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Magnolia RV Park Resort, near Vicksburg, Mississippi

Magnolia RV Park Resort, near Vicksburg, Mississippi

A Stop on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour

By Jim Fulton

 

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Abstract

There are no places to see significant fossils around Vicksburg, Mississippi. It's mainly known for its history, especially the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War, in which Union forces broke a Confederate blockade on the Mississippi River, thereby opening it to the flow of supplies for the rest of the war.

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Table of Contents
Page Specifications
Id Flights_GFT_2017_1219
Title Magnolia RV Park Resort, near Vicksburg, Mississippi
Subtitle A Stop on the Phoenix's Grand Fossil Tour
Keywords Vicksburg, Mississippi, Magnolia RV Park Resort, Vicksburg Battlefield
Author Jim Fulton
Author's URL http://fenixnest/Phoenix/
Copyright 2017
Status Published: 2018/3/27
Last Revised 2018-02-28

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Arrived 2017/12/19
Day of Tour 150
Nights Stayed 7
Departed 2017/12/26
Map miles from last stop 217
Mileage on arrival 28,885
Actual miles from last stop 255
Accumulated miles for trip 11,980

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Vicksburg is not known for fossils. Aside from being a major city on the Mississippi River (not the economic boon it was a century ago), its primary claim to fame is having been the site of a major battle during the American Civil War. But that was reason enough to stop here.

The trip started somber enough. Heavy low clouds blanketed the earth, reducing visibility to a quarter mile. After a couple hours the rain started, heavy, straight down, flooding fields and slowing traffic (at least my part of it). About noon the sun began to find its way through the clouds, and by the time I arrived in Vicksburg, it was a lovely day, though the ground was fully saturated.

This was my first time in this part of the world, never before in Mississippi, only once before in Louisiana, and that was in New Orleans. I had been in northwestern Arkansas, the Ozarks, several times (had my honeymoon there), and I had always thought that typical of the state. But southeastern Arkansas and northeastern Louisiana are flat: flood-leveled silt, ground from the spires of the ancient Oachita and Ozark Mountains. The soil looked rich and fertile, but who am I to tell. I barely got into Mississippi, just a few miles east of Vicksburg, but it was much hillier than on the western side of the river.

I spend my Christmas in Vicksburg, solitary, quiet, and relaxed, with a couple of phone calls to my kids, and frying myself some chicken as my Christmas fowl.

Page Contents

Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vicksburg is an old city by American standards:

The area which is now Vicksburg was long occupied by the Natchez Native Americans as part of their historical territory along the Mississippi. The Natchez spoke a language isolate not related to the Muskogean languages of the other major tribes in the area. Before the Natchez, other indigenous cultures had occupied this strategic area for thousands of years.

The first Europeans who settled the area were French colonists, who built Fort-Saint-Pierre in 1719 on the high bluffs overlooking the Yazoo River at present-day Redwood. They conducted fur trading with the Natchez and others and started plantations. Wikipedia

It stands on a high bluff, overlooking the Mississippi. Access to the river enabled it to thrive before the war, and ultimately turned it into a major strategic location. River transport is not such an advantage to cities these days, and it appears to me from the appearance of the town, that the tourist trade to its historical sites is not making up for that loss.

Around Vicksburg

I took these photos while walking around downtown Vicksburg. Many of the buildings are refurbished antebellum originals.

Photo Gallery for Vicksburg

Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi
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Vicksburg Battlefield

Vicksburg's stock-in-trade for tourists is history, more specifically: the Siege of Vicksburg during the American Civil War. I don’t know how much the town can rely on that one incident for bringing in tourist dollars. There were quite a few people at the Vicksburg National Park for a sunny day in the week before Christmas, but that brings in little cash. (I got in free with my national parks pass.) And private investment in the trade seems questionable: almost all of the houses associated with the Civil War are for sale. Not making enough money, it seems.

Anyway, I decided to take advantage of my one visit to Vicksburg and explore what I could of the battlefield. The strategic importance of Vicksburg was obvious: By controlling the bluffs above the Mississippi River, the Confederates could block traffic up and down the river; by capturing Vicksburg, the Union could ship military supplies up and down with impunity.

From what I read in Wikipedia and in the museums of the area, the battle of Vicksburg had three major segments:

  1. Breaking the Confederate Blockade on the Mississippi. This was accomplished by bringing up seven naval ironclads from the gulf, including the USS Cairo. In the fall of 1862, these vessels broke the Confederate defenses at Natchez and Memphis, but Vicksburg resisted the bombardment, its citizens digging into underground bunkers. In April of 1863, the Union finally broke through in the Battle of Grand Gulf [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grand_Gulf]. This allow General Grant to bring his troops across the river.
  2. The Battle of Champion Hill. This, and other battles east of Vicksburg, were where most of the face-to-face fighting took place. After crossing the Mississippi, Grant pushed east along the Natchez Trace toward Jackson where he forced the troops under Joe Johnston to withdraw. He then turned west and fought through well-entrenched Confederate forces on Champion Hill.
  3. The Siege of Vicksburg. By mid-May, 1863, having pushed the Confederates back behind their lines at Vicksburg, Grant settled in for a siege, encircling and bombarding the town with artillery. By early July the plight of the Confederates was dire enough that Lt. Gen. Pemberton sued for peace.

