Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Day Out at Vicksburg National Park, Mississippi

Despite all my trips to the States, I’d never visited a Civil War battle site.   I know nothing about the war that wasn’t picked up from watching ‘The Red Badge of Gayness’ episode of South Park, which I’m almost proud of, but probably shouldn’t be.  I’m not entirely sure how accurate it was, so I’m going to assume not at all.  

What I DO know is that the war was fought between the North and the South and that it killed more Americans that all the other conflicts they’ve been in involved in combined   Given it was a Civil War and they were fighting against each other, it’s probably not that much of a shock.   Still, that doesn’t change the fact that the losses were massive and it’s a very dark episode in the history of the US.   However, it did ensure that the Union remained in tact and it also signalled the end of slavery.  

Vicksburg's location on the mighty Mississippi River, and the tactics employed by Ulysses S Grant’s Union Army, made the Battle of Vicksburg one of the most remarkable of the War. 

Vicksburg memorials
Vicksburg graves
Illinois Memorial 
The sheer scale of the park is also remarkable and you can buy a buy a ticket at the entrance (you need one for your car as well as each individual if you’re planning to drive round the battlefield) and then head into the visitor centre to get a bit of background and tune in to the movie.    After you’ve done this, you can jump back into you car and head through the Memorial Arch and into the park.    As I said, we’d never been to a battlefield before, so we had no idea just how long it would take to drive round.   The area is really peaceful, and you can hop in and out of the car to take photos.   The drive is so well maintained and there are stones and monuments from practically every state, which commemorate those that lost their lives.  

One of the most impressive areas is the space around Pemberton’s Headquarters, where Lieutenant General Pemberton guided the Confederate Army operations.   My personal favourite is the Illinois Temple Memorial building.  Apart from the fact that it’s absolutely massive, it’s also stunning.  

The beautiful Illinois Memorial interior

If you’re interested in learning about the history of the US, Vicksburg is a great way to build up your knowledge and find out more about the struggles of the Civil War.    It's also a great way to spend an afternoon, as it was for us before we motored on up to Memphis. 

Have you been to Vicksburg?   I'd love to hear about your experience!

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