Lancaster, Ohio: If you were to ask any lady or gentleman of the South who were the “Big 3” in the Civil War Army, I think they would always go back to General Lee and Major General Jackson. The third should be Longstreet, but many folks don’t care for his post war politics. So some may substitute Longstreet for Forrest or somebody else, but just between you and me, it probably should be Longstreet. Were you to ask a gentleman from the North, unless they were specifically schooled up you could get a wide variety of answers. But they really should answer Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan. The reason why you should get those answers is quite simply because both Sherman and Sheridan implemented the will of General Grant with such a manner that the violence of it brought an early end to the war.
I have read where many people online refer to Sherman as a “War Criminal.” I have also heard these same type of people refer to Grant as a “butcher” and General Sheridan is largely thought of the same way. But let’s be honest, in pursuit of victory in World War II, the 8th Air Force intentionally bombed German factory workers’ living quarters, and there was that whole firebombing of Dresden just to ensure the will to fight on the German people was as shattered as their military forces.
Militarily speaking, total war was the quickest and most humane form of warfare possible to bring the Civil War to its conclusion. So that said, my first venue on the way to tour the Maryland Campaign took me to Lancaster, Ohio and the childhood home of one William Tecumseh Sherman. The home was a short diversion from our jaunt across I-70 and in all honesty, Lancaster seemed like a really good place for Team Traveler to spend the night. After staying in the local Hampton Inn and getting a nice breakfast, we were ready for our 11:00 AM appointment with Laura and Tammy. Laura was the director of the Sherman House Museum and Tammy is the Executive Director of the Fairfield County Heritage Association. Both ladies were just an absolute wealth of knowledge and professionalism. Laura was the most knowledgeable person on the life and times of General Sherman that I have ever had the pleasure to speak with. She was able to relay personal story after personal story about the entire Sherman family. I was fortunate enough to be able to sit with Laura for an interview, and her expertise really shined through.
One of the biggest things that I took from the tour was the actually genuine love and admiration that “Uncle Billy” had not only for his Soldiers, but his Southern brethren as well. At one point, he paroled one of his former cadets from Louisiana State Seminary, the fore runner of Louisiana State University. That’s right, to my surprise William T. Sherman was the head of Louisiana State prior to the outbreak of hostilities. Laura also informed me that Confederate General Joe Johnston was a pall bearer at Sherman’s funeral. That is how much love and admiration these two warriors had for each other. The tour and the interview took about two hours. I think the casual tourist can view the museum in about an hour and the staff are all experts and willing to lend their expertise. I know we covered this in the interview, but I also want to remind folks that in February of 2020, the Museum is going to celebrate Sherman’s 200th birthday in a big way. If you are in the area make sure you come out to join them and pay your respects to the man who could have been President, but was quoted as saying “If nominated I will not run and if elected, I will not serve.”
We finished up at the Sherman House Museum and Team Traveler let me know they were hungry. Moose was doing a full court press for White Castle, as we don’t have them in Kansas. The last time we ate at White Castle, it was only alright. There was however, a Tim Horton’s in Lancaster. For those Canadian folks that follow The Civil War Traveler, I need not explain to you, but to my American readers, Tim Horton’s coffee and doughnuts are little slices of heaven. I will always associate Tim Horton’s with “Doughnut Time” on the Kandahar Boardwalk in Afghanistan and that freezing July morning in Stoughton, Maine. Tim Horton’s, in my humble opinion, is a step up from Dunkin’s and Krispy Kreme. But that’s just one man’s opinion.
The next five and a half hours went by without incident as we found our way to Sharpsburg and a fine crab cake dinner at Captain Bender’s. There was a problem with our rental home. It turns out that I showed up a day early and we had to scramble to find a room at nearby Shepardstown. It was unfortunate, but in all honesty, it was my mistake so it was up to me to resolve it. I will be linking a review to Captain Bender’s as the food was amazing and all agree that we will be visiting there again before we wrap up. Mentally at this point, as I type this article, I am flipping a coin between Monocacy and the National Civil War Medical Museum and Manassas. I am leaning towards Monocacy and the National Civil War Medical Museum in Frederick, simply because one of the field hospitals for Antietam is only open on the weekends in May. I can visit Manassas later this week. Oh, and the owners of the Antietam Guest House where we will be staying, are just absolutely stellar folks. She tried to find a solution that did not involve us going to a hotel room, but I decided that it was my mistake so the folks that rented the house for the one evening should get it. Problem solved!
I hope you enjoy the pictures and the interview of the Sherman House Museum, and I will see you down the trail.
