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Vicksburg is a town that is now placed in a time capsule. More appropriately, they're surrounded by the time capsule.
First off, to go backwards, Vicksburg is the site of one of the most important battles of the Civil War. Gettysburg is, of course, probably one of the most famous, but Vicksburg was what Lincoln described as the "key" to ending this war. It was an alternative way to enter the heart of the South ,via the railroads that led to Alabama, and it most importantly helped control traffic on the Mississippi.
We did the "Battlefield and Siege Tour," as to do the battlefield any other way would require renting a car, possibly a guide (or at least a guidebook), and well, with all of that hassle, you might as well just do the tour. Also, in Vicksburg, you can see the town, go antiquing or see the battlefield, but the battlefield is so popular, it was obviously our first choice.
I mentioned before that the town was surrounded by a time capsule, and we mean that quite literally. The city was under siege from the North during the Civil War. Three sides were surrounded by forts and bunkers protecting the city from Union forces, while one side faced the water. After the war, the entire battlefield became a national park, and thereby the city was "seized" once more, but this time by a national park. If they wanted to grow ... well, they had no room to grow, until the Parks Service gave back a one and a half mile section only pretty recently.
Anyway, the park is probably one of the most beautiful parks we've seen in a while. It's beautiful not only for its historical significance, but for its unadulterated land, trees, plants, etc.
Every few hundred feet is a marker for either a Confederate or a Union regiment that fought there, and the tour guide went through explaining each and every one. Sometimes so much detail was given, you had to be a Civil War Buff to love it, but more is always better than less.
One of the highlights of the battlefield is the Louisiana Monument, which looks like a reproduction of the Pantheon in Rome. It's truly breathtaking seeing the temple dedicated to peace. Spend at least 15 minutes walking around here taking in the entire structure, and then go inside and spend a few minutes reading the names of the men who lost their lives.
The other biggest highlight is, of course, the Cairo, pronounced "Kay-Ro." The Cairo is famous for not only being one of the first ironclad battleships, but actually for its demise. It's the first ship to be destroyed by the predecessor to the modern day mine. A glass bottle with a copper wire and an electrical charge, and the Cairo landed at the bottom of the river. Out of the dozens of ships of this type, this is the only one to remain.
Well, the tour ended around noon, and of course, we went back to the ship for lunch. After lunch, we played another rousing round of bingo, which Margherita felt she won by winning $15, although she spent $40 to play over the past few days.
At night, another big highlight was when Captain "Doc" and the Riverlorian sat on the front deck and explained how the riverboat guides its way up the river at night. I didn't expect myself to be thrilled by guest lecturers, but it was a really nice feature to learn about riverboats, steamboats, and basically the Mississippi River history as a whole.
The night ended with the 1950s show, which featured the songs of Perry Como and others from that era, and then it was off to sleep.
Daily Itinerary of Our Cruise
Day 1 - Oak Alley Plantation
Day 2 - Baton Rouge
Day 3 - Natchez
Day 4 - Vicksburg
Day 5 - Helena