The Vicksburg National Military Park steals much of the civil war spotlight in Central Mississippi, and rightfully so. The battle for Vicksburg was an important one for the Union and solidified their ultimate victory. That park is a glorious reminder of our past; it should be visited, often. Federal oversight and Federal money make that park, along with the Natchez Trace, the jewel of the National Park System in Mississippi. But that is a day trip for another post.
Today, I want to remind you of the State run Civil War battlefield just south of Vicksburg, and just north of Port Gibson, the Grand Gulf Military Monument Park.
According to its website:
In May of 1962, the Grand Gulf Military Monument Park was officially opened, dedicated to preserving the memory of both the town and the battle in which occurred there. Located eight miles northwest of Port Gibson, Mississippi off Highway 61, this 400 acre landmark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and includes Fort Cobun and Fort Wade, the Grand Gulf Cemetery, a museum, campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, an observation tower, and several restored buildings dating back to Grand Gulf's heyday.
Park guests can step back in time and relive history as it was made. Beginning at the museum, you can trace the development of Grand Gulf through early photographs, maps, scale models, and authentic artifacts found in the area. Coaches and carriages bear silent witness to the days when Grand Gulf was bustling with people; while Union and Confederate uniforms, cannon balls, and muskets remain to tell of the fierce fighting that took place during the latter stage of the Civil War.
The old town of Grand Gulf has an interesting history and the museum displays items from the early days of the booming town. Also in the museum are items such as a Mastodon bone, Civil War artifacts, items used and paper artifacts from the early 1800's up to the 1950's. Day visitors & campers are surprised at this wonderful park and museum. In the near future come and visit the past, at Grand Gulf.(cont.)
Visit this page before you go. It provides an overview of the history and attractions at the park. There is a full day of entertainment at the park if you do it right. You could spend an hour, easy, just in the visitor center/museum. On the grounds, there are the remains of the army fort, including the barn, stockades, and jail. There are cemeteries, observation towers, and hiking trails, water mills, churches, campgrounds, and much more. There is also a submarine once used by bootleggers to run whisky across the Mississippi.
The kids will enjoy running around the park and playing, even if they are oblivious to the history. One of my favorite memories was exploring the park by foot with my daughter as she picked up pecans from the trees in the park. She would hand them to me, I would crack them, she would eat them. She enjoyed the pecans so much, on the way home, I stopped in Port Gibson and bought her more. A farmer was on the side of the highway selling pecans and raccoons (at that late hour, he had only one left). I grabbed a few pounds of pecans, but passed on the raccoon.
The setting of the park is beautiful, and the Mississippi River is only a short walk from the visitor's center. Pack a picnic, your kids, your walking shoes, a frisbee and your curiosity. On the way home, drive through Vicksburg and eat at the Beechwood.