Comments: Aunt Netter’s offers a casual, relaxed American dining experience. The cafe is a mixture of small-town Midwest charm and delicious comfort food. Their menu is comprised of entrees you would expect to find in any local diner, but can they ever cook! While Moose decided to confine himself to the ever-present Chicken Strip Basket, I decided to branch out and was very pleased with my decision. Aunt Netter’s offered something that I had never thought about before, but once I saw it, I had to try it. That was the Barbecued Pulled Pork quesadilla. It was a plate-sized serving that features some deliciously cooked pulled pork topped with barbecue sauce and cheese. The service was fast, efficient, and friendly. I really felt that Aunt Netter’s also offered an excellent value for the dollar as lunch cost less than $20.00 for two entrees and drinks. They also offered fresh homemade 3-inch-thick apple pie for dessert, but we decided to pass on that. If you are in the Lecompton area touring, I can only offer the heartiest endorsement of Aunt Netter’s Cafe. They did an outstanding job and we had an excellent lunch experience. Make sure you check their hours on the website provided above so you can plan you day accordingly.
New Orleans, LA: I remember watching the fall of Baghdad on television. I remember seeing on a split screen the M1A Abrams Tank pull down the statue of Saddam on one side and Baghdad Bob announcing that no American forces were in the capital city on the other side of the split screen. I had not made the decision to go back into the service at that point. I felt the wars would end too quickly and I would be obligated to serve in a peacetime military, which would just make me very sad. Having witnessed this by several Marines who went back into the service during Desert Storm and were there for years afterwards with no war, I did not want to make the same mistake. It would not be until later when I was convinced that the wars would be protracted only then did I make the decision to seek to rejoin. I would eventually go on to serve in Baghdad. I remember looking off the balcony of the palace on FOB Prosperity one evening during the winter, and I got the overwhelming sense of history. My mind drifted back through the ages. I wondered what it must have been like to be a Roman Legionnaire looking over Hadrian’s Wall over the wilds of Scotland. I wondered what it must have been like to be one of the first US Marines to raise the American flag over the US Customs House in 1862, or to serve in New Orleans in the Spring of 1862 under “The Beast.” What would it be like as one of the citizens of New Orleans under occupation?
Our son, Moose, is a pretty decent football player. He was invited to play football in the Offense-Defense All-American bowl, and New Orleans, much to the credit of Offense-Defense, was an outstanding venue. Though football was the priority, I wouldn’t be The Civil War Traveler if I couldn’t make something work out. As you will see, it worked out pretty well. Based on the limited time we had, I had to make some choices. It is important to note that there are dozens of Civil War-related sites in and around New Orleans, and by no means is my list of attractions here exhaustive. Also for the purposes of this article, I will set the football aspects aside and focus on the touring aspects.
As with most Bowl games that aren’t considered “super,” the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl is held around New Year’s Day. Generally speaking, check in for Bowl week occurs on December 26th and practice begins on December 27th. This means that we would always hit the road on Christmas Day. We did just that and about 12 hours or so later, we arrived at the Hyatt Regency at 601 Loyola Street in New Orleans. Beating the onslaught of youth football players and their families to the hotel, all we had to do is check into the event. For me it was a working vacation as I would work during the day and tour the city in the evenings. The first tour we took was with Nic at the Civil War Tours of New Orleans. He can be found at www.civilwarnola.com. For the tour price of $30 per person, Nic provided an amazing time. He was able to articulate a few facts about New Orleans. He mentioned that it was an international city, with trade from around the world. It was the largest city in the Confederacy, and there was incredible wealth in the area during the time. He was extremely knowledgeable and was able to keep two teenagers engaged and asking questions throughout the tour. The tour lasted a couple of hours and we covered the history of the French Quarter during the early years of the city and the Civil War. We talked about the Statue of Jackson and “The Beast’s” additional carvings into the statue as an insult to the people of New Orleans. We also discussed the extremely unpopular General Order 28, which clamped down on the conduct of the civilian population and outlawed public contempt of Union authority. The French Quarter at Christmas time is truly an engaging and beautiful sight to behold. The old French style architecture decked out in all of Christmas’ grandeur was truly spectacular. Nic was absolutely animated when talking about “Butler the Beast” and was just a great guy.
