A Test of Loyalties: East Tennessee Raids, Railroads and Rebellion Itinerary

A 2019 BGES Civil War Field University Program

July 24-27, 2019

For a century and a half, people have argued the name of the Civil War or the War Between the States, among others. This theme decisively argues that it was indeed a civil war between people of differing beliefs and expectations. Indeed, eastern Tennessee, the mountains of North Carolina, and Virginia showed a huge Unionist sentiment or indifference to the move toward splitting away from the United States and formulating a new southern confederacy. Once the war came, actions showed the degree of cleavage between citizens of the same state and in different regions. What animated these people to reject secession and seek central government protection? What was the reaction of the new Confederate government to disruptive behavior along the most important section of railroad track in the South? Why did Abraham Lincoln pursue support of the distant region buried so deeply within the new southern Confederacy?

Get these answers and more as historian Jim Ogden takes us deep into the military and political strategies of the contending parties. A special program for people who are looking for some “Brain Salad” that goes far beyond military maneuvers and bloody battles into the very soul of the rebellion.


Thursday, July 24, 2019

6:00 PM. Meet at our headquarters hotel to greet your other travelers, pick up your reading book, and receive Jim’s opening talk about East Tennessee’s Railroads in the Secession Crisis of 1861. We will break in time for you to have dinner on your own.

Friday, July 25, 2019

8:30 AM. We depart the hotel en route to northeastern Tennessee. Our theme today is the November 1861 Bridge Burning conspiracy. Here a group of Unionists were determined to destroy the railroad bridges crossing most of the water courses between western Virginia near Bristol and northern Alabama in the vicinity of Bridgeport. The plan was compromised by Confederate loyalists who broke their word of honor not to notify the Confederates of the plan. It does not end well for these conspirators. Even today the rural landscape suggests the immensity of the task–we will learn and debate William T. Sherman’s and Felix Zollicoffer’s role in this fiasco and discuss the Greenville Convention. Stops will include Lick Creek and Wautaga Bluff. Lunch is included, but dinner is on your own.

Saturday July 26, 2019

8:30 AM. We are off again today, heading toward Chattanooga along the line of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. Along the way, we will visit the most important part of the Civil War in East Tennessee not visited. While Tennessee Civil War Trails has created a Bridge Burning Trail, folks just get too distracted by the war in and around Chattanooga. We will too, as we see Hiwassee Bridge and Strawberry Plains and spend our discussion periods talking in-depth about guerilla operations directed toward disrupting the infrastructure and Confederate control of east Tennessee. We will break up our day by visiting the Railroad Museum in Chattanooga near the old Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Lunch and dinner are provided.

Sunday July 27, 2019

8:30 AM. We have been as far north as Bristol and as far south as Chattanooga. Today we stay in the middle around and in Knoxville. There are plenty enough things to see with the museum at the University of Tennessee, fortifications in and around the city, several raids, and a summary of the strategic endurance of the East Tennessee’s Unionists and its disruptive influence on the region. Suddenly one wonders why more major battles were not fought here. Lunch is included, but dinner is on your own. You can, of course, head home after we finish around 5 PM.

About the Faculty

Jim Ogden is one of the country’s finest military historians. A preservationist of the first order, he is often called upon to lead tours for distinguished visitors to the National Park Service–having taking Vice President Cheney and his family around Chickamauga and the region several times. For the third straight year, we are challenging him to offer a tour he has never previously done. It is a refreshing challenge for him and a real boon (to which attendees at Shiloh and Perryville will attest). Knowing his extraordinary preparation and knowledge of the field, this will be a singular treat!

Hotel Information

We will set aside a block of rooms at a hotel that has shuttle service to the airport. We will post and announce when the block is set up and open for reservations. You can expect the hotel to be in the range of $110 per night plus taxes. You are not required to stay at the HQ hotel.


The servicing airport is Knoxville (TYS). We will select a hotel that services the airport and will announce it on this site by the end of January. Knoxville is easily reached by I-75 and I-40. Ironically, Amtrak does NOT service Knoxville.

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. 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.

Noel C. Fisher: War at Every Door: Partisan Politics and Guerilla Violence in East Tennessee 1860-1869
W. Todd Groce: Mountain Rebels: East Tennessee Confederates 1860-1870
Myra Inman: A Diary of the Civil War in East Tennessee
Cameron Judd: The Bridge Burners: A True Adventure of East Tennessee’s Underground Civil War
Robert Tracey McKenzie: Lincolnites and Rebels: A Divided Town in the American Civil War

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: A Test of Loyalties: East Tennessee Raids, Railroads and Rebellion