20 April 2007 by Published in: General musings 10 comments

The whirlwind trip is over. Here’s a recap. Susan will post my photos over the weekend.

I left on Wednesday morning. My flight out was at 6:00 AM, meaning that the alarm clock went off at 4:15, an obscene hour. I can remember times in my youth when I wasn’t finished throwing up at that time of the night, but those days are LONG gone. Now, the thought of getting up at that hour is enough to make me tired just to think about it. I flew to Atlanta and changed planes, arriving in New Orleans a few minutes before 10:00 local time.

Charles Nunez, my host, took me straight to Metairie Cemetery. PGT Beauregard, John Bell Hood, and Richard Taylor are all buried there. Jefferson Davis rested there for a couple of years before being moved to Richmond, and so did Sidney Johnston. There’s a handsome equestrian monument to Sidney Johnston in the cemetery. Baseball Hall of Famer Mel Ott is buried in that cemetery, and so is Louis Prima of “Just a Gigolo” fame. I’d seen photos of New Orleans cemeteries, but had never been in one before, and it was just as interesting as I expected it to be. There is a monuemnt to the men of the Army of Northern Virginia in the middle of the cemetery, and one to the Army of Tennessee where the monument to Johnston stands and where Beauregard is buried.

We left there, briefly visited a couple of other cemeteries, and then headed downtown, passing through the 17th Ward to get there. I couldn’t see much from the freeway, but Charles tells me that half of the local population has never returned after Katrina. There’s plenty of wreckage and debris from the storm left to be seen, and it’s really kind of shocking to consider just how much destruction occurred. I did get a good look at the infamous convention center and the rehabilitated Super Dome, both of which played major roles in the Katrina tragedy. We then went to lunch, and after lunch, we had a driving tour, passing the D-Day museum and the Confederate Memorial Hall, which are across the street from each other.

I had REALLY wanted to visit the War of 1812 battlefield just outside New Orleans, but the battlefield was under 12 feet of water during Katrina. The visitor’s center was pretty much completely destroyed, as were replica earthworks, etc. The place is still in pretty bad shape, and Charles suggested saving it for another visit, as hopefully, things will be more like normal and the visitor’s center will be re-opened. I was disappointed, as seeing the battlefield was one of the things I was really looking forward to doing on this trip.

Charles then took me to my hotel, the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, as I had some work to do for a client. I got the stuff done and then had about three hours to wander and explore the French Quarter, which I did. It’s quite a place. I made a point of walking the eight block length of Bourbon Street, but it was mid-afternoon on a weekday, and it was pretty tame. Having said that, I’ve never seen so many strip joints in one place as I saw there.

Charles then showed me more of New Orleans, including Anne Rice’s house and the home where Jefferson Davis died, which is just down the same block from Anne Rice’s home. We went to Tulane, where I did my talk. It was a good crowd and a good evening, but it’s the first time that I’ve ever spoken to an out-of-town roundtable and ws not fed dinner. After walking three or four miles, I was starving.

Afterward, a member of the group wanted to show me his personal museum. His father was a colonel in the horse cavalry, and he’s had a life-long fascination with cavalry. He owns a number of artifacts from the Little Big Horn battlefield, a hand-drawn map by George Custer, and some of the coolest cavalry artifacts I’ve ever seen. For a cavalry guy, it was heaven on earth. After a stop at a Wendy’s drive-through, it was back to the hotel.

The next morning, Charles picked me up far too early (6:45) and we went to a place in Metairie called The Morning Call for beignets, the sugary donuts that Jimmy Buffett sang about in his song “The Wino and I Know”. Fabulous. And then to the airport for the next two flights….

I flew to Austin by way of Dallas/Fort Worth. Dan Laney of the Austin Civil War Roundtable picked me up and we went to lunch, as it was 12:15. After a lunch of excellent Texas barbequed brisket, we went to the Texas State Cemetery. I visited Albert Sidney Johnston’s grave, the graves of John Wharton, Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson, Benjamin McCullough, and several other Confederate generals. We wandered the Confederate burial field and visited the other notables, including the graves of Stephen Austin, Barbara Jordan, and John Connally.