A couple of days later, we were able to take an afternoon and spend it at in my opinion, the “piece de resistance” of Civil War related tourism in New Orleans. This is the museum, Confederate Memorial Hall, located at 929 Camp Street New Orleans LA 70130. Their website is www.confederatemuseum.com. We spent a few hours at Confederate Memorial Hall. The staff was absolutely wonderful and helpful. When they found out that I had a relative that served in the 3rd Louisiana Volunteer Infantry, they helped me research his service. The artifacts within Confederate Memorial Hall have to be priceless. From meeting “Lady Slocum” on the outside of Confederate Memorial Hall, to seeing General Lee’s utensils, the Civil War aficionado is treated to an absolute delight. It is the only time I have ever had the pleasure to actually see a production Whitney Revolver not to mention a number of more exotic imported revolvers. But truth be told, I have always had a thing for the Whitney Revolver. For me, I believe it’s because they are so rare and unobtainable. Household 6 was concerned that I would actually find one when we went to the Horse Soldier in Gettysburg, for if I did, the credit card would have moaned and groaned and maybe even would have caught on fire. The whole time I would be yelling at it “take the pain,” but alas that’s a different story. Also of interest at the Confederate Memorial Hall is their collection of Confederate Battle Flags. Unfortunately, my cousin’s 3rd Louisiana Volunteer Infantry flag was unavailable for restoration. Maybe next time.
The final Civil War venue that we were able to get to was Fort Jackson, which is about 70 miles south of New Orleans. It took about an hour and a half, maybe a little less to drive down to the end of land. Fort Jackson was one of two forts that guarded the entrance to the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. Admiral Farragut had to run the gauntlet between Fort Jackson and Fort St. Phillip and I was insistent on seeing Jackson. Household 6 and I left the kids at the hotel and headed down there to celebrate our anniversary. The drive was very pleasant as we were able to see ships of all nature sailing up the mighty Mississippi. We got to the Fort and were disappointed. The Fort has been closed since Hurricane Katrina and so has the Fort’s Visitors Center. We drove around it and spent a few minutes there before I determined that Fort Jackson had a rating of “Meh.” So, if you are out there in Traveler Nation, unless the Fort has been reopened, I feel your time is spent better elsewhere.
We stopped for dinner at a local place right outside of the New Orleans city limits on LA-23. Living in Kansas allows us the opportunity to eat the best barbeque in the nation (sorry Texas), but it does not give us access to the best seafood. With that in mind, Household 6 and I were in the mood for some fine fresh gulf coast seafood. The place we stopped was called Salvo’s Seafood located at 7742 HWY 23 Belle Chasse, LA 70037. There was an option to order either fried or boiled seafood. There was an all you can eat entrée very reasonably priced. Crab legs, crawfish, clams, mussels, sausage, corn and a lot of other prime seafood feature served on what looked like a trash can lid, all for under $30. The food was so good that we returned with the kids the next night and when my daughter, Rooster, saw the can lids of food being delivered, her eyes lit up like a Marine who just spied an unopened box of crayons, waiting in anticipation. Rooster ate so much, that the waitress came to us, looked straight at Rooster and said “We closed 40 minutes ago.” So ended Rooster’s fourth can lid of food. We had never closed down a restaurant before.
Besides Salvo’s Seafood, a couple of other very positive dining experiences we had were associated with Jackson’s Square. The first of the recommendations is Muriel’s and the other is Tujaques Restaurant just off the square. Muriel’s offers a fine dining experience and we experienced excellent service. Tujaques also offered a fine dining experience with the added history of the bar. Nic, from New Orleans Civil War Tours informed us that the bar is the original bar and dated back to pre-Civil War times in New Orleans. Both Confederate and Yankee toasted their causes at that bar, per Nic, so, if you are reading this article Tujaques is probably a place you would like to spend an evening at. The final entertainment venue I would like to discuss is the Steamboat Natchez. We spent New Year’s Eve on the riverboat and had a fantastic prime rib dinner and got to enjoy the fireworks from the water.
We did find time to get to the National World War II Museum, which is next to Confederate Memorial Hall. We were able to spend an entire day going through both European and Pacific Theaters. I think the kids enjoyed the airplanes the most. The final venue that I would like to discuss was Chalmette National Battlefield. Apparently, there was a little dust up with the British in 1814. Johnny Horton sang a song about it. It started out going something like “In 1814 we took a little trip….” Admit it, you heard the song in your head. Anyway, on New Year’s Day, we pointed the car at Kansas City and stepped on the accelerator bringing our trip to New Orleans to a successful conclusion. New Orleans, I have to say that you were the perfect host.
