Civil War tours offered

Published 9:26 pm Friday, April 6, 2012

When it comes to important Civil War sites, everybody knows about Gettysburg, Appomattox Court House and Fort Sumter.

However, fewer people know about Battery Onandaga, Fort Connecticut, Fort Huger, Fort Rosecrans and Deserted House Battlefield — all located within or near the city of Suffolk.

Tickets now are on sale for Civil War tours that will be held next weekend at sites throughout Suffolk.

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“I think it’s important to learn and understand history,” said local historian Kermit Hobbs, who will lead the tours. “It’s a perfect outdoor activity for the spring. I just encourage people to come.”

The April 14 tours are a fundraiser for the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society. There will be two tours that visit different sites.

The first tour will leave the Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum, 326 N. Main St., at 10 a.m. and return at noon. It will visit Battery Onandaga, which overlooks the Nansemond River and some Civil War trenches that still are in good condition, Hobbs said.

“It’s a really good vista because you can see a lot of locations that were significant,” he said.

Also on the tour will be Fort Connecticut and Deserted House Battlefield, as well as the home of Judith Kilby Smith, the only civilian casualty of the siege of Suffolk.

“She was killed during the fighting there, and both sides regretted it,” Hobbs said. “There’s an interesting story that goes along with that.”

The second tour will leave the train station at 1 p.m. and return at 4 p.m. It also will visit Battery Onandaga, but all the other sites will be different, including Fort Huger, the site of a successful Union amphibious attack against the Confederates, and Fort Stevens and Fort Rosecrans.

If time permits, the morning tour may include a visit to Cedar Hill Cemetery, and the afternoon tour could stop at Riddick’s Folly, which was the headquarters of Union Gen. John J. Peck during the occupation of Suffolk.

Both tours require walking on uneven ground, and the afternoon tour will include walking through woods. Comfortable shoes and insect repellant are recommended.

The cost is $12 for the morning tour and $15 for the afternoon tour. Historical society members receive a $1 discount. Payment is due at the time of reservation. Call 539-2781 to reserve your spot.