Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vicksburg National Military Park - Vicksburg, Mississippi

Martha and I recently visited the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi on our way to Texas for Thanksgiving. I have struggled with posting this blog entry due to the sobering effect it had  on both of us. 

If you reflect on the conflict and do some cursory genealogy you will likely find someone in your family that was on one side or the other of this conflict. 

The Facts

General Ulysses S. Grant was tasked with tanking Vicksburg. Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, was responsible for holding defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Both sides agreed that the Mississippi River was the most vital pipeline for moving men, materials, reinforcements and food to strategic locations.

The campaign consisted of many important naval operations, troop maneuvers, failed initiatives, and eleven distinct battles from December 26, 1862, to July 4, 1863. Military historians divide the campaign into two formal phases: Operations Against Vicksburg (December 1862 – January 1863) and Grant's Operations Against Vicksburg (March–July 1863).

Grant initially planned a two-pronged approach in which half of his army, under Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, would advance to the Yazoo River and attempt to reach Vicksburg from the northeast, while Grant took the remainder of the army down the Mississippi Central Railroad. Both of these initiatives failed. Grant conducted a number of "experiments" or expeditions—Grant's Bayou Operations—that attempted to enable waterborne access to the Mississippi south of Vicksburg's artillery batteries. All five of these initiatives failed as well. Finally, Union gunboats and troop transport boats ran the batteries at Vicksburg and met up with Grant's men who had marched overland in Louisiana. On April 29 and April 30, 1863, Grant's army crossed the Mississippi and landed at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. An elaborate series of demonstrations and diversions fooled the Confederates and the landings occurred without opposition. Over the next 17 days, Grant maneuvered his army inland and won five battles, captured the state capital of Jackson, Mississippi, and assaulted and laid siege to Vicksburg.

After Pemberton's army surrendered on July 4 (one day after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg), and when Port Hudson surrendered to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks on July 9, Texas and Arkansas were effectively cut off from the Confederacy, and the Mississippi River was once again open for northern commerce to reach the Gulf of Mexico, and as a supply line for the Union Army. Grant's Vicksburg Campaign is studied as a masterpiece of military operations and a major turning point of the war. Source - NPS Vicksburg Military Park
(click on any photo for a larger version)

The Military Park

The entire park is a drive through, self guided trip. As you start the journey you will see all sorts of monuments that denote the various states and and military units that participated in the battle. Some of the markers are simple plaques with information about specific units and how many dead, wounded and missing soldiers were claimed as a result of that area of responsibility. Other monuments are extremely ornate and show the names of all that were involved during the battle.

As I said earlier it is sobering. To that end I cannot add much more other than the area that was defended by the confederacy commanded a large area of the Mississippi River strategically. It is difficult to imagine how either side claimed victory on this rugged part of the river. I will let the photos we took tell the rest of the story

The Visitors Center

Through out the park there are monuments erected by the States that were represented in breaking the occupation of the Confederacy in Vicksburg. We saw the Union side of the park and were going to come back the next day to see the Confederate side.  Unfortunately,  our RV had a problem that required our immediate attention so we weren't able to complete the tour. As a result the monuments shown were all from the Union side of the conflict.

The monument in the background was erected by the State of Illinois to commemorate those who fought and fell in Vicksburg.

There were so many monuments and battle line markers it would impractical to post all of the photos we took. I can tell you that this battlefield was very somber an sobering. If you are ever near Vicksburg take the time to see the park and allow yourself a lot of time to see it all.

My next blog entry will be about the Ironside vessel the Cairo which was sunk in the Yazoo river in a battle before Vicksburg. The remains were salvaged and put on display in the Vicksburg Military Park.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are encouraged. Please let us know how we are doing.

Our most recent blog

"Stick Em Up" - Old Tucson Studio and Theme Park

High Chapparral Ranch Set Admittedly I'm old. How old? Let's just say I hold the patent on dirt. I grew up in the 50's whe...