Sunday, April 7, 2024

Vicksburg National Military Park (US-0723)

Drone photo of courthouse
The city of Vicksburg Mississippi is a study in stereotypes - and in contradictions to those stereotypes.

We road-tripped there a few days ago and spent three nights in an old B&B that, at one time, housed Jefferson Davis and other southern statesmen from a bygone era.

There are a number of museums in town and you can easily determine the sympathies of the organizations running them by how they portray events prior to and during the Civil War. If you go, the two museums you must see are the Vicksburg Civil War Museum and the Old Courthouse Museum.

Both are excellent, in different ways, and I'll leave it to the visitor to interpret them as they see fit without further description here.

The courthouse is, for photographic purposes, the town center and was the object of a few clicks of my camera's shutter and of several drone flights.

Parts of the city look as if the Civil War ended just a few years ago. This is not by design, it is simply urban decay in one of the poorest states in the US. You'll see it at the beginning of the video (below). Such contrast...beautiful stately old buildings, surrounded by modern ruin.

The battlefield that comprises the POTA site is north of town and contains a 17-mile (28km) road that allows one to visit many memorials and other sites that explain the battle and 47-day siege that took place here in 1863, leading to the city's surrender.

I activated the park from two locations - both were good but not perfect.

The perfect site would have been the overlook just before descending downhill to the USS Cairo exhibit. That sight, just above the Cairo, has unobstructed views to the horizon in all directions but on the day I was there, it was being used as a staging area to repair a retaining wall.

Although there are a (very) few picnic tables in the park, they are not conveniently located for POTA activity. I recommend activating from the car.

"Found objects" from the battle 161 years ago are commonly available for sale around town. If I lived here, I would own a metal detector. Metal detecting is not allowed in the park itself but there are numerous areas for this activity adjacent to the park.

I hope to make it back to Vicksburg in the fall for a more lengthy activation(s) and more photography. I also very much enjoyed talking to people around town - black, white; young and old - and getting their perspective on the city's history.

There is no ham radio activity in the video below, just my attempt at producing a drone video:




  1. Hello John,
    I'm so glad I checked your blog today! My wife and I made plans to stop at the Vicksburg NMP on our way back from a week-long stay in Florida. (As a young child, MANY years ago, I played on one of the cannons overlooking the Mississippi. Had to be in the early 60's?) On April the 11th., we just had to visit the park as it is so easy to get to off I-20. It is a wonderful memorial an evoked many happy memories.
    I had HF and a screwdriver in the RV but we were 6 hrs. from home. Thanks for a nice story.
    73, John N5XYO

    1. Hi John - I was also there as a child and probably did the same thing, playing on the cannons. I regret that it took this long to return - we had a great time seeing all that the battlefield and town had to offer. There is an RV park right across the highway from the battlefield entrance and we checked it out for future reference.