Hermann, MO: A few miles south of Interstate 70 about halfway between Columbia and St. Louis lies the small town of Hermann, Missouri. As of 2016, the town has around 2,500 residences. But I have to tell you that there is something special about Hermann. Hermann was settled by German immigrants in the 1830’s who promptly began establishing vineyards and building wineries along the lush banks of the Missouri River. The number of German immigrants increased in Hermann and the surrounding areas in the late 1840’s and early 1850’s due to the civil unrest in what today is Germany and the resulting Prussian crackdown. At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, soon after Fort Sumter had fallen the local Germans formed a Regiment of Home Guards. They were tasked with guarding local railroad bridges from Missouri partisan rangers, i.e. irregular Confederate troops. In the Spring of 1864, Captain Charles Manwaring had returned to Hermann to visit his family. There he was confronted by a group of Confederate irregulars. He attempted to arrest one, calling him by name. Gunfire was exchanged and two of the Confederate partisans lay dead and Captain Manwaring lay mortally wounded, and died shortly after in the arms of his wife. The townspeople now alerted by the gunfire pursued the group of Confederates, killing another one of them. The people of the town were so distraught by the partisan rangers that they threw the bodies of the two men that Captain Manwaring killed into the nearby Missouri River. Captain Manwaring was laid to rest on a bluff just to the east of the town, overlooking Hermann and the Missouri River. During Price’s Missouri raid of 1864, the Confederate army again targeted the pro-unionist stronghold. At the time, most of the men of Hermann serving in the Home Guards were away guarding nearby Jefferson City or the Union rail line in Rolla. Thus, the town was only able to put up a token resistance to the Confederates under Price. They did however, manage to destroy one of Price’s cannons and dramatically slow down Price’s Confederates before the town fell.
Today the town boasts a definite “old world” feel that translates well into this beautiful community. It is not only a must visit for the Civil War enthusiast, but also for the wine enthusiast, or even the outdoors lover. I would even go so far to recommend Hermann to the food lover, as the wurst that I had there at the Wurst Haus is on par with the wurst I had in Munich last Summer.
I was there to take part in Hermann’s Civil War Days reenactment which plays out both the assassination of Captain Manwaring and the taking of Hermann by Price’s Confederates. Part of the event took place at the historically recreated White House Saloon, which is a 19th Century showpiece in the town. The entire facility is outfitted with 19th Century artifacts and decor from the saloon itself to the hotel kitchen and dining room. Unfortunately, the venue is not a functioning hotel, but now is a museum. They are located at 232 Wharf St. Hermann, MO 65041. If you are going to Hermann and would like to schedule a visit, you can contact them via their Facebook page or their website mentioned below. As mentioned before, the most pleasant surprise i had, culinarily speaking, was at The Wurst Haus, located at 234 E 1st Street Hermann, MO 65041. The Wurst Haus was so good, I stopped there twice in one day. The “Best In Show” Brats with German potato salad and the chocolate lava cake for $14.95 was a heck of a deal. The restaurant has the feel of part butcher’s shot and part German Beir Garten. Again, a look at the inside had touched me with a nostalgic feeling for the Hoffbrau Haus in Munich, complete with Bavarian flags mounted on the ceiling. I also want to mention how friendly and helpful the waitstaff was. They were completely customer focused. Google rates them a 4.7/5 and Facebook rates them a 4.6/5, but I don’t feel the ratings are high enough. At the Wurst Haus, their wurst is 1st. Another place that I highly recommend a visit to if you are in the Hermann area and looking for something a little more American would be the family restaurant/sports bar, Wing’s Ablazin. They are located at 120 E 4th Street Hermann, MO 65401. After a long day out in the hot sun at Hermann Farms, stopping in for a cold beverage and wings Saturday night was just what the doctor ordered. It was a great low-key atmosphere to relax and just enjoy the experience. One of the larger wineries in the area is the Stone Hill Winery, located at 1110 Stone Hill Hwy, Hermann, MO 65401. They offer regular tours and tastings. Stone Hill seemed to be a hit with many of the folks in town celebrating “Civil War Days.” Hermann also offers a number of distilleries and lots of locally made options for whiskey. There are a number of bed and breakfast options in the town too. Household 6 and the family stayed home this weekend, but I have already mapped out a perfect get away for two to Hermann, as I know the wife would love it there. A round trip Amtrak ticket from Kansas City to Hermann would cost $84 dollars. The Amtrak stop is directly downtown within walking distance to a number of bed & breakfast operations. From there, we could tour the many wineries, distilleries and museums in the area and ride the train back to Kansas City. Though I have gone through my 47 years and have never really been called a “romantic” such a weekend in Hermann is all too possible. I also want to point out with autumn quickly approaching and foliage starting to creep upon us as well as Oktoberfest, a celebration that Hermann seriously embraces, now is the time to put Hermann in your travel plans. Next year, the town fathers are planning on having a significant artillery duel at their Civil War Days celebration. That sounds like it would be fun to watch here, as the artillery had an effect with its echoing off the river and around the bluffs and valley this year.
