Tuesday, September 30, 2008

29 Sep

There is a fine house in Vicksburg that belonged to Emma Balfour who had her 1862 Christmas ball interrupted by the arrival of the Federal Fleet. So started a series of events that culminated with the siege of Vicksburg. For 47 days the town held out before Gen Pemberton surrendered the starving town to Gen Ulysses S. Grants Union forces. Vicksburg is thus something of a symbol of Southern resistance. The battle lines and the order of march are now preserved as a military park so vast and encompassing that I spent most of the day there. I was surprised how little distance separated the lines – so close that opposing forces called out to each other. Of particular interest was an excellent presentation of a Union iron-clad gunboat, the Cairo, which was sunk by a Confederate mine on 12 Dec 1862. It was raised from the river bottom in the 1960's. It's a huge vessel made from 12” timber covered with 2” of steel and crewed by 175 men.

By mid afternoon I took the quick I20 route to Jackson and hopped onto the Trace at around the 90 mile marker. I was tempted to visit Jackson for its highlights but that is going to have to wait for another day. Right now I am in Kosciusko (birth place of Oprah apparently) at mile marker 160 and about 4 days behind schedule.