Vicksburg is a proud little town which has witnessed tragedy, tribulation, gaiety and grandeur over the years. Its slow downtown, which used to house many thriving businesses and beautiful homes (as well as some 24/7 waterfront casinos) seems to have stood still around the 1970s and not changed much since. In 1863, its residents suffered horrendously in the 47 days siege of the American Civil War before the Confederates eventually surrendered to the Unionists. In 1953, tragedy struck again with a twister tornado which wrecked the town and killed 38 residents. In 1927, disaster struck yet again when the Mississippi flooded, displacing 700,000 refugees in total and hitting brave little Vicksburg very badly.
The town today is proud of its heritage and gives you a warm Southern welcome. History really comes alive here. You can find out all you ever wanted to know about the American Civil War at the Vicksburg National Military Park. You can self-drive or buy a guided tour on a DVD/CD or follow one on your mobile phone. If you are really interested, it is worth hiring your own guide to drive you around the huge site in your own car and answer all your questions. There is no need to pre book, but you do need to pay cash or check ($50 when we visited). The drive could be dull without a narrative to bring it all to life for you and explain exactly what happened here. Unfortunately, there is no national park run bus tour service – you would have to book with a private coach company on a group tour. Note the warnings to take care in the park – there are some poisonous snakes inhabiting it and also ferocious red ants and mosquitos in Summer!
There are a series of beautifully painted murals at the waterfront which tell the story of Vicksburg over the years – well worth a visit. The Old Court House Museum is also interesting, with a plethora of exhibits including the Teddy Roosevelt first teddy bear (more later …). You could easily spend a couple of hours here – great if it is raining,