Civil War & BBQ Driving Tour of South

Mar 19th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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Civil War & BBQ Driving Tour of South

My Dad (he's 72) would like to go on a 2-week trip through the "South" in April 2014. He thought that the visit would encompass Kentucky and Tennessee, but he wasn't exactly sure what made the most sense, but we might also want to consider the Carolinas and Georgia. We're originating the vacation in Palm Beach, so we can either start driving from there, or fly to a city from there. My Dad's interests are food (BBQ) and Civil War history.

If possible, we'd like to see if we can create a "base" where we can stay for a few days and have day trips from that location. There will be 7 people in total traveling (5 of us in our 40's) and we're all from the West Coast, so not very familiar with the area and how to best structure a trip.

So Southern USA experts, what's your advice? BTW, my Dad and I have been on a trip to New Orleans in the past, so we can leave that part of the "South" out.
sherry_toly is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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I'll leave the BBQ to someone else (but I'll check back to see if anyone has weighed in with his or her opinion) , but for Civil War, I'd base farther north if you're interested in seeing the most in the least time. Some years ago we stayed near Richmond, Virginia, from which you can do day trips to Manassas, Petersburg, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Va., Seven Days, and other sites on the Peninsula, lots of sites for as well as Appamatox Court House (although that may be an overnite). You can probably see all those and more in a week.

Then go north to Harper's Ferry W. Virginia and/or you can visit Antietam in Western Maryland then Gettysburg, using Hagerstown, Maryland as the base. Antietam and Gettysburg have, in my opinion, the best preserved battlefields so if you know the history, you can walk or drive them and almost feel like you're there on the eve of the battles.

If your Dad is going to make only one Civil War trip, then those two bases are the ones I'd set up from, even if you have to fly to, say, Baltimore or DC.

Tennessee does have a couple of areas of interest: western Tennessee has Shiloh, Chattanooga (and Chickamauga which is a little ways south in northern Georgia), Stones River and Franklin.

My home, Atlanta, has lots of Civil War markers and the battles around here were very important, but most traces of the actual fighting have been effaced by development, and the sites are spread out over quite a large area. So I can't recommend coming here--you might be able to get a tour from Atlanta History Center or something, but Richmond and Hagerstown would be much better choices and you wouldn't have to put up with the traffic.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 09:49 AM
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If Civil War battlefields are your focus, you can do some in Tennessee, but Virginia, Maryland, PA have much more. We haven't done KY but in Tennessee have gone to Chattanooga, on one trip and Shiloh on another we also visited Vicksburg and some other Mississippi sites on this trip. Vicksburg is very interesting and well developed.

I would want to visit Gettysburgh PA, Harper's Ferry WV, and Manassus, Fredricksburg, Richmond, Petersburg and Appotomox Courthouse in VA to get a flavor of the war.

DH is a Civil War buff who even managed to take me to a battle site in New Mexico. In my experience as an onlooker, the VA sites, Gettysburg and Vicksburg are the most interesting.
emalloy is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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We only have one major civil war battlefield in Kansas, but LOTS of great BBQ. Let us know if you consider this direction

Keith is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:01 AM
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For BBQ you'll want to visit NC...& there is a eastern versiona s well as a western version. If you check out the "Diner's, Drive-in's & Dives" website it will give you some good choices.
SAnParis2 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 11:01 AM
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The other posters are much more knowledgeable about the Civil War aspect than I am, so I'll defer to them! For barbecue, I'd hit Memphis for sure, possibly North Carolina (Lexington is a traditional barbecue town, though there's not much else around the immediate area - it's fairly close to Raleigh/Durham, though). I'm not sure what town would be best in SC, but it's a different style than NC.

You could go to Memphis, then see Carnton Plantation/Battle of Franklin, then either head southeast to Chattanooga on your way to the Carolinas, or up to Virginia through Knoxville/Bristol (or reverse that schedule). Going to Virginia would mean you'd need to circle back for Carolina-style barbecue.

You can get various meats at many restaurants, but when people say "barbecue" in the South they're generally talking pulled pork, as opposed to Texas brisket.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 12:17 PM
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In a two week trip, you can sample a lot of barbeque, OR visit a lot of important battle sites involving the American Civil War -- but I don't think you'll be able to do both. The best BBQ in the south is at Memphis and North Carolina but, by an unusual coincidence, not much happened during the ACW at either place. Both places were returned to Union control without much a fight, Memphis at the start and North Carolina at the end.

Most of the large ACW battles involved Union attempts to capture Richmond, Virginia; and Lee's attempt to win a victory away from that city. Thus, you can see a LOT of major sites by visiting Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredricksburg (four major battles fought near this town), Richmond (and the area of the Seven Days Battles), and Petersburg. Harper's Ferry is where John Brown hope to begin an armed revolt against slavery and federal tyranny; thus all but ensuring that bloodshed would occur in the quest for human freedom -- thus an important stop of historic value.

You MIGHT be able to combine this with a visit to North Carolina for a taste of quality BBQ. But you may have to choose one or the other.

