Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May 21, 2013. Rest day at Vicksburg, MS

This day started with the best breakfast ever, prepared and served by Bobbye and Phil.  This was the first time Tom has been allowed to prepare the Turkish Coffee he so enjoys. Bobbye liked it too!

After breakfast Bobbye and Phil came out on the back porch and struck a pose wearing Diana's hats.

We said goodbye to Fred, Otis, Tom and Diana here, as they head out, first to Tom's place in Tennessee, then home to Michigan.

Bill, Ed, Dianne and I loaded up and headed to Vicksburg for the day. First we dropped off the trailer in the hotel parking lot--I was quite surprised to see my name at the front desk when I walked in! Quality Inn has a random drawing for "guest of the day" every day, and I am it! As you can see, I have a hat too--Diana had a very good idea way back in Tennessee, and I wore mine all day today in the hot sun.

Vicksburg National Military Park is right across the street from our hotel. We watched a short film and bought a CD tour in the visitors center. This park encompasses over 1700 acres, with a 17-mile narrated tour, and it covers only 2/3 of the actual battlefield of the Civil War Battle of Vicksburg. The forts, trenches and redans have placards telling of the battles that took place here from late May to July 4, 1863.

The first section we drove through was the USA line--each of the northern states erected a monument to those from that state who fought and died here. Above is the Minnesota monument, and below is Michigan's.

The Shirley family home is the only building from the Civil War era within the park. The family were slave owners, but were Union sympathizers, and their son joined the US Army here.

The US soldiers dug trenches and tunnels to move around unseen by the CSA forces, which were sometimes within shouting distance of them. One such tunnel has been preserved and reinforced with brick.

The "Ironsides" ship USS Cairo was torpedoed by the CSA and sunk in the nearby Yazoo River during the siege of Vicksburg.  Almost 100 years later it was recovered. It is now on display under a tent within the park, and recovered artifacts are on display in a museum here.

After the war was over, the US soldiers buried on the battlefield were disinterred and reburied in a cemetery within the park. Below is a company from Iowa, with the larger markers (on the right) commemorating identified casualties and the smaller markers on the left denoting unidentified Union soldiers. This cemetery covers 116 acres and contains the graves of nearly 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers and more than 1200 veterans of later wars.

After touring the cemetery we entered the area held by the CSA during the Battle of Vicksburg. There were several memorials from states that had companies fighting for both the Union and the Confederacy.

Kentucky's memorial includes a statue of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, both native sons of Kentucky and opposing presidents during the Civil War.

Overall, there are more than 1300 memorials and statues within this park. It was a sobering experience walking the same hills upon which Americans killed and maimed other Americans in this bloody battle.

We left the Vicksburg National Military Park and drove to the nearby Soldier's Rest within Vicksburg City Cemetery, where the Confederate dead were reburied after the war.

There are 5,000 CSA soldiers buried here, with some areas marked by the states they came from. Each marker bears the name, unit, the notation "CSA" and birth and death date. What a terrible time in our history.

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