The Battle of Iuka: “General Grant was dead drunk and couldn’t bring up his army. I was so mad when I first learned the facts that I could have shot Grant if I would have hung for it the next minute.”

Iuka, MS:  After we left the warm Florida coast and Olustee, Moose and I continued our trip home from visiting my aunt and I made the snap decision to cut west and visit the site of the battle of Iuka, in Iuka, Mississippi.  We found The Victorian Inn online and reserved a room soon after we left Olustee.  The direct route back to Kansas City would have taken me through Atlanta, Nashville and up to St. Louis and over to Kansas City.  There were many sites in Atlanta that would rate a visit, but I feel that we will make the Atlanta area subject of their own feature visit.  Since I was trying to make it home in time to attend a job fair, I wanted to visit a relatively easy to tour site.  I had previously called the Tishomingo History Museum and asked about touring in the area.  The gentleman on the phone was extremely gracious and helpful.  He also gave me a great piece of advice.  He told me “Do not make a special trip to Iuka.”  Now since this a travel magazine, I feel it is important to pass that on to you, the reader.  Do not make a special trip specifically to Iuka!  After the historical narrative, I will tell you the best way to tour Iuka.

I like to open each article with a quote in regards to the military action that occurred there.  Here at the Battle of Iuka, speculation would grow as to Major General Grant’s fitness to lead troops in battle.  Here rumors would spread, perhaps unjustly.  I am not a General Grant detractor and I tend to follow General Eisenhower’s assessment of General Grant.  But the opening quote from Federal Captain William Stewart of the 11th Missouri does lead one to speculate.  I do tend to believe that Grant suffered from migraine headaches and Grant’s reputation as a drunkard was something that was propagated by his pre-war isolation off the frontier Army.    

The Battle of Iuka occurred in September of 1862 and had some significant strategic implications.  If you recall what was happening in the late summer and early autumn of 1862, the Confederate Army was on the offensive.  General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were on the march in Maryland and General Braxton Bragg was also on the offensive in an attempt to bring Kentucky into the Confederacy’s fold.  There is a significant amount of academic speculation that leads one to believe that a Confederate victory on Northern territory in the late Summer, would have brought Great Britain into the war on the Confederate’s behalf. At the very least, it would have caused the British Navy to lift the Federal blockade of the southern coast.  Previous to the Battle of Iuka, there was concern among Federal command that Confederate Major Generals Sterling Price and Earl Van Dorn had resolved to march north to join Braxton Braggs forces now operating in Kentucky.  With Bragg’s forces, the addition of Price’s and Van Dorn’s forces would have given the Confederates enough to of a punch to defeat Federal forces under Major General Don Carlos Buell’s forces defending Kentucky.  So, with all that in play, Iuka was no longer an obscure and remote battle in a secondary theater, Iuka now took center stage in that horrid opus the American Civil War, and the stakes could not have been higher. 

As stated, Moose and I were on our way home from a family emergency in Florida and a stop in at the Victorian Inn in Iuka, Mississippi brought an end to 13 hours of drive time.  The time had been increased by a stop at the Olustee State Historical site in Florida, and a traffic stop in Georgia, thank you Deputy for not being quick to write a ticket.  All that said, I tend to prefer to travel via automobile instead of flying for a couple of reasons.  The first is that the act of flying will generally burn a day either way.  Between travel time to the airport, your special one-on-one pat down with your favorite TSA agent, waiting in security, picking up luggage and the time and expense of a rental car, you generally have wasted a day.  With the road trip, you have your own vehicle, the cost of travel is dramatically reduced, you can stop along the way and the drive is actually beautiful.  Often when I drive long stretches, regardless of what music is being played on the radio, my mind cuts to that scene from “Forrest Gump” where Forrest “just ran…”,  complete with the song “Running on Empty” playing in my mind.  For me, the road trip is therapy and the ascetics of a drive off the interstate across the deep south in the spring with all the world a bloom is a very beautiful sight to behold.  That stretch of road that leads from western Georgia, across Alabama and into northeastern Mississippi offered a plethora of small rural communities with neatly sculpted and cultivated fields and beautiful southern styled barns that dotted the entire pathway. 

As the day turned into evening and as we were passing through western Alabama, near the Mississippi state line, I noticed signage that pointed us towards Major General Joseph Wheeler’s home.  Joe Wheeler is one of the best Confederate cavaliers of the Civil War, every bit as good as Stuart, but I can’t say he was as good as Forrest.  That, however, is a conversation for another day.  General Wheeler also has the distinction of being one of two former Confederate Generals to serve as US Army Generals in the Spanish American War, commanding future President of the United States and Medal of Honor Recipient Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.  So being that General Wheeler was just “Bully” of a man, I wanted to visit his home.  But we had passed through the area well after they would have closed for the day and I will have to come back another time. 

A seemingly short time later, we had arrived at our destination for the night.  If you are in the Iuka area, the Victorian Inn is an economical choice for a night’s rest and a shower.  That said, we did not pay a Hilton price and we got what we paid for.  The staff was friendly and helpful and there were two beds in the room and a hot shower.  In the morning, after eating a quick breakfast burrito at the local McDonald’s, we toured the Iuka battlefield, which largely consists of a few acres off of Lee Highway, State Highway 72 and Veteran’s Memorial Drive.  The McDonald’s is strategically placed on the actual battlefield on what must have been Major General Price’s Army of the West’s far right line.  Touring the site took roughly 20 minutes, and I was instantly reminded of the phone conversation I had a few months ago with the Tishomingo History Museum, of not to make a special trip. 

By 9:00 AM I made the call to head the 20 miles west to Corinth, MS from Iuka.  When we passed through in 2017, we only had 20 minutes to explore the interpretive center.  So we went to revisit some of Corinth that we did not get the chance to see before.  The Interpretive Center has changed a bit since 2017.  There were two very high-quality movies and there was a new exhibit hall that featured some Mississippi unit’s regimental flags that I did not recall seeing last time.  After the tour of the Interpretive Center, we went out on the lawn and paid tribute to the valor displayed by the Texas assault on Battery Robinette.  To the State of Texas’ credit, they have as recently as 2010 placed a new monument on the property and it was very well done.  After that, we left the Interpretive Center and went on a driving tour around Corinth.  For me, the big payoff was walking the siege lines of both the Union and Confederate forces in the first Battle of Corinth, or the Battle of Farmington.  Both are the same place and it is one of those Sharpsburg/Antietam deals, where one side called the battle Corinth and the other called it Farmington.  After we finished up the siege lines walk, both Moose and I were covered in ticks, so make sure you bring plenty of bug spray if you are going out tramping the siege lines.  After we finished pulling the ticks off, it was time to get on the road, as I had a phone interview with a prospective client coming up and I wanted to ensure that I was in an area of adequate cellular coverage. 