That’s the historical outline, but what could I see today? I drove east on US 80/I20, getting off onto the Frontage Road, until turning onto Buck Reed Road. The land is heavily forested with low, lowland trees, gapped here and there with fields, whether meadows or pasture or cropland was hard to say on this mid-December drive. I suspect it was much the same when Grant was pushing his army west. Of course, where the fields were in 1863 is a guess, unless one officer or another left detailed battle notes.

The weather on my drive was mild and sunny, around 70ºF, quite an improvement from the 15º a could weeks ago when my furnace went out. According to historians, the temperatures during the battle were about the same, though the trees would have been lush and green.

Imagination, like memory, is reconstructive: imagining an historical scene, like remembering an episode in one’s past, the brain presents a stream of facts and images. Historical imagination cannot draw of personal memories of the event, so it presents what it can find. In my case, an amalgam of images from a plethora of Civil War movies and documentaries. I could "see" Grant’s troops pushing west toward the Confederate lines, fighting through brush when it had to, clamoring quickly over, and thereby destroying, whatever crops were planted in the fields.

Finally I turned onto Champion Hill. Looking west I could see the ‘crest of a ridge overlooking Jackson Creek. Grant wrote in his Personal Memoirs, "... where Pemberton had chosen his position to receive us, whether taken by accident or design, was well selected. It is one of the highest points in that section, and commanded all the ground in the range.”’Wikipedia I could imagine Grant’s troops coming out of the woods and looking across what gaps there were and seeing that crest, knowing nearly as well as Grant what lay upon it and what it forebode.

Looking at such a scene from a soldier’s perspective, is fearful, even for one such as I who has never been a soldier, but only a vicarious, movie-watching spectator. By chance, the music playing in my truck as I turned onto Champion Hill Road was “The Gael”, in a concert performance by The Rogues. For you who don’t know, this is the album version of the theme music from the Daniel Day-Lewis version of The Last of the Mohicans. It is both musically interesting —interweaving as it does two different themes, one a military jig, the other a plaintive lament — and emotional, partly because of what unfolds in the movie. Despite the anachronism of mixing a tune for a French-Indian War movie with a Civil War battlefield, it seemed oddly appropriate, and I put the tune on repeat until the battlefield was well behind me.

Despite the fact that this was where some of the heaviest fighting took place, I found no sign nor monument nor memorial anywhere in the area. Just blood-fertilized forests and fields.

I headed back toward Vicksburg along the Natchez Trace, an ancient pathway that is now a cultivated parkway that curiously has no ramps connecting it to many of the roads it crosses.

Back in Vicksburg I drove the official tour route and walked by some of the houses of significance from the time. I didn’t visit any museums, other than the small ones at the Vicksburg National Park. The artifacts that museums collect from the time, guns, uniforms, and so on, are cold and lifeless. They tell little of the suffering of soldiers, citizens, and slaves during the campaign.

The tour route is lined with monuments and memorials, particularly from Union states whose troops participated in the battle. Official pride and vicarious participation is all they represent. The names on the lists ore now just names. The people they depict are gone, from life and from memory. It is the conflagration, with its destruction and suffering, not the individual embers and sparks that should be remembered, so we can prevent its recurrence.

And yet I think we are not remembering it well. When the Civil War is discussed, what I hear most is not horror at the tactic of war but a resurgence of the pride and humiliation, of the issues that divided us into separate peoples, so different that war could be considered a reasonable alternative.

And yet if not for war, what horseman would arise to cull our unrestrained population? Would we have filled the earth and utterly depleted its resources? Or would we somehow have learned a workable lesson?

Photo Gallery for Vicksburg Battlefield

Vicksburg Battlefield
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Battlefield of Champion Hill
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Battlefield of Champion Hill
Looking west over the fields toward Champion Hill
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Battlefield of Champion Hill
Looking west over the fields toward Champion Hill
(Click for full-sized photo)
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The Battlefield of Champion Hill
Climbing Champion Hill
(Click for full-sized photo)
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The Battle of Raymond Commemoration
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
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The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)
Vicksburg Battlefield
The Vicksburg National Military Park
The USS Cairo
(Click for full-sized photo)

Magnolia RV Park Resort

This campground is basically a gravel parking lot, surrounded by highways and light industry. The sites are long enough for a big rig, but not with a towed or towing vehicle at the front or back. There is a grassy area next to each RV, and it might have been big enough to park my truck, but the manager let me park it in the neighboring site instead.

There is a swimming pool and some other equipment, so it was satisfactory for a week's stay, but I would look elsewhere for anything longer, or if I had kids I needed to entertain.

Photo Gallery for Magnolia RV Park Resort

Magnolia RV Park Resort
Magnolia RV Park Resort
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Magnolia RV Park Resort
Magnolia RV Park Resort
Address 211 Miller Street
Vicksburg,MS 39180
Home Page http://www.magnoliarvparkresort.com/
Phone (601) 631-0388
Associations
Rate (net US$) $42.40
Pros
  • Friendly staff
  • Reasonably sized sites
Cons
  • A little on the seedy side
Reviews (as of 2018/1/27)
Reviewer Rating Out of
RV Park Reviews 6.6 (Good) 10
Good Sam 8.5 10
Tripadvisor 3.5 5
Phoenix 7 10
  Site Type pull-through  
  Site Size 9 10
  Ease of Access 8 10
  WiFiNotes 8 10

Next Stop

From Vicksburg I will head down to New Orleans to spend New Years.

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