Monday, August 3, 2009

A road trip: Vicksburg MS

"See what a lot of land these fellows
hold, of which Vicksburg is the key!
The war can never be brought to a
close until that key is in our
-- Abraham Lincoln

When you think of the American Civil War, Gettysburg comes to mind. Yes, that was the principle battle of the war, but Vicksburg MS was almost as important. Because of its location, the North couldn't transport its soldiers or its agricultural products down the Mississippi River (for overseas shipping).

There is the Vicksburg National Military Park, and I had not seen it. This needed to be corrected, so last Friday, I took a vacation day from work and headed south on U.S. 61. I spent the night and returned late Saturday.

Vicksburg sits high on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. The river turns East there, is joined by the Yazoo River, and then turns back south. During the civil war, the batteries of cannon on the bluffs allowed the South to control the river traffic.

Above is the park's visitors' center. There is an 18-minute movie that begins every 30 minutes that gives background.

The action at Vicksburg was a battle, but also a war of attrition, like a siege.

Above is one of the memorials. Inside the names of soldiers from Illinois are inscribed on plaques on the rotunda walls.

On fame's eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

(Words on a sign at the cemetery in Vicksburg National Military Park. See here for more words to the poem.)

Here, 18,244 soldiers have joined the bivouac of the dead, as the poet said. Sadly, 12,954 are unidentified.

All photos are high resolution, so click to enlarge, if interested.

The North had an ironclad boat, the USS Cairo, that was sunk near Vicksburg. Around 1960, it was discovered and salvaged. Above is the museum (under a big tent-like structure) that has the remnants of the boat. You can read more about what Wikipedia says here.

Top row and one photo in is a memorial to soldiers who fought who were of African-American descent. To the right of that is one of the cannons on the USS Cairo.

You can read more about the park if you click here.

Many states have memorials. The one on the bottom left is Mississippi. Continuing clockwise: U.S. Grant, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and (center, bottom row) the entrance to the 16-mile drive to see the park itself.

On my way there, I saw cotton fields and crop dusters. Those pilots must have nerves of steel. Saturday I drove to Natchez MS and took the Natchez Trace Parkway to Jackson MS. In Vicksburg I took some photos of the Mississippi River. All these are shown above.

My next trip is late August to St. Louis to see my favorite team: the SL Cardinals. The iconic Gateway Arch! Busch Stadium! Can you say photo op?


  1. Awesome photos, Mojo. I have a thing for cemeteries (weird, I know)so my favorite would have to be the row of unmarked graves. Great shot! Is that Mississippi memorial (the bottome left in the collage) located by I-55 near Jackson? I have always wondered what the heck that 'tower looking thing' was. If that's it, now I know! Thanks for sharing these.

  2. 1. Very enjoyable. All your photos look like SLR, but then you usually say it was the other camera. How about these? Do you use filters on your SLR?

    2. I like cemeteries, too. Maybe I will copy your style and go to the giant Ft. Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. The rows go on forever. 436 acres, 181,000 interments.

    3. How the heck much vacation do you get, anyway? Bridge, poker, road trips. You know how to do it. I just waste most of my retirement time.

  3. Nice! Wish I was along.

    The poem is by Theodore O'Hara and I first saw it at Arlington.

  4. Great photos. The Civil War was a great conundrum - bloodiest civil war ever fought. And it's still with us today in some form - red states v. blue states - a nation still divided.

  5. Thanks to all who commented.

    @jusdealem: The Mississippi tower or obelisk or whatever was in the Park at Vicksburg. It was larger than most of them (which may be hard to tell from the photo). When I made the collage, I tried to shuffle the photos to make it bigger, but Picassa wasn't cooperating.

    @KenP: Thanks for identifying it. There was another four-line poem I liked, but finally settled on this one.

    @Crash: I get 15 days (and two floating holidays). I use a lot of them for long weekends, which work for me. Some of the bridge trips are work (such as Houston last March and San Diego coming up this November).

    I used my SLR for almost all the shots this time. Used the point-and-shoot for US 61 sign, airplane, cotton fields and crop duster.

    I wish I had taken my good camera out for the crop duster as the plane was reasonably far away and I was shooting into the sun.

  6. Note the first collage: it's mostly cannons and graves. The two go together, don't they?

  7. @Crash: Forgot to answer your question about a filter. Yes, I have one. OhCaptain recommended I use it, if only to protect the lens from being scratched.

    I got an UV Haze filter that was mid-range priced, and you can see the description if you click here.

  8. As usual great photos Memphis.

  9. When I was using my old, circa 1970, Pentax Spotmatic SLR, I mostly used a polarizing filter. Reduces glare and brings out nice contrasts between clouds and blue sky. I think it can be used in addition to your UV filter.

  10. Nice shots. I was always peaved that I went to Vicksburg to play poker but didn't have the time to go to the memorial. Still need to make it down to Natchez, so I might have to revisit the town.

  11. I took a look at all your photos.
    You're coming along very nicely.
    I noticed you hardly use wide angle or telephoto (except for the cheetah) and they're such attractive lenses.
    Do you use anything later to alter the contrast and color balance?