Posted by: Kristie | August 2, 2009

Visiting Vicksburg

Since we were heading toward South Carolina and passing through Mississippi, we decided to stop in Vicksburg to check out the Vicksburg National Military Park. The site commemmorates the campaign, seige and defense of Vicksburg during the Civil War. Brett’s great-great-grandfather, Brig. Gen. Michael Kelly Lawler, commanded a Union brigade during the Vicksburg campaign and is now featured at the site with a statue.  

Originally we were going to just stop by on our way to Birmingham, AL and then we realized that at the rate we were moving (between hauling a trailer and driving through rain storms) we weren’t going to make it. We were trying to figure out where to stay so I broke out the book Road Trip USA, which I bought specifically for this trip. The book described Vicksburg as a quaint little town, filled with “posh” antebullem homes, military history and small croquet poles for street signs.  It suggested staying at The Battlefield Inn, describing it as one of the nicest of the hotels off the highway. It sounded unique, the web site looked professional and it accepted dogs for only a $10 extra a night. Vicksburg it was!

My first warning should’ve been that the book’s copyright is 2002. Plus the fact that I used to market tourism, I should’ve known the buzz words.Vicksburg, and The Battlefield Inn, looked like its heyday was in 1982 and it’s been going down ever since. The hotel was fine, much better than the Rodeway Inn the previous night, but not somewhere I’d stay more than one night. Downtown, the decent-looking antebellum homes were peppered among ratty, old casino boats and the Vicksburg “scenic drive” left a lot be desired. Maybe I’m being a little harsh because my expectations were somewhat high. The sad thing is is that it has a lot of potential. Bring in the Main Street Program, some good tourism folks and a couple preservation architects and this could be one Mississippi jewel.

Regardless, the military park was impressive and definitely worth a stop. The park includes a 16-mile tour road, more than 1,300 monuments and a restored Union gunboat. They offer an audio tour CD for $11.95, but we opted to just use the self-guided tour brochure. This site could really benefit from a podcast. 

The tour road was very tourist friendly. Markers placed along the road corresponded with snippets of info in the brochure. The park is riddled with impressive monuments honoring the various states and its soldiers. We found Gen. Lawler’s name in the Illinois Memorial, an incredible structure modeled after the pantheon. Toward the south loop, we located his statue and viewed the trenches where his brigade was stationed.

All in all, it was a good experience, but if you happen to be in the area, I would recommend a stop, not a stay.

Click on the photo below for the Vicksburg photo gallery.

Chillin' with Gen. Lawler

Chillin' with Gen. Lawler

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Responses

  1. We have a very similar picture of Jim, taken some years ago, when we were passing through Vicksburg with the children. When Jim asked a park ranger where we could find the statue, the ranger was absolutely thrilled to death to meet us, assuring Jim that Gen. Lawler was his favorite general! He even excitedly pointed us out to the other park rangers. We stayed at a lovely ante-bellum home but didn’t say to whom we were related after the owner indignantly pointed out bullet holes in the facade. We weren’t diplomats for nothing! 🙂


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