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May 07

Vicksburg National Military Park: Vicksburg is the Key

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Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates one of the key battles of the American Civil War.  Vicksburg was the South’s last strong point along the Mississippi River and with its fall to the Union forces the United States once again had control of the Mississippi River splitting the south into two.
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The Siege of Vicksburg along with Battle of Gettysburg set in motion the downfall of the Confederacy and the preservation of the Union.  Anytime I get to step foot on something that I will teach about in my class is always a thrill for me because it is no longer just pages in a book or pictures from the internet it becomes real.  I wish we all could spend a little bit more time in the historical places we learned about in school to help us remember the sacrifice and great tribulation that those before us went through to bring us into our present state.
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To understand the setup of the Vicksburg National Military Park one must know a little bit about U.S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign.  For a while the Union forces tried and were unsuccessful at disloging the Confederacy from the river fortress of Vicksburg.  So in April 1863 Grant came up with a new strategy which required a surpise landing southeast of Vicksburg at Bruinsburg, Mississippi and attacked the South’s Joseph E. Johnston’s army near Jackson.  After winning that battle Grant moved his way back east towards Vicksburg where he fought and won several more battles on his way to Vicksburg.  After two frontal assaults failed resulting in heavy causalities Grant decided to besiege the Southern forces.  After 47 days the Confederate Army surrendered and the North was back in complete control of the Mississippi River.
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Vicksburg National Military Park and National Cemetery is a large military park with 90 acres of land, a 16-mile tour road, 1,325 monuments and markers, 20 miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, 144 cannons placed throughout the park, and a partially restored ironclad steamship called the USS Cairo.  Karen and I recommend a minimum of 4 hours in the park, but you can easily spend a full day there.
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When you are visiting we highly recommend stopping by the visitor center to see the 18-minute orientation film along with getting the auto-tour information which was basically a phone number you called.  Along the tour route we would punch in certain numbers and it would tell us all about what happened there during the battle. This information really helped Karen and I visualize what went down during the Siege of Vicksburg.  Besides getting the auto-tour number and the video there are several dioramas and artifacts to look at to help give you a feel for what it was like during the siege.
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One of the neatest things to see was the USS Cairo an ironclad gunboat that was sunk about seven miles north of Vicksburg in the Yazoo River.  In the 1970s after a previous attempt to lift the USS Cairo from its muddy grave failed the U.S. Congress allowed the National Park Service to accept title to the USS Cairo and restore it so it could be displayed at the Vicksburg National Military Park.  The USS Cairo is now proudly displayed towards the end of the 16-mile tour road along with the USS Cairo Museum which houses a number of artifacts found when they raised the USS Cairo from the bottom of the Yazoo River.  Make sure you spend some time taking in the ship and museum both Karen and I could not get over the fact of just how big of a ship it was.
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Vicksburg National Military Park is well worth the time and effort to get to when in the South.  Everything about the park was well done, informative, and tastefully appropriate.  The monuments and statues really make for a moving experience and seeing the names on the walls and plaques and reading and hearing about it really hits home.  It is a great place to fall in love with history and is definitely a must see.

To read about other historical sites like the Vicksburg National Military Park click here

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Vicksburg National Military Park
Located at 3201 Clay St. Vicksburg
Hours of Operation: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Cost as of this Posting: $8.00 per vehicle or $4.00 per individual
For more information visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm

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  1. freda

    Very informative. Kenny I think I need you for my tour guide.

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