Civil War Tour: Mississippi River Campaign

 4.7 - 7 reviews
Thank you and your team for a great holiday discovering the complexities of the Civil War and of the South. A great deal of effort must have gone into planning the tour, with splendid hotels and restaurants and, of course, very erudite guides to take us through every interesting step of the battle zones.

– Jack and Nancy

The Civil War: Mississippi River Campaign Tour visits the sites and battlefields fought along the Mississippi River, including Memphis, Shiloh, Vicksburg, Port Hudson and New Orleans. This tour was inspired by Stephen Ambrose’s books, Upton and the Army and A Wisconsin Boy in Dixie, as well as Struggle for Vicksburg, a short battlefield guide that Ambrose boasted sold more copies than any of his bestsellers. Ambrose revered the Mississippi River as the great artery of national commerce. In his view, Federal forces would never rest until the mighty Mississippi flowed “unvexed to the sea” again following the seizure by the Confederates of this great American waterway. 

Ambrose also recognized the primary significance of the rail lines as the links that tied the Confederacy together from east to west. Connecting the Gulf of Mexico to Kentucky, the rails were the sinews of the rebellion—and the cords of Union that Federal armies must control to win the war. As a Yankee who moved to New Orleans, Ambrose always appreciated the South, the food, music, architecture and society. In addition to studying the tactics of battle, the logistics of war and the clash of opposing forces, this tour is also designed to reveal something of the great American way of life that thrives below the Mason Dixon line. 

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Highlights

  • Memphis: Review the naval battles of the war, specifically the campaign that led to Federal control of the river

  • Shiloh: Visit the beautifully preserved battlefield that shows the bloody struggle that happened in April 1862

  • Corinth: Study the siege and battle that gave the Union control over the railroads that linked the Confederacy, providing the base for General Ulysses Grant to launch the Vicksburg Campaign

  • Vicksburg and Port Hudson: Learn about the sieges and battles that restored control of the river to the Union

  • The Natchez Trace: View glorious vistas and learn the Native origins of one of the oldest trade routes in the continental USA

  • Natchez: Explore a city that was spared from devastation during the Civil War, a showpiece of antebellum architecture and society

  • New Orleans: Visit the historic French Quarter, tour antebellum neighborhoods and experience the Creole lifestyle in one of the most diverse of old world-style American cities

Day-By-Day Itinerary

DAY 1 Memphis

Your group will meet at the hotel for a welcome reception, introductions all around, and an overview of the tour; the campaigns that restored control of the Mississippi River to the USA.

DAY 2 Corinth

You will start with a brief visit to Confederate Park in Memphis on the Mississippi River where a naval battle fought here on June 6, 1862 resulted in a crushing defeat for the Confederates.

After traveling by late morning to Shiloh National Military Park, you will analyze the two days of bloody battle that raged at Shiloh until the Confederates finally withdrew from the field without result.

You will overnight in Corinth, Mississippi.

DAY 3 Tupelo

In the spring of 1862, the initial Union objective was the vital rail link at Corinth that connected the western Confederacy to its Atlantic states and also linked the South from the Gulf of Mexico to the border states. After a lengthy siege in April and the bloody battle called Second Corinth that lasted for two days in October, the Union achieved its objective of capturing this crossroads town. The victory here for the USA opened the door for the Vicksburg Campaign.

Your morning will begin with a tour of historic Corinth and the antebellum homes that quartered generals from both sides during the Civil War. You will spend the rest of the morning, visiting the Civil War Interpretive Center, Crossroads Museum, and Corinth Contraband Camp. You will also view the redoubts where the battle itself and its related skirmishes happened in the autumn of 1862.

In the afternoon, you will pass by Brice's Crossroads, the site of a much-later clash between Confederate troops under General Nathan Bedford Forrest (the post-war founder of the Ku Klux Klan) and the Union Cavalry under General Samuel D. Sturgis. Stopping here, you will learn how Forrest craftily routed the Union forces, though his Confederates were outnumbered nearly two to one.

DAY 4 Vicksburg

You will start your study of the Vicksburg Campaign at the remote site on the east bank of the Mississippi River near Bruinsburg where General Grant and his troops landed following their amphibious river crossing and started to march towards Vicksburg in April 1862. Two hundred yards from where they started to march on the eastern side of the river, you will visit Windsor Ruins, the magnificent remains of a plantation home that Grant and his troops moved past as they searched out Confederate forces. You will also visit Port Gibson, a site ten miles from Grant's crossing, where the first engagement in the Vicksburg Campaign took place.

Overnight in Vicksburg.

DAY 5 Vicksburg

Vicksburg National Military Park is the vast and hallowed ground where the maneuvering and struggle for control of the Mississippi could occupy a scholar for several days, or even a lifetime. Your tour dedicates a day to this landmark battle. You will explore the park and study the way the two sides fought there. You will view evidence of the grueling siege at this Confederate stronghold and you will finish the day with a visit to the USS Cairo, the US gunboat sunk by a Confederate torpedo in the Yazoo River.

DAY 6 Natchez

Your visits will begin in the morning at the Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg with its eclectic collection of artifacts from the Civil War. You will also see the riverfront and the murals that line the flood wall and depict the history of Vicksburg.

Proceeding south to the city of Natchez, you will travel some of the way on the historic Natchez Trace. The Trace was the primary wilderness road in the Old Southwest, and it remains a scenic parkway today. In Natchez, you will tour a town that avoided destruction in the Civil War, and thus remains steeped in history, one of the most well-preserved cities of the Old South.

DAY 7 New Orleans

Embarking downriver, you will travel to Port Hudson, Louisiana. The next Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi, just south of Vicksburg, Port Hudson was the site of a 48-day siege in 1863. The bluffs at Port Hudson still present the first high ground upstream from Baton Rouge, and the Confederates constructed a line of earthworks there. The rebels also positioned batteries to defend the river at this point.

Port Hudson presented a critical trade junction where another artery for supplies from Texas to the rest of the Confederacy, the Red River flows into the Mississippi. Like Vicksburg, both sides fought bitterly for the strategic jewel. After touring the bucolic and rolling fields of battle at Port Hudson and the area of the siege, you will continue south to the great city of New Orleans.

In the afternoon, you will tour the grand neighborhoods of Uptown, including the Garden District, and the home where the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, lived out his life and died.

You will enjoy a Farewell Dinner in the evening.

DAY 8 New Orleans

Starting the day with a short walking tour of the world-famous French Quarter, you will visit the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum before lunch. The oldest museum in Louisiana, the Memorial Hall holds one of the largest collections of Confederate memorabilia in the country.

For the remainder of the afternoon, you can explore New Orleans as you please. Some of the extraordinary sites to consider include The National WWII Museum, located across the street from the Confederate Museum; Chalmette Battlefield, where Jackson fought the Battle of New Orleans; and the many beautiful parks and neighborhoods, art galleries, antique stores, and restaurants.

DAY 9 New Orleans

The tour ends with check out and transfers to the New Orleans airport (MSY). If you are interested in extra nights post-tour in New Orleans, we are happy to pass along the hotel's group rate to you.

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Map for Civil War Tour: Mississippi River Campaign

Tour Dates

  • October 12 - 20, 2024
  • October 18 - 26, 2025
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TRIP COST $4,390

Prices are per person based on double occupancy. For a single room add $1,000.

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