Friday, December 19, 2008

Battle of Massard Prairie now available thorugh Amazon

The Battle of Massard Prairie: The 1864 Confederate Attacks on Fort Smith, Arkansas is now available through
The book was published last spring but became available on Amazon this week and can still be delivered in time for Christmas. To order just follow the link above and search for "battle of massard prairie."
This book tells the story of one of the few overwhelming Confederate victories in Arkansas. Fought on the open prairie outside Fort Smith on July 27, 1864, the battle involved one of the great open field cavalry charges of the Civil War, documented instances of Union troops scalping Confederate dead and the virtual destruction of an entire battalion of the 6th Kansas Cavalry.
To learn more about the battle, please visit

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Old Courthouse Museum - Vicksburg, Mississippi

One of the most fascinating local museums in the South can be found in the Old Courthouse in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

This historic structure dates from before the Civil War and was a major landmark during the siege and Battle of Vicksburg. Its clock tower can be seen in numerous photographs and drawings of the city dating from the time of the battle and it was here that U.S. troops under Gen. Ulysses S. Grant raised the United States flag on July 4, 1863, marking the end of the brutal siege.

Beautifully preserved and restored, the magnificent structure now houses a wide variety of displays and artifacts pertaining to the history of Vicksburg, the battle and the Mississippi River. Weapons, uniforms, original flags and other artifacts help visitors learn more about the battle, but the Old Courthouse also preserves its upstairs courtroom where many landmark cases were argued. Other displays tell about the great steamboats that once plied the Mississippi River. The decorative antlers from the famed paddlewheel boat Robert E. Lee can be seen.

To learn more about the Old Courthouse and other points of interest in and around Vicksburg, please visit

Friday, December 5, 2008

U.S.S. Cairo - A Civil War Ironclad on Display

One of my favorite historic sites in the South can be found in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The U.S.S. Cairo, a Union ironclad, is the centerpiece of a fascinating museum at Vicksburg National Military Park. It is one of just a few surviving warships of that era and is particularly unique because you can actually climb aboard for a closer look.

Part of the Mississippi River fleet, the Cairo was built at Mound City, Illinois, and commissioned in January of 1862. She saw action in the battles of Plum Point and Memphis. In the latter engagement she played a key role in the destruction of the Confederacy's river fleet.

On December 12, 1862, however, she was sent up the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg with other vessels to drive away Confederates and open the way for an attack on the city. Instead, the ships were ambushed and as the Cairo turned to fire on Southern troops she floated over what was then called a "torpedo." This mine, connected to shore by an electric wire, was set off with a charge and exploded, sinking the ironclad.

It was the first sinking of a warship by an electronic mine in history.

The Cairo spent the next 100 years on the bottom of the Yazoo, but in the 1960s she was raised in three sections and taken to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, where she was painstakingly preserved. Brought back to Vicksburg, she is now the centerpoint of a fascinating museum that focuses on the vessel and the role of the U.S. Navy in the capture of Vicksburg.

If you would like to read more about the U.S.S. Cairo and see additional photographs of the ironclad, please visit

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi

For two months in the spring and summer of 1863, one of history's largest and most significant battles took place on the hills and ravines surrounding the charming Mississippi River city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
The Battle of Vicksburg is commemorated today at Vicksburg National Military Park, where visitors can explore miles of both Union and Confederate trenches, forts, batteries and even a preserved Civil War ironclad.
The park is one of the key features in Vicksburg, a beautiful and historic city overlooking the Mississippi. If you would like to learn more, our new Vicksburg pages are now online at Please stop by for a visit!