After some reflection, I have come to the best conclusion I could on how-to best tour Iuka.  There are a couple of ways to efficiently and effectively do it so you can see an incredibly significant battlefield, but avoid a letdown.  If you are passing through the area naturally on your route of travel, Iuka is an easy tour, but I think it would be best to tour Iuka as part of a Shiloh, Corinth Civil War Tour.  I highly recommend touring Corinth in the same trip as Shiloh and with Iuka just a short 20 miles away from Corinth, I feel this is the best course of action to take to visit this field of valor.  But even better would be a four-day weekend of Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka and a short drive east into Alabama to General Wheeler’s home.  The phone interview went well, and the rest of the trip back to Kansas City was uneventful.  The weather had called for rain, but thankfully Mother Nature decided to cut me some slack and thus ended my trip to say “goodbye” to my aunt.  I will see you down the trail.

Signage dedicated to the 11th Ohio Artillery who suffered an 85% casualty rate at the battle speaks to the bravery of both Union and Confederate alike in the savage fighting.
The main marque denoting the Battle of Iuka. The battle site is a very quick tour and is the perfect diversion for a trip.
View of the Federal position atop the hill from the Confederate point of view. Confederate forces from across the west and deep south attempted to assault up the slope.
More positioning of the Federal Line of Battle atop the slope on the highway.
Battleground Drive. Highway 72 is right in the middle of the Iuka battlefield. Here in September of 1862, in the late afternoon, all hell was breaking loose as Rosencrans and Price were playing a deadly game of chess.
Grove Cemetery, just off Battleground Drive, site of where the Confederate dead are laid to rest.
After our short visit to Iuka, we were only 20 miles from Corinth. Though we had already been to Corinth, we did not have time to do Corinth justice.
Shadows from the past greet today’s visitor.
One of the very cool things about the Corinth Interpretive center is the art embedded in the grounds.
More art embedded in the grounds gives the impression of the field of battle being just consecrated. The Corinth Interpretive Center is on the grounds of the fight for Battery Robinette from the second Battle of Corinth.
A beautiful early May morning has the sun coming through the trees on this Mississippi land.
Moose posing with some Mississippi Regimental flags, hung in a place of honor.
Nature blessing the beautiful morning….
The bronze art greeting the visitors as they enter the Interpretive Center.
The Regimental Colors of the 11th Mississippi proudly on display.
Here is Battery Robinette. The site of furious hand to hand combat that almost succeeded in taking Corinth back for the Confederates. Here, Colonel Rogers and the 2nd Texas’ valor would be on display for the world to see. Equally valorous would be that of Colonel Fuller and the Ohio Brigade.
In 2010, the State of Texas had this monument erected. Proving that Texas has not forgotten its sons and still celebrates their service.
A picture of a house worthy of the painter Thomas Kinkade or Norman Rockwell. I spotted this home on the Corinth Driving Tour and had to take a picture. It is a beautiful representation of the homes on the Corinth Battlefield.
In 1862, this still active railroad crossroads was the most hotly contested real estate on the planet. This crossing was the reason for the fights at Shiloh, Iuka and two battles at Corinth. This patch of ground also cost over 10,000 American lives.
Both Confederate and Federal Commanding Generals used this home when they occupied Corinth.
The Confederate Siege Lines are a four-mile walk. It was a pleasant morning for it, but I did not have the time.
The Union Siege Lines and Nature Trail was only a 1.5 mile walk. Make sure you have strong tick spray.
The Union Siege Line Trail for the First Battle of Corinth or the Battle of Farmington.
A humming Bird hut and nature in full bloom. One of the benefits of the National Park Service is the natural beauty that they protect.
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The Battle of Olustee: “The day is lost; you must go in and save the Corps.”

Sanderson, FL:  This has been a tough article for me to write because of the reasons in which it came to be.  In this tale from the trail, I try to walk through life and death under the hot Florida sun, both today and in 1864.  My reasons for going to Florida, and doing it on 40 minutes notice where extremely personal.  I had no chance to plan and was not even sure of the final destination until I had been on the road for 44 hours.  The weather threw me a number of curve balls and I was pushed to the limits of my endurance but 48 hours after I had left Kansas, I had arrived at my destination in Estero, Florida.  But we will talk about that in the paragraphs to come.  For now, let’s talk about the historical narrative of the Battle of Olustee; Florida’s most significant land battle of the US Civil War. 

The Union Army had established a number of enclaves along the Florida coast, to include the most significant one in Jacksonville in 1862.  For the most part, however, they had wisely decided to stay out of the interior of the State, for a number of tactical reasons.  This would change in the Winter of 1864.  History is divided on why the campaign was launched, but it really falls into two camps.  The first camp will tell you that President Lincoln was led to believe that the interior of northern Florida was ripe with pro-Union sentiment.  Though unlikely, this could be true.  After all, every State in the Confederacy, with the one exception of South Carolina, had provided at least one regiment of pro-Union white Soldiers.  Regions of States, such as eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina had provided thousands.  Western Virginia, even became its own state, loyal to the Federal cause.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that even Alabama supplied at least one regiment of Federal Cavalry.  So, this fact, and Lincoln with his eye on reelection may be why the operation was launched, but I don’t necessarily buy it.  The military reason for the offensive was to deprive the Confederate forces farther north of the food and salt resources of Florida.  Though in theory this makes sense, I am not convinced this is the reason for the campaign simply because, the Union Commander, Brigadier General Truman Seymour’s boss, Major General Quincy Gillmore, had left orders not to go on the offensive in the Florida interior.  I believe that Seymour’s military reputation was severely tarnished after his assault on Fort Wagner and he was looking for a military victory to rehabilitate his name.  In South Carolina, Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard had correctly ascertained Seymour’s plans and dispatched a Confederate Irish immigrant by the name Brigadier General Joseph Finnegan and the experienced and hard charging Georgia Brigade under Brigadier General Alfred Colquitt to make sure that Seymour would not gain redemption in Florida, at least.  

In late 1863 and very early 1864, the Federal troops in Jacksonville received new crops of draftees in the case of the white regiments and brand-new volunteers in the case of the USCT’s, to include the famous 54th Massachusetts Infantry.  Members of the 7th New Hampshire Infantry were also ordered, just prior to the campaign to turn in their battle tested Spencer repeating rifles and were in turn issued battle worn and often inoperable Springfield rifled muskets.  So poorly was the equipment, that many of the muskets failed to fire when combat began on that February afternoon.  To summarize the battle, the Confederate forces under Finnegan and Colquitt had their issues, but largely were able to exercise their will over the poorly led Federal troops.  The one bright spot on the battlefield for the Federals was indeed the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, who did not arrive on the battlefield until late in the fight and did a masterful job of covering the Federal retreat back to Jacksonville.  That said, the 54th again would distinguish itself for the evacuation of the Federal wounded from the Olustee field of battle.  There are reports that they filled a train car with wounded and hauled the railroad car back to Jacksonville by hand to ensure as many Federal wounded were able to escape Confederate capture as possible.  After the battle, Union forces would not again enter the interior of Florida during the war.

