My Old Kentucky Home: Battles, Baseball, and Bourbon

A 2022 BGES Americana Program

With Neil Mangum

October 21–29, 2022; from Cincinnati International Airport

The World’s Largest Baseball Bat stands outside the entrance to the Louisville Slugger Museum. Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

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. This tour offers a real taste of American culture that is not to be missed.


Friday, October 21, 2022

7:00 PM. Meet the cohort at the Holiday Inn Hotel Erlanger, Kentucky (near the Cincinnati airport). You will be met by your host and receive your reading book and name tag.

Your hotel is included.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

U. S. Grant is the great hero of the Civil War. Our morning examines his humble beginnings along the banks of the Ohio River and gives you a solid grounding in the famous Underground Railroad. You will see where fugitive slaves escaped into Ohio and consider how Cincinnati-based Harriet Beecher Stowe conceptualized Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Magee’s Bakery comes highly recommended for lunch. Our time in Maysville, Kentucky, will permit us to take the BGES’s heralded walking tour from its National Geographic guidebook. The day finishes with a visit to the 1782 Blue Licks Battlefield—site of a Loyalist victory ten months after Cornwallis surrendered and a look at Daniel Boone’s origins.

We will spend two nights in Lexington, Kentucky. Your hotel is included, and meals are on your own.

Sunday October 23, 2022

BGES has a walking tour of historic Lexington, Kentucky, in its guidebook published by National Geographic, and our day starts with that walk. The highlight is the famous and beautiful Lexington Cemetery, where Henry Clay, John Hunt Morgan, and John Breckinridge are buried. We then will tour the palatial home of Henry Clay: Ashland. After lunch at Gold Star Chili, the afternoon takes in the smashing Confederate victory at the August 1862 battle of Richmond (Kentucky) and the new National Park Service site at Camp Nelson, where African-American soldiers trained to fight for the Union.

Your hotel, breakfast, and lunch are included.

Monday October 24, 20220

Kentucky is the quintessential Southern state, and horse racing is at the center of that reputation. Kentucky horse farms punctuate the landscape—you will visit one of the most famous, with a behind-the-scenes tour of Keeneland. Of course, the Kentucky Derby made Mint Juleps famous, and we will tour one of the oldest distilleries, learning how and sampling the products of Buffalo Trace Distillery. As we make our way to Louisville for our two-night stay, we will visit the gravesites of Daniel Boone and “Old Rough and Ready,” President Zachary Taylor. Taylor’s children included Sarah (Jefferson Davis’s first wife) and Confederate Gen. Richard Taylor.

We’ll overnight for the next two nights in Louisville. Your hotel and breakfast are included.

Tuesday October 25, 2022

Louisville is one of America’s great cities, and we’ve selected four great experiences: Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby; the Louisville Slugger (baseball) Museum; the Mohammed Ali Museum and gravesite; and a dinner cruise on the Ohio River.

Your hotel, breakfast, and dinner are included.

Wednesday October 26, 2022

We start with the famous George S. Patton Museum at Fort Knox. We then head to Bardstown to visit the great Barton’s Distillery, where the American version of Bailey’s is bottled—a wonderful blend of bourbon and cream. The afternoon brings us to the home of the great 19th-century songwriter, Stephen Foster, and “My Old Kentucky Home.” The day finishes with a visit to Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and boyhood home.

We overnight in Elizabethtown. Breakfast and hotel are included.

Thursday October 27, 2022

Today we encounter Braxton Bragg’s 1862 Invasion of Kentucky at Mundfordsville and an earlier 1861 clash at Rowlett’s Station. A unique treat is a historic tour of Mammoth Cave National Park. We will meet famous cavalryman John Hunt Morgan at Tebbs Bend. The day finishes at a new national battlefield, site of the 1861 Battle of Mill Springs. But perhaps the most memorable site of all might be the museum at the home of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken!

The evening finds us in Somerset. Your hotel, breakfast, and dinner are included.

Friday October 28, 2022

The biggest battle of the Civil War in Kentucky was at Perryville in October 1862. We spend the morning touring this largely preserved and pristine battlefield, afterward moving back to the 18th century at Old Fort Harrod, site of Kentucky’s first permanent settlement. The afternoon will take us to a unique religious sect that is now largely extinct—the Shakers. Shaker Village is authentic and, if circumstances allow, we will overnight in the old village or close by. A farewell dinner will be held in the Shaker Village Dining Room.

Your hotel, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included.

Saturday October 29, 2022

Today we return to Cincinnati to wrap up, stopping at President Taft’s home, the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame Museum at Great American Ball Park, and Skyline Chili for a famous Chili and Coney Hot Dog lunch. All American and all-encompassing—perhaps our best Americana tour ever.

Breakfast and lunch are included. The program ends by 3 PM. Return to the Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport to dismiss.

About the Faculty

Neil Mangum, one of the nation’s foremost historians, is an expert on frontier life. However, Neil is a Virginian who grew up in the shadow of the Petersburg National Battlefield, which was one of his very first assignments in the NPS. He still has deep ties. A retired National Park Service official, Neil served as Superintendent at the Little Big Horn National Battlefield as it transitioned from Custer National Battlefield. The popular Mangum only allows himself four or five tours a year, and BGES is fortunate to enjoy his favor. He enjoys the clientele and the small folksy nature of the group that is usually well-prepared. Neil is the author of The Battle of the Rosebud: Prelude to the Little Big Horn. He has a following, and most people on this trip will have traveled with him before, which makes this event even nicer.

Hotel Information

Our headquarters hotel is Holiday Inn Cincinnati Airport, Hebron, Kentucky 41018; (844) 684-9427. The rest of the hotel selections will be announced by November 1, 2021. Your registration includes eight nights superior class lodging. If you return on Sunday instead of Saturday night, an additional night of hotel will be $150.


The servicing airport is Cincinnati International (CVG). Alternative airports include Lexington (LEX) and Louisville (SDF). The headquarters hotel is easily accessed from all directions, and long-term parking for a fee is convenient.

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 to this purchase but others you may make at other times.


Your registration fee includes eight nights’ lodging, a prepared reading book, seven breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners, and a dinner cruise, ground transportation, your tour leader and tour manager, onboard refreshments, and all listed admissions.

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: My Old Kentucky Home: Battles, Baseball, and Bourbon

Questions? Need more information? Please contact us.