Road Trip with Rachel: Vicksburg National Military Park

"Here, on this ground, 151 years ago, history changed. This is a battlefield. It's a Civil War battlefield," said Tim Kavanaugh, Supervisory Park Ranger. Vicksburg, Mississippi. The nail head that keeps the South stitched together.

Vicksburg National Military Park is where the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg took place between May 18 and July 4, 1863.

"This was the turning point of the American Civil War."

The park pays homage to the greater Vicksburg campaign, which took place before the battle.

"If the confederacy had won, and the Union had been defeated, this would not be part of the United States. There might not even be a United States."

The war ended in the surrender of the city. According to, victory in Vicksburg and at Port Hudson gave the United States ownership of the Mississippi River.

"For forty seven days, the men endured heat, starvation, disease, they were cut off from the rest of the world, they did everything that manhood could be expected, but without relief there was no further thing that they could do but surrender the city to Ulysses S. Grant."

The Illinois State Memorial has 47 steps, for every day Vicksburg was bombarded. The park includes 20 miles of historic trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile tour road, 1,325 historic monuments and markers, a 12.5 mile walking trail, two antebellum homes, 144 cannons, and the gunboat Uss Cairo 1964.

"Again, a lot happens right here that's going to change the course of not only the Civil War, but of all the history of our country and our world since the Civil War."

And the only way to truly experience what happened here 151 years ago would be to see for yourself.

"The fortifications, they see the cannons, they hear the talking, and they actually you tell them you're standing on the ground where it happened-- you can see the connection and see the look on their faces change and that's what makes it all worthwhile."