Sunday, April 28, 2013

Battle of Vicksburg

Vicksburg Battlefield was not that appealing to me before we got there because I thought it was one big siege...not much to see here. Boy was I wrong.

BOTH Presidents, Lincoln and Jefferson Davis said the same thing: "Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South's two halves together...Vicksburg is the key"

So, one day, I went off by myself to scope it out by just going to the Visitor's Center and looking around. After a 30 minute discussion with one of the rangers, I was hooked. The next day I grabbed Kim and off we went to tour the battlefield.

This is the park map. The green is the battlefield area. Vicksburg is the the far right along the Mississippi river.

Battle lines surrounding the city of Vicksburg. Blue is Union, Red line is the Confederate line of defense. Most of the tour takes place in this area.
As we travelled around we noticed many trees blocking our view of the Confederate positions. Turns out the park has a restoration project underwear to restore the park to it's 1863 appearance.

This is the view before restoration. Part I is the photo to the left and Part II is the photo on the right. The Union is to the left and the Confederates are to the right in both photos.

This is the view, after present day restoration, to show how it was during the battle/siege in 1863. Part III is to the left and Part IV is the photo to the right. Notice how very close they were to each other, right across this valley...for over 45 days.

It took some time to understand the different battle lines because all of the Confederate "forts" and fortifications and the trenches that were dug by the Union forces have been eroded flat.

These are the fortifications the Union forces faces when trying to capture them.

The blue marker is how far the Union troops got to the Confederate lines (where I'm standing taking the photo). They started waaaay down to the far right where that white speck is. Then, they tunneled up the slope on the left until they got to this spot.
You are standing at the location of one of the Confederate "forts" looking across the valley at the Union forces. The blue markers in front of you are how close the Union men came to taking this fort. Down that valley, then up into gun fire and cannon. After a few more of these assaults, Grant decided to starve them out.

Some of the cannons used by both sides. Notice how large they are compared to the vehicles.

A trench that has not completely eroded. The walls would've been totally vertical to avoid getting shot by snipers.

Confederates to the left on top of that rise and Union to the right. Again, down and up before engaging the South troops.

This is what the trenches looked like in 1863. These had to be dug by the troops.
View from the Confederate position. The Union got to where those two people are walking to the left before getting repulsed.

Vicksburg National Cemetery encompasses 117.85 acres and includes over 18,000 interments. Graves of Civil War soldiers total 17,077, of which 12,909 are unknown
Vicksburg National Cemetery is the largest internment of Civil War dead in the nation. It is the burial place for nearly 17,000 Union soldiers.

The Confederate troops are buried in the local cemetery which we also visited.

Approximately 5,000 Confederates have been re-interred here, of which 1,600 are identified.
The troops were buried according to the state they were from, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, etc.

Of course there were over 1,300 monuments throughout the park....some small, some very large.

General Grant Monument

General Grant monument - close up.

Monument to the Union Navy who came to land to help man the cannons that shelled the Confederates and the city of Vicksburg.

The Missouri monument is unique as the only state memorial on the battlefield dedicated to soldiers of both armies. The height is symbolic of the forty-two Missouri units, 27 Union, 15 Confederate. It stands where two opposing Missouri regiments clashed in battle.

One thing that has not been mentioned are the trials the citizens of Vicksburg had to endure during the constant bombardment from the Union land troops and the naval vessels off shore on the Mississippi River. They usually lived in caves during the night and tried to go about their lives during the day.

A life-size model in the Visitor's Center of cave life for the citizens of Vicksburg.

The siege/Battle of Vicksburg finally ended on July 4th, 1863 when Confederate General Pemberton surrendered to General Grant because Pemberton's troops were either starving or diseased.

When President Lincoln heard of the victory he said, "The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea."

Some great overview of the Vicksburg Campaign, its importance and Vicksburg history can be found here:

This was, as most battlefields are, very humbling. Amazing what both sides went through. Let's hope we never have another Civil War in this country.

A great stop....we recommend it.

Kim and Steve.

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