Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Sunday, May 2 –Noticing the weather seemed to be clearing up, we decided to head back to Vicksburg and visit the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Vicksburg National Military Park was established by an act of Congress on February 21, 1899. The Veterans who fought in the Vicksburg campaign worked tirelessly to see that the park was created.

The Union siege lines and Confederate defensive lines were marked during the first decade of the 20th century by many of the veterans who fought at Vicksburg, thus making Vicksburg National Military Park one of the most accurately marked military parks in the world.


At the gate, I asked for and purchased my America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands SENIOR Pass. This grants a 50% discount for Marsha and I to all National Parks....One good result of being 62...LOL Not a bad $10 investment, especially since they then did not charge us the $8 to get into the Park....WOW!

We followed the 16-mile tour where exhibits and a cell phone audio program explained the campaign and siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War. There are hundreds of markers honoring the soldiers who gave their lives from various states during the civil war. We were surprised to see the numerous markers honoring Ohio soldiers. They made quite a contribution to the North's siege of Vicksburg.



A couple of more neat Ohio statues.

All the other Union and Confederate States had at least one statue. The state of Missouri contributed 27 Union units and 15 Confederate units to the Vicksburg campaign.

Here are just a few examples.





There are still trenches that can be seen. They usually were 7 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep.



The Shirley House was owned by James and Adeline Shirley and is the only wartime structure remaining inside Vicksburg National Military Park, and was referred to as the 'white house' by Federal soldiers during the siege.  It was near the Shirley House that mining operations against the Confederate forts guarding Jackson road were initiated.


Through out the park are markers – Red for confederate and Blue for Union forces – showing the artillery and infantry positions for both forces.

Did you know…President Abraham Lincoln, in speaking of Vicksburg's importance, is reputed to have stated early during the Civil War, "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."

They have CS for Confederate State and US for Union State. Really nice idea.



Marsha picked up on this one. She asks, “See anything interesting about this sign?” I say, “No.” She says, “Thanks a lot. It is my birthday, June 2.” So silly of me.


Marsha and I were amazed how close these forces ended up in some situations – often within 50 feet!

Looking up from the Union side, you can see how close sharp shooters were to the cannons. I’d never do that!


From the Confederate side, a cannon’s eye view of how close the sharp shooters would stand. This is crazy!


The National Cemetery is in the park also. Embracing 116 acres it is the final resting place of 17,000 Union Soldiers, largest Civil War burial ground in the Nation. The cemetery was established in 1866 and burials began in early 1867.

Upright headstones with rounded tops mark the graves of known soldiers. Small, square blocks, incised with a grave number only, designate the unknown veterans, and a few graves are marked by other than government-issued headstones.

Confederate dead from the Vicksburg campaign were originally buried behind Confederate lines throughout the city. They were later re-interred in the Vicksburg City Cemetery (Cedar Hill Cemetery), in a section specially set aside and called "Soldiers' Rest." There are approximately 5,000 Confederates interred there, of which 1,600 are identified.





Fort Hill was the anchor of the left flank of the rear Confederate defense line. The fort's position was so strong that the Union Army did not even attempt an attack during the assaults of May 19 and 22. Overlooking the Mississippi River and the water battery located on the bank below, Fort Hill commanded the bend in the river north of the city.



The cannons were very interesting. They are placed throughout the park in direction they were aimed during the War.





The U.S.S. Cairo (pronounced K-row) was one of seven ironclad gunboats named in honor of towns along the upper Mississippi and Ohio rivers. These powerful ironclads were formidable vessels, each mounting thirteen big guns (cannon). On them rested in large part, Northern hopes to regain control of the lower Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two.

The USS Cairo was only in service for 11 months before making history as the first U.S. marine vessel to be sunk by an electronically denotated mine.

Over the years the gunboat was soon forgotten and her watery grave was slowly covered by a shroud of silt and sand.

Don Jacks and Warren Grabau, set out to discover the grave of the Cairo in 1956. Local enthusiasm and interest began to grow in 1960. A decision was made to cut the Cairo into three sections. By the end of December the battered remains were put on barges and towed to Vicksburg. In the summer of 1965 the barges carrying the Cairo were towed to Ingalls Shipyard on the Gulf Coast in Pascagula, Mississippi. There the armor was removed, cleaned and stored. The two engines were taken apart, cleaned and reassembled.



Piston for the paddles.


One of the cannons.


Boilers. Paul is in the background.


Ironclad side


See more pictures of the Cairo here.

If you enjoy reading and looking at pictures of the Civil War like Marsha does, check out these links.


Troops in the Campaign, Siege, and Defense of Vicksburg.

Order of Battle – Confederate

 Order of Battle - Union

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