We took a side detour from the Natchez Trace to visit Vicksburg and its National Military Park.
The first night was nerve-wracking, because there was a tornado warning for hundreds of miles around us. Leaving was not an option. Everyone from the visitors center to the campground warned us to find a place, just in case we received a warning. So the night in our van was largely sleepless, listening to heavy rain and being buffeted by high winds. Luckily, the tornados that did occur were not near us.
Saturday, January 10, 2020 was our day of museum visits – all the civil war, Vicksburg, and Mississippi information one can digest. We started at The Old Courthouse Museum with its eclectic collections of war memorabilia to household items, including huge sets of teacups, dolls, and old clothing. With each item was a placard indicating the history of the item and the names of the family members who donated the item. Undoubtedly the recognition added to the ease of obtaining the contributions!
We watched a reenactment of a post-civil war speech by President Jefferson Davis – he was not apologetic.
We saw a lot of history about the flags of the Confederacy, and later saw lots of examples flying throughout the south.
We also visited the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum of the US Army Corps of Engineers. Although Vicksburg was a very important river port during the Civil War, for about a quarter of a century it lost its frontage on the Mississippi. There was a sudden, one day change in the course of the river in 1876. We heard various theories about how it could happen – an earthquake, or maybe flood waters receding – but no one seemed to have a definitive answer! In the early 20th Century the Army Corps dug a tunnel extending the Yazoo River to restore Vicksburg’s frontage.
This museum also houses Motor Vessel Mississippi IV in dry dock. The ship and museum display a complex plan to control the mighty Mississippi River. There is an outdoor flood model displaying the river and levee system. Finally, the Old Depot Museum on Levee Street, right on the river, houses many ship models of riverboats and other ships.
Our dinner was at the casino, where they serve traditional southern dishes.