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50 States, Day 314

  Vicksburg Battlefield, 28 Miles

"Motivation is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot."
~Jim Rohn

Sometimes it just hits you. All day long you study a battlefield and see the ravages of war. You'd think you'd be ready for it. But it smacks you right upside the head and the pain and ruination of a war shatter your defenses. This picture did it for me. 

Look at him. Imagine yourself, or any kid, age ten. Put a uniform on him and send him to war. How awful is that?

And he wasn't the only one, either. This one is the youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor. And we wonder when our kids are going to grow up. 

Vicksburg was a huge key to success in the Civil war, as it controlled the Mississippi River. The Union wanted it badly,  if they could control it, they would split the South in half. All the battlefields we've visited, I have been impressed with the tenacity of the South. Yet the Union failed two times before a concerted effort brought them- nothing. General Grant's troops failed to overcome the South's superior position. Meanwhile Sherman, his associate, tells him that it's hopeless. Finally the North just gets in position and hammers the fortresses for forty-seven days, until sick and hungry, the Confederates raised the white flag. Not before twenty-thousand casualties, total both sides.

Being a contractor, I loved working under deadlines, either a bonus for finishing early or punishment for finishing late. During the war, Lincoln contracted for seven ships to be built in 100 days, or the penalties ensued. Two companies cooperated and got the job done. Those ships, ironclads, were sent downriver right past Vicksburg. Miraculously, all made it past except for the Cairo, with 138 men onboard. She hit a mine and sunk in twelve minutes but without a single loss of life. A hundred years after the war, a salvage operation raised the ship and  it was- well, not quite restored but still on display. Very intriguing! While it took serious study to determine what was the old ship, what was refurbished and what was support beams, it was awesome to see a huge relic from the Civil War.  

With the iron cladding and thirteen cannon jutting from the side, the ships must have struck fear in the enemy, as they floated downriver like huge, hungry alligators. 

And now, enough war, the queen of peace, Quilter Girl!

Vicksburg was very interesting, different from any other battlefield we have seen.  High ground was important to strategy and the Confederates had that.  We are learning as we tour these battlefields, I almost understand what happened.  The Visitor's Center had a great narrated map with red and blue lights that showed troop movements.  What the map didn't show was the terrain.  We rode up hills and down, first on the Union road then on the Confederate road.  Each road was lined with monuments erected by states to honor the soldiers that fought from their states.  The Union monuments are more elaborate and numerous because the war didn't decimate the economy of the North.  It took the Southern states time before there was money for monuments.  The siege of Vicksburg lasted six weeks and affected the residents of the town as well as the soldiers.  The aftermath was not easy on the town either, property was seized and loyalty oaths were demanded.  

Dinner tonight was at Goldie's Trail Bar B Que.  It was okay, I am getting picky about my BBQ and this wasn't the best.  We still cleaned our plates.


Gorgeous weather today, and the roads would have been perfect for some sport bike riding- except is was a national battlefield. We realized when we got back tonight, we forgot to tour downtown Vicksburg. Dur! We'll check it out and ride the Natchez Trace Parkway to Natchez tomorrow. 


Mel said...

Glad to hear you both cleaned your plates at Goldie's Trail Bar B Que. Goldie might have had you doin' dishes or moppin' floors if'n you hadn't!

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

We're a gittin' ta be barbecue snobs, so if it ain't great, we ain't happy. But we ate it all. Now I need to exercise...

Karla Akins said...

Did you get to see any caves the families hid in during the siege? I am fascinated with Vicksburg's role in the Civil War. Such heroism on both sides from the women as they cared for their children! Amazing stuff. Thanks for posting!

................................ Kevin Parsons said...

We didn't see the caves, but learned about them. Must have been a horrible 47 days, locked down in the town, an unending barrage of cannon and guns.