One last thing: use this URL
to locate the EXACT place where markers are located. If you're looking for a specific unit that fought in a battle, or even a specific (but almost forgotten) battle, it's nice to know the EXACT road intersection to find the marker.
PaulRabe is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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For the "cue" of all kinds--but not Kansas (sorry Charley) get a copy of John T. Edge's book, Southern Belly. It is a little old now, but I hope lots of the places have survived. There is an entire chapter just about BBQ throughout the South BUT also really cool restaurants from the past.
You'll want to hit charleston, I would think. Another book you might like to at least peruse for ideas of the Civil War still hanging around today is Confederates in the Attic--it is a great read. Salisbury NC, just north of Charlotte figures in it and we are not far from Lexington NC--THE BBQ mecca of NC.
Sounds like a really fun trip.
Not too far north of us in Virginia there are a lot of Civil war sites, of course--just up I81 from Charlotte.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:03 PM
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Thank you for all this information! Naturally, I'm still a bit overwhelmed, but I will chat with my Dad and see if we can put together an itinerary that will please everyone (hard to do, but I will try!).
sherry_toly is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:11 PM
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I have some ideas -

First, he may enjoy attending some reenactments. Here are just a few -

Andersonville in October (SW GA)-

Resaca in May (NE GA) -

Old Clinton Days in Gray (middle GA) -
Old Clinton Days may be the most physically accessible (less walking for your father)

Other resources for reenactment info (many states)-
starrs is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:13 PM
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To visit battlefields, Gettysburg is the most obvious choice -

You could plan a road trip with a starting point (your choice) and head to PA for Gettysburg
starrs is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:25 PM
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If you want a base for several day, you could use Atlanta. With the wide range of ages, using a base would offer a mix of interest and some could even stay "home" to do another activity while the true CW buffs go out on an expedition.

Ideas -

IN Atlanta - the Cyclorama
You could also visit the zoo next door and enjoy Grant Park and eat near the park. Lovely area

Visit the General, NW of Atlanta -

Visit Kennesaw Battlefield nearby -

Travel to NW GA to Chickamauga Battlefield - about 2 hours

While you are there, go to Lookout Mountain

And visit the aquarium while you are in Chattanooga. It's a nice river based aquarium.

In SW GA, the previously mentioned Andersonville

While in the area, you could stop and visit Plains GA
(home of Jimmy Carter) or go for a train ride

Back in Atlanta, a walking tour of Oakland Cemetery is really an enjoyable thing to do. There are all sorts of tours and festivals in Oakland. Some great restaurants just across the street too. Beautiful photo ops in the cemetery and of the skyline of Atlanta

And then of course the memorial on the face of Stone Mountain. Lots of things to do at the park that aren't CW related

Not sure any of the above are the kinds of things you are interested in but it would fit your request for a "base" location
starrs is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:27 PM
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We truly loved Franklin TN as one of our stops on the tour of the civil war battle sites years ago. As for BBQ - my family is from Lexington NC and we have pig all the time for all the holidays. We even start the holidays with brains and eggs. They are hard core! If you go please check out "Lexington BBQ" and Conrad and Hinckle for a step back in time to a grocery store for the best pimento cheese I have ever had in the World!
willowjane is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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After some inland locations you could head to the coast - Savannah, Charleston and Fort Sumter

Savannah was Sherman's gift to the president on Christmas Day -'s_March_to_the_Sea

On the way from Atlanta to Savannah, go via Madison GA
It's the beautiful antebellum town that was "too pretty to burn". Legend has it that Sherman's roommate at West Point was from Madison so he spared it. Social Circle and Covington nearby also have beautiful antebellum homes

Eat at the famous Blue Willow inn in nearby Social Circle if you want southern cooking -

If you want a change of pace, spend the night on Lake Oconee at the Ritz Carlton Reynolds Plantation

Visit Savannah. No links here. Spend a couple of days there

Continue on to Charleston - ditto above

Go to Fort Sumter -

Enjoy a few days on the beach.
Fly back home or continue on to other locations.
starrs is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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Lots of BBQ choices in Georgia too
starrs is offline  
Mar 19th, 2013, 05:09 PM
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I am usually not a fan of any BBQ from west of Mebane, North Carolina, but yesterday we turned off a particularly food-free section of I-85 to visit Backcountry Barbecue in Linwood, NC. Their slogan is "Smoked Slow, Served Fast," and their coarse chopped pork was spectacular despite having a sauce rather than vinegar and red pepper.

The hushpuppies were not out of a freezer, and the huge pan of banana pudding on the counter was home made as well. It has absolutely no ambiance at all, no quaint farm decorations or cute pigs, just a friendly staff and reasonably priced platters of delicious food.

Linwood is now technically a part of Lexington, but they were annexed so don't admit it. Go!!!
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 03:59 AM
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Ack, you should try my BBQ sauce!! We had a "throwdown" one time at our beach place with some 'cue from the east--and mine. Survey says--G's was better!!
Good to know about Linwood. We go up and down that road a good bit and didn't know about that place. We'll give it a try.
DS just built a form of Alton Brown's flower pot smoker and fixed the BEST pulled pork we have had!!
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 06:58 AM
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Gretchen, I want to try it too! I grew up in Knoxville and was used to western NC-style barbecue (our hometown place is called Buddy's and it is delicious - best hush puppies I've ever had). My first few weeks after moving to Chapel Hill, I went to an event catered by Bullocks where they gave us chopped pork with vinegar and pepper "sauce" and cylindrical hush puppies. I was floored. It was the first of several "culture shock" experiences.
jent103 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2013, 02:35 AM
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Acks, good to know! I have to do an Ikea run to Charlotte this weekend. I'll check it out.

OP might want to consider adding Charleston to the uh, Civil War list since the that recent unpleasantness started there. But don't eat the barbeque. It has mustard on it.
suewoo is offline  
Mar 21st, 2013, 03:59 AM
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Oh, I am completely a western NC pork fan. The vinegar sauce is just not me--and I certainly don't drench in the tomatoey kind--just a hint.
Sue are you in Greensboro these days? We were there for a tennis tournament last weekend.
Gretchen is offline  

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