Monday, October 5, 2009

The Vicksburg Battlefield National Park

We took several hours to explore the incredible Vicksburg Battlefield National Park and found it very interesting and moving. Immediately after entering the park, which is right in the Vicksburg area, you move through this very large column which denotes the start of the 16 mile auto tour. The Memorial Arch was built in 1917 after a reunion of some 8,000 veterans of the battle at the battlefield.

There are many, many monuments, statues and displays (over 1,300) that were erected in the early 1900's period to commemorate the battle. Vicksburg was the last of the 5 National Battlefield parks created by Congress in the late 1800's and really brings this battle to life even today.
This monument is typical of the state monuments that commemorate the many sacrifices of the soldiers on both sides. The auto tour moves down the Union lines and then through the Confederate lines. As a result, we could get a great idea where each state's forces were located and how the battle and siege played out.

Artillery played a major role in the 6 week siege that eventually caused the surrender of Vicksburg. The excellent Visitor Center Museum showed how the battle developed and finally was completed.

The Illinois monument was especially moving. This very large marble structure commemorates the Union forces from the state of Illinois.

Inside the memorial, which does not have a roof, is a very moving display of all the names of the 20,000 soldiers from Illinois. These names are listed on bronze tablets that circle the inside of the monument and are seen as the dark band around the wall.

This sample of a tablet of names which surround the walls. It was very interesting to see the many names that made up the large Illinois contingent. Vicksburg is a very interesting national park that really provides insight into the Civil War and the leadership of General Grant.

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