We left there and Dan showed me the home on the University of Texas campus where George and Libbie Custer stayed in 1867, and then on to the state capitol building, which is an incredibly impressive structure. There are handsome monuments to Terry’s Texas Rangers, Hood’s Texas Brigade, and the Alamo outside. We then went to the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for a VERY quick visit. From there, it was to my hotel to check in and grab a shower. The place is called The Mansion at Judges Hill, which is a very plush hotel and restaurant in an old house that was used as a drug and alcohol rehab place. It’s one of the nicest hotel rooms I’ve ever seen.

Then it was off to Dan’s lovely country club for the meeting. Regular reader Lanny Tanton made a point of introducing himself to me, and we had a nice visit. After a yummy dinner of fajitas, I gave my talk. At the end, Dan presented me with a Florida Gators hat, which I guess is appropriate for someone from Columbus, as a gag gift. My real gift was a certificate signed by the Governor of Texas making me an honorary Texan, which prompted me to say that I guessed I had better stop referring to Texas as “Baja Oklahoma”, which broke up the entire room. One member of the group brought nine of my books with him for me to sign, and he indicated that he owns about 4,000 Civil War books, of which half are signed by the authors. Dan, another member of the Roundtable, and I had a drink and a nice talk, and then it was off to bed, as I had another very early morning.

Dan picked me up at 6:30, and it was off to the airport. I flew from Austin to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Columbus, arriving here at 1:30 or so. I had to put in a couple of hours at the office to get some stuff out, and that was it for me.

Six flights. Three days. Three VERY early mornings. I’m beat.

Pictures will follow tomorrow. First, I need some rest…..

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Lanny Thomas Tanton
    Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 9:22 am

    Dear Eric,

    It was a great delight to meet you finally “in the flesh” and to hear your excellent presentation on Stuart’s involvement in the Gettysburg Campaign. I have enjoyed reading your blog now for some time and learning about the Civil War and about you. So it was a real treat to shake your hand, look you in the eye, hear your voice and sense your presence.

    As I had assumed, the Austin Civil War Round Table came out in force to hear you and, from the comments I heard, they were enthusiastic about your book and talk. I can easily assume, upon the completion of another book, that you would receive another invitation to come and speak.

    I am also delighted to hear how our chief, Dan Laney, took wonderful care of you. He is a great guy, a careful student of the Army of Northern Virginia, a ready wit and a respected leader. We in the Austin Civil War Round Table are blessed to have him.

    I had to smile at the number of people who came with multiple books for your autograph. I saw one man who literally had an armful of your books (9?) and several others with two or three. However, that should not surprise me as this group is very serious about the War.

    I hope I am still in Austin the next time you come through here. When you come again, it would be nice if Susan could also come.

    Again, thanks for coming and congratulations on your bravura presentation.

    Best wishes always,
    Lanny

  2. James Epperson
    Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 11:00 am

    But Eric, Texas *is* Baja Oklahoma…

    Besides which, they gave us Shrub…

    A neat place to visit outside of New Orleans is Fort Jackson State Park. Don’t know how it fared under Katrina.

    JFE

  3. Dave Kelly
    Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 11:58 am

    You were in N.O. and got Wendies and some donuts???? Mon Dieu!!!

  4. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 7:34 pm

    Only a highly motivated person could endure that kind of travel schedule. It must have been fantastic, but just thinking about getting up that early to fly reminded me of what business travel used to be like.

    I’ll stick to 69, retirement and flying at noon.

    But in my mid-40’s, I would have done the same.

  5. Matt Soule
    Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 7:38 pm

    Eric,

    The much promoted “Sherman’s March” will be on the History Channel tonight. Hoping you get a chance to see it and post your comments.

  6. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Matt,

    I’m looking forward to it.

    Eric

  7. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 8:14 pm

    Lanny,

    It was a great pleasure to meet you and to finally have a face to put with the name. Thanks for coming out.

    I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed the talk. You can probably tell that I really enjoy giving that particular talk, so it was fun.

    I hope to visit Austin again soon, and hope to see you there again sooner than later.

    Eric

  8. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Dave,

    I know–hard to believe.

    The donuts, however, are unique to New Orleans and are apparently something nobody should miss.

    Eric

  9. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 8:15 pm

    Jim,

    LOL. Believe me, that thought was not lost upon me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Eric

  10. Sat 21st Apr 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Rudy,

    Believe me, I felt pretty old last night when I got home. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Eric

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