Sister Trip 7 – Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi October 10 – 19, 2016

14 Nov

We were so excited for this trip that we didn’t sleep much the night before in anticipation of taking off at 6:05 AM for a glorious trip to the Southeast. This anticipation was quickly replaced by anxiety when Southwest announced that our plane had a dead battery (Can you believe that?) and everyone had to be rerouted. Such a bummer. So instead of arriving in New Orleans at 1:30 their time, we arrived a bit after 4. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal but we had to rent a car and then drive about 4 hours to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Our luggage didn’t get rerouted with us and that was a disappointment.  Luckily we had our meds, cameras and a few essentials in our backpacks. We survived and our bags were FedExed to us in Vicksburg the next day.

Vicksburg

Just click on a photo if you wish to enlarge it

We chose to visit Vicksburg because Jerri loves learning about the Civil War and visiting important sites of that era. Abraham Lincoln called Vicksburg “the key” for control of the Mississippi River, a major conduit for moving troops and supplies. In October 1862, Vicksburg was the focus of operations between Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant, ordered to clear the Mississippi of Confederate resistance, and Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton—with 50,000 widely scattered Confederate troops— expected to keep the river open. After many battles and skirmishes, Grant laid formal siege on Vicksburg. It lasted 46 days and on July 4, 1863, Vicksburg was officially surrendered.

So it is that we visited the Vicksburg National Military Park. After seeing a short movie explaining the campaign and siege of Vicksburg, we drove the very well marked 16 miles of roads through the park. There are red markers that pertain to Confederate lines or emplacements and blue markers refer to Union forces. With all the markers, artillery pieces, monuments and restored forts, rifle pits and battle positions, we had a great visual of who was where and how close the forces were when they battled each other.

So it is that we visited the Vicksburg National Military Park. After seeing a short movie explaining the campaign and siege of Vicksburg, we drove the very well marked 16 miles of roads through the park. There are red markers that pertain to Confederate lines or emplacements and blue markers refer to Union forces. With all the markers, artillery pieces, monuments and restored forts, rifle pits and battle positions, we had a great visual of who was where and how close the forces were when they battled each other.

Pointing the way

Pointing the way

This is the Union Battery de Golyer that hammered the Confederate Great Redoubt across a ravine. (FYI-A Redoubt is a fort and in this case, a massive earthwork)

The Union Battery de Golyer that hammered the Confederate Great Redoubt across a ravine. (FYI- a Redoubt is a fort and in this case, a massive earthwork)

 The Great Redoubt can be seen to the left of the white house.

The Great Redoubt can be seen to the left of the white house.

The James & Adeline Shirley house that was caught in a crossfire. It eventually became the Federal Headquarters. It is the only original structure left in the park and has been restored to its 1863 appearance.

The James & Adeline Shirley house that was caught in a crossfire. It eventually became the Federal Headquarters. It is the only original structure left in the park and has been restored to its 1863 appearance.

It seemed appropriate that we saw several buzzards flying over the ravine in front of the Shirley House. Many men died in the ravine in front of it.

It seemed appropriate that we saw several buzzards flying over the ravine in front of the Shirley House. Many men died in the ravine in front of it.

The USS Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro) was sunk in the River and salvaged in the 1960s. The boat’s remains are partially reconstructed and many recovered artifacts are displayed in the nearby museum. You can get a feel of a sailor’s life when you see those artifacts. It certainly wasn’t an easy life for them aboard the Cairo.

The USS Cairo (pronounced Kay-ro) was sunk in the River and salvaged in the 1960s. The boat’s remains are partially reconstructed and many recovered artifacts are displayed in the nearby museum. You can get a feel of a sailor’s life when you see those artifacts. It certainly wasn’t an easy life for them aboard the Cairo.

Cairo sinking painting

We visited the Old Courthouse in Vicksburg that has been turned into a very nice museum. It has some nice displays of Civil War artifacts and even some Mercí Train artifacts. They had some artillery shell art that was very well done.

We visited the Old Courthouse in Vicksburg that has been turned into a very nice museum. It has some nice displays of Civil War artifacts and even some Mercí Train artifacts. They had some artillery shell art that was very well done.

Our favorite place in Vicksburg was the McRaven House, the most haunted house in Mississippi.

Our favorite place in Vicksburg was the McRaven House, the most haunted house in Mississippi.

