Wednesday, January 09, 2008
The battle and siege of Vicksburg, MS was a pivotal event in the Civil War. General Grant supported by General Sherman with the aid of naval support engaged the Confederate forces encamped at Vicksburg and in a 47 day struggle that forced the surrender of all Confederate forces. This engagement effectively divided the Confederate forces east and west of the Mississippi.
The Military Park preserves much of the ground where these battles occurred. It also has become a place of remembrance and final resting place of 17,000 union soldiers. The viciousness of the Civil War struggles can be seen in the number of unknown soldiers buried here. Of the 17,000 resting here, 13,000 are unknown and their graves are marked with a simple small post with a number engraved on top. In this 47 day struggle alone, there were over 10, 000 Union and 9000 confederate casualties including approx 3000 dead and nearly 4,000 missing!
You can take the 16 mile drive thru the park to understand how and when the various engagements took place. Like other similar military parks, it also contains a large number of monuments erected by the various states honoring their soldier’s sacrifices.
The park also contains a very interesting museum devoted to the USS Cairo; a naval gunship which was part of a flotilla supporting the siege of Vicksburg. It was unlucky enough to be the first naval vessel sunk by an electrically detonated mine. After more than 100 years on the bottom it was recovered with a large number of artifacts that are on display in the museum.
For the history enthusiast, it is the better part of a day well spent.
As for the rest of Vicksburg, it has three casinos and appears to be doing its best to keep things going, but there seems to be a lot of work yet to be done.