Friday, September 11, 2009

Vicksburg, MS

Another famous Civil War battlefield. I've found every battlefield thinks it was a key strategic point in the war. But the taking of Vicksburg by the Union did allow the Mississippi to finally be under Union control which probably was a major point in the war.

Vicksburg did see battle, but mostly it was a seige which lasted 47 days. Here is an example of the earthworks and fortifications which the Confederates built around the town of Vicksburg in anticipation of Grant's attack.

The Shirley house. Built in the 1830s it was a prominent site on the battlefield, just outside the fortified city. Although the house was riddled with bullet holes and shells, it was still standing at the end, but it was never occupied again by the owners. During the battle the owners moved out, first to a cave below on the hill, then several miles away to a slave shack. The park service first restored the house in 1902 and it was used until 1960. It has sat vacant since then and is in bad need for repair.

There are more memorials on this battlefield than any other battlefield I read. I don't know if it is true, but every state represented, every unit and regiment represented has a monument. This is the largest, dedicated to the men of Illinois who fought this battle. Inside are inscribed the names of every Illinois soldier who was here.

I am standing behind a Union cannon, but you can see along the hill across the way the Confederate cannons aimed at where I am standing. This is how they fought, actually seeing close up who they were shelling and shooting.

General Grant had his headquarters in this area and so of course his memorial is located here.

But I enjoyed the exhibit on the U.S.S. Cairo best. One of 7 ironclad ships built for the Union, it was sank in 1962, not far from here on the Yazoo River. It hit a torpedo (mine), which was deadinated from the shore by Confederate soldiers. In only 12 minutes it was sunk, but there were no casualties. In 1964 it was finally raised after several failed attempts. It has been restored to what you see. Most of the ships contents are inside the visitor center.

George Yost was only 15 when he signed as a sailor on the U.S.S. Cairo.

Downtown I saw this old car and the people dressed accordingly. They graciously let me take their picture and said they were in town for a classic car show.

This was the courthouse from 1858 until 1939. It is now a museum.

The house which General Pemberton took over as his headquarters during the battle and seige.

The old railroad station down on the banks of the river.

The Corps of Engineers has one wall of the levee marked with flood heights and dates. Note there are 2 marks for 1927. The first is where the water would have risen if the levees had held. But they did not and the waters flooded a large area in the spring. The waters did not recede until August, some months later. It is considered to be one of the worst floods in the history of the Mississippi River. Over 700,000 people had to be evacuated and relocated. Several hundred people lost their lives in the flood.

The sea wall, actually I guess it is a river wall, has been painted with murals, some just colorful, others show the history of the area. Here is the steamboat Sultana after loading over 2500 released Union prisoners. They were on their way upstreat to Cairo, IL, but never made it. The boilers blew up and 1700 people were killed making this one of the worst maritime disasters ever.

Vicksburg is the site of the first bottled Coca Cola product in 1894. The owner of this pharmacy and fountain store sent a case to the then owner of Coca Cola, but the owner was not interested, thinking there was no place for his product in a bottle. The Vicksburg proprietor continued to bottle the coke and delivered it locally for many years. Five years later several lawyers in Chattanooga, TN, convinced Mr. Candler, owner of Coca Cola, to see them the exclusive bottling rights for coke for $1. Of course, the exception to the exclusive was Vicksburg where it was already being bottled.

There was no train bridge across the Mississippi River until 1930. From 1885 until 1930 trains crossed using a train ferry.

Everyone knows the Teddy Bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt. And some might even know the story of how Teddy went on a bear hunt and his guide captured a bear and tied it to a tree, then presented it to Mr. Roosevelt to shoot. Mr. Roosevelt refused to shoot at a captive bear, not thinking it was sporting (Mr. Roosevelt was an accomplished huntsman and sportsman). A political cartoonist drew the episode and it was published in newspapers. Hence the term Teddy Bear and its association with Theodore Roosevelt. What I did not know was the entire episode occured just outside of Vicksburg, MS.

Just a small section of some of the more colorful paintings. This was part of the very first mural painted on the wall.

Vicksburg was known as the 'King of Cotton'. The cotton sold out of Vicksburg was known world wide for its high quality. The proximity of railroad, river, fertile fields, as well as the high quality of cotton grown in the area all contributed in making Vicksburg the 'King of Cotton'.


Barbara and Ron said...

Love the murals!

firesign58 said...

Love the pictures of the area south of New Orleans. I don't recall it being so deserted everywhere. Maybe it's just the pictures - you might have taken them deliberately with no people in them. It's beautiful but haunting too. And Vicksburg is a very well known battlefield, at least it is in the South - and I know what you mean about lots of memorials. Gettysburg is the same way. But Gettysburg receives about 100 times the visitors every year! One would not expect such at Vicksburg.