I did both a tour of the Main Visitor center and driving tour of the Park plus taking time to check out the USS Cairo Museum and the artillery batteries located on the scenic Mississippi River lookouts.
The park is comprised of four sections, separated by several miles. including Mississippi River front sites (including scenic overlooks of the river).
The main park area is so large it requires a 16 mile driving tour with marked spots along the way including different colors for both Union Army and Confederate Army locations.
Be sure not to take anything from the park or handle/disturb any of the artifacts. Remember also that 17,000 people are buried within the site.
The 1863 occupation and takeover of Vicksburg by the Union Army was the turning point of the War Between the States (1861-1865) and much can be learned of the USA's early struggles less than 70 years following independence from England.
thayer's approach is stop 6 on the vicksburg battlefield tour. on may 22 nd union troops commanded by general john thayer stormed this hill held by the confederates. thayer and his troops were repulsed by confederate fire.
the vicksburg national cemetery was established in 1866 for the internment of union civil war dead. in all there are 17,000 solders buried here of which 13,000 are unknown. later veterans of the spanish american, WWI, WWII, and the korean war were also buried here. the vicksburg national cemetery was closed to burials in 1961.
the u.s.s. cairo was a union ironclad gun boat that was commissioned in january 1862. the cairo was commanded by thomas o. selfridge and was named after the town of cairo illinois. in december 1862 the cairo was patroling the yazoo river and it struck two mines and sank. the cairo was raised 102 years later in 1964. because the cairo sunk in river mud the gun boat is still in very good shape. a very interesting civil war relic to visit at the vicksburg battlefield park.
the rhode island memorial honors the solders that fought at vicksburg from that state. this memorial depicts a solder retreaving a fallen battle flag. the rhode island memorial was sculpted in 1908 by frank edwin elwell.
the wisconsin memorial honors the 9075 troops that fought at vicksburg from that state. this monument is 122 feet tall topped with a statute of "old abe". the "old abe" war eagle is the symbol of the 8 th wisconsin infantry.
this memorial is one of the most impressive in the park. the illinois memorial was built in 1906 out of stone mountain granite. there are 47 steps up to the memorial that represent the 47 days of the siege. this memorial is 62 feet high and is fashioned after the pantheon in rome.
the shirley house is the only surviving structure of the battle of vicksburg in the park. the shirley house was used during the seige as headquarters for the 45 th illinois infantry. currently the shirley house is under renovation.
the michigan memorial honors the solders that fought at vicksburg from that state. the michigan memorial is 37 feet high and is made out of white bethel granite. the memorial was erected in 1916 and was sculpted by herbert adams.
the minnesota monument honors the solders that fought at vickburg for that state. the monument is 90 feet high and is made out of north carolina granite. the memorial was erected in 1907 and was sculpted by william couper.
next to the vicksburg national military park visitor center is the memorial arch. this is the main entrance to the 16 mile driving tour of the park. there a 15 stops on this road which point out important battles during the seige of vicksburg. in the park there are 1330 monuments and statues that honor divisions, brigades, and solders that fought in this conflict.
These pictures show some details about the USS Cairo. Photo 1 shows the hull plating and the cannons sticking through the side; Photo 2 shows the boilers that powered the ship; Photo 3 shows the bridge; Photo 4 shows the device that controlled the movement of the cannons; and Photo 5 shows one of the cannons.
Also worth a visit is the USS Cairo and the small museum associated with it. The USS Cairo was sunk on 12 December 1862. It remained sunk in the Mississippi until it was salvaged in the early 1960s. Many of the artifacts recovered from the ship are on display in the USS Cairo museum.
Another state monument of note is the one for Kentucky. Not because it is the most impressive but because Kentucky had people fighting on both sides during the war. The monument therefore has the Commander in Chief of both Union and Confederate Forces represented.
The most impressive State Monument in the park is probably the one from Illinois. It is also the most famopus and the most photographed. It is located next to the Shirley House which is stop 2 on the driving tour.