Vicksburg

Today the weather has held and allowed me to complete my visit to the Vicksburg Military Park. The capture of Vicksburg was critical to the Union strategy of splitting the Confederacy and dominating the Mississippi River. Prior to the final campaign several attempts to advance on Vicksburg were attempted and failed. However, in Grant’s successful campaign Grant he crossed below Grand Gulf and then advanced northeast. A series of battles followed, where Union success would eventually resulted in the Siege of Vicksburg. As pre-reading I would highly recommend Arnold’s “Grant Wins The War: Decision at Vicksburg”. It places the campaign and siege in context.

Today the Vicksburg Military Park encompasses both the Union and Confederate lines and the various assaults and trenches that were developed. Unfortunately, there are many more trees on the park than there were in 1863, which detracts from an understanding of events and terrain. However, in several parts visibility remains good. Further accessibility to portions of park are limited by extremely long grass which you are advised to stay out of due to the local wildlife.

These points aside there are some areas where visibility is excellent. One such part is the area around what is today called Battery De Golyer.

Above and below two of four sections of the battery which today comprises a total of 18 guns. Historically 22 guns were massed here.

In a central position the battery was opposite the Confederate Great Redoubt and diagonally opposite the Third Louisiana Redan. In the photo below the Great Redoubt is marked by the left monument while the Third Louisiana Redan is around two thirds of the way to the right. The right monument is the Illinois Monument and marks the advancing saps near the old Jackson Road.

Below, the Illinois Monument sits behind the advancing Union lines that push forward to the Third Louisiana Redan. In the background is the Shirley House, which is the only surviving structure on the field. Blue markers denote Union positions while red Confederate.

From the position above the Jackson Road passes to the left and then continues to Rebel lines where it passes in front and then to the side of the Third Louisiana Redan, the remains of the Redan are shown below.

Here a Confederate 20 Pound Parrot Rifle is positioned on the left. You will note the blue sign between the two Confederate cannon. This was the location of the crater nearest the Confederate line after the detonation of a mine around the 25th of June. The walls of the Redan were 12 feet high and 24 feet thick. The Jackson road passes in front and then to the right, though not shown in this photo.

Below, a view from the Confederate Great Redoubt. The Union battery position is visible in the distance. The Third Louisiana Redan is to the left and between the two the Jackson Road passes.

Further north we came to Sherman’s sector.

Below, the Stockade Redan can be seen in the centre distance. An attack here on the 19th of May was repulsed. Following this, like many sectors, saps were dug towards the enemy lines. Below, the blue markers that generally follow the road mark a series of trenches dug toward the Redan. In this case it is called “Ewing’s Approach”.

Below, a view from the Confederate Stockade Redan towards the Union line. The line of approach is clearly visible here. Other lines are also visible in the distant left.

The Vicksburg Military Park is of course very different to the other Battlefield Parks I have visited on this trip, being a park focussed on the siege rather than a battle. As such it is important to consider the time frames involved. The terrain is somewhat rugged and in the heat of a Mississippi summer the conditions must have been unbearable for all involved.

While there are several other forts and redoubts for the visitor to explore I hope these few photos prove of some interest and provide an overview for the reader.

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