American History and the National Parks.
Most everyone has heard of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, an important Civil War Battle Site, but the perhaps lesser known battle site in Vicksburg Mississippi may be the best to visit with the kids. This small town with a big history had much to offer for families.
As a family we have had the privilege of visiting many Civil War sites along the east coast. These sites help develop a better understanding of this important piece of American History. Our National Park system has done a great job of developing and maintaining many of these sites.
Vicksburg vs. Gettysburg
Both Vicksburg and Gettysburg had a big part in the outcome of the war. The site in Gettysburg has a huge visitors center with a museum, a movie, and a small restaurant. However, it is run not only by the National Park, but also the Gettysburg Foundation. This makes it more commercialized and they charge extra for everything, unlike most National Park sites. The National Cemetery is one of the best parts to see at this site. There are monuments scattered throughout, but little to explain their significance. It is an important part of history though and I would still recommend visiting at least once.
The battle at Vicksburg was a turning point in the war. Here you will find a small visitors center located at the beginning of the driving tour. Here you will get a better understanding of the significance of this battle. There is also a nice movie that you can watch for free. On this driving tour you will see monuments from every state that had soldiers in the battle. Some of these were quite impressive.
Make sure you take the time to get out and look around. The Illinois monument is definitely worth going into. This is one of the most well marked battle sites in the world because many of the soldiers that fought here came back later to help us remember. It also has a Cemetery with head stones for all the soldiers that lost their live during this fight.
USS Cairo, the last Ironclad.
Perhaps the best part about this place is the USS Cairo museum. This Ironclad was torpedoed in the Mississippi River and sunk. After 100 years of lying on the bottom of the river it was rescued, restored, and made into a museum. You can actually step on board of this restored ship, which still has it’s original cannons! The museum has many artifacts as well that were also recovered. Not to mention some really interesting history too.
I highly recommend a visit to this site, especially with kids. There were so many pull outs along the driving tour with some really cool monuments. It is well marked and you can really get an idea of what it was like for those men that fought so bravely. Of course if you go you will also get bragging rights for having been on the last Ironclad!