2016-11-30 Wed – Vicksburg – Civil War History

Ah, what is vacation without Alison getting up early and engaging me in a walk! Deck 4, the Observation deck specifies 6 laps per mile – so we did 12 laps. Not bad.

Along the way, we “landed’ in Vicksburg, a historical community famous for a Civil War battle of comparable historical value to Gettysburg – more on that later. From the shore line, it didn’t look like a bad community, and although there were clouds on-and-off throughout the day, no rain was forecast. Yay!

Alison and I finished out laps and went directly to the dining room for breakfast. We hooked up for the River Laurian presentation at 8:15, which was good, but somehow not as good as yesterday’s initial presentation. People are definitely passionate about their material!

Next stop: the Chart Room, where we were to meet for a Pilot’s tour – basically, the bridge tour. There ended up being 23 of us – more than the 20 max that was advertised – but we all hiked from the Chart Room to the bridge. We was the radar, the electronic identification system, which  identified all vessels in the vicinity, speed, direction, etc. He went over all the knobs and dials, including the gold-plated ships horn (which was cool, actually), and the controls for lowering the smoke stacks, the pilot house, and the radar tower for going under bridges, etc. The tour lasted about 30 minutes.

Marion had left the ship already, for downtown Vicksburg, and we caught up with her on Washington Street. If you eliminated “modern” automobiles and trucks, you would find yourself stuck in a time warp! While the ladies shopped – and there weren’t that many stores in the old town, Barry and I went into a … sort of industrial clothing store. The business had been there 88 years, and the current owner was 84 and part of the original family. They seemed to specialize in specialty jeans, overalls, etc., and inventoried up to size 80 — and actually selling to size 72 pants, and 8X shirts. Whoa, I don’t want to meet those dudes. The guy watching the store while we were there was 74 years old, and going strong. McAllister. Quite a character. Barry got around to asking him about race relations in the area. No worries – no issues. All is well.

We walked back to the ship and caught an early lunch, as our excursion was scheduled for noon. Nothing special about lunch. We met in the theater for a presentation on the Vicsburg Battleground, including a video. All participants were inducted into one of 3 Confederate Regiments and assigned a leader. We were taught the Confederate Army shout, and were put into the frame of mind of being a Confederate Army soldier. Interesting. We were Regiment #1 (aka, bus 1), and as we were leaving the Boat, we were handed a card with the bio of an actual Civil War character. The fate of that particular individual would not be known to us until we got back to the Boat. I was a lawyer by trade, and Colonel in the Confederate States Army.

Our guide was older and passionate about Vicksburg’s role in the Civil War, convinced that it was more strategic to the outcome of the war than Gettysburg. OK, I’m not here to argue! We toured the battleground/US Park Service treasure for a good couple of hours, learning facts and figures and personalities from both the Union and Confederate sides. We also learned the physical lay of the land and the challenges that both sides face. The Confederates won 2 initial battles, but didn’t survive the 47 day siege – ending in the Confederates surrendering to Grant.

We returned to the boat, to learn that all four of our characters had survived the war. Yay! Many thousands did not, and we learned that the Confederate deaths were not even honored in any way after the war. Sad, really.

A quick change later, and we had a cocktail party with the Captain and his crew. That was nice. Not too big; lots of alcohol and appetizers from 4:30 to after 5:00, and then down to dinner. We learned a lot about the captain and his crew in a very short amount of time.

Dinner was good. We keep trying the Southern fare that is presented on this trip, and it’s been pretty good, thus far.

After dinner, we went to the theater to watch the house singers/dancers and cover band. Good show, but come 9:00, I think we were all ready for bed. Party animals, aren’t we?


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