A BGES Civil War Field University Program
Presented by Stephen Wise
February 23-27, 2022, from Beaufort, SC
Take out your calendars now and mark the following dates: January 26-January 30, 2022; February 23-27, 2022 and February 16-20, 2023 if you want to study one of the most consequential military operations of the Civil War. From the fall of Atlanta at the start of September 1864 until March 1865, General William T. Sherman turned to help General US Grant close out the American Civil War. 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. Three experts will guide you through this epic operation John Derden, Stephen Wise and Wade Sokolsky. Accompanied by guest historians from time to time you will get the full scope of this controversial, complex and masterful operation. Hood has failed in Tennessee his army in shambles in Mississippi, Sherman has enjoyed Christmas in Savannah and is now prepared to march north to join Grant, Meade and Ord in destroying Lee’s besieged army.
Special treat—make deposits for all three programs and enjoy a 25% discount on the February 2023 program (provided you attend both parts 1 and 2)
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
OPTIONAL: 12:30 PM Meet at the headquarters hotel, we have arranged a pre tour bonus for early birds. Load your bus and we will head to the Honey Hill battlefield for a private tour sponsored by the Friends of the Honey Hill Battlefield. This important battle site of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts is marked by impressive earthworks and a compelling battle narrative. You will also learn about the Broad River Campaign. Return to the hotel by 4 PM.
Have an early dinner and meet at the headquarters hotel in Beaufort at 6:30 PM, where Steve’s opening briefing will set the stage for the Sherman’s March Through South Carolina.
Afterwards, we have another bonus. At 8 PM we will leave for an evening Civil War tour of Beaufort that includes both sites that are related with Sherman’s occupation and the antebellum sites that are associated with this epicenter of secession. This evening’s tour will end at 10 PM. Hotel is included, but, dinner is on your own.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
8 AM—have your bags out by 7:45. Sherman began his march north and he began his March to the Sea with two wings the right wing, consisting of the 15th and 17th Corps, (Army of Tennessee) under General OO Howard and the left wing, composed of the 14th and 20th Corps, (Army of Georgia) under General Henry Slocum. We will travel this morning in the footsteps of Howard’s Army of Tennessee. Our stops will include the ruins of Sheldon Church, McPhersonville and the impressive Confederate earthworks at Broxton Bridge—along the way we will discuss events at Pocataligo Station and Whippy Swamp.
Following lunch at the Bee Box Restaurant, we will reach our major stop today, River’s Bridge where historian Dan Bell will provide the battle narrative at this very interesting blackwater and swampy obstacle. Controversy starts soon and we will become engaged at Orangeburg and Bamberg. There was burning a plenty—was it accidental or intentional? As the day fades we will reach Sandy Run outside Columbia as the Federals prepare to engage Confederates at Congaree Creek.
We break contact for a private tour of the Confederate Relic Room and SC Military History Museum. Led by historian Tom Elmore, there is much more there than just “Confederate Relics.” We will then stop for fast food en route to our hotel in Camden (home of Diarist Mary Chesnut—“A Diary from Dixie”). We will be here two nights. Breakfast, lunch and hotel are included. Dinner on your own.
Friday, February 25, 2022
8 AM: Out the door, you can leave your bags–we are coming back tonight. We will double back to Columbia and the Battle of Congaree Creek led by Tom Elmore. We will then enter Columbia as Sherman did and will discuss the controversial and destructive visit. Yes Columbia burned! About 20 years ago Tom Elmore did a Blue and Gray magazine feature on it—he will lead this tour as well. Was the burning intentional or a byproduct of the Confederate withdrawal that went extremely wrong on a gusty evening? As I write this it is dark in Danville, Virginia and the wind is fierce gusts up to 50 mph—sparks, flames wooden frame buildings and combustable roofs…. on a blustery winter night? We will have lunch in Columbia.
Sherman’s men displayed a rapid return to discipline as they moved north but Winnsboro would also feel the hard hand of retribution. We will stop there and talk at one of the remaining antebellum buildings in the town. As Sherman attempted to deceive the Confederates into believing his objective was Charlotte and Salisbury, NC both wings of his army passed through Winnsboro.
Leaving Winnsboro, we pick up Slocum’s left wing and follow it to the Wateree River crossing at Great Falls and then slide down to the east and south side of the river to Howard’s crossing point at Liberty Hill. We will return to Camden by 5 PM and then will have a group dinner before taking an evening tour of the new Camden Revolutionary War Center. Two very important Revolutionary War battles were fought there—the August 1780 Battle of Camden in which the Colonials were routed. Eight months later at the battle of Hobkirk’s Hill Continentals under Nathaniel Greene were beaten by British Regulars under Lord Rawdon but held the ground when the British fell back towards Charleston.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and the hotel are included.
