Vicksburg as Seen in Postcards and Photos from the 1960's Civil War Centennial Era

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James N.

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June into early July marks the anniversary of the 1863 Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, setting for this year's fourth annual Civil War Talk Gathering in October. This thread will be another in the same style as others I have posted previously on Gettysburg https://civilwartalk.com/threads/gettysburg-battlefield-in-postcards-from-the-civil-war-centennial-1961-1964.138421/ Antietam https://civilwartalk.com/threads/antietam-battlefield-during-the-civil-war-centennial-1961-1964.138658/ Chickamauga https://civilwartalk.com/threads/chickamauga-battlefield-in-photos-and-postcards-from-the-1960s-1970s.149825/ and Shiloh https://civilwartalk.com/threads/shiloh-battlefield-as-seen-in-centennial-era-postcards-1964-1973.144418/ and will follow the tour route as laid out in the National Park Service brochure at the time of my initial visit in May, 1960. All text reproduced from the backs of the period postcards will be in italics. The cards in my collection all date from 1960 through the decade.

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Several things about Vicksburg and the National Military Park there should be pointed out from the map above: Notice there is NO Interstate highway - the main route is U. S. 80 which crosses the Mississippi River on the single combined road/rail bridge, turns left (north) on Washington Street into downtown Vicksburg, then right (east) onto Clay Street before continuing out of town through the NMP and on towards Jackson. At this time several other local streets and roads intersected the park land which completely encircled the city itself. The tour was suggested to begin at the park Administration Office and Museum and from there followed Confederate Avenue north to Fort Hill and the National Cemetery, then east and south along Union Avenue, again crossing U.S. 80 before rejoining Confederate Avenue south back to the Mississippi River; that is roughly the way this virtual "tour" will also proceed. Note also that there are no real tour stops indicated on the map; numbers coincide instead with the various state monuments and observation towers.

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This souvenir postcard folder provides some information about Vicksburg and the park:

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Part I - Vicksburg National Military Park - Confederate Avenue
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ENTRANCE TO VICKSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK This marble archway originally spanned Clay Street/U.S. 80 but was erected in horse-and-buggy or at best Model "T" days and has long since been moved into the park across Union Avenue where it now marks the beginning of the current rerouted auto tour.

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Smaller photos like that above are from a tiny souvenir "album" showing scenes in Vicksburg and the park.

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ADMINISTRATION BUILDING AND MUSEUM The Vicksburg National Military Park and Cemetery are administered by the National Park Service of the U. S. Department of the Interior. Established in 1899 to preserve the field of the Siege of Vicksburg. This rambling building, located near the intersection of Clay Street with Confederate Avenue, is now but a memory; housed in one wing were the park museum and exhibits, including by 1964 a few relics salvaged from the then-recently-discovered USS Cairo.

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… Showing statues of General Ulysses S. Grant, Commander of the Union Forces and General John C. Pemberton, Commander of the Confederate Forces.
Statues such as these are throughout the park; Pemberton's and that of Confederate President and Vicksburg native Jefferson Davis are among the first encountered upon leaving the museum and beginning the auto tour on Confederate Avenue.
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GENERAL FORNEY STATUE... This monument of Major General John H. Forney, C.S.A., marks the site of his field headquarters during the Battle and Siege of Vicksburg, June-July, 1863. His division occupied two miles of the defense line, and bore the brunt of the attack of the Union Army.

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MISSISSIPPI MEMORIAL The first State monument encountered on the tour was fittingly that of Mississippi, the most imposing of those representing the Confederate States. Below is a Polaroid photo taken by my father:
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GENERAL TILGHMAN STATUE... A monument of General Lloyd Tilghman, C.S.A., who was killed at the Battle of Champion's Hill, 18 miles east of Vicksburg, as he manned an artillery piece in an attempt to hold off a Union charge. In the background is the Louisiana Memorial at the Great Redoubt.

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LOUISIANA MEMORIAL AND GREAT REDOUBT... marking the site of the largest fort of the Confederate line, extending on both sides of the Louisiana Memorial. A low marble marker on the slope marks the farthest point of the unsuccessful advance of the Union assault of May 22, 1863.

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ARKANSAS MONUMENT... Vicksburg National Military Park, an area of 1,323 acres, adjoins Vicksburg on three sides... Mistletoe which is found throughout this area can be seen growing in clusters on tree in back of monument. At the time of this particular visit (1964) the Arkansas State Monument was one of the newest, along with Texas which does not appear here, and so neither are on the 1959 NPS map at the top of the thread, though Arkansas in located appropriately near that of Missouri.


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The Missouri Memorial is notable at Vicksburg as being the only State monument dedicated to the men on both sides of the conflict: one panel represents attacking Union Missouri troops, while the other depicts defending Missouri Confederates. It is placed on Confederate Avenue, but where Missouri Unionists made their assault. Below, another Polaroid taken by my father; note the wet roadway!
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Next, Part II - Fort Hill, the National Cemetery and Union Avenue
 
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James N.

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Part II - Vicksburg National Military Park: Fort Hill, National Cemetery and Union Avenue
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THE ILLINIOS MEMORIAL... Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. This memorial temple is dedicated to the 36,312 Illinois men whose names are inscribed on the bronze plaques within.

Fort Hill
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Confederate Avenue and the Confederate lines it follows end at the highpoint known appropriately as Fort Hill, one of the largest fortifications in the chain of defenses. In the background of the photo above can be seen one of the three observation towers that had been erected at key points like this within the park. As I recall, in 1960 they were still open to the public but were soon closed afterward for supposed safety concerns. Like the old NPS Administration Building, they are now only a memory.

