The 23 rigs on Fantasy’s sold-out 2019 America’s Civil War Tour definitely got a taste of America’s Old South and learned a little history along the way.
The tour commenced in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, beginning with a visit from Miss Nancy – a living history lady who portrays a Southern Belle who was in Charleston during the Civil War. WagonMasters George and Pam Raney raved about her presentation – “She definitely opened our eyes to southern life during that period of time.”
Fantasy guests also experienced the other side of Charleston life when they visited the slave cabins at Boone Hall Plantation, where they learned how black American slaves worked and lived and the struggles they faced.
The next stop was Fort Sumter. It was here, on April 12, 1861 that Confederate troops fired the first shots of the Civil War. The group moved on to South Carolina’s state capitol, Columbia and then traveled to Atlanta, spending three nights nestled in the woods at Stone Mountain Park. Stone Mountain is the world’s largest piece of exposed granite and contains the portraits of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis. Atlanta offers many stories of the Civil War. The group visited Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, where the Confederate Army defeated Union soldiers who outnumbered them two to one. They learned about the important role railroads played throughout the War at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. They enjoyed the beautiful gardens and displays at the Atlanta History Center, and they had time to explore the 3,200 acres of Stone Mountain Park.
Throughout the tour, Fantasy guests were treated to thought-provoking talks from National Park Rangers. “We arranged Ranger talks at Lookout Mountain, in Atlanta, at Gettysburg and at Harper’s Ferry among other stops,” said George. “Those Rangers have so much information and are just outstanding.”
The group continued north to Chattanooga, Tennessee, considered the “Gateway to the South” and the scene of some of the most hard-fought battles of the Civil War. There, they traveled the Incline Railway to the top of Lookout Mountain and visited Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park.
On to Virginia and Lexington, the home of the Virginia Military Institute and where Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried. The next stop, Appomattox, is where the Army of Northern Virginia finally surrendered to the Army of the Potomac on April 9, 1865. They visited the Museum of the Confederacy and the Appomattox Court House National Historic Park, where General Lee surrendered to General Ulysses Grant at Mclean House. Lee arrived in his full-dress uniform, while Grant appeared in dirty and disheveled field clothes. Grant hurriedly wrote out a contract to end the war, fully pardoning all of the Confederate officers and soldiers and allowing them to keep their possessions, including their horses and mules. The Union army also provided food for the starving Confederate troops.
Although Fantasy guests had seen where the War officially ended, there was still plenty more to visit on this tour. They continued on to New Market, where 10,000 Union soldiers arrived in 1864 with the purpose of destroying the nearby railroad and canal complex. They were stopped by 4,100 Confederate soldiers. In Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, they learned how abolitionist John Brown led a nighttime raid on the town, capturing prominent citizens. Brown believed that local slaves would join him in his efforts, but they chose not to, and he was defeated by Robert E. Lee. Harpers Ferry changed hands fourteen times during the War but was permanently reoccupied by Union soldiers in 1864.
The final stop of the tour was in northern territory and the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On their guided tour, they learned that an estimated 30,000 soldiers from both sides were killed or injured. They visited the Gettysburg National Park Service Museum to learn how this battle resulted in Lee’s retreat and eventual surrender. They viewed the Gettysburg Cyclorama, an oil painting longer than a football field and four stories tall which fully depicts the fury of the Battle of Gettysburg.
The Civil war was the largest conflict on American soil. More than 650,000 Americans lost their lives in this war. It was one of the most destructive and divisive times in our country’s history, but it ultimately determined what kind of nation we would become. At the group’s Farewell Dinner in Gettysburg, guests reflected on what they had learned about our country during this tour.
“The Civil War Tour is just the tip of the iceberg, but it gives people a background so they begin to look at the battlegrounds a little deeper,” said George. “Many people from other parts of the country just don’t realize how the south is and was. Attitudes change and they want to learn more. Many of our guests were talking about researching and visiting more places.” Adds Pam, “So many people made the comment ‘They didn’t teach us this in school.”
Fantasy’s 20-day 2020 Civil War Tour begins on April 5 and In 2021, it begins on March 28. According to the Raney’s, this historic tour has always been a sellout. While you’re in the area it’s also easy to combine the tour with other Fantasy events – the 2020 Washington D.C. Rallies, beginning April 27 and May 6, the Kentucky Derby Rally, also beginning on April 27 and the 13-Day Made in America Music Tour, starting on May 7.
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