By the numbers:
- 21 miles around the battlefield and town of Vicksburg MS – 3630 miles for the trip.
- highest temp: about 89 but we are finally getting acclimated so it felt pretty comfortable most of the day.
- No new states, license plates or parks.
Spent an interesting and relaxing day mostly at the Vicksburg National Military Park.
Between my own interest in history, our time in Washington DC and area, visits to historic places, and just generally my long standing interest in the history of civil rights, I feel reasonably well versed in civil war history. However, there is always more to learn. I don’t get particularly excited about all of the military strategic facts which tend to dominate the histories of these sites. However, trying to understand the bigger societal issues going on and trying to put myself in the place of the people involved in historical events is what I tend to find myself trying to do. Today, that effort to put ourselves in the shoes of the participants took on a special significance. Peg’s Great Great Grandfather, David Underhill, and 4 of his brothers all served in the Union army during the Civil War. They enlisted with regiments from 4 different states: New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. 3 of those 5 brothers were here at Vicksburg. After the Civil War memorials and road markers were put up all around the area for each regiment that served here. We found the plaques listing the individual soldiers for 2 of the 3: Monroe and Arnold.
One of the brothers, Arnold, was wounded here, died shortly after, and was buried in the National Cemetery here. We found his grave marker. If anyone ever thinks genealogy is not hard work today proved that wrong. The graves here are lined up along tiers of ground in the hills over which the battles were fought. The one we were looking for was several tiers down from the main road. After trying to climb down the tiers and barely making it back up we sought another way around and ended up walking almost half a mile to get all the way around the hill to the marker.
The other insight for me was when we stopped at the large memorial put up by the state of Illinois for all the Illinois soldiers who served here. I don’t often think about the fact that I was born in Illinois, but today for some reason that fact struck me. If I had been born 110 years earlier I would possibly have been one of those soldiers listed here.
I found the state of Illinois’ statement about the war very eloquent.
“The People of Illinois, free of malice and full of charity, dedicate this monument as a memorial temple to enduring harmony and peace, and as a shrine at which all may again and again renew their consecration to loyal citizenship and gather inspiration to the most unselfish and exalted patriotism.”
Seems to me our current political environment could benefit from a few more people with this attitude.
Also I saw one of those business message boards today with a different piece of advice about attitude which I liked. Advice I have needed at times in my life and which I think many people would benefit from occasionally:
“A bad attitude is like a flat tire.
You aren’t going anywhere until you change it.”
Tomorrow we are seeing a a couple of parks on our way south to New Orleans or N’aw-lins.
P.S. – credit for all pictures goes to my lovely wife.