A 2019 BGES’ Civil War Field University Program
July 10-13, 2019
Missouri experienced the Civil War like no other state. It was badly divided in its political sympathies, riven by ethnic differences, controlled through martial law, and remote from the major centers of power in both the North and South. Bitter partisans warfare quickly descended upon the land, killing soldier and citizen alike, leaving the territory scarred by burned out homes, towns, and fields. It was a war to the knife that settled antebellum feuds and often measured victory in the collection of scalps and various parts of bodies.
However, the war in Missouri also was something distinctly more than guerilla bloodshed. The state was central to many of the political debates of the time. Here in St. Louis was argued the fate of Dred Scott. Perhaps more importantly, the state offered manpower, food, and minerals along the major axis of the country: the Mississippi River. Thus, the control of St. Louis strategically was one of the most important locations in the country–it provided a staging area for important military operations. This program will hold a spotlight on this often overlooked reality.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
6:30 PM. We will have a preliminary meeting so that you may pick up your name tags and reading books and meet with your host and guide, Kyle Sinisi, before breaking for dinner on your own.
Thursday, July 11, 2019
08:00 AM. Have your bags on board at 0800 for an 0815 departure. Most of our work today will be in the vicinity of St. Louis–there are so many stories to share that Kyle will use the peace and solitude of two cemeteries to reveal them. Our first stop is at Calvary Cemetery, where we will discuss Dred Scott at his gravesite. Then we will move to a man of major importance, William T. Sherman (Uncle Billy), who steered the Western armies to victory. Certainly he was one of the most important men of the 19th century. Other gravesites allow us to discuss the political nature of the state and the military organization of the Missouri State Guard. We then will skip over to Bellefontaine Cemetery, where we will visit the graves and discuss the impact of men like Edward Bates, Don Carlos Buell, Whiskey Smith, Hamilton Gamble, and the “Butcher of Palmyra.” We will culminate the visit at the grave of a man of great interest to Kyle–Gen. Sterling Price. All this before lunch.
The afternoon takes us to the campus of St. Louis University, where we will visit the site of Camp Jackson and discuss the actions there that brought Nathaniel Lyon to the forefront. Names like Franz Siegel and Frank Blair will ring bells with you. Our final interpretative stop of the day is the Missouri Civil War Museum, one of the best museums of its kind in the United States. Our late afternoon will take us to Cape Girardeau, where we will stay for two nights. Lunch and hotel are included, and dinner is on your own.
Friday July 12, 2019
8:30 AM. We will bet the vast majority of you have never gone to Cape Girardeau for Civil War tourism before. And yet, there is much to glean from a day there. We will start examining the fortifications constructed to defend the Mississippi River city–there were four forts and they were tested during Confederate raider, John Marmaduke’s 1863 raid to the area. This is going to present you with a great vista to discuss the ramifications of the raid, the action in the city, and guerilla warfare in this state. We know of the actions in the western part of the state, but it was upon them here on the Mississippi.
The afternoon takes us down the river to New Madrid, where we will discuss John Pope’s operations in 1862 there and at Island #10–that success would bring Pope to Virginia in June (but his failure there would send him to the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota by September 1862). We will enjoy some evocative vistas overlooking the former fields of conflict before heading back to the hotel. Lunch and the hotel are included, while dinner is on your own.
Saturday July 13, 2019
8:00 AM. Have your bags on board by 8 AM, as we are headed to pick up the second leg of Sterling Price’s 1864 effort to liberate Missouri. Price’s ride energized Federal troops in and around St. Louis, resulting in constant pursuit that would grind his 1,400-mile quest to a difficult nexus outside of Kansas City. We will pick up Price as he enters Missouri and follow as he rides through skirmishes at Fredericktown and in the Arcadia Valley to a confrontation at Fort Davidson near Pilot Knob. The fort is still extant and is in remarkable condition 155 years later. This neat little battle has been the subject of military staff studies because of the leadership decisions made. Our move back toward St. Louis follows Price as he pursues the retreating Federals. We will break contact when Price’s column heads toward the Columbia River. Our return to the hotel in St. Louis will give you time to catch flights after 6 PM. If you elect to spend the night and leave on Sunday, you will have to make your own reservations. This is a very unique program with tons of great content.
About the Faculty
,strong>Kyle Sinisi is a professor of History at the Military College of South Carolina–The Citadel–concentrating the Civil War, World War II, U.S. military history, and the history of weaponry. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute, where he earned a BA in history, and Kansas State University, where he furthered his love of history by pursuing a Ph.D., he is the two-time recipient of the James A. Grimsley Award, The Citadel’s annual award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. The author of the definitive work on Price’s 1864 Missouri Raid (The Last Hurrah: Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition of 1864), which won the A.M. Pate Award for best book of 2015 on the Trans-Mississippi Civil War, Sinisi is a popular and engaging historian who does his homework. This is the surprise trip of the year. Check it out–you will love it!
Your registration fee includes two nights’ hotel in Cape Girardeau. The headquarters hotel will be posted on this site before the end of January. They will have a courtesy van that goes to and from the airport and local restaurants. You can expect the hotel will be approximately $150 per night. You do not have to stay at the HQ hotel. We will make arrangements for people driving to the program to leave their cars at the hotel.
Our servicing airport is St. Louis (STL). Our headquarters hotel will provide transportation to and from the airport. The area is well served by major interstate highways. Amtrak services St. Louis from connections in Kansas City and Chicago.
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.
Louis Gerteis: Civil War St. Louis
Nini Harris: A Most Unsettled State: First Person Accounts of St. Louis During the Civil War
Kyle Sinisi: The Last Hurrah: Sterling Price’s Missouri Expedition of 1864
Douglas Gifford: Where Valor and Devotion Met: The Battle of Pilot Knob
Larry Daniel and Lynn Bock: Island #10: Struggle for the Mississippi Valley
Register for this program using a secure PayPal link
To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: An Uncivil War: St. Louis and Southeast Missouri 1858–1865