Native American Heritage Comes Alive in New York

At The Manhattan Club, Bluegreen Resorts’ New York City vacation accommodation, you will have easy access to some of the world’s best entertainment, shopping, and dining experiences. You’ll also have the chance to visit plenty of free and low-cost attractions that can provide you with a culturally enriching day.

The National Museum of the American Indian, located on the two lower floors of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan near Battery Park, explores the history and cultures of Native groups in the Americas, from the southern tip of South America to the Arctic Circle. One of the few free museums in the city, it offers exhibits, educational programs, workshops, music and dance events, and more. In addition, as a kind of living museum, special program guests share stories from their lives and experiences that have shaped them as Native Americans.

The NMAI operates as a part of the Smithsonian Institution. Popular exhibitions have featured the Western paintings of George Catlin, the art of basket weaving, a collection of art by tribes from the Great Lakes region, and a look at ceremonial and social dances of Native peoples.

The National Museum of the American Indian encompasses photographs, media, and artifacts, most from North America. In addition to ancient artifacts, the museum contains renowned collections of art by contemporary Native American artists.

Stemming from the private collection of early 20th century collector George Gustav Heye, the NMAI is dedicated to bringing the depth and diversity of Native American peoples and their cultures to the public. The museum also strives to serve as a resource for Native peoples and to contribute to a thoughtful and vibrant dialogue about their contributions to life in the Western Hemisphere.

The museum’s home is worth a trip in itself. Designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert and completed in the early 1900s, the magnificent Beaux Arts building welcomes guests past its façade of Maine granite into a soaring, cathedral-like entryway made of white marble.

Getting there is easy, as several bus and subway lines run close to the museum near the northeastern section of Battery Park.

Deepen Your Civil War Knowledge in Fredericksburg, Virginia

It is about an hour’s drive from your comfortable vacation accommodations at Shenandoah Crossing, Bluegreen Resorts’ Gordonsville, Virginia, property, to the site of one of the Civil War’s most significant battles. Less than 50 miles from the quiet Southern charm of Gordonsville, you can encounter a rich, colorful, and tragic history at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

When you arrive at the park, you will find Fredericksburg National Cemetery, the resting place of some 15,000 United States troops, most from the Civil War, and their family members. The Fredericksburg Confederate Cemetery, situated near the City Cemetery, holds an additional 3,300 troops, most of whom remain unknown. The park also encompasses the elegant Georgian structure of Chatham Manor, visited by Robert E. Lee, occupied by Northern forces and used as their base of operations, and the site of a crucial meeting between President Abraham Lincoln and Union General Irvin McDowell. You can view the park and battlegrounds via self-guided driving or walking tours, or on docent-led walking tours.

Fredericksburg holds an important place in history because it is the site of the devastating defeat of Union troops by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the winter of 1862-63. Seriously demoralizing Northern supporters, the North lost well over 12,000 men, three times the number of Southern troops killed.

On December 13, 1862, Union General Ambrose Burnside had only been in command of the Army of the Potomac for about a month. Burnside’s plan involved attacking the Confederate stronghold of Richmond by crossing the Rappahannock River near Fredericksburg and moving further south. When Burnside’s men failed to put up a pontoon bridge over the river in time, Lee seized the opportunity to move to Marye’s Heights overlooking Fredericksburg. The Confederates, positioned in a sunken dip of road behind a sturdy wall, were virtually unassailable.

Yet Burnside chose to go on the attack. Not a single man from the Northern side was able to scale the wall, and large numbers died in the open space between the two positions. The armies reached a truce after two days, and Burnside retreated under the protection of night and a chilling rainfall. Poet Walt Whitman and Red Cross founder Clara Barton were among the volunteers who tried to comfort the wounded Union soldiers at the makeshift hospital unit at Chatham Manor.

