Our day started at the Visitor Center where we watched an 18-minute introductory movie about the battles at Vicksburg. This area was a hotbed of fighting over the all-important Mississippi River, the major highway for getting goods and people, weapons and cotton, from the north to the ports on the Gulf of Mexico.
Another reason Vicksburg was so crucial is that it is in the center of the confederacy. If Vicksburg could be captured by the union, it would divide the confederacy. No two people stated these facts as succinctly as Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis:
"Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket." ~ Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America
"Vicksburg is the nailhead that holds the South's two halves together." ~ Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.After a quick look around the visitor center, we started the 16-mile narrated driving tour. First, we checked out the different types of cannons...
Off we go!
|Impressive entry gate takes you immediately|
to the Union lines
He also tried amphibious maneuvers to get the city to surrender, along with trying to build a canal to bypass the bend in the river where Vicksburg was located. Those strategies didn't work.
Grant's next plan was to manevuer his troops west, south, then east, and come up behind the town. He had some success in defeating Lt. General Pemberton at Port Gibson to the south. He was then able to take Raymond and Jackson, the state capital. From Jackson, he marched west along the Southern Railroad of Mississippi. He fought his way closer and closer to Vicksburg's eastern fortifications. From then on, the Union soldiers attacked the Vicksburg lines.
Imagine being Union soldiers trying to sneak up on the Confederate soldiers who are encamped on top of the bluff and at the tops of the hills. There were no trees at that time. You can see the advantage of being at the top of the hill; you can see anyone trying to attack you from below!
The photo below is of Battery de Golyer. The Union forces were trying to take the Confederate Great Redoubt. A redoubt is a rectangular fort, fortification or barricade that protects the troops and artillery inside from attack from any direction. At one time as many as 22 federal (Union) cannons were positioned here. The Union forces were repelled and Captain de Golyer was mortally wounded in combat. Scenes like this one played out over and over again in trying to capture the Confederate troops on these hills outside Vicksburg.
The difference between a redoubt and a redan: two types of fort defenses.
|Confederate Great Redoubt|
|Battery de Golyer|
If you can believe it, there are 1,400 monuments at Vicksburg National Military Park. Wow! I took photos of a fraction of them. The photo above is a memorial to Illinois.
|Sculpture at base of Wisconsin memorial|
|U.S. Union trench|
|Bob wanted me to include a photo of how many|
history markers there are...and this is just
on a fraction of the 16-mile drive!
|General U.S. Grant's headquarters monument|
|A tunnel approach|
|Tools designed to protect|
soldiers as they dug trenches
The USS Cairo was raised from the bottom of the Mississippi River 100 years after it was sunk. The museum has artifacts that were preserved like a time-capsule. What the salvagers found were information on naval construction, naval stores, armaments, and the crew's personal gear. The recovered artifacts are exhibited at this museum.
When we arrived here, the wind was howling and it was starting to rain. By the time we left the museum it was raining but the wind had died down. On the remainder of our drive through the park we saw lots of leaves and some branches down on the roadway.
|Bob checking out the cannons|
|Railroad rails lined the bow|
From the USS Cairo, we drove through the Vicksburg National Cemetery, then continued on with our tour.
Below is Missouri's memorial. It commemorates where brothers fought brothers. Confederates from Missouri fought Union soldiers from Missiouri. Friends or even family members fought for opposite sides with different ideals. This war was Americans fighting Americans.
|So MANY history markers!|
The way the war concluded was that Gen. Grant fought the Confederates back into the town of Vicksburg and kept them trapped there for 47 days. There was no way for the troops to receive food or supplies. On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg was officially surrendered.
After we finished the 16-mile drive, we went back to the Visitor Center and watched the movie again. Then we needed to get lunch.
We wanted to see the old part of Vicksburg near the river since we hadn't been there yet. We drove up and down the streets, saw the old Court House, and looked for restaurants that were unique to Vicksburg.
|The old Court House, now a museum|
|The old train station|
|Waiting for lunch at Monsour's at the Biscuit Company|
|I zoomed in on the mural wall from our table|
|The dining room overlooking the canal|
|Monsour's at the Biscuit Company bar area|
The waitress assured us one appetizer would feed both of us. In hindsight, we should have ordered two because it was the best pot pie we have ever had. All future pot pies will be measured against this one! The chicken pot pie was poured over a huge freshly baked biscuit. There was no "top" of mashed potatoes or crust on this chicken pot pie, but it didn't need it because there was a luscious biscuit underneath. Mmmmmmmm! If you order this, be patient because they make the biscuits from scratch.
After lunch, we were going to walk along the mural wall but it was raining, so we drove by it instead.
From downtown Vicksburg we headed back to the RV park after another long but satisfying day. Tomorrow will be a driving day to Montgomery, Alabama.