Updated: May 4
VICKSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
Without a doubt, the Vicksburg National Military Park is the most visited and well-known of the city's attractions. Its purpose of preserving the site of the Battle of Vicksburg which lasted from March 29 to July 4, 1863, is important to the history of both sides and thousands of soldiers from many states who fought there. But, given the current political climate, the park has chosen to turn the focus toward the artistic significance of 1370 monuments, tablets, and markers scattered throughout the grounds. The park was dedicated in 1903, and a Civil War veteran who visited soon after described it as "the art park of the world." The amazing sculptures and architectural displays deserve to be appreciated because of the skills and talents of those who created them.
An opportunity called "The Art of Commemoration Tour" is now available at the park, and I recommend it highly. You will be given in-depth descriptions and historical insights that would be almost impossible in a self-guided tour.
As an example, the Illinois Memorial was designed by Major William Le Baron Jenney, who was chief engineer for Major General William T. Sherman during the Vicksburg campaign. The 47 steps represent the number of days that Vicksburg was under siege. The eagle above the apex of the portico is five feet high and has a wingspan of 8 feet 6 inches. It should definitely be a place to stop and look closely at all the details.
Your tour guide will be a wealth of knowledge and insight.
CHURCH OF THE HOLY TRINITY and CHRIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Even a good Baptist will enjoy touring these two churches. :)
Church of the Holy Trinity at 900 South Street was built in 1870 and is very proud to have six Tiffany stained glass windows in the sanctuary. That is especially significant when you learn that there are only 11 Tiffany windows in the entire state of Mississippi, and you're able to see six of them in one place.
The nave and tower of Christ Episcopal Church, 1115 Main Street, were constructed between 1839 and 1843. Their brave pastor conducted services in the church every day during the 47-day siege of Vicksburg.
THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER and THE YAZOO RIVER
I learned an amazing fact when I was in Vicksburg. The Mississippi River does NOT run beside the city of Vicksburg. The river you see there is actually the Yazoo River. The Mississippi River brought much commerce to Vicksburg until in ONE DAY'S TIME -- April 26, 1876 to be exact -- it changed its course, and suddenly Vicksburg was river-less. This was a disaster for the town. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started the Yazoo River Diversion Project almost immediately, but it wasn't completed until 1903. At that point, the people of Vicksburg had a functional river port again and access to the Mighty Mississippi.
In 2022, 400 riverboats are expected to make a stop in Vicksburg. What a boost for the economy!
Adding to the beauty of the riverfront are 32 murals by Robert Dafford depicting periods of history and significant events that take place in Vicksburg.
VICKSBURG OLD TOWN TOURS
A very popular option for people who step off those riverboats is a tour showcasing historic Vicksburg -- Vicksburg Old Town Tours. This is a walking tour led by Bertram and Carol Hayes-Davis. The tour is made exceptional by the fact that Bertram is the great-great-grandson of Jefferson Davis, who was President of the Confederacy during the Civil War. He is quick to point out the MANY contributions Jefferson Davis made throughout his lifetime -- not just those 4 years.
DOWNTOWN SHOPS AND ART GALLERIES
Be sure to allow some time for browsing the shops and galleries up and down Washington Street. Especially notice The Attic Gallery and H.C. Porter Gallery. Porter is an internationally-recognized painter, printmaker, and photographer. You'll also find the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum housed in the restored building where Coca-Cola was first bottled in 1894.
I hope I have stirred an interest in visiting this town which is only about a 5-hour drive from North Alabama. I'm really glad I went and hope to get back soon.