Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Champion Hill

The battle of Champion Hill is a bit disjointed to tour.  The fighting occured along a few main roads and is a bit far apart.  There is not one connected preserved battlefield to tour.  So instead you drive along one route, then another with limited areas to walk the ground.  Not that this is a horrible thing.  It still took us a few hours to tour the battlefield as we got out quite often to view things.  We followed the Blue & Grey magazine's tour which is quite detailed and good.
The Coker house across the road from where Confederate general Lloyd Tilghman was killed.  There are many plaques in the yard explaining the campaign.

Then across the road is where Tilghman was killed.  I've always found him interesting because of his service at Fort Henry.  He could have escaped to Fort Donelson but he stayed with a small force to formally surrender the fort. 

Then the view down the road from Tilghman's monument.  This is the view the Confederates would have had.  Notice the high ground in the distance.

And the spot where Tilghman's monument is.

Our next main stop was the Champion House site.  We had just parked along the main road when Sid Champion, descendent of the Champions that the battle is named after, came along.  He gave us a bit of back story and told us how to tour the ground better.  This was an amazing lucky encounter that helped us see the battlefield a bit better.  First we walked up the hill to the original house site, now near a modern church.

Then we detoured down another road to these monuments.

And we might have stopped here as there was a gate across the old road.  But we had been told we could go down the road so we did.  This area is really rough, thick forest and steep hills.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

in Raymond

We then went into Raymond.  Here we found the local Confederate cemetery.  Dead from the battle as well as other locals who survived the war are buried here.

The Confederate monument at the county courthouse.

And a cool battle mural on the side of a building near main street.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Going back a bit for me but in October 2013 I toured battlefields of the Vicksburg campaign with the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable.  I had been to Vicksburg once before so I had a little bit of knowledge of the ground but this one would be much much more.  Unfortunately this was also when the federal government shut down so we were barred from visiting the national park.  On the plus side nearly all of the campaign sites are not NPS sites so we were able to do much touring, just not the siege lines.  One of the better non-NPS sites is the battlefield of Raymond.  It is well taken care of and well marked.  We used the Blue and Gray magazine for much of our touring. 
 These cannons are on the grounds of an old warehouse or factory.  We intially were looking at them through the fence when a local told us that the gate is always open and we could just drive back in there to view it.  Raymond is towards the left and these guns would be pointing south.

We then drove a short distance to the south where the main portion of the Raymond battlefield is preserved.  There is a great walking trail around the park that lays out the battle.

This bridge looks old but kinda doubt that it is of Civil War vintage just because if it was I would think there would be greater efforts to protect it.

The banks of Fourteen Mile creek.  Union lines would be in the field to the left while the Confederates defended the right bank.

A line of cannons can just be seen in the field of cotton.

A cannon just after crossing the creek.

Which then provides a better view of the cannons in the cotton field.

Now walking the line of cannons.  They were all marked with NPS style markers denoting the battery they belonged to and what they did in the battle.  Every gun was also sponsored by someone, showing the care this battlefield receives.

Traveling north towards Raymond we came across this Texas monument.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Vicksburg trip

Roughly two years ago the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable took a trip to Vicksburg.  I was able to go that time and took my customary ton of pictures.  When we got back I endeavoured to start the blog again but I only got four trip posts done before life got hectic again and it dropped by the wayside.  With my return to blogging I knew that completing the Vicksburg series was a top priority.  So over the next month I will do just that (all the posts are actually done and scheduled).  There will be 13 Vicksburg related posts in the journey starting tomorrow with the battle of Raymond. 

Here are the first four posts that came out long ago so you can become reacquainted with the journey and then see it through over the next month.

Grand Gulf


Port Gibson

March to Raymond

Thursday, September 24, 2015

St Louis Arch

When we left Springfield we had two options; take I-70 home by passing through St Louis or go north to I-80 to get home.  We picked the St Louis route and added a tour of the arch because touring the arch seems so obvious when in St Louis.
Tickets for the arch are picked up at the Old Courthouse.  I don't know why I didn't put it together while we were inside getting tickets but the Old Courthouse is where the Dred Scott case was heard.  Exiting the court house on the river side puts one next to this Dred Scott statue.  There are many incidents in the years leading up to the Civil War that can be called catalysts, the Dred Scott case is one of those moments.  So it was a pretty cool thing to happen upon and if we had more time I would have loved to take a full tour of the Old Courthouse which I'm sure would have had more information about the Dred Scott case.

I'm not a fan of heights but for some reason being up in the arch didn't bother me.  Maybe its because the viewing windows are pretty small and the huge crowd doesn't allow you much time to stare out the window and realize how high you are.  But here is the view of the courthouse from atop the arch.  Its hard to see but to the left of the main stairs is a black dot, which is the Dred Scott monument.

A bit fuzzy from zooming in but here is the monument.  I love playing with the amazing zoom on my camera and this may be one of the best examples of its zooming power.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lost Speech

Its amazing what Civil War connections one finds.  We stopped at a rest area near Bloomington and found this little marker.  Bloomington is where Lincoln gave his Lost Speech, so named because no text of the speech exists.  I wonder if its the only such speech of his.  Also it seems incredible that there is no record of what he said.  I bet somewhere there is a grad student researching this very speech, trying to find some sort of text of it somewhere.  This concludes my series of Lincoln posts from our summer vacation.

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Salem

After two days in Springfield we decided to travel to nearby New Salem to see the recreated town where Lincoln lived as a young man. 
Of course there were some Lincoln statues

With my family history in cartography the Lincoln as surveyer statue was pretty cool.

Most of the town is reproduction buildings, with one exception.  That is the cooper, the building on the left.

Inside the cooper's residence next door.

There was a horse out back so that of course drew the kids attention but it's also a pretty view.

Entrance to a cellar, it was interesting to hear the kids' guesses as to what this was. 

Part of the mill.

The first Lincoln store.

The second Lincoln store is across the street, the building on the right.

Where Lincoln first worked in New Salem.

When Lincoln lived here the river was closer to the mill.  Now its 50 yards away.
And of course New Salem also has the Rutledge tavern, where Lincoln found love.  Some believe Ann Rutledge was his only true love but I have no idea about that, just that he did love her.

The kids loved watching the blacksmith.