Dangerously Daydreaming

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence

A Battlefield, An Iron-Clad Ship Resurrected

If you’ve been following the recap of my recent trip to the South you’ve already heard about the day that J and I spent on the Mississippi River.

The day after our Natchez adventures, we decided to head one hour north to Historic Vicksburg, MS. J had never been in the this part of the country so I thought he would enjoy seeing a preserved Civil War battlefield. My dad made the drive up to Vicksburg with us in a separate car so he could drive back to Natchez while we continued on to Nashville, TN. The whole drive to Vicksburg we were outrunning a major thunderstorm. The deluge was so unlike our Washington showers it made the drive…. interesting. J had never seen such a storm with lightning illuminating the whole sky and the angry rumble of thunder overhead immediately after. We managed to outpace the storm by the time we reached Vicksburg with only a sprinkling of rain to mar our visit.

Obelisk

We drove through the heart of Vicksburg to reach the rear entrance of the Vicksburg National Military Park. A single lane road took us over verdant, rolling hills as we drove through the park. Periodically we would pass a monument to various armies of the North and South who had held the line during that long battle for Vicksburg. Stately statues of Southern generals stared down on us and the occasional cannon marked the place of a pivotal skirmish.

Cannon

We followed signs directing us to the U.S.S. Cairo – an ironclad “city class” gunboat that had sunk in the Yazoo River during the battle. It has the distinction of being the first ship to be sunk by an electronically detonated torpedo. Decades of mud and silt from the river perfectly preserved the Cairo until efforts were made to resurrect her from the watery depths in 1977. She now sits partially reconstructed at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

USS Cairo

The U.S.S. Cairo Museum contained many of the artifacts that were discovered on the Cairo when she was taken from the Yazoo River. They offered a glimpse into what life must have been like for the young men who served on her and similar ironclad boats. We were even able to walk aboard the reconstructed Cairo, though I couldn’t imagine living in such close quarters with dozens of other people.

Cairo J and Dad

We continued our drive through the park to the Visitors Center and learned more about the battle for Vicksburg: how the civilians took to living in caves to avoid cannon fire that had destroyed their homes, how the siege made soldier resort to eating grass, bark, and shoe leather, how the doctors tried to save lives without bias in deplorable conditions and lacking proper supplies. It was a glimpse into another time, and one that I don’t know if I’ll ever completely understand. Even now J and I have found ourselves talking about how these old Southern generals are venerated despite their defeat, why 16-year-old boys joined the Army for glory and pride in country, and how the war has shaped this region of the world.

Cairo Museum

We gave my dad a final hug and farewell before continuing on our long drive, first to Memphis for some Memphis-style BBQ baby back ribs, and then to just north of Nashville – a huge Army base and a small Kentucky town – Fort Campbell and Oak Grove, respectively. More on that part of our adventure next time!

Memphis

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12 comments on “A Battlefield, An Iron-Clad Ship Resurrected

  1. Troy at Ad-libbed
    April 23, 2014

    I’m totally loving this entire trip, by the way. But now I’m hungry for ribs. Damn.

    • Audrey
      April 25, 2014

      Oh man, if I could learn to make ribs like that my hubby would be in heaven… And thank you! It’s been fun to relive the adventure!

  2. betunada
    May 5, 2014

    DIDDDOUGH AWN DA WRIBZ … i was a civil-war ‘buff’ when much younger — up ’til middle school or so. on my first long road trip “back east” i went out of the way to view civil war sites — i did wander arlington cem also. your recent experience helped dust off my memories of similar. (hey! i have a work trip skkedded for DEEP SOUTH later this year!) jambalaya, eh?

    • Audrey
      May 7, 2014

      The food really was fantastic! With living in the PacNW it is really neat to visit places that are the setting of our history books. And the food, always the food! Where are you headed for your work trip?

      • betunada
        May 7, 2014

        jambalayaland! (lafayette, LA). employer thinks it best i take some IMMERSION in what i’m supposed to know.

  3. Pingback: Playing Army at Fort Campbell | Dangerously Daydreaming

  4. LAMarcom
    May 8, 2014

    There is an outstanding mini series by Ken Burns on the Civil War (or as a lot of Southerners call it: ‘The War Between The States’). You may have heard of it or even seen it. Anyway, if you want to really understand that war, this series is an excellent way to get there.
    Cheers,
    Lance

    Love your posts and photos.

    • Audrey
      May 8, 2014

      That sounds oddly familiar – I’ll have to check it out and thanks for the suggestion! I’ve studied it a bit on my own but I need to delve a little deeper.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. storiesbywilliams
    May 9, 2014

    Looks like someone’s been having their own historical adventures. And the food looks good, too 😉

    • Audrey
      May 13, 2014

      Oh yes, not nearly has extensive as your travels have been. But the food really was amazing… I’ve been inspired to improve my gumbo recipe!

  6. Pingback: Out To The Opry | Dangerously Daydreaming

  7. Pingback: Lucky [To Be In] Kentucky | Dangerously Daydreaming

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