"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
pocket." -- 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?