Friday, May 9, 2008
Spring Travel Part Eleven: Grand Gulf Military Monument
Continuing our series on some of my favorite spring travel destinations in the South, we look today at Grand Gulf, Mississippi.
Visitors to the major battlefield at Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi often overlook another fascinating battlefield that is located less than one hour away.
Grand Gulf Military Monument, a state park just outside of Port Gibson, Mississippi, preserves the site of the Battle of Grand Gulf and the historic town of the same name.
An important preliminary episode of the Vicksburg Campaign, the Battle of Grand Gulf took place on April 29, 1863. Hoping to bombard the heavily fortified Confederate position into submission and open the way for the landing of General Grant's troops, the Union navy attacked Grand Gulf with massive firepower. The Confederate forts replied and for hours the two sides blasted each other in one of the heaviest bombardments of the war. Union ironclads and Confederate earthen batteries covered the Mississippi River with smoke and fire.
In the end, though, the Confederate forts held. Grant was forced to abandon his plans for a landing at Grand Gulf. Instead, he marched his men across country in Louisiana and crossed downstream at Bruinsburg. The move effectively flanked the Confederate position at Grand Gulf and the Southern troops withdrew to Vicksburg a short time later.
The park today preserves a series of earthwork forts, batteries and entrenchments, along with an array of historic structures. There is also a fascinating small museum. To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/grandgulf1.