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John B. Deitz
Friday, 12 August 2005. Vicksburg
to Trenton, Georgia
We visited the
Vicksburg Military Park first thing in the morning, riding around the
park a bit and stopping at several of the monuments and the USS Cairo
Located high on the bluffs, during the Civil War Vicksburg was a
fortress guarding the Mississippi River. It was known as "The Gibraltar of
the Confederacy." The Vicksburg campaign was
waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863. Capturing Vicksburg was crucial
to the Union forces, as it would virtually assure Union control of the
entire Mississippi River and sever the western Confederate states from the
main body of the South. At the end, 47 days of Union siege
operations against Confederate forces defending the city of Vicksburg
lead to its surrender.
The present day sterility of the park makes it hard to appreciate the
havoc and death of the actual assault and siege of Vicksburg, both on the
civilians and the soldiers of both sides.
Left. Illinois Monument with the wonderful reverberating echo inside the
Above. Part of the Vicksburg National Cemetery.
All the monuments and graves seemed to be Union
soldiers. I wonder where memorials to the Confederate soldiers are?
The Cairo was sunk by the
Confederate forces during the siege of Vicksburg. It was
raised in 1964 and became a part of the Military Park.
John D. Smith, Jr., was a "coal heaver" on the Mississippi River
USS Benton of the Army's Western Gunboat Flotilla. He
served on the gunboat for most of 1862, and was involved in several
engagements, including the captures of Island Number Ten, Fort
Pillow and Memphis. During the Summer, the Benton was in
action with the Confederate ironclad
Arkansas near Vicksburg, and participated in an expedition up
the Yazoo River at Vicksburg.
While the Benton was of a
different class, I'm sure the horrible living and work conditions of
the crew were no better. He would have worked below deck in a
very hot, cramped space keeping the boilers fired. After only
one year, he was taken seriously ill and discharged. Seeing
the Cairo gave me a greater appreciation of what he had to endure.
Our last view of "the West" across the Mississippi River as we
continue to head east and home.
Notice how low the Mississippi River is
The trip across Mississippi and Alabama on I-20, then I-59 east of
Birmingham, was the same monotony as the trips
across the desert southwest, except that the forest didn't allow any
vistas. Only in northern Alabama on I-59 did it get "purdy" again.
Trenton, GA is tucked away in the northwest corner of Georgia, to the
southwest of Chattanooga, TN. The motel seemed to be popular with
bikers (both the motorized and pedal type), hang gliders, hikers, and
general outdoorsy folks. One motorcycling couple from Birmingham
claims the area has some of the best riding roads around. Did not
get around to dinner until nearly 9 p.m., and was able to find only one
restaurant still open. Mediocre food.
We decided to cancel the reservation for Saturday night at Waynesboro, VA,
since we had decided to take until Monday to get back, and didn't need to
bust our chops with a very long day of travel, but rather stop when we
felt like it.
|Distance: About miles
||Accommodation: Days Inn (no WiFi)
23 October 2007