One has to believe that Ulysses S. Grant has just fired up another victory cigar, and all Mississippians ought to join him in the celebration.
This week it was announced that a series of historical markers have been erected showing Grant’s path in his famous march to Vicksburg in 1863 during the American Civil War.
Brig. Gen. Parker Hills (ret.), president of the Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, told the Vicksburg Post that the 18 markers dot a 50-mile stretch of road from the old Grand Gulf town square to Raymond.
The project began in 2003, and the scenic byway was authorized by the Legislature in 2004. But the first historical marker didn’t go up until May at Dillon’s Plantation during the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Raymond.
So, why should Mississippians care? It is money in the bank.
The state has worked tirelessly of late to build the Mississippi Blues Trail as well as the Mississippi Country Music Trail. The Magnolia State offers a ton of opportunities to cultural/heritage tourists, opportunities available nowhere else. One can take a world cruise, but if you want to know about Jimmy Rodgers or Muddy Waters, there’s only one place on the globe to go — Mississippi.
Likewise, our state’s Civil War sites offer a one-of-a-kind experience. Places such as Corinth, Brice’s Crossroads, Raymond and Vicksburg hold Civil War attractions that draw tourists and their wallets. And, this is “new” money — often these visitors would not have come to Mississippi if not for the Civil War battlefields.
Hills told the Mississippi Business Journal recently that he believes Grant’s Vicksburg campaign is not only the most ambitious of the Civil War, but ranks among the most important in all of American military history. A defeat there could have changed the course of U.S. history. Almost certainly Grant would have never been elected president without his victory at Vicksburg.
Along with the new Vicksburg Campaign markers, historians and community leaders have worked tirelessly on other aspects of the offensive, particularly in Raymond where the battlefield has been reevaluated and better mapped, enhancing visitors’ experience.
Hills and a small army of Mississippians should be commended for their efforts to bring Civil War battle sites back to life. It is serious tourism/economic development that puts money in our local coffers.
So, smoke one on us, Gen. Grant, because we’re cashing in.