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Shiloh and Vicksburg are worth a visit

Shiloh National Military Park, courtesy NPS

Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh, Tennessee
Shiloh National Military Park comprises Shiloh Battle Field in Shiloh and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, 22 miles south near Corinth, Mississippi.

The entire park commemorates two bloody battles in 1862 that ended any Confederate dreams of retaking Kentucky and western Tennessee.

“Shiloh Battlefield includes 4,200 acres with markers to interpret the battle, including those that depict the movements of Gen. Ulysses Grant,” said Joe Davis, supervisory park ranger. “The park experience includes a battlefield tour, an orientation film and museum exhibits.”

Groups will want to visit during one of the interpretive programs in the summer or during a living-history event, which take place throughout the year. The park is also home to Shiloh National Cemetery, where 3,584 soldiers are buried, 2,359 of them unknown.

The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center features interactive exhibits and multimedia presentations. Davis added that visitors learn about the causes of the Civil War, the lives of area inhabitants and what they experienced with the chaos during the time.

“This is also the place to learn about the first African-American regiment and the freed slaves that resided there,” he said

Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg National Military Park tells the story of an 18-month Civil War conflict and a 47-day siege that ended in the surrender of Vicksburg and Union control of the Mississippi River.

“The result of this siege cut the Confederacy in two,” said park guide Jake Koch. “The surrender on July 4, 1863, was a crucial turning point in the Civil War.

“What visitors most appreciate is that this park has the most monuments in the US and maybe the northern hemisphere. The sculptures are the best from the era. It is unlike any other Civil War park,” Koch added.

Besides the reconstructed forts and trenches throughout the 16-mile tour road, the number of monuments and other war memorials is astounding: The Park includes 1,325 monuments and markers, 144 cannons, two antebellum homes and a National Cemetery with over 18,000 burials.

The USS Cairo, a U.S. ironclad gunboat sunk by a torpedo/mine in 1862 on the Yazoo River, has been restored and is today on display at the park along with a treasure trove of weapons and personal gear of the sailors who served on board.

“We will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign the first half of 2013,” said Koch. “Groups should consider visiting throughout the spring and early summer to be part of the events.”