A few weeks ago, my aunt called me and let me know that she had cancer.  My aunt is my father’s sister and ever since he has passed, 16 years ago, I had sort of been his proxy with her.  I did not mind this, as she surely did love and miss her brother.  As we talked again, she told me that her cancer was terminal.  She has small cell lung cancer and liver cancer.  She is now too weak to take chemotherapy.  As these reports came in and kept getting darker, I felt myself being pulled on a trip I had not planned and truthfully did not want to make.   When my cousin contacted me and let me know that my aunt was asking for her mother and wanted to go to hospice, I could no longer sit by in Kansas.  Both of my parents died so fast and unexpectedly that there was no opportunity to say goodbye.  Now, my father’s sister was in hospice and I had to go.  I may be in between positions right now, money may be a little tight, but I was sitting at lunch talking with Household 6 and I could no longer just sit on the sidelines.  My first thought was to take my daughter Rooster, because she is a better assistant driver than Moose.  Moose also has a restricted license while Rooster has a full license and I didn’t have time to research how that would play out driving out of state.  But alas, Rooster, though in High School, is taking college courses and had college finals this week and could not go, so Moose was my copilot.  I went to his high school, pulled him from his class and told him he had 40 minutes to get home and pack, we were leaving immediately.  If you haven’t noticed, in The Traveler household, a lot of life happens behind the dashboard.  The road trip is the perfect opportunity to coach, guide and mentor your kids and really find out where they are in life; and we did have ample opportunity for that.  Unfortunately, heavy rains blanketed the Midwest and Southeast, significantly adding time to the trip; causing me to worry that we would not get to Florida in time.  The weather was so unfavorable, that I had to scrap plans of overnighting just south of Memphis, in Mississippi, instead, opting for Trumann, Arkansas. 

In Georgia, we lost additional time because my tire light indicator came on and, on our car, that dang thing never lies.  So, I found myself in front of Michael, the Manager at the local Goodyear garage in McDonough, Georgia; in need of a couple of new front tires.  Now that the car had a new set of shoes, we were able to make it to Valdosta, Georgia for the night.  Where my son would see his first naked woman.  I have to be honest; we were not prepared for what was seen when we entered the hotel lobby; for what has been seen cannot be unseen.  Some people don’t understand that see through gowns are really see through and they don’t need to be in the hotel lobby.  But now we just refer to the incident as “The Georgia Peach” and somehow, I feel we are all a little bit diminished by experiencing it.  I guess I will just sum it up by stating “you see the strangest things at an interstate hotel.”  By lunch time the next day, we had arrived at our destination where I met my sister, also part of Team Traveler.  My sister Beth, is my copy editor and proofs everything I write before you read it.  We had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with my aunt.  My cousin tells me that she perked up considerably with our visit and is now, at the time of this being written, is still fighting.  I like my aunt, she’s a tough bird!  As a post edit, since the time of writing, she passed peacefully a couple of weeks ago.  She fought as long as she could.

After spending the afternoon with my aunt, we crossed the “Alligator Alley” to Florida’s eastern coast and spent the evening and next day with my sister and brother in law.  I will tell you that Monday’s in May at Delray Beach in Florida are wonderful.  The beaches and water are warm, public parking is plentiful and we were able to spend a nice day with lunch at Boston’s, on the beach; for Tuesday we would be heading north again for Olustee and home.

We arrived at the Olustee State Historical Park around lunch time and there were two things that immediately came to my attention.  The first is that we were in a National Forest, Osceola National Forest to be exact, and there was a plethora of outdoor activity opportunities that were just waiting to be taken advantage of.  I spoke with a local resident, and he said that there was even great fishing within a couple of miles.  The other thing I noticed, is that on Route 90, which leads you to the battlefield, you pass about 6 prisons or correctional facilities; or you pass one large one with 6 campuses.  I don’t know, but I am confident of one thing.  I drove by “Florida Man’s” house.  Also, a point of legitimate security, if you visit, don’t pick up a hitch hiker.  It may be “Florida Man” himself.  The battlefield takes about an hour and a half to two hours to tour and trail walk.  I honestly feel that the State of Florida missed a significant opportunity with the museum.  Though the video was good, the television had a very small screen and the displays were well, small too.  I think there is opportunity for a much more robust interpretive center not only dedicated to the battle, but the entire Civil War experience in Florida.  The coastal raids by Federal Marines and Naval forces, the Battle of Olustee, Agriculture and the African American experience.  Florida’s Civil War history is much more robust than given credit for.  When I began walking the battlefield, for some reason, I instinctively slouched over and tried to adjust my ALICE pack straps a couple of times.  Moose kind of looked at me strangely and then it occurred to me, that I mentally was out in the swamps of Verona Loop Training Area of Camp Lejeune, NC because the pine forest and topography was so similar.  I could still feel the “war belt” harness cutting into my neck as I walked the trail of the 7th New Hampshire and 7th Connecticut.  When Moose and I walked the position of the Georgia Brigade, you could almost hear that quiet forest come alive and that rebel yell.  Then the trail got quiet for me as I reflected on why I had come to Florida in the first place.  For me it was literally “Life and Death under the Florida Sun.”  I could see the signs of battle, I could feel the uniform against my body and the weight of the pack and rifle again, but I also felt the burden of impending loss from my aunt, one of the few members of my father’s family I actually knew.   

The Battle of Olustee Marque as you enter the State Historic Site.
Moose doing valuable service as my assistant driver. In the Traveler House, the assistant driver has many real responsibilities.
Mock up of a member of the 7th New Hampshire or one of the other Northeastern Infantryman at Olustee. It is not a member of the 7th Connecticut as they had Spencer Repeating Rifles.
Mock up of a Georgia Brigade Soldier.
Confederate National Flag on display.
Ah the pines of the southeast! The approach to the State Historic Site.
Diorama of the fight at Olustee.
It can’t be a Civil War site without the split rail fence.
Monument to the Confederate troops under General Finnegan built by the Daughters of Confederate Veterans.
Confederate National Flag lofting over the site in the lazy Spring afternoon.
May is “Love Bug” month. Be advised that traveling in Florida with a black car in May can result in a messy car.
The pine forests of the Southeast bring back many memories of Camp Lejeune.
The reenactor area.
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Book Review – Grierson’s Raid