Saturday, February 26, 2022
8:15 AM: Bags on board, depart at 8:30, this is a Civil War tour and Camden has a robust Civil War history. Having taken Sherman to the North Carolina border, where Wake Sokolsky will pick up the story in the third part in February 2023, we will include some neat factoids and sites of importance in South Carolina. We will take 90 minutes to tell Camden’s Civil War story and then head to another antebellum town of significance: Cheraw. Federal troops also crossed here and the Federals did occupy Cheraw using several homes as headquarters buildings. Sarah Spruill is the most respected keeper of Cheraw’s history and we will be honored to pick her up after lunch at the River’s Edge Restaurant and take a couple of hours of her time to bring the story of Cheraw to you.
Leaving Cheraw, we will follow along the route of a Sherman ordered punitive US cavalry raid through Society Hill to Darlington. Facing unexpected resistance in Darlington the federal force fell back. The result angered Sherman who sent instructions to Major General Quincy Gilmore to finish the job and not be pretty about it. We will follow those orders tomorrow. Tonight we will continue on to Florence where we will visit the Florence Museum to see the remains of the CSS PeeDee and then will head to the National Cemetery to tour the remains of the Florence Civil War Prison Camp. We will overnight in Florence. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner are included.
Sunday, February 27, 2022
7:45 AM Bags out: Depart at 8 AM: Today we head back to Beaufort, SC and the hotel where we started. Having finished Sherman’s March through South Carolina and taken in key sites in the state (yes there is more than Charleston in the Civil War), we will do as Sherman did after he cleared the state and pick up the raid he ordered Gilmore to initiate—accordingly a cavalry force under the command of General Edward Potter departed the area near Georgetown to destroy the residual transportation capacity of the state and any other depots of supplies. Key sites include Kingstree, Manning, Sumter, Manchester and Stateburg and engagements at Dingle Mill, Rembert, Boykin Mill and Dinkins Mill.
Our last stop on this tour are the grounds of Millford Plantation near Sumter which dates from 1839 and was maintained as a residence until 2008. It was a 4,251 acre plantation that was worked by countless enslaved people. Today the state historic site retains much of its character with building representative of the period. It survived Sherman.
We will return to our headquarters hotel by 6 PM. Breakfast and lunch are included but we will release for you to have dinner on your own or to get started home. The hotel is not included tonight but you can make reservations should you wish to get a fresh start on Monday.
About the Faculty
Stephen Wise is Professor of History at the University of South Carolina Beaufort and Director of the Marine Corps Museum at Marine Corps Depot Parris Island. Wise has been recognized for excellence in history by the State of South Carolina, is a published historian of South Carolina history, a protégée of the legendary Civil War historian Thomas Connelly and the author of two splendid books Lifeline of the Confederacy about blockade running and Gate of Hell which is about the efforts to take Charleston in 1863. Steve’s tours are noteworthy for his strong insight, especially when touring South Carolina sites, and his guest support historians. Every day and site is a treat.
The program will be based in Beaufort, SC. Two nights will be in Camden and one night in Florence. Hotel information will be announced here in January and will be sent to registrants prior to the event. Your hotel is included with the registration fee.
The servicing airport is Savannah (SAV) which is served by every major airline, JetBlue and Southwest. The distance from SAV to Beaufort is 48 miles and it takes an hour by car. There are 9 rental car companies at the airport. Uber and Lyft offer taxi type services. Go to www.savannahairport.com to check out commercial transportation options. Rental car rates and gas prices have spiraled out of site making a $100-$150 cab or limo ride a viable and perhaps cheaper option.
You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. Amazon.com 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. BGES is selling the Bearss book.
- John Marszalek: Sherman, A Soldier’s Passion for Order
- Jacqueline Campbell: When Sherman Marched North from the Sea, Resistance on the Confederate Home Front
- Christopher Crabb: Facing Sherman in South Carolina: March Through the Swamps
- Anne Sarah Rubin: Through the Heart of Dixie, Sherman’s March and American Memory
- Joseph Glatthaar: The March to the Sea and Beyond: Sherman’s Troops in the Savannah and Carolinas Campaigns
- Jack K. Bauer ed., Soldiering: The Civil War Diary of Rice C. Bull, 123rd New York Volunteer Infantry
Registration includes four breakfasts, four lunches and two dinners, 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
To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: Sherman’s March Through South Carolina
Questions? Need more information? Please contact us.