HistoryAmerica TOURS

Newsletter Index   |  Photo Archives  

What's New • May 2009
Greetings, Regulars and Other Friends


Vicksburg: "The Gibraltar of the Confederacy"


Vicksburg, because of its strategic location, had been the object of intense Union attention since the start of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln knew its importance. "We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can still defy us from Vicksburg," he said. "It means . . . fresh troops from all the states of the far South, and a cotton country where they can raise the staple without interference." Confederate President Jefferson Davis called it "the nailhead that held the South's two halves together." Though Fort Pillow to the north and New Orleans to the south were in Union hands by May 1863, Vicksburg closed the lower Mississippi to unhindered Federal traffic and was a looming symbol of Confederate defiance.

Join Ed Bearss, the most popular battlefield historian in America, to hear the story of the final conquest of the Mississippi. Starting with the failed attempts of Grant through the swamps north of Vicksburg, to the landing south at Bruinsburg, the final siege of the city, and the Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863, this tour will give you the whole exciting story. Vicksburg: Fighting for the "Gibraltar of the Confederacy" will start in Memphis, Tennessee, on September 27, 2009, and end at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on October 4, 2009. Call now (1-800-628-8542) to make your reservations.


The Battle of Champion Hill

SignThe Battle of Champion Hill was the decisive land engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign. On May 16, l863, the fighting took place just 20 miles east of the river city of Vicksburg. The advance forces of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Federal army attacked Gen. Pemberton's hastily gathered Confederates. During the fiercest of the fight the control of the ridgeline changed several times. Pemberton's men could not withstand the repeated assaults, and were ordered to take the one escape route which was still open, Raymond Road. Ordered to hold the road at all cost, it was a bloody and costly retreat to the safety of the battlements at Vicksburg.

Speaking of the Battle of Champion Hill in his Personal Memoirs, Grant observed, "While the battle is raging, one can see the enemy mowed down by the thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure, but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to alleviate the sufferings of an enemy as a friend."

A portion of the Champion Hill Battlefield is still owned by the Champion family. Sid Champion V (pictured above) has made it a lifelong project to preserve these hallowed grounds. To hear about and see this Civil War site with Sid Champion and Ed Bearss is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


Antietam and Gettysburg, Great as Always


"It was a great week I will always remember. Several days after I am still reliving the trip."

"Fantastic week. It took me to places I didn't know of or where to find them if I did."

These are some of the comments we received in emails from tour members who were on the Antietam and Gettysburg tour last week. Sharon McDermott accompanied the group and returned full of praise for Historian Guide Jim McPherson's illuminating commentary and great explanations of the complicated battles and events.


HistoryAmerica News Bits

Syd's Series of Unfortunate Events

SydThis month started well. After my staff read my last article, they were more attentive to my need to get out of the house. I invited them to join me and enjoy the fresh spring air, but they just sat in front of their computers!

I enjoyed my patrolling. I eliminated a few mice and made sure the rest were more vigilant. Then the trouble started! I encountered a young cat who dared to come into my yard. I had to admonish him, and while I was doing so, he had the ill grace to bite me. Those filthy teeth were a problem and as the days passed, I could hardly walk. Sharon and Jack noticed and took me to see another human who inflicted more indignities upon me and my hurting "bod." He shaved off some of my fur and used a machine to try to find what was wrong with me (not the "cat scan" that I had hoped for). I could have told him what was wrong, but he didn't think to ask. I now have medicine and am feeling much better. Unfortunately, my good looks are ruined until my fur grows out again. Don't feel too sorry for me, you should have seen the other cat when I finished with him.

That's all for now. I have to go outside and hold a surprise inspection on the mice.

Bozeman Trail Notes

Mike Koury, our historian on the Bozeman Trail: Where Soldiers, Sioux, and Settlers Collided, has a special gift for the travelers on his tour. He is sending each participant a DVD of three of the very famous forts on the Bozeman Trail. We at HAT have watched the DVD already and attest to the fact that it's an interesting show and a great souvenir. Thank you, Mike.

HistoryAmerica is honored to have John D. McDermott, historian and author of more than a dozen books on the history of the West, as a guest speaker on the Bozeman Trail tour. Jack will speak on his forthcoming book, Red Cloud's War: The Opening & Closing of the Bozeman Trail, 1866–1868.

HistoryAmerica TOURS is not going to let you travel the Bozeman Trail without careful planning. This week Georgia and Michael O'Connor will scout the Bozeman Trail in its entirety, from Fort Laramie, Wyoming, to Virginia City, Montana.

The best news of the season!

May is a beautiful month for more than one reason at HistoryAmerica. We are celebrating not only spring, but also because we were able to contact Neil Mangum this month and tell him that New Mexico Through the Ages: Five Centuries of Conflict is going to run. With that accomplished, we can announce now that every tour on the HAT schedule from July to November is scheduled to run. We are thrilled! Thank you for heeding our plea and registering early.


<<top © 2009 HistoryAmerica TOURS

4265 Peridot Lane • Rapid City SD 57702
(800) 628-8542 • (605) 348-2250 • Fax (605) 342-8471
Updated 20-May-2009