Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi

Vicksburg National Military Park Cemetery. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park Cemetery. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg was one of the key battles that turned the war toward a Union victory.  Located on the Mississippi river supply corridor, holding it was strategically critical for both sides.  On July 4, 1863, following several battles and a 46-day Union siege of the city, Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Union General Ulysses S. Grant.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

During the fighting the Confederates achieved the world’s first sinking of an enemy vessel using electrical mines.  The Union ironclad gunboat USS Cairo struck the mines while sailing up the Mississippi River.  It immediately sank in 30-foot deep water with no sailors killed.  Thus, there was one less Union ship to pound Vicksburg with artillery.  The salvaged Cairo is on display in the park, and the gunboat is remarkably intact.  The wood is faded and splitting and the metal is rusted.

I met a professional and enthusiastic ranger at the visitor center who explained the auto tour around the battlefield.  Cannons and the like are set up within their respective Union and Confederate lines, with everything exactly where it was during the battles.  Signs document each position down to the particular soldiers, division, and type of guns used.  One drives around the battlefield stopping at the many turnouts according to preference.  Visitors are free to walk anywhere on the battlefield, and often do.  The park was crowded with families visiting in celebration of Mother’s Day.

Vicksburg National Military Park, Grant statue. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park, Grant statue. Click to enlarge.

Showing me the tour map, the ranger explained that I would be in the Union lines for the first half, as if this were a necessary evil.  “But after that,” he said reassuringly, “you’ll be in the Confederate lines.”  Everywhere I went in the South, pride in the Confederate heritage was alive and well.

Vicksburg historical information was provided by the National Park Service.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park, Illinois state memorial to serving soldiers. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park, Illinois state memorial to serving soldiers. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

Vicksburg National Military Park. Click to enlarge.

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About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

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