April 4 – Vicksburg, Mississippi

On the road by 8:30 A which is good for us – as I like to sit around and watch the Today show until 9 – but we are in the Central time zone and Today comes on an hour earlier because we get SAT TV from the Eastern time zone – so its already prerecorded and I can fast forward thru commercials.

I can tell you Alabama roads are better than Mississippi roads.  Kind of foggy on the way.

We did stop along the way at the Lowndes Interpretative Center (about the Selma to Montgomery March) and it was moving – not moving down the road but emotional – it is so wonderful what MLK and the others sacrificed and did what they did during that time period to have a right-to vote. What an effect they had on the rest of the nation. We did watch the movie and get our stamp. They marched 54 miles for freedom.

I remember Bloody Sunday on the Pettus Bridge and some of the other events that took place when I was younger – but today it is so much more moving and important – and I don’t have to take a test and answer questions – I learn for my own benefit.

It is so sad to think about how racist and evil some men in this country have been – not only to the blacks but to the Indians and the women and now the immigrants – we could learn so much and be so much better.

We did drive thru Selma but didn’t stop. Need to go back again.

This trip was one of our longer ones at 288 miles – broke the 200 rule but I hate to say this but time is getting short and we need to keep our schedule to make it to Alaska – and we lost one day because of the storm.

The weather was so nice today.DSC_0216

Arrived at our campground (Magnolia RV Park) about 4 and got checked in. The sites are tight – close together but livable. We do have grass for the puppies to sit on. The roads are gravel and so is the site but it is level too which makes life happy.IMG_3087

Wednesday weather warm and humid – at least it felt that way. Let’s go exploring. We visited the area Visitor’s Center and picked up some information and then across the street was the Vicksburg Battlefield Historic Site. Did the movie and stamp and toured the building. Will do the tour drive another day.

Lincoln had called Vicksburg the “key” to the South and declared that “this war will not end until that key is in my pocket”.DSC_0027

Vicksburg siege led by General Ulysses Grant took from October 1682 until the surrender by Pemberton in July 1863. When you see all the different angles Grant attached from and how many miles he traveled to make those attacks it is amazing – the willpower to win. The key had been placed in Mr. Lincoln’s pocket.

Headed downtown and walked along the scenic river walkway and viewed the improvements that they had done which looked good.

We toured the Coca-Cola Museum – this is where Biedenharn first bottled Coke in a bottle to supply Coke to the rural people and you know the rest is history. Lots of museums in Vicksburg if interested.

Buildings are old and there are a few that are empty – downtown needs a revitalization.DSC_0063

The mural wall (dike) was quite impressive.

Had lunch at Walnut Hills restaurant- famous for their fried chicken and it was good – they also served in the roundtable style – all you can – but we skipped that due to the amount of food we would have eaten and not felt so good for the rest of the day – don’t eat like I used to.DSC_0065

Stopped at the Soldiers Rest Cemetery in town and was able to locate one of Brenda’s relative’s grave site.

Thursday, oh the weather has cooled off – only in the 50’s this morning. We are off to the National Battle field and to ride the Tour road. It was amazing! The road followed the location of the Union Soldiers and connected to the road that the Confederate Soldiers occupied and fought during the battle of Vicksburg. It was created in 1899. And it allowed each state to build monuments to their soldiers in the location where they were stationed during the battles.

My understanding is that in the early part of the 1900’s soldiers came back and physically located their whereabouts during the Civil War and had it documented.

You can see why this was such a tough battle for the Union, as the confederates were stationed high above the Mississippi River and to the east there were many valleys that the Union soldiers had to climb.

Eventually after a 47 day siege of bombing and withholding supplies from the Confederates, the Union caused the Confederates to surrender on July 4, 1863.

We did see the Ironclad Cairo (Union gunboat sunk by Confederates and sank in 12 minutes with no loss of life) that was salvaged from the Yazoo River 100 years later. Quite an impressive display. It was the first vessel ever sunk from electrically detonated torpedo (mine by today’s standards).

Then we toured the Vicksburg National Cemetery (Brenda has relatives buried there but she didn’t have enough information to find them so we just drove around. This cemetery has the largest (17,000) number of Civil War Union soldiers buried in it.

Lunch at The Tomato Place and had the best ever Fried Green Tomato BLT.

They have a “blues” trail that we sort of followed.

Heard about The Big Muddy – new restaurant and lounge that had live southern music – so we went down and enjoyed Jambalaya, a beer and listened to Andy Hardwick, pianist who was part of The Red Tops and also played with BB King, Fats Domino and the list goes on.

Friday Brenda has been researching her family tree and has discovered family members buried in the Vicksburg NC – so off we go –she did enough research to know where in the park the bodies are laid. I went along with my engineering background and detective skills to find these gravesites. Not a bad morning – we found 6 gravesites scattered around. Please note that the NPS is NOT mowing as much – due to a 12% cut in NPS budget – and the grass was tall and itchy.

We even helped another couple find her uncle who was killed in WWII and she had a picture her mom took when she was a small child next to the tombstone.

That’s when I found out Brenda wasn’t searching for family members but names that could be family members – results to be determined later – but she identified surnames in her family tree in the park.

Did some more sightseeing – looking at some off campus NP sites

and some of the great antebellum architecture of early structures built before the Civil War.

Even found General Pemberton’s (leader of the Confederates) headquarters.

Lots of old houses that have been restored and tours are available on the inside and many are B&Bs.

Saturday is off to Hot Springs, Arkansas to see the National Park.

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