Author:          D. Alexander Brown

ISBN:  978-0317527537

Page Count: 242

I was tasked to teach a course on the Vicksburg Campaign to my son’s Boy Scout Troop to support the Troop’s tour of the Vicksburg National Military Park.  I felt it was my honor and privilege to do so and in the run up to teaching the course, I had read a number of books covering all aspects of the campaign.  Now full disclosure, I have spent time in the Army as a 13B, Field Artillery Cannon Crewmember; an 0311, a Marine Corps Combat Rifleman; and a 19D, again in the Army as a Cavalry Scout.  Though I will always be an infantryman at heart, when I look at 19th Century Warfare, I tend to favor the life of a Cavalryman; especially when considering the US Civil War and the Indian Wars.  The book “Grierson’s Raid” was key to me to get an understanding of the strategic situation in Vicksburg and the greater Mississippi theater of operations during the Spring of 1863.  I believe that Brown does an outstanding job of not only giving you the history of the raid, but also the dogged pursuit of the Federal Cavalry by the Confederate defenders.  I believe that D. Alexander Brown did a fantastic job of articulating the strategic value of the raid.  Not only were they able to destroy millions of dollars’ worth of war material, more strategically, the raid succeeded in taking Confederate Lieutenant General Pemberton’s eye off Grant and his upcoming amphibious assault across the Mississippi River.  Pemberton ended up diverting much needed Confederate resources from watching for the crossing to attempting to trying to deal with the Raiders.  I highly recommend “Grierson’s Raid” for anyone interested in the Vicksburg Campaign, Cavalry Warfare and even currently the current military population who would study raids.  Items to discuss that both the US Army and US Marines look at as characteristics of a raid, being speed, surprise and violence of action.  Brown masterfully articulates all three elements. 

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The Battle of Nashville – “I will make the necessary disposition, and attack Hood at once, agreeably to your orders, though I believe it will be hazardous with the small force of cavalry now at my service.”

Nashville, TN: After the Union forces withdrew from Franklin and fell back into Nashville to consolidate their forces with the remainder of Major General George Thomas, Confederate Lt. General John Bell Hood continued to move the Army of Tennessee towards his forlorn hope of the conquest of Nashville. There, Thomas and about 55,000 Federal soldiers would be waiting to greet the Army of Tennessee’s 30,000 roughly handled Confederates.  Thomas, under orders from both President Lincoln & General US Grant to attack and defeat Hood’s army was delayed by an early season ice storm.  Once the weather allowed for offensive action, The Rock of Chickamauga would initiate a decisive two-day action that would bring to a halt the last gasp of the Confederates in the west.  Gone would be Hood’s plan to retake Nashville and then march his Army eastward and relieve General Lee’s besieged Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg.  Before dawn on the morning of December 15th, 1864, Major General Steedman, acting under orders from Thomas, attacked the Confederates’ right flank, pinning them in place for the entire day.  In the afternoon, the Federal Army launched an attack on the Confederate left flank.  The attack on the left flank was successful because the sustained pressure kept on the Confederate right did not allow for the shift of troops from one location to another.  Thomas was using his greater numbers to isolate and destroy the Confederate line in piece rather than whole.  After darkness fell, the “never say die” Hood withdrew his main line of resistance back southward by two miles, taking up position between Shy and Overton’s Hill.  On the morning of the 16th, Minnesota troops under the command of Major General AJ Smith, made a successful assault on Shy’s Hill and dislodged Hood’s determined Confederates.  After Shy’s Hill was taken, Union forces focused on Overton’s Hill and effectively reduced the defenders there.  With both flanks now in the air, the remainder of the Army of Tennessee was forced to take flight.  With Thomas in direct pursuit, the Army of Tennessee was able to make its way down to Tupelo where Major General Hood would resign his command.      

After we finished our tour of Stones River National Military Park, we stopped at a Hardee’s for a quick lunch as we wanted to maximize our tour guide, Ross’s time.  From there we followed the trail into Nashville.  The first stop was at a Lunette by the railroad cut that ran through Nashville.  One of the many benefits of a guided tour with Ross Massy was his detailed and expert knowledge on the combat that occurred between Cleburn’s Division and USCTs.  At the battle of Nashville, USCTs played a significant role in the Federal victory.  Ross took us through Nashville stopping at locations now covered by urban sprawl.  We then found ourselves at the top of a large hill which gave us a great panoramic view of the Nashville metro area.  From here, Ross pointed out positions that both Union and Confederate forces held.  He even conveyed to us unique and insightful stories about both Major General Thomas and Lt. General Hood.  I felt that the stories that Ross told really gave me a good view of the mindset of both commanders.  I would tell you these stories, but Ross would do a much better job than I so take the tour.  One aspect where Ross really shined in his guided tour, was prior to the tour, I had communicated that I was very interested in the Cavalry movements of the battle.  It was here that Ross gave me a very good period of instruction on the hard fighting highly successful Confederate and future United States Army General “Fighting” Joe Wheeler.  Though I was aware of Wheeler, I like many others, had fallen in the trap of location and now view him only second to Forrest as Confederate Cavaliers go.   We had the pleasure of visiting many sites that Wheeler and his cavaliers had a direct impact on and were able to change the course of battle.  We then found our way to the monument for the Battle of Nashville.  A beautiful statue pays honor to all who fought there, and the eventual reunification and healing that we went through as a nation.  We traveled over to Shy’s Hill and saw where the Minnesotans charged up the hill and collapsed the Confederate flank. Due to my asking questions and spending additional time in other places, we had missed the opportunity to visit Traveler’s Rest, Hood’s Headquarters.  We wrapped up the day at Mount Olive Cemetery, where we paid our respects to those valiant Civil War Veterans.  Ross, knowing that I was a former Marine, had saved something special for me at the end.  He brought me to the grave site of 1st Lieutenant Henry Doak, Confederate States Marine Corps, where I paid honor to his grave, Officer to Officer, Marine to Marine, Soldier to Soldier, American to American.  Household 6 and I really enjoyed the tour and, in all honesty would not have gotten nearly as much out of our visit to Nashville without Ross’s guided tour.  Again, I would like to stress the value his tour provided at an incredibly reasonable cost.   After the tour, we headed back to Murfreesboro with the intent of returning to Nashville and a trip to the Honky Tonk for some live music.  Unfortunately for us, I had a migraine crop up towards the end of the tour.  We opted to stay in Murfreesboro and had a very nice quiet dinner at BJ Brewhaus before finally retiring back to the Hilton Tru.  It was a great day and I beg a thousand pardons to my wife, Household 6 for not being able to take her to The Honky Tonk.  All that said, I recommend at least two days in Nashville alone. 

Ross Massey

615-352-6384 or MasseyLA@aol.com

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/maps/battle-nashville-december-15-1864

http://www.bonps.org/tour/tour.htm

Historical marquee maintained by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
The Texas Brigade who held the Lunette sacrifices are still honored today.
A fantastic view of the Nashville skyline.
Confederate position now in a residential area.
Ross lead us to Shy’s Hill, the climactic point in the of the Battle of Nashville.
Federal Troops assaulted up Shy’s Hill and breached the Confederate positions at the top. We were advised that a journey to the top would invite unwanted guests – chiggers.
Monument to the Minnesotans who charged up Shy’s Hill.
1st Lt. Henry Doak, CSMC. I wanted to pay honor to him, as a fellow Marine, soldier, and Officer.
These police cars popped up all over Nashville. Mayberry PD. I grew up thinking Mayberry was in North Carolina.
Nashville Skyline to the South
Vanderbilt University.
The City of Nashville Monument. Paying tribute to both Blue & Grey while helping to bring unity to the city.
Close up view of the monument.
Picture of the remains of the lunette.
Remains of the trench in the lunette.
At the Confederate Monument.
The top of the Confederate Monument at Mount Olive.
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Corinth – “If defeated here, we lose the Mississippi Valley and probably our cause.”

