Thursday, April 27, 2017

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 325: Visit Vicksburg National Military Park

llinois State Memorial at Vicksburg.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in the Civil War, and I’ve wanted to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park for a long, long time. I’ve had a trip to this famous battlefield on my bucket list for several years, and I finally took the time to make the trip back on March 27. Now that I’ve actually been, it was even better than I’d expected.

My son and I got up early on March 27, which was a Monday, and set out for Vicksburg around 5:15 a.m. We stopped briefly in Meridian for breakfast and got to the park around 10 a.m. We’d been to several of these types of Civil War sites before and knew that the best place to start such visits is at the visitors center.

It should come as no surprise that the Vicksburg National Military Park has a world class visitors center, and my son and I took the time to check out the many historical displays and artifacts that can be seen there. We also took advantage of the center’s comfortable theater, where we watched a movie about the Vicksburg siege and the battle there. Just about everything there, from the movie to the informative displays, emphasized the importance of Vicksburg during the Civil War.

Once you’ve seen the visitors center, the big thing to do next is to take the driving tour of the park, which follows a 16-mile route that begins and ends at the visitors center. Complementary driving tour brochures at the visitors center help get you started, and it’s a tour that you can take at your own pace. My son and I took our time and stopped at all the major locations on the map.

Along the tour route you’ll find numerous monuments and dozens and dozens of old cannons. At particularly important locations, there are places to pull over and informational signs that describe the location and its role in the siege and battle. There are also lots of signs that tell what units were where during the siege with Union units being designated with blue signs and Confederate units being designated with red signs.

We were especially excited to find several markers for the 38th Mississippi Infantry regiment because both of us are directly descended from a member of the 38th Mississippi. These markers gave us the chance to stand where our ancestor stood and to imagine what life for him must have been like during the events at Vicksburg. Thankfully, he survived his experiences there because if he hadn’t someone else would be writing this blog post.

We also took the time to tour the park’s USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum. The Cairo was sunk near Vicksburg in 1862 but was salvaged in 1965. In 1980, the remains of the ship and accompanying museum were opened to the public at the National Military Park in Vicksburg.

In the end, how many of you have been to the Vicksburg National Military Park? What did you think about it? What other Civil War sites would you recommend visiting? Let us know in the comments section below.

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