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Vicksburg National Cemetery
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VICKSBURG NATIONAL CEMETERY... Established in 1866 as a final resting place of nearly 17,000 Union Soldiers who had been given temporary burial in scattered locations during the War. The identity of almost 13,000 is unknown. This National Cemetery also contains the remains of veterans of all wars since. This has also become the presumably final resting place of what remains of the USS Cairo and its museum, but that has been a more recent development.

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Union Avenue
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ILLINOIS MONUMENT Probably the handsomest tribute seen in the Vicksburg National Military Park is the Illinois Monument, memorializing the historic siege and battle of 1863. The Illinois Monument is almost directly opposite the Louisiana memorial at a point known as the Great Redoubt, scene of heavy fighting on May 19 and again during the explosion of a mine beneath Confederate works on June 25, 1863.







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Here are a couple of photos take with my Kodak Brownie camera in 1960: above, at the Surrender Site where Gen. John C. Pemberton met with Gen. U. S. Grant to discuss surrender terms on July 3, 1863, located between the lines but accessible from either Union or Confederate Avenues; below, playing artillery officer at Union Battery DeGolyer.

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Two more Brownie photos taken on the south end of Union Avenue: above, at the impressive Iowa State Monument; below, beside the statue of Illinois Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand, commanding Grant's XIII Corps during the failed assaults of May 19 and May 22, 1863.
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Near here Union Avenue then terminated into Confederate Avenue; a left turn took the driver toward the Mississippi River and bridge to Louisiana; a right turn, back into Vicksburg near the Memorial Arch. Below is along Confederate Avenue toward town:

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Another of the newest monuments in 1960 was that of the State of Alabama, likely erected for the Centennial; below, I've "borrowed it for another histrionic photo!

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Next, Part III - The City of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River
 
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James N.

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Part III - Vicksburg and the Mississippi River
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OLD COURT HOUSE MUSEUM Old Court House Museum, built in 1858. Here, General U. S. Grant raised the United States Flag at the fall of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863. Contains the largest collection of Civil War relics to be found and also antiques, documents, clothing, furniture, and Indian lore. Museum sponsored by the Vicksburg-Warren County Historical Society.


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THE DUFF GREEN MANSION The Duff Green Mansion, built in 1840, located at the first East and Locust Streets was famed for its magnificent balls in antebellum days. This red brick home with its exquisite iron lacework bannisters is one of the finest examples of Queen Anne influence found in Vicksburg's early architecture. This home was used as a Confederate hospital during the Civil War.
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THE OLD SOUTHERN TEA ROOM, 1201 Monroe Street... "Deep South Cooking At Its Best." This quaint Tea Room, in the heart of the "Deep South," carries on the tradition of delicious Southern cooking and gracious hospitality. With its colored waitresses, in bright "Mammy" costumes, serving steaming Shrimp Gumbo, crisp Fried Chicken, and Hot Biscuits, it is a mecca for travelers wanting old-fashioned southern cooking served in an atmosphere of picturesque charm. 2 blocks east and one block south of downtown. Recommended by Duncan Hines "Adventures in Good Eating," Gourmet's Guide and AAA. Needless to say, this place no longer exists and hasn't for decades, although it DID survive a move to a nearby downtown hotel, costumes and all, until that place was killed by Interstate 20. By the time it expired it had lost all its charm and more importantly no longer served the kind of Southern cooking it had been famous for.
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SPRAGUE The Sprague, famous as the largest old time stern wheeler in river tow service, known as 'Big Mama", towed over a million gallons of oil on a single trip. Presented to the City of Vicksburg by the Standard Oil Company for preservation as a Memorial Shrine, is today equally noted as America's first authentic museum of river history. Alas! - After serving as the titular Showboat! in the 1950's movie musical production, Sprague somewhat languished on Vicksburg's riverfront until being torched by an arsonist soon after my visit recorded below in another 1960 photo; like so much else, she is now only a memory.

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RIVER SCENE From the Vicksburg bluffs this entrancing view of the Mississippi stretches before the eye. Beyond, lie the verdant lowlands of Louisiana. This view is from Washington Street where the meandering Mississippi rejoins its old bed, turns again to the south, and continues flowing unvexed to the sea.

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BRIDGE Spanning the Mississippi at Vicksburg is a bridge carrying both rail and highway traffic. It cost more than seven millions and is almost two miles long. Happily, this bridge is no longer used for auto traffic and has been joined by a newer highway bridge of similar design to carry I-20, though the old bridge still carries rail traffic. It was truly terrifying to drive across this very narrow span at the same time with a train! Below, my shot of the bridge as seen from Louisiana Circle:
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Lampasas Bill

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I visited there with my family in 1962. We arrived and checked into a motel on US 80, just east of the park boundary. As twilight was setting in, my dad took my brother and I for a walk up the old Baldwin Ferry Road and through the Jewish cemetery to read the markers around the 2nd Texas Lunette. It was a very moving experience as the darkness was slowly setting in. It's one of my favorite memories of my father and one of my favorite battlefield parks.
 
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James N.

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Very nice....Thanks for sharing. I have a collection of old post cards I need to scan.
Feel free to add any Vicksburg subjects to this thread or my weekly Throwback Thursday - as you can see from my OP here there are also threads on Antietam, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Chickamauga as well.
 
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