Civil War History in Vicksburg, Mississippi
As part of our quest to visit all 50 states, my husband, Chuck, and I went to Vicksburg, Mississippi last November. We came away pleasantly surprised at the number of historic Civil War sites there.
We visited Vicksburg National Military Park on Veterans Day weekend. It was a moving experience to drive the park's 16-mile touring road, lined with 1,325 historic monuments, memorials and markers honoring the courageous soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg campaign from March 29 through July 4, 1863.
The Vicksburg National Cemetery includes 17,000 graves of Civil War soldiers; they cover 40 acres! Other points of interest in the park include the Shirley House, the only surviving structure from the siege...20 miles of rebuilt earthworks and trenches...nearly 150 cannons...and the restored USS Cairo, the ironclad Union gunboat sunk by a mine in 1862.
The battle of Vicksburg was a critical juncture in the Civil War. The Union victory gave it complete control of the Mississippi.
We stayed at the beautiful Battlefield Inn, located next to the battlefield. For details call 1-800-359-9363. Military memorabilia lines the hallways, including huge portraits of Ulysses Grant and Robert E. Lee in the lobby.
Not far from Vicksburg is Grand Gulf Military Park, the only remnant of the town of Grand Gulf. We really enjoyed going through the park's eerie cemetery, which has lots of trees draped with Spanish moss.
We also traveled part of the Natchez Trace, which is a 500-mile path from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee (see page 65 of the March/April 2000 issue for details). During the late 1700s and early 1800s, thousands of pioneers journeyed along this trail.
In addition, we visited Windsor Ruins near Alcorn (see page 55 of the May/June issue) and the Petrified Forest near Flora, and we saw cotton fields for the first time. For history buffs like us, Vicksburg and the surrounding area is made to order. Our trip there gave us an even deeper appreciation of Civil War history.
Fast Facts... Vicksburg is located in western Mississippi, about 45 miles west of Jackson at the junction of I-20 and U.S. Highway 61. For more information call 1-800-221-3536. The Visitor Center at Vicksburg National Military Park is open year-round. For further information phone 1-601/636-0583.