A Trip Through Savannah’s Civil War History

Visit The Studio Homes in Savannah, Georgia, at Ellis Square and enjoy a vacation as action-packed or leisurely as you’d like. The elegant “Hostess City” of the South maintains its charm amid a sweep of antebellum buildings and Civil War sites. In fact, today’s Savannah is home to more than 1,000 structures with historical significance ranging from the days of the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, and other pivotal eras of the American past. When you spend time in Savannah, you can choose to dip deeply into history by touring a few of these locations, all rich in history. The city’s visitors centers, including one in Ellis Square, can help you plot the first steps of your itinerary.

During the Civil War, Savannah was among the major cities of the Confederacy. The city represented a key prize in the eyes of the North. Union General William T. Sherman led his 60,000 troops in their march from Atlanta to the sea, with the port city of Savannah as his goal, in the winter of 1864. When Sherman and his men arrived in Savannah on December 21, after burning homesteads and raiding farms along their 285-mile-long journey, they discovered that the 10,000 Confederate soldiers defending it had already fled. The city and its 25,000 bales of cotton became President Lincoln’s Christmas present.

You can visit the Green-Meldrim House on West Macon Street, a Gothic Revival villa and now a National Historic Landmark. After Sherman entered Savannah, wealthy cotton merchant Charles Green – in the hopes of protecting his family and business- rode out to meet the Union general and offer his home as a base of operations. As Sherman wrote in his diary, “a most excellent house it was in all respects.”

Savannah Walks, Inc., offers several tours of the city, including one all about ghosts and another one focused on the Civil War. You can tour Fort Pulaski, located at the mouth of the Savannah River. The fort was built three decades before the war under the supervision of a young Robert E. Lee.

Visitors can view numerous homes of Civil War generals in Savannah, including those owned by Henry Jackson, William Hardee, A. P. Lawton, and Hugh Mercer. The Mercer Williams House has won additional fame as a “haunted” house. It was the site of the notorious murder at the heart of the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

Exploring South Carolina’s Civil War Past at Fort Sumter

If you walk along Charleston, South Carolina’s promenade along the waterfront, you can see the silhouette of Fort Sumter, the site of the first battle of the U. S. Civil War. A vacation rich in history awaits you when you stay with Bluegreen Resorts in its elegant Charleston property, The Lodge Alley Inn, which offers the finest resort accommodations set amid the charms of a city that honors its past.

In 1860, the southern states were in the throes of secessionist fervor, and on December 20 of that year, South Carolina officially declared its withdrawal from the union. Union troops under Major Robert Anderson occupied Fort Sumter, and newly elected President Abraham Lincoln announced his plan to resupply it. On April 10, 1861, the South, in the person of Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard, demanded the surrender of the fort, located on an island in Charleston Harbor, from the Union garrison. Anderson refused and two days later Confederate firepower rained down on the fort. Unable to respond to the attack, Anderson surrendered on April 13.

The citizens of South Carolina had been convinced over that winter of 1860-61 that they would be able to secede without an ensuing armed conflict. The editor of one local newspaper is said to have been so convinced that no blood would be shed that he vowed to eat the bodies of any who might be slain. While two Union soldiers died as a result of an accident during the evacuation of Fort Sumter, there were no casualties on either side during the bombardment itself. Yet those shots fired at Fort Sumter have cast long shadows into the present day as the beginning of the most violent and bloody conflict within the borders of the United States.

Fort Sumter was originally built as a stronghold in 1829, after the War of 1812 had made plain the young country’s lack of strong coastal defenses. From 1863 to 1865, Union troops set about retaking the fort and pounded it with artillery fire, reclaiming it on February 22, 1865. By that point, the fort had been practically leveled to the ground. After the Civil War, a united country rebuilt Fort Sumter. The fort later served as a lighthouse, but saw additional military service during the Spanish-American War, or in World Wars I and II.

Today, the fort is a decommissioned military post under the banner of the National Park Service. While private boats may visit the fort at no charge, many visitors prefer to take the 2.5-hour ferry ride to the island. One ferry departs from the visitor center in Charleston, and another, which serves recreational vehicles and buses, sails from Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.