Corinth MS: One concept that a career in the military has taught me, is that all American, and in fact all nationalities of military personnel are largely the same type of people and though we have enough differences to make us unique individuals, as a body we are largely similar.  Now here’s the kicker, the same can be said about soldiers across time.  For those familiar with current military culture, I promise you that there was a “Carl” that served with Washington at Valley Forge, a “Carl” that served in Caesar’s Legions that conquered Gaul and a “Carl” that served in the fury and hell of The Hornet’s Nest at Shiloh.  Another timeless truth of soldierly life is that we understand that the Mission is the reason for our being.  The Mission may be to take a piece of ground, remove a target, or defend with your life if necessary, some nameless point on a map.  That is something that we know and accept and that hasn’t changed since before Alexander the Great pointed his chariots east 2500 years ago.     

In the Spring and Summer of 1862, one of the most hotly contested pieces of real estate on the planet was a small, unassuming railroad crossroad in a place called Corinth, MS. The strategic value of Corinth could not be understated to the Confederate cause.  It was the rail hub that linked the resource rich western Confederacy with the East.  A mere month and a half earlier, a major battle was fought just 20 miles away over the border in Tennessee at a place called Shiloh. The strategic objective of the Union forces at Shiloh was to penetrate south and take the strategic railroad crossroad. Pittsburg Landing offered the best place to land forces for a march south. After a successful siege operation, Union forces under General Grant were able to take Corinth at the end of May, 1862. The Confederates regrouped and in October launched a major offensive to retake the strategically significant crossroads.  It ended in savage hand to hand combat where cold steel ruled the day.

From a touring perspective, I would like to have the opportunity to revisit Corinth, now having a greater understanding of the roll it played in 1862.  Or at the very least, I would have liked to have spent more time there.  We had left Shiloh National Military Park and grabbed some lunch and headed right away to the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center located at 501 W. Linden St, Corinth, MS 38834, which is run by the National Park Service out of Shiloh National Military Park.  We arrived with only an hour left before it closed and decided to make the best of it.  We toured the facility and I really feel that I could have spent two additional hours there.  After the Interpretive Center closed for the evening, we went out and scoured the town and found the famous railroad crossroads.  I would also like to point out that the Interpretive Center is located at Battery Robinett so we did have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the dramatic climax of the 2nd Battle of Corinth where the 2nd Texas Legion was held off by the 11th Missouri (US) and the 27th Ohio.  There is a rather famous picture of Colonel William Rogers of the 2nd Texas Legion leading his men over the parapet and being shot by a Federal Drummer Boy. We stopped at Corinth in the afternoon right after we had left Shiloh National Military Park. They are that close. It still gives me pause to think about the fact that I walked that ground.  After we toured the town to find the railroad crossing, it was time to finish the trip to Gulfport.  If you make it to Shiloh, I highly recommend finishing the story and going the Corinth the next day.  I am told that there is a place nearby where you can take your Jeep or other 4×4 off-roading.  That is something that I could definitely explore after a couple of fun days “battle fielding.”

http://www.corinthcivilwar.com/
https://www.civilwar.org/learn/civil-war/battles/corinth
https://www.nps.gov/shil/learn/historyculture/corinth.htm
Battery Robinett. Colonel Rogers may have fallen at the spot where I was standing. Here a desperate charge captured the Battery, but a swift and fierce counter charge proved too much for the hard fighting Texans.
Static display of Springfield 3 Band Rifled Muskets.
An impression of troops marching off to fight greets the traveler as you walk into the Interpretive Center.
157 years ago this was one of the most contested pieces of real estate on the planet. Over 8,000 Americans gave their lives for possession of this railroad crossroads in a small corner of Mississippi. This was also why the Battle of Shiloh was fought just over the Tennessee border. In total, the spot where I took this picture cost over 30,000 Americans their lives. That is a steep butcher’s bill to pay.
What’s in your kit?
Rooster found a friend.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Anyone who had service over in the middle east in the last 18 years will immediately identify these as 1862 style Hesco Barriers. “Ain’t No Party Like a Working Party!”
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Andersonville: “All hope has banished, and we are not living but only drawing out a miserable existence. And death seems to be the only words of relief for us from our misery and sufferings.”


Have you ever walked on ground, and as odd as it is to say, felt the sadness in the soil?  As if you can actually feel the anguish of those poor souls who had to be here; as if their grief has forever permeated the soil and made it palpable for those of us who travel there for generations yet to come?  I have had that feeling wash over me while visiting two places thus far in my travels.  Though I have had my share of time in lands rife with great inhumanity, I have only ever gotten that feeling, the feeling that would inexplicably bring tears to my eyes and a deep sadness over me, at Dachau Concentration Camp on the outskirts of Munich, Germany and at Andersonville National Historic Site. However, I make no other historical comparisons between the two places.    

In late December of 2015, our son, Moose, was invited to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, being held in Daytona, FL.  As it would turn out, my wife, Household 6 and my daughter Rooster, would have cause to be at a soccer tournament in Omaha, Nebraska at the same time.  This trip to the sunny South would be a guys’ trip.  As I do with every trip I plan, I do a map exercise.  The years of military training just will not give up.  I determined this trip would take us close enough to Andersonville to make a side trip on the way down to Daytona.  We left the frozen confines of the Kansas City Metro and after a long day’s drive found ourselves at the Hampton Inn in Americus, Georgia for the night.  The Hampton Inn in Americus is located at 1609 E Lamar St, Americus, GA 31709, which is about 60 miles Southeast of Columbus, GA.   The next morning when Moose and I awoke, we ate breakfast and were soon at our destination of Camp Sumter, or more commonly known by the name “Andersonville.” Andersonville achieved infamy as a Confederate-run Prisoner of War Camp, where over 13,000 US Military Prisoners perished during its short, 14-month operation.  I will not delve too deeply into the history of the site as this is a travel blog and to be honest, the history is depressing on a number of levels.  But it suffices to say that Camp Sumter was built to house 10,000 prisoners on 17 acres.  At its peak operation, it housed 33,000 Federal prisoners mostly picked up from General Sherman’s march through Georgia.  With meager rations, squalid living conditions, access to little uncontaminated water, and no medical care, moral despair and the ever present “Deadline”, surviving Andersonville would become more of an ordeal for these men than combat.  It is important to note that conditions were so bad that even the Confederates lost over 200 guards to disease.  Today the National Prisoner of War Exhibit coupled with the monuments and rebuilding of portions of the prison facility give us a haunting yet excellent view into not only the life of the Federal Civil War Prisoner of War, but all American prisoners of war and the deprivations that await all of us who have served and continue to serve should we fall into unfriendly hands.   As we toured the historic site, I would like to make special mention of the feeling that I got when I walked through the double set of gates into the prison compound.  I can’t over emphasize the “feeling” of hopelessness walking through those gates, or later, walking through the mock ups of the “shebangs” and the “Deadline” that all prisoners were forbid from crossing, under penalty of an immediate death. 