Built in 1797, it contains the architecture of three different time periods: Frontier (1797), Empire (1839) and Greek Revival (1849). It served as a waystation at first and then was added to by the local sheriff. His wife died in childbirth there in 1836. The house was purchased by John H. Bobb in 1849, who built the rest of the house.  The house itself was set back among many trees and was not visible from the street. I thought it was sort of creepy around the grounds.

During the Civil War's 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, McRaven was used as a Confederate field hospital and campsite. This might account for some of the “hauntings.”

During the Civil War’s 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, McRaven was used as a Confederate field hospital and campsite. This might account for some of the “hauntings.”

Our tour was extremely well done and Larry the cat added to the ambiance. He loved Jerri.

Our tour was extremely well done and Larry the cat added to the fun. He loved Jerri.

Jerri couldn't resist adding a bit of her own art to McRaven

Jerri couldn’t resist heading into the art portion of the tour

We drove next toward Natchez and joined the Natchez Trace Parkway. The Natchez Trace began as Native American footpath leading between the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, growing numbers of travelers tramped the rough trail into a clearly marked path.

Where the ground was relatively soft, walkers, riders and wagons wore down the “sunken” sections still seen today.

Where the ground was relatively soft, walkers, riders and wagons wore down the “sunken” sections still seen today.

President Jefferson designated the Trace a national post road for mail delivery between Nashville and Natchez (444 miles). Today, the Parkway creates a beautiful highway from the southern Appalachian foothills of Tennessee to the bluffs of the lower Mississippi River.

Along the way we stopped at Mt. Locust Inn (a “stand” in the late 1700s). For 25¢, travelers could stop for a hot meal and a place to sleep on the porch. People lived in this building until 1944 and Park Service began restoration in 1954.

Along the way we stopped at Mt. Locust Inn (a “stand” in the late 1700s). For 25¢, travelers could stop for a hot meal and a place to sleep on the porch. People lived in this building until 1944 and the National Park Service began restoration in 1954.

Resting her bones at Mt. Locust

Resting her bones at Mt. Locust

This is what the Natchez Trace looks like today near Mt. Locust.

This is what the Natchez Trace looks like today near Mt. Locust.

We loved Natchez! It’s beautiful with many friendly people, filled with history and seems to have an easy-going ambiance. At one time, more millionaires lived here than anywhere else in the country due to King Cotton and their magnificent homes reflected their prosperity. It wasn’t a huge Civil War military objective, so most of the antebellum mansions survived making them a huge tourist draw for the area. We visited a few and enjoyed each for their uniqueness.

Rosalie was a big hit with both of us for its beauty, its original 1850s furniture and story. Built in 1820 by the Little family, it was purchased in 1857 by Andrew Wilson whose descendents lived in it until 1958. During the Civil War, it was occupied by the Union commander who gave the order to not destroy homes in Natchez.

Rosalie was a big hit with both of us for its beauty, its original 1850s furniture and story. Built in 1820 by the Little family, it was purchased in 1857 by Andrew Wilson whose descendents lived in it until 1958. During the Civil War, it was occupied by the Union commander who gave the order to not destroy homes in Natchez.

Rear entrance to Rosalie.

Rear entrance to Rosalie.

View of the Mississippi from Rosalie’s grounds. That's a tug boat pushing barges

View of the Mississippi from Rosalie’s grounds. That’s a tug boat pushing barges

Our carriage that took us on a tour of Natchez. I find it ironic that the carriage driver is on his cell phone.

Our carriage that took us on a tour of Natchez. I find it ironic that the carriage driver is on his cell phone.

Stanton Hall is one of America's largest antebellum mansions. It was built in 1857 and takes up an entire city block

Stanton Hall is one of America’s largest antebellum mansions. It was built in 1857 and takes up an entire city block

Dusk looking toward the Mississippi River and Louisiana on the other side

Dusk looking toward the Mississippi River and Louisiana on the other side

A cannon ball is lodged in the parlor wall of the Cedar Grove Plantation.

A cannon ball is lodged in the parlor wall of the Cedar Grove Plantation.  Don’t touch!

Assuming a helm pose

Assuming a helm pose

From Natchez, we moved south to St. Francisville, Louisiana, where we visited two unique plantation homes. The Myrtles, a 1796 plantation home, now a B and B, had a most interesting tour.

