Join me this April on a Civil War riverboat cruise!

Posted by David Eicher
on Friday, September 21, 2012

Credit: Great American Steamboat Company
If you don’t already know this about me, for some years I’ve been heavily into the Civil War. It all started when I was given some artifacts and documents of a great-great grandfather, Darius Wetzel, who fought in the west under Grant and Sherman. That led to a fascination — something to do away from astronomy — and eventually writing eight books on the subject, including The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War (Simon & Schuster), Dixie Betrayed: How the South Really Lost the Civil War (Little Brown), and The Civil War in Books: An Analytical Bibliography (Univ. of Illinois Press).

Anyway, most of the trips I take with the magazine’s travel partner, MWT Associates, focus on astronomy — eclipses, transits, and dark-sky observing. But now I’ve been asked to lead and speak on a Mississippi riverboat cruise next spring focusing on Civil War history, and I invite you to join me for what will be a great week of fun.

Steamboatin’ the Mississippi River” will take place April 7–15, 2013, on the American Queen steamboat and will feature Civil War lectures by me as we visit Memphis, Helena, Vicksburg, Natchez, St. Francisville, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. It will be a magnificent trip focused on one of the greatest dramas in American history (and Melita Thorpe of MWT tells me that many astronomers have signed up already, so we may have riverboat deck stargazes, too!).

We’ll spend time touring Vicksburg National Battlefield, where U. S. Grant’s siege captured the river stronghold and cut the Confederacy in two just a day after Lee retreated south from Gettysburg. We’ll enjoy some blues music in Helena, stately antebellum plantations in Natchez (the Yankees didn’t burn them all!), fantastic gardens in rural Louisiana, mansions and museums in Baton Rouge, and Oak Alley Plantation, one of the most picturesque of the Old South. And, of course, we’ll party in New Orleans in the French Quarter and all about town.

So consider coming along for a taste of the Old South and Civil War history (and maybe a little river stargazing, too). To learn more, visit the MWT Associates website at And if you would like to order a signed copy of my one-volume history of the Civil War, The Longest Night, email me at for details.

Tags: Trips
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