Civil War Battlefield Tourism - The Early Years

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#1
I have a reproduction of a Michelin guide to the Soissons sector of the Western Front 1914-1918. Michelin began publishing these guides in 1919! Now I seem to remember in the Ken Burns Civil War series, mention that speculators bought up part of the Bull Run field. Two days after the 1st battle there? But what were the first guides published?
Some of the battlefields were in remote locations. But I am sure others could have been reached by rail in the late 1860's. Were any tours organised back then?
 

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kholland

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#2
I have a reproduction of a Michelin guide to the Soissons sector of the Western Front 1914-1918. Michelin began publishing these guides in 1919! Now I seem to remember in the Ken Burns Civil War series, mention that speculators bought up part of the Bull Run field. Two days after the 1st battle there? But what were the first guides published?
Some of the battlefields were in remote locations. But I am sure others could have been reached by rail in the late 1860's. Were any tours organised back then?
Oliver Thomas O'Reilly was 7 years old when he witnessed the Battle of Antietam. He was a guide at age 15 (1870) and mentioned on his later calling card "nearly 65 years experience“. For his story go to:
http://www.historynet.com/o-t-reilly-relic-collector-and-early-antietam-tour-guide.htm
 

Anna Elizabeth Henry

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#5
Tourism for Civil War battlefields probably started fairly early from what I've heard. I know my great-grandfather toured a number of battlefields as a boy (he was born in 1895) and actually had the privilege to meet ACW vets in the process.

My dad who loved touring the battlefields when he was a boy also mentioned in the 1950's there wasn't a lot in the way of signage and many of the roads that are paved today were dirt or gravel then. No visitor centers either! Well, not unless you found a NPS ranger cabin that might have a map. But, my dad said most folks wandered around looking at the various monuments and markers guided by family and fellow tourists. He said he doesn't recall ever seeing a guidebook being carried by people. He did note that folks used to picnic in various spots on the battlefields, not something you see anymore (at least I've never ran into anyone doing that!).
 

James N.

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From recent travels I remember that Confederate veteran Daniel A. Grimsley bought much of the battlefield at Cedar Mountain where he had fought as a lad. Though he farmed, he also set out unit markers on large stones (somewhat like small tombstones) and was always glad to show visitors around, one of whom was President Theodore Roosevelt. His markers have been moved around by subsequent owners and no longer fulfill their intended purpose but a few of them can be seen in my photo just beyond the modern Civil War Trails marker below. (Cedar Mountain is in the background.)

dsc03406-jpg.jpg
 

James N.

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#7
spring-vacation-2010-055-jpg.jpg


I also seem to remember that Elkhorn Tavern (seen here in a reconstruction built on the original foundations) was an early gathering place for veterans and others visiting Pea Ridge battlefield well before the creation of the National Park during the Civil War Centennial.
 
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#8
Tourism at Gettysburg started about the time that the battle ended and has been going strong ever since. Gregory Coco's A Strange and Blighted Land has an extensive treatment of the tourists, caregivers and pillagers that descended on Gettysburg immediately after the battle. Many of the owner's of land where the battles took place made extra money selling relics/souvenirs to the tourists. I have a brick that was made from the soil of Malvern Hill that was for sale to tourists.
 
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#11
I will be going there for the first time this year can't wait.
Nice. I work a cannon's shot away from Henry Hill and the visitor center there. Pass it every day.

We had one gent that had to work overnights alone, he quit after two weeks. He claimed that the building was haunted by the ghosts that had died on the battlefield. Maps show that we are close enough that there probably was fighting right around here. LOL.

Anyway, hope you have a great time. :smile: Enjoy!
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#13
Yes, crazy people did show up July 4th, while the battle was still dangerous. How macabre, with every citizen pitching in, dead and wounded everywhere and parts of two armies still clashing- you're coming to take in the sights. Police had to search relic hunters, to prevent them from taking home tokens of their trip.

Damage was great to land, crops and homes in Gettysburg- weirdly, the government did not pay owners for losses, institutions just a fraction. All the churches in Gettysburg combined had to share 500 bucks, for instance, a tiny fraction given replacing bloodstained pews alone from use as hospitals. Owners selling relics wasn't as cold blooded as it seemed those first days.
 

civilken

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Nice. I work a cannon's shot away from Henry Hill and the visitor center there. Pass it every day.

We had one gent that had to work overnights alone, he quit after two weeks. He claimed that the building was haunted by the ghosts that had died on the battlefield. Maps show that we are close enough that there probably was fighting right around here. LOL.

Anyway, hope you have a great time. :smile: Enjoy!
I have to tell you that sounds great how do you get a job like that sign me up. Thank you.
 



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