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2016 IHS Member Fall Trip - Civil War on the Mississippi

Civil War on the Mississippi: New Orleans - Natchez - Vicksburg 

Every fall, IHS members take a trip to learn more about history while experiencing the sights, sounds and tastes of the historical sites visited. This year, IHS members will take a five-day trip from Oct. 10 to 14 to learn more about the Civil War along the Mississippi River and how Hoosiers played a part. Attendees will visit the cities of New Orleans, Natchez and Vicksburg and see historic sites while dining on exquisite Southern cuisine.

The five-day itinerary:

Day 1 - Monday, October 10 -  New Orleans 

Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans

IHS members will arrive in New Orleans and head for lunch at the famous Acme Oyster House in Metairie, known for serving authentic New Orleans-style food for more than 100 years. Historian Mark Bielski will join the group in Jackson Square for an overview of the April 1862 fall of New Orleans. The group will follow that with a walking tour of the beautiful historic French Quarter and a visit to Metairie Cemetery, known for its large collection of elaborate marble tombs. Members will enjoy a savory dinner of classic New Orleans Creole dishes at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House. The dining rooms of this famous French Quarter restaurant are indicative of New Orleans’ European heritage, with handcrafted wrought iron and custom millwork. Overnight accommodations will be at the Wyndham hotel in the New Orleans French Quarter. Meals included (D).

Day 2 - Tuesday, October 11 - New Orleans to Port Hudson to Natchez

Following breakfast, Bielski will speak about the impact Louisiana's battles had on the Civil War.  After the presentation, we will head to Port Hudson — the site of a 48-day siege (the longest in American history) and the final engagement in the Union campaign to recapture the Mississippi. Confederates constructed a line of earthworks and positioned batteries to defend the river. The bluffs at Port Hudson offered high ground upstream from Baton Rouge. Port Hudson was positioned south of the mouth of the Red River which allowed  the artery to send supplies from Texas to the rest of the Confederacy along the Mississippi. Both sides fought bitterly for this strategic jewel, but Union troops were triumphant.

Monmouth Historic Inn

The group will be joined at Port Hudson by professor Harry Laver. He will discuss the historic 1863 siege of the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River where 7,500 Confederates resisted some 40,000 Union soldiers and lead a tour of the battlefield and exhibits. The group will enjoy dinner at the Monmouth Historic Inn, a National Historic Landmark. The inn is an early 19th century antebellum mansion set on 26 acres of manicured gardens. Overnight accommodations will be at the Hampton Inn in Natchez, Miss. Meals included (B,D).

Day 3 - Wednesday,  October 12 - Natchez to Vicksburg

The day will begin with a city tour of Natchez — one of the most well preserved cities of the Old South. During the tour we will visit Rosalie Plantation, an elegant antebellum-era home.

Rosalie Plantation

 It was built in 1820 by Peter Little who came to Natchez from Pennsylvania in 1798 at the age of 17. In 1716, Little purchased a portion of the land where the French had built a fort on the bluffs of Natchez. The fort was named Rosalie for the Countess of Pontchartrain. Little kept the name in honor of the fort and its settlers. Following lunch at the Old Country Store in Lorman, Miss., the group will leave for Vicksburg, one of the most important Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi by 1862. There we will continue discussing the battles to control the Mississippi River. On July 4, 1863, the Confederates ended their stronghold on Vicksburg after a heavy land-and-sea shelling on the town. The Mississippi River was used by paddle steamers and gun boats as additional tactical measures during the pivotal battle of Vicksburg. 

The first stop in Vicksburg will take us to the Riverfront to see the murals that depict the town's history. From there, we will tour the Old Courthouse Museum, an architectural gem named one of the 20 most outstanding courthouses in America by the American Institute of Architects. Dinner will savory southern fare at Walnut Hill. Overnight accommodations will be at the Hampton Inn, Vicksburg, Miss. Meals included (B,D).

Day 4 - Thursday, October 13 - Vicksburg

General Parker Hills will join the group as we start the day by following the path Union General U.S. Grant and his troops took in April 1862. In the early morning hours of April 30, infantrymen of the 24 and 46 Indiana Regiments stepped ashore on Mississippi soil at Bruinsburg. As the men came onto land, a band aboard the U.S.S. Benton struck up "The Red, White and Blue." The Hoosiers were quickly followed by the remainder of the XIII Union Army Corps and portions of the XVII Corps — 17,000 men! This landing was the largest amphibious operation in American military history until the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II. The group will stop 200 hundred yards from Grants' landing to view Windsor Ruins. Windsor Ruins remains an old, magnificent plantation home Grant passed as he sought out Confederate forces. From there, we drive through Port Gibson 10 miles from the crossing and the initial engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign. Our next stops are Grand Gulf, Grant’s primary supply depot for the Vicksburg campaign, and the  Grand Gulf Military Park. We will continue to Raymond and Champion Hill to discuss how these major engagements and losses to the confederacy led to the fall of Vicksburg. Dinner will be at Cedar Grove Antebellum Estate which is one of the largest and most elegant bed and breakfasts in the South. Meals included (B,Box L, D).

Day 5-  Friday, October 14 - Vicksburg - Return Home 

Our morning begins with a tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park — a vast, hallowed ground where  maneuvering and struggle for control of the Mississippi took place. We will tour the park and discuss the battle and role Indiana troops played in overtaking the Confederate stronghold. The tour will end with a visit  to the U.S.S. Cairo, one of seven powerful ironclad Union gunboats. This gunboat was sunk by a Confederate mine in the Yazoo River and was the first ship in history to be sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo. Resurrection of the vessel by Ed Bearss and his team from the National Park Service led to the recovery of artifacts including weapons, munitions, naval stores and personal gear of the sailors who served on board. Following the tour and lunch, we will head to Jackson airport for our late afternoon flights home. Meals included (B, Box L).

Booking details:

Double occupancy $2,375 member / $2,475 nonmember (includes membership); after June 3, $2,625 member / $2,725 nonmember (includes membership)

Single occupancy $2,600 member / $2,700 nonmember (includes membership); after June 3, $2,850 member / $2,950 nonmember (includes membership)


• Round trip air from Indianapolis to New Orleans (layover in Atlanta) / Jackson to Indianapolis (layover in Atlanta)

• Transportation via luxury motor coach

• Four-night's accommodations

• Nine meals: 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners at well-known local landmarks

• Admission to all attractions listed in itinerary

• Three notable, area and Civil War Guides for each day

• Baggage handling (hotel only)

• Great time with great IHS members

Download the registration form here. For more information, contact Jennifer Hiatt at (317) 234-2670 or jhiatt@indianahistory.org.

About the Guides

Dr. Mark Bielski, historian, holds a doctorate in war studies from the University of Birmingham in England. He is known for his ability to relate history in an engaging way coupled with warmth and a sense of humor. Dr. Bielski is the author of Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War.

Dr. Harry Laver is a professor of American military history with an emphasis on the Civil War at Southeastern Louisiana University. He is a former instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and has lectured at the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College. His recent publications include, A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant and as co-editor, The Art of the Command: American Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell. Dr. Laver's numerous experiences provide a unique academic perspective to the war.

General Parker Hills served almost 32 years in the U.S. Army in active and reserve roles. He retired as a brigadier general in the Mississippi Army National Guard in 2001. He is chair of the Mississippi Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, former president of Friends of Vicksburg Campaign and Historic Trail and chair of the Mississippi Civil War Battlefield Commission. General Hills has a great passion for the Civil War and a vast knowledge of the military, the Civil War and the art and architecture of Civil War memorials and monuments.