.m.: After breakfast we will give you time to check out and then be on board by 9. We are going to go to a place most of you probably have never heard of, much less visited. The battle at Augusta along the Ohio River saw a fierce firefight in the streets of the town in the fall of 1862. Here, Union Home Guard clashed with a detachment of Morgan’s Raiders led by his brother in law, Basil Duke. The clash ended with the town on fire (more than 20 buildings) and the Confederates stung and retreating.

Wherever a soldier is killed becomes, most likely, the most significant site in the Civil War for them and their families. Augusta is a perfect example of that, and we hope you will appreciate that this place of sacrifice and suffering is being remembered nearly 160 years later.

We will return to the hotel by noon for you to have lunch on your own and to explore a bit more before leaving the area. There is so much to see close by; we will send you along the way with some suggestions.

Read more at “Tour Talk: Darryl Smith Discusses Civil War on the Ohio,” published in the BGES Newsletter in June 2021.

About the Faculty

Darryl Smith is a military history enthusiast who founded Walking with History LLC. He has served a number of regional leadership functions in various historical organizations, including the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table, the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation, and a new organization being formed to help save the Augusta Battlefield sites. Darryl lives in Cincinnati and is driven to teach history by walking it. He is a well-known and popular tour leader in the Cincinnati area and is a member of the BGES.

Hotel Information

We have set aside a block of 20 rooms at the Holiday Inn, 1717 Airport Exchange Blvd., in Erlanger, KY, 41018. The rate is $119 per night, plus tax. The cut-off date for the block is July 26. Call 888-294-5067 and ask for the Blue and Gray Education Society block arriving August 26. After the cut-off day, the hotel reserves the right to honor the block rate or charge a different rate for late reservations. Before the event, BGES Executive Director Len Riedel will work to ensure everyone has the best rate available. You are not required to stay at the HQ hotel.


The servicing airport is Cincinnati (CVG). Louisville and Lexington are close enough to be alternatives. The area is easily accessed by interstate highways from any cardinal point. The hotel provides a shuttle to and from the airport.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times. Thank you.


Registration includes three lunches and one dinner, a reading book with maps, the academic program, support of a professional historian, tour director, and transportation. We will also provide snacks and cold bottled water.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Civil War on the Ohio

Questions? Need more information? Please contact us.