The Myrtles, named for the Crepe Myrtles on the property, was built 1796. Its veranda is 125 feet long

The Myrtles, named for the Crepe Myrtles on the property, was built 1796. Its veranda is 125 feet long

The Myrtles is claimed to be Louisiana’s most haunted mansion. It is said that more than a dozen different spirits have appeared over the years to the home’s owners and guests. We didn’t see any spirits, but enjoyed the tour. We did get to see a photograph taken by a person not of the household that supposedly shows two spirit children by the house. Who knows for sure? I do know that I don’t think I’d like to sleep in that house. It seemed rather creepy to me.  Jerri loves this stuff and I’m too chicken.

The next day, we visited the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, the place that makes me think of Tara in all its grandeur. It’s a 16-room house approached by a live-oak allée. (planted in 1830 and used to funnel cool breezes from the Mississippi River) The couple was inspired by the gardens at Versailles and created a 28-acre formal garden that is still beautiful today.

We visited the Rosedown Plantation State Historic Site, a place that makes me think of Tara in all its grandeur. It’s a 16-room house approached by a live-oak allée. (planted in 1830 and used to funnel cool breezes from the Mississippi River) The couple was inspired by the gardens at Versailles and created a 28-acre formal garden that is still beautiful today.

Looking down oak allee

Looking down oak allee from the mansion’s upper veranda

This handpainted French wall paper and a mahogany stairway were in Rosedown's entry hall. this was the epitome of elegance during the heyday of plantations

This hand painted French wall paper and a mahogany stairway were in Rosedown’s entry hall. this was the epitome of elegance during the heyday of plantations

Ceiling décor has pineapples there were a symbol of welcome. This was in several of the homes we visited.

Ceiling décor with pineapples that were a symbol of welcome. This was in several of the homes we visited.

A shoo fly over the dining room table

A shoo fly over the dining room table.  It was like a fan that shooed the flies

An early indoor shower/bath

An early indoor shower/bath

Keyhole covers were sometimes used to ward off evil spirits or even to shut out some of the heat or cold.

Keyhole covers were sometimes used shut out heat or cold and to ward off evil spirits.

The oldest Live Oak at Rosedown, 260 years old. Live Oaks are native to Louisiana and stay green all year, hence the name Live Oak.

The oldest live oak at Rosedown, 260 years old. Live oaks are native to Louisiana and stay green all year, hence the name live oak.

Spanish moss is rampant in MS and LA and lends a mysterious aura to the trees. The moss was also used to stuff pillows and mattresses but had to be cured first. If not, bugs would get into the beds. Yuck!

Spanish moss is rampant in MS and LA and lends a mysterious aura to the trees. The moss was often used to stuff pillows and mattresses but had to be cured first. If not, bugs would get into the beds. Yuck!

A giant bumblebee in the garden

A giant bumblebee in the garden

You go, Girl!!!

You go, Girl!!!

We really enjoyed Rosedown as we could see the vastness of a plantation as well as the grandeur of an antebellum home. I was very pleased that it’s been well preserved so the people like us can get a taste of antebellum life (at least what the plantation owners’ lives were like).

Jerri and I headed toward Baton Rouge to see the LSU Rural Life Museum that is a recreation of an 1800s plantation with more than 15 relocated or re-created buildings on five acres. The cultures and lifestyles of pre-industrial Louisiana are shown through collections of tools, household utensils, furniture and farming implements. We did get to see some slave quarters as well as an overseer’s cabin that seemed authentic but we were not impressed with the preservation efforts for some of the carriages, furniture and other artifacts in barn-like buildings. There was neither climate control nor apparent effort to preserve the artifacts

. We thought future generations would not be able to enjoy them as they should be able to. (I guess I’ve learned extra awareness about these things since I’ve been volunteering at the Nevada State Museum.)

A funeral carriage

A funeral carriage

Men's and women's deluxe outhouse

Men’s and women’s deluxe outhouse

This outhouse comes with its own corn cobs!

This outhouse comes with its own corn cobs!

A Louisiana longhorn

A Louisiana longhorn

 

This has become a very long document and I should have divided it into shorter segments.  But I didn’t, so I am going to close with our visit to the Rural Farm. The next Sister Trip installment will be about our adventure in New Orleans with our nerve wracking journey just trying to get to our hotel.  Until next time…

One Response to “Sister Trip 7 – Vicksburg and Natchez, Mississippi October 10 – 19, 2016”

  1. Barb Allen November 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

    WOWEEEEE! You two are having a ball….what great history and super sights you are experiencing!!! I love reading about them!!

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