After Moose and I finished up our tour, we were in need of lunch and some cheering up before we finished our trip to Daytona. So we went to see what Andersonville, Georgia had to offer the weary traveler and were we in for a treat.  Despite Moose’s misgivings, we stopped at the now closed Andersonville Station Confederate Restaurant.  Having lived in Texas for 5 years, I felt I had already sampled the best cobbler that could be offered, but ASCR’s peach cobbler left little doubt that I had to crown a new “King of Cobbler.”  I would also like to say that Frito-Chili Cheeseburger was absolutely fantastic.  Trip Advisor rated them 4.5 out of 5, but I don’t think that rating was high enough.  If they were to reopen under the previous management, I would highly recommend a visit.  After lunch, we walked next door to The Little Drummer Boy Museum, located at 109 E Church St, Andersonville, GA 31711.  The Museum entrance was close enough to the railway that bisected town.  That same railway brought thousands of hapless Union prisoners here where over a quarter would meet their destiny.  We were reminded of this by the painted footprints along the road from where the trains would stop and the prisoners would be marched off toward the camp.  Moose and I toured the Museum and there were many things to see.  The things that stuck with me was the diorama of Camp Sumter in operation and the many uniforms on display.  After touring the museum and reflecting on the whole site, it was time to head to Daytona and watch Moose play football.

https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/georgia/hampton-inn-americus-AMEGAHX/index.html?SEO_id=GMB-HP-AMEGAHX
https://www.battlefields.org/visit/heritage-sites/andersonville-national-historic-site
https://www.nps.gov/ande/index.htm
http://www.andersonvillegeorgia.info/
A very moving monument to the suffering of all American Prisoners of War. It is a somber piece that effectively put the visitor in the proper mindset to see what is before them.
The “Shebangs.” Thousands of make shift tents like these were all that protected the prisoners from the elements. Prisoners were turned loose inside the camp with only what they carried on their body.

The view from inside the North Gate Entrance. Prisoners were herded into the vestibule between the internal gate and the external gate and this is the Prisoner’s first view of what did lay beyond.
There are a number of monuments here on site, many to the sacrifices made by many of the western states that remained loyal. As a New Hampshire native who lives in Kansas, I found myself drawn to this one. Though my home state and adopted home state did not sacrifice as many as Ohio and New York, they still paid the price.
There was a severe shortage of water during the Summer of 1864. Many Prisoners perished. There was a savage storm that blew in in August and a lightning strike within the Camp Prison Compound unleashed a new gushing stream, which washed away much of the camp filth and provided life saving water for the thousands of prisoners. It gave the prisoners hope and was named “Providence Stream.” After the war ended, this chapel was built on the site of the lightning strike.
Diorama of Camp Sumter in full operation at The Little Drummer Boy Museum.
An excellent Federal uniform display at The Little Drummer Boy. Note the Fire Zouave.
Andersonville Station
Federal Soldier in Winter dress.
Confederates in full uniform. The second mannequin looks to be in the Field Artillery.
The Little Drummer Boy Museum to the left and the former Anderson Station Confederate Restaurant to the right. It is a shame that the restaurant is now closed.
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Beauvoir, The Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library – “Neither current events nor history show that the majority rule, or ever did rule.”

Biloxi, MS:  Have you ever noticed that Providence tends to push us in a direction?  Sometimes it is a gentle nudge and sometimes Providence is a subtle as a sledgehammer.  I have always had an interest in the US Civil War.  I remember back to when I was in 5th Grade growing up in Hinsdale, New Hampshire and turning in reports on the Civil War for extra credit.  One year when I was really young, I asked my parents for a “Union Suit” for Christmas, because I thought it was a Federal Civil War Uniform.  In all honesty, a great number of times in my life I didn’t go looking for the Civil War, as it came looking for me.  Our visit to Beauvoir, was one of those trips that in retrospect, I can honestly say that Providence was pushing me to become The Civil War Traveler with the subtlety of a tire blowing out on the interstate at 80 m.p.h. 

In March of 2017, after stopping at Shiloh and Corinth for the day, we headed for our vacation destination down on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi for Spring Break. It had been a long and cold winter in Kansas and I was ready for some quality time in the warm, southern sun and also yearned for the feeling of the warm Gulf water.  We rented a house about 200 yards off the beach in Gulfport, MS via www.VRBO.com. While there, unseasonably cold temperatures would force us off the beach and cause a deviation to our plans.  While out driving around and trying to make the best of our time, we were heading down Beach Boulevard/HWY 90, which connects Gulfport and Biloxi when out of the unsuspecting blue I saw a plaque by the side of the road that read, “Jefferson Davis Presidential Library.”  I immediately slammed on the brakes and looked at Household 6 and said, “Oh yes, it is on.” With a groan of pain coming from the Rooster in the back seat of the car, we turned left into the parking lot and began a really pleasant afternoon touring a Presidential Library that was every bit on par with that of any US Presidential Museum that we have visited.  The Sons of Confederate Veterans had converted an Old Soldiers Home located right next to Beauvoir into the Presidential Library with access to the Confederate cemetery behind the Beauvoir’s living quarters.  I can’t over emphasize the job that The Sons of Confederate Veterans have done in creating this venue and the Confederate Cemetery behind the Library is a place of dignity and honor. After touring Beauvoir and seeing the amazing job of restoration done in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as well as viewing the Tomb of the Confederate Unknown, I was personally moved.  Moved to the point where I purchased a memorial brick to be laid in the Confederate Cemetery, to honor the service and sacrifice of the men of the Confederate States Marine Corps.  After doing some family research, I found that I also need to buy two more bricks for family that served in the Confederate States Army when we return. 