Nashville, TN: After the Union forces withdrew from Franklin and fell back into Nashville to consolidate their forces with the remainder of Major General George Thomas, Confederate Lt. General John Bell Hood continued to move the Army of Tennessee towards his forlorn hope of the conquest of Nashville. There, Thomas and about 55,000 Federal soldiers would be waiting to greet the Army of Tennessee’s 30,000 roughly handled Confederates. Thomas, under orders from both President Lincoln & General US Grant to attack and defeat Hood’s army was delayed by an early season ice storm. Once the weather allowed for offensive action, The Rock of Chickamauga would initiate a decisive two-day action that would bring to a halt the last gasp of the Confederates in the west. Gone would be Hood’s plan to retake Nashville and then march his Army eastward and relieve General Lee’s besieged Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg. Before dawn on the morning of December 15th, 1864, Major General Steedman, acting under orders from Thomas, attacked the Confederates’ right flank, pinning them in place for the entire day. In the afternoon, the Federal Army launched an attack on the Confederate left flank. The attack on the left flank was successful because the sustained pressure kept on the Confederate right did not allow for the shift of troops from one location to another. Thomas was using his greater numbers to isolate and destroy the Confederate line in piece rather than whole. After darkness fell, the “never say die” Hood withdrew his main line of resistance back southward by two miles, taking up position between Shy and Overton’s Hill. On the morning of the 16th, Minnesota troops under the command of Major General AJ Smith, made a successful assault on Shy’s Hill and dislodged Hood’s determined Confederates. After Shy’s Hill was taken, Union forces focused on Overton’s Hill and effectively reduced the defenders there. With both flanks now in the air, the remainder of the Army of Tennessee was forced to take flight. With Thomas in direct pursuit, the Army of Tennessee was able to make its way down to Tupelo where Major General Hood would resign his command.
After we finished our tour of Stones River National Military Park, we stopped at a Hardee’s for a quick lunch as we wanted to maximize our tour guide, Ross’s time. From there we followed the trail into Nashville. The first stop was at a Lunette by the railroad cut that ran through Nashville. One of the many benefits of a guided tour with Ross Massy was his detailed and expert knowledge on the combat that occurred between Cleburn’s Division and USCTs. At the battle of Nashville, USCTs played a significant role in the Federal victory. Ross took us through Nashville stopping at locations now covered by urban sprawl. We then found ourselves at the top of a large hill which gave us a great panoramic view of the Nashville metro area. From here, Ross pointed out positions that both Union and Confederate forces held. He even conveyed to us unique and insightful stories about both Major General Thomas and Lt. General Hood. I felt that the stories that Ross told really gave me a good view of the mindset of both commanders. I would tell you these stories, but Ross would do a much better job than I so take the tour. One aspect where Ross really shined in his guided tour, was prior to the tour, I had communicated that I was very interested in the Cavalry movements of the battle. It was here that Ross gave me a very good period of instruction on the hard fighting highly successful Confederate and future United States Army General “Fighting” Joe Wheeler. Though I was aware of Wheeler, I like many others, had fallen in the trap of location and now view him only second to Forrest as Confederate Cavaliers go. We had the pleasure of visiting many sites that Wheeler and his cavaliers had a direct impact on and were able to change the course of battle. We then found our way to the monument for the Battle of Nashville. A beautiful statue pays honor to all who fought there, and the eventual reunification and healing that we went through as a nation. We traveled over to Shy’s Hill and saw where the Minnesotans charged up the hill and collapsed the Confederate flank. Due to my asking questions and spending additional time in other places, we had missed the opportunity to visit Traveler’s Rest, Hood’s Headquarters. We wrapped up the day at Mount Olive Cemetery, where we paid our respects to those valiant Civil War Veterans. Ross, knowing that I was a former Marine, had saved something special for me at the end. He brought me to the grave site of 1st Lieutenant Henry Doak, Confederate States Marine Corps, where I paid honor to his grave, Officer to Officer, Marine to Marine, Soldier to Soldier, American to American. Household 6 and I really enjoyed the tour and, in all honesty would not have gotten nearly as much out of our visit to Nashville without Ross’s guided tour. Again, I would like to stress the value his tour provided at an incredibly reasonable cost. After the tour, we headed back to Murfreesboro with the intent of returning to Nashville and a trip to the Honky Tonk for some live music. Unfortunately for us, I had a migraine crop up towards the end of the tour. We opted to stay in Murfreesboro and had a very nice quiet dinner at BJ Brewhaus before finally retiring back to the Hilton Tru. It was a great day and I beg a thousand pardons to my wife, Household 6 for not being able to take her to The Honky Tonk. All that said, I recommend at least two days in Nashville alone.