Custer in Kansas: Hancock’s War of 1867-68 on the Southern Plains – October 10-13, 2012

Wednesday, October 10 (7:30PM) to Saturday, October 13, 2012  (5:00pm)
Led by Robert F. O’Neill and Bruce Venter
Based in Hays, KS
Tour Registration Fee: $495.00

Shortly after the Civil War ended two iconic figures from that war, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock and Major General George Armstrong Custer (now a lieutenant colonel) came to the Kansas Plains to fight Indians. In 1867 Hancock’s mission was to discourage Indian raiding in Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, but the famous Union general ended up with a full scale war on his hands by 1868. Custer, a famed cavalryman at the time was a perfect subordinate for Hancock. But “Hancock’s War” as it was called did not do either officer’s reputation any good. Our tour will visit the battle sites and forts of Custer’s campaign thru Kansas, years before his final encounter with the Sioux in Montana.

On our first day we will start with a visit to Fort Hays, built to protect the railroad which was being constructed parallel to the old Smoky Hill Trail. With four original buildings intact, the fort saw the likes of Custer, Phil Sheridan and Buffalo Bill Cody. Nearby is the tree-covered Custer Island where the general bivouacked his 7th Cavalry troopers. Then it’s on to Fort Larned, an outstanding example of a frontier fort that retains most of its original buildings. After Fort Larned, we’ll visit Pawnee Rock, a well-known landmark along the Santa Fe Trail with some great stories. From there you’ll get to see the obscure Pawnee Fork Crossing which now sits on the grounds of a state hospital. At Burdett, we’ll stop at the site where Hancock and Custer faced off an Indian band. Nearby you’ll see the site of the Pawnee River Indian village burned by Hancock.

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Burgoyne’s Saratoga Campaign of 1777: From Fort Ticonderoga to Bemis Heights

Wednesday, September 12 (7:30PM) to Saturday, September 15, 2012  (5:00pm)
Led by Douglas Cubbison and Bruce Venter
Based in Lake George, NY
Tour Registration Fee: $495.00

During the summer and fall of 1777 one of the great military campaigns of world history took place in the dense forests and rolling fields of upstate New York. British Lt. Gen. John “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne led a combined force of some 9,000 British Redcoats, German hirelings, vengeful Tories and blood-thirsty Indians. This army descended from Canada, aiming to cut off the American middle colonies from their New England neighbors.

Burgoyne’s invasion was part of a three-pronged strategic plan to break the back of the rebellion. His army marched directly south through a near-impenetrable wilderness, attempting to reach its final objective: Albany. But American fortunes changed decisively on the west bank of the Hudson River near Saratoga. The patriot army, initially led by Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, but now commanded by Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, and ably led on the battlefield by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold and Col. Daniel Morgan, stopped Burgoyne’s campaign in its tracks. The surrender of Burgoyne’s army in October 1777 was more important to the Rebel cause than any other event during the American Revolution. The two climatic battles at Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights led to a French alliance the following year, effectively insuring an American triumph over the forces of Lt Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown.

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