A 2019 BGES Civil War Field University Program
February 7-10, 2019
As U.S. Grant took command of all the Union armies, he looked at critical points that sustained Confederate armies and incorporated operations against them into his overall plan. Of the grand design only one–Mobile–failed to go as he designed. Instead, a useless and nearly disastrous operation up the Red River in Louisiana delayed operations against this last port on the Gulf.
As Sherman moved and embraced Atlanta in serpent-like coils until she surrendered, there was a real belief that his next target might be Mobile. Instead, with Hood becoming active on his supply line, Sherman instead headed for Savannah as a successful operation in early August 1864 closed Mobile Bay. With the Confederacy just about “Up the Spout,” final actions against Mobile were delayed until the spring of 1865. This tour is about the campaign against Mobile in 1864-1865. A great location with winter gripping the rest of the country!
Thursday, February 7, 2019
6:30 PM: Welcome to our headquarters hotel to meet historian Mike Bunn as we prepare for this unique and interesting program. Mike will open with a half-hour overview of the region and the Civil War campaign against Mobile. Dinner is on your own.
As with many locations, there are some very neat museums and sites that are not part of our tour. Arrive early or stay late and see the Battleship USS Alabama, a World War 2 submarine, a US Air Force B-52, and the Mobile Museum. There also are some excellent seafood restaurants along US 90 between Mobile and Spanish Fort.
Friday, February 8, 2019
8:00 AM. Mobile is at the head of Mobile Bay, and for some 30 miles the watercourse leads to the gulf. The mouth of the bay was defended by three fortifications: Fort Powell, which covered the entrance to Mississippi Sound, and the twin Forts of Gaines and Morgan (near the old site of the War of 1812’s Fort Bowyer). It will take us 90 minutes to get to Fort Gaines, where we will walk this very well-preserved and maintained fortification. It’s run on a shoestring budget by the Dauphin Island Recreation and Beach Board. Here we will walk the casemates and discuss the land operations against the fort. Afterward we will take the ferry across the bay to Fort Morgan and have lunch before we discuss the operations in front of and after the fort is passed by Farragut’s fleet. After this, we will go on to Weeks Bay, where we will land with the United States troops and conduct a siege against Fort Morgan. With the bay entrance closed for the next seven months, we will head back to our hotel in the path of General E.R.S. Canby through Point Clear, Montrose, Fairhope, and Daphne. Lunch is included; but dinner is on your own.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
8 AM. For many years, Spanish Fort was considered completely lost to development, until local historians recovered a very significant earthwork and spent some time retracing some of the operations against this significant fortification. We will start our morning with a 90-minute discussion about Spanish Fort in both the Revolutionary War era and the more famous April 8, 1865, assault. With the fall of Spanish Fort, the besieged Confederates at nearby Fort Blakeley were doomed. The remainder of the morning will find you walking the fields of battle and discussing the surrender of the site. After lunch on the causeway, we will spend the afternoon in Historic Mobile, taking it all in–make sure you have your cameras ready. After a midafternoon break at the Moonpie General Store, we will finish at the Magnolia Cemetery, where many casualties from the fight at Blakeley are buried. Also there and largely forgotten is the last resting place of Braxton Bragg–the ill-fated Confederate general. We will return to the hotel by 4 PM, with the program completed and plenty of time for you to head out on your way home. Lunch is included.
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Optional add on: If you are not in a hurry, come on over to Pensacola and join Len Riedel on a one-day tour of Civil War Pensacola. This is not part of this tour, but will tie this important Civil War city to the Mobile campaign and its larger role in the Civil War.
About the Faculty
Mike Bunn is the Director of the Fort Blakely State Battlefield Park. A noted expert on the Creek Indian War of 1814, his books Civil War Eufaula and Battle for the Southern Frontier, The Creek War and the War of 1812 round out his clear qualifications for his leadership role in the area. He has also worked as an interpreter at Fort Morgan. Indeed, Mike was identified as a very good historian to us by one of our members, and based on that recommendation we have engaged him to do this tour. We feel really good about this, and think you will agree that this is a superb program that is visually and experientially very rewarding.
This program will start east of Mobile near the airport. The headquarters hotel will be announced. You are not required to stay here, as your lodging this evening is on your own. The following three nights are included in your registration fee. The final evening (January 21) is also on your own.
The servicing airport is Mobile (MOB). It is generally more expensive to fly into than, say, Pensacola (PNS), which is serviced by Southwest Airlines. New Orleans (MSY) is a bit farther but is all interstate from the airport to Mobile, taking about two hours. With an optional program on Sunday in Pensacola, both a rental car and consideration of the entry and exit airport is worth your while.
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.
Stephen Wise: Lifeline of the Confederacy.
Jack Friend: West Wind, Flood Tide: The Battle of Mobile Bay.
Arthur Bergeron: Confederate Mobile
Phil Gottchaux: In Deadly Earnest, The History of the First Missouri Brigade
Register for this program using a secure PayPal link
To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: The Mobile Campaign 1864-1865