Part of making any trip positive for the whole family is making sure everybody has fun.  Though my daughter is still in high hchool and is taking college level history courses, history really isn’t her thing.  My son enjoys history, but I would not say it is his passion either.  To plant the seeds of history, I always ensure that they do something appealing to them.  The next day, we left our rental and made it to the beach.  Living in Kansas means that we go to the beach whenever we can.  Unfortunately, the cold snap was still with us but the kids soon found out that the temperature in the warm Gulf Waters was higher than the air temperature and while Household 6 and I froze on the shore, the kids really enjoyed the warm water.  After a couple of hours even Rooster and Moose started getting cold, and we quickly had to adjust our plans.  I’ve always wanted to ride in an air boat, so we decided to drive the 40 miles over to Moss Point, to Gulf Coast Gator Ranch and do our best Bobby Bouche impressions.  Gulf Coast Gator Ranch was a hit with the entire family.  We spent a fun afternoon there and then found our way back to Shaggy’s Restaurant in Biloxi for dinner.  Fresh Gulf Coast seafood was a great way to end the day.  The service was good, and I would like to articulate a theme that runs throughout the entire South.  The people are just great. Having grown up in the Northeast, I had grown accustomed to people being very reserved. Maybe the warmer temperatures of the South makes folks more relaxed, but in Mississippi you can pull up to a gas pump and be engaged in a 20-minute conversation with a complete stranger and leave as friends.  That is the lasting impression I have of our time in coastal Mississippi.  If you are in the coastal Mississippi region and are also a Civil War enthusiast, Beauvoir is a must stop.

http://www.visitbeauvoir.org/
http://www.airboatswamptoursofmississippi.com/
Beauvoir was every bit as vibrant and well done as other US Presidential Libraries that we have toured. Maybe because of my passion for the Civil War, I may have enjoyed it a bit more.
Robert E. Lee
A statue of Jefferson Davis
Beauvoir had to be completely remodeled after Hurricane Katrina. The Sons of Confederate Veterans did a masterful job. There was no trace of damage to the property and it was all restored with private funds.
Tomb of the Confederate Unknown. May he rest in eternal peace with his brothers in arms as may all American Service members.
The Confederate Battle Flag flies high over the Confederate Cemetery. The Cemetery is maintained by volunteers and relies on private funding.
The historical marque that greets all visitors.
The functional garden behind Beauvoir. Not only does it provide beauty, it also provides sustenance.
Part of the beauty of the garden.
Household 6 wanted to take home a goat. She still talks about getting one. My standard answer is “No.”
Nothing says “South” in my mind like Spanish Moss. Here the Confederate Cemetery has a tranquil and peaceful feel to it.
Entry into the Confederate Cemetery.
Memorial Bricks that had been purchased to help fund the Cemetery. I was so moved by the experience that I purchased a brick on behalf of the Confederate States Marine Corps.
The entry into the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Museum. It was a fantastic facility fit for a President.
A golden sunset along the Gulf Coast.
Our vacation rental. In my experience, you can actually come out a head a little when renting a house over a hotel room. The trick is eating in if you can. Two other huge benefits are the access to a washer & dryer and everyone gets their own space.
The beautiful white sandy beach and crystal water don’t articulate how cold it actually was.
Household 6 found a new friend at the Gulf Coast Gator Ranch.
“Momma always said alligators were so ornery because….”
The locals are always friendly on the Gulf Coast
We had a blast cruising around in the Airboat.
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Shiloh – “Well, Grant, we’ve had the devil’s own day, haven’t we?”

Pittsburg Landing, TN: In the early Spring of 1862, Major General Grant was determined to cut the railroad cross roads of the Confederacy at Corinth, MS. By this time, with the fall of Fort Donelson & Fort Henry, the Union had control of the rivers into Tennessee. Grant wished to take advantage of the waterways and conducted a landing in force at Pittsburg Landing, as this was the closest he could get his river born army to his ultimate goal of Corinth, Mississippi. The Confederates, under General Albert Sidney Johnston rushed to meet this threat.  They swept down upon an unsuspecting Union force encamped at a meeting house, named after a place out of the Bible – Shiloh.  Genesis 49:10 defines Shiloh as “The Things Stored for Him.”  Shiloh, as the battle for Pittsburg Landing would become known as, would be what was at the time the largest Military Engagement in the western hemisphere. The Sabbath, April 6th 1862 had promised to be a beautiful day, but a killing wind came in from the South.  At about 5:00 a.m., shots rang out from a Federal reconnaissance patrol as Albert Sidney Johnston’s 35,000 strong Confederate Army fell down upon the relaxing Federal Army, under none other than Major General William Tecumseh Sherman. With victory nearly in hand and everything going the Confederates’ way, General Albert Sidney Johnson would be mortally wounded.  Command was then passed to the hero of Bull Run, P.G.T. Beauregard, who immediately ordered a halt to the Confederate advance.  This gave Federal forces time to regroup, recover, and allow for the very timely yet late arrival of fresh troops under Major General Lew Wallace. Wallace had taken a wrong turn earlier in the battle, and that had waylaid his troops from the field. In addition, Major General Don Carlos Buell’s troops arrived fresh from Nashville.  With reinforced troops and a consolidated battle line, it was now time for Grant to take the offensive, and that he did.  General Beauregard had ordered his battle weary Army to rest and refit in the captured Union camps.  Now it was their turn to be surprised by Federal forces.  By 5:00 p.m., the last of the Confederate Army had retired from the battlefield and headed the 20 miles back to Corinth, MS.

We arrived in Shiloh on a cold rainy day in March of 2017 while on our way to Gulfport for Spring break. Stopping at a National Park or a place of historical significance is something we tend to do on the way to a vacation destination. The kids always complain about “history” but my high school daughter, Rooster, is taking a college accredited history course now and my son, Moose, is following that same path. My son has even admitted to me that he enjoys “battle fielding.” I don’t know if he enjoys it on its own merits or just likes to hang out with me. Either way, for a teenager to admit that, it’s a “win.” We stayed at a local Hampton Inn, located at 90 Old South Rd, Counce, TN 38326.  We usually stay at a Hampton Inn or a Holiday Inn Express when we travel with the kids.  At our final destination, I have become accustomed to using VRBO.com to rent a house.  That allows us to save money on food that we prepare and also lets everyone enjoy their own space.  With two adult-sized teenagers, a boy and girl, they are long past the point of being willing to sleep in the same bed.  I can’t say I blame them.  When we travel without them, we like to stay in a Bed & Breakfast. We had a good time at Shiloh and the audio tour guide CD was adequate, but I will admit we would have had a great time if the Rangers were running a program and the weather had been more cooperative. I would recommend visiting Shiloh National Military Park between Memorial Day and Labor Day to get the most out of the experience and take advantage of any Ranger Programs that they may be hosting.   After we left Shiloh National Military Park, we headed straight for the Interpretive Center at Corinth, which will be the subject of another article. There we had a fine dinner at Russell’s Beef House located at 104 Highway 72 E Corinth, Mississippi 38834.  The food was simply amazing and the restaurant featured many fine artworks of Confederate commanders and battle scenes.  The steak was perfectly done and reasonably priced and it was enough to fuel me for the rest of the trip to Gulfport. 

https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/battle-shiloh
https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/tennessee/hampton-inn-pickwick-dam-at-shiloh-falls-PICTNHX/index.html?SEO_id=GMB-HP-PICTNHX
http://russellsbeefhouse.com/
Deer roam the National Military Park freely.
Grant’s Headquarters location, now inside the US National Cemetery.
The cost of freedom. The US Flag flies over the National Cemetery where Service Members from all wars from 1862 forward lay at rest.
The Hornet’s Nest. Scene of some of the most violent and bloody fighting as Confederates reduced the salient.
The spot where General Johnston fell, mortally wounded taking with him Confederate hopes of victory at Shiloh.
Union Navy Artillery from gunboats in the Tennessee River hammered Confederate positions all night long April 6th/April 7th.
Ruggles’ Battery at Shiloh. At that time, it was the largest bombardment of artillery in North America.
Bloody Pond. Battle weary and thirsty Soldiers from both sides would come here to get water and would meet with each and do battle here until the pond ran red with blood.
Spot where a Federal reconnaissance first fired upon advancing Confederates.
Wildlife is always fun to be on the watch for.
Tennessee Monument
Shiloh Meeting House
A monument to the Confederates with the theme Defeat Stolen from Victory.
Rooster & Moose on The Sunken Road. Here Iowa stood tall against long odds.
The National Cemetery now overlooks Pittsburg Landing.
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Vicksburg – “Vicksburg is Key.”

