Astor to co-lead bus tour of Civil War sites

April 4, 2013
Contact: Karen Eldridge, Director of Communications

Dr. Aaron Astor, associate professor of history at Maryville College, will co-lead a chartered bus tour of Blount County’s Civil War sites on April 14.

The tour, sponsored by the Blount County Historic Trust, will depart from the Thompson-Brown House at 2 p.m. with a stop at the Blount County Courthouse to hear the story of Polly Toole; a stop in Friendsville to learn more about the Underground Railroad; and a stop in Louisville, where Astor and local historian George Lane will explain the slave economy and river traffic during that period of time.

The bus also will stop at what is now the site of the Maryville Municipal Building to learn about the Union troops who camped there in the summer of 1863 on their way to Knoxville and the Battle of Fort Sanders.

The tour is expected to conclude at 6 p.m.

Astor, a Civil War scholar who recently authored Rebels on the Border: Civil War, Emancipation, and the Reconstruction of Kentucky and Missouri, holds master’s and doctoral degrees in American History from Northwestern University.

He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times’ online series “Disunion,” and co-chairs Maryville College’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, which was formed last year to put together programming that explores how the Civil War affected multiple populations in East Tennessee, addresses traditional narratives and myths of the war, and examines the war’s lasting legacy in the region.

Astor will be joined by Lane, an 8th generation Tennessean, 6th generation Blount Countian and descendent of John Wallace, who was killed with Gov. John Sevier at the Battle of Hightower in 1793, and Josias Gamble, who founded Gamble’s Fort in 1790.

Lane is president of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable and founding director of the East Tennessee Sesquicentennial Alliance, a coordinating body celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. His family lineage includes both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Gloria Bickers, a member of the Trust, said the bus tour fits perfectly with the mission of the organization.

“Most people who are familiar with the Blount County Historic Trust probably think of the Trust as a cheerleader for the preservation of historic sites and buildings. We are that, but we also want to be cheerleaders for those in our community who want to share and to learn the stories of Blount County,” she said. “George Lane and Aaron Astor are two gentlemen who have studied the Civil War chapter of Blount County’s story in great detail. This tour gives us a chance to learn from them about the events that occurred, literally, in our own backyards during 1863.”

Reserved seats for the tour are $20 for Blount County Historic Trust members; $40 for non-members; and $20 for students. Non-member and student prices include a one-year membership in the Blount County Historic Trust.

To register, contact Bickers at or 865.681.9196 or call Ken Brown at 865.661.4402.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,198.