Vicksburg, MS: This is a repost of The Civil War Traveler’s page on Facebook.  This was our inaugural post from which we launched The Civil War Traveler.  I have decided to edit the original content to make it more robust and actually useful for the reader.  We visited Vicksburg over Spring Break in March of 2018.  I had lead an effort with my son’s Boy Scout Troop, Troop 487 out of Olathe, KS in order to terminate requirements for The American Heritage Merit Badge and some elements of the Eagle required Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge. 

Our trip to Vicksburg had been long in coming.  In January on our way back home from a youth football event for our son in New Orleans, we had driven right by Vicksburg National Military Park.  We even stopped for lunch at China Buffet, located at 4150 S Frontage Rd, Vicksburg, MS 39180 which is a mere 500 yards from the entrance from Vicksburg National Military Park. However, I was threatened by my family under penalty of death that if I delayed our trip home, there would be “the devil to pay” per Household 6.  So I would have to wait until our planned trip with Boy Scout Troop 487 in March.

Having done some research prior to the trip and teaching the participating Scouts a class on the Vicksburg Campaign, and the role played by Kansas troops there, we were able to work with the National Military Park to receive an Educational Waiver to the fee to enter the park.  If anyone out there in Traveler Nation is reading this, please be aware that many, but not all National Military Parks have an educational waiver of fees.  In making plans for the actual visit, having greatly benefited from a guided tour of Gettysburg, I contacted the VNMP and asked about tour guides.  I was referred to the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce at 601-636-3827.  There I was put in contact with Rick Martin, a brother retired Army Officer.  There, Rick let me know that he likes to conduct his tours in the manner of a Military Staff Ride and since we were doing it for the Boy Scouts, he was going to throw in a little something special.  Rick’s idea of “a little something special” was what truly made the trip special for the boys.  Rick taught them about life as a Civil War Infantryman and a Civil War Artilleryman which included bringing uniforms for the boys to wear, along with weapons and equipment to touch and feel.  This really brought the experience I wanted the boys to have to light; that of the American Soldier in the Civil War. 

In preparation for our trip as a Boy Scout Troop, I had the boys and some parental volunteers make some hardtack.  Our big meal Saturday night was an “authentic” Civil War meal of hardtack, bacon, baked beans and Johnny cakes.  It was actually quite a fine dinner, all things considered.  We had partnered with a local to the Vicksburg area Boy Scout Troop (Troop 7) to rent their camp for accommodations.  If you are reading this and considering reaching out to rent Camp Wilkerson, I highly recommend it.  It is a fine place for the boys and wants for nothing.  They even have patches that can be earned for touring and hiking the park and Johnny Mo is a real gentleman to work with.  For entertainment, we were joined by a Boy Scout Troop out of Texas. I had brought my laptop, screen and projector.  I had bought the movie “Cannonball Run” thinking that the rating of “PG” would be appropriate for the boys.  Though the movie was extremely entertaining and funny and our Scout Master really enjoyed it, I don’t know if it was right for some of the younger boys.  I reckon movie ratings in the 1970’s meant something different.  On Sunday we awoke and toured the USS Cairo, which will be covered in another feature. 

The tour was really made memorable by Rick’s leadership, knowledge and expertise.  Not only was Rick a retired Colonel in the Mississippi National Guard but he is also a retired Park Ranger and knows VNMP possibly better than the back of his hand.  For me there were two personal tie ins to the Vicksburg tour.  I had a relative who fought with the 3rd Louisiana Infantry Regiment.  I haven’t been able to find out much about my cousin, though the information I did find on him was from Confederate Memorial Hall in New Orleans.  I will write about that in another featured article.  The other personal tie in was from the Federal side.  I am a native New Hampshire man, from Cheshire County.  The 6th New Hampshire was formed in Cheshire County and were part of the IX Corps, which was sent West and took up a defensive position along the Big Black to ensure Confederate General Joe Johnston would not be able to relieve the besieged Confederates under Pemberton.  The 6th New Hampshire and the IX Corps would later prove their metal to the skeptical Western Troops in the Jackson Campaign, but that is a story for another day. 

https://www.nps.gov/vick/index.htm
https://www.civilwar.org/learn/civil-war/battles/vicksburg
Perhaps the best photo I have taken as “The Civil War Traveler.” The morning mists clings to the Illinois Monument in the background.
The Veteran’s Memorial Arch marking the entry onto the Battlefield it’s self.
Major General US Grant himself, at the spot of his headquarters. Here Grant awoke one evening to the sound of soldiers tearing down his quarters to use the wood to help build breastworks. His only reply when hearing that his subordinate, Major General Sherman had ordered it was “That figures”, as the soldiers went about their business.
The Truce Spot. Here, Major General Grant and Lt. General Pemberton drew terms that put Vicksburg in Federal hands.
Rick teaching Troop 487 Civil War Artillery Drills.
Colonel Rick Martin explaining to the boys the deadly effects of cannister.
Moose as a Federal Infantryman.
Rick preparing Troop 487 for action.
I don’t know if my cousin, Isadore Gimbert fought here, but here I was walking in the footsteps of the 3rd Louisianna.
Monument to the US Colored Troops. Masterfully done and a fitting tribute to these American Soldiers.
The 6th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry at Vicksburg. Note the IX Corps Crest.
Massachussetts at Vicksburg
Monument to Iowa. The Federal War in the West could not have been as successful as it was without the hard fighting men of Iowa. Their mark was made here at Vicksburg and places like Shiloh, Franklin, Atlanta, Westport and every other hot spot in the West. There Iowa stood.
The seal of the Great State of Illinois
The entrance to the Illinois Monument. I tried to capture the grandness of the monument.
A monument to the three Kansas Regiments that fought in the Vicksburg Campaign.
Confederate Breastworks inside the Visitors Center
Lt. General Pemberton. A man without a country. Born a Yankee, never trusted and perhaps never given a job without resources.
Major General US Grant.
Grant’s headquarters tent.
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