Tree Removal at Vicksburg National Military Park

On November 14, 2011, I posted an article about the Vicksburg National Military Park’s plan to remove trees in an effort to restore portions of the battlefield to its 1863 appearance. Today I toured the military park, and I am happy to say that the work is well underway – the area bounded by Battery DeGoyler, the Illinois Monument, and the Louisiana Monument is now clear. The ground is still broken and torn, and it only takes a little imagination now to visualize the land as the Yankee and Rebel soldiers saw it in 1863. Below are the pictures that I took of the newly cleared land:

View from Battery DeGoyler looking toward the Great Redoubt and Louisiana Monument. The building in between was built during the 1930s and for many years was used as the park visitor center.

View from Battery DeGoyler looking toward the Illinois Monument and Shirley House

The torn land, downed trees and burned spots really give the viewer a feel for what this land must have looked like during the siege

View from the Illinois Monument looking back toward Battery DeGoyler

Another view of Battery DeGoyler from the Shirley House - for over half a century this scene was totally obscured by trees

View from the Shirley House looking toward the old visitor center

Display near the Shirley House explaining the effort to return the battlefield to its 1863 appearance

Having seen the changes made to the park firsthand, I have to say I’m very pleased with the work so far. For years it has been very difficult to visualize the battlefield as the soldiers would have seen it. With the trees removed from core areas of the battlefield, this will no longer be a problem, and I’m sure it will increase the enjoyment and understanding of the park by the general public.

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9 thoughts on “Tree Removal at Vicksburg National Military Park

  1. Pretty cool to see this happen, they have been talking about it for 10 years now. I’m sure they would never *quite* get it into the state it was in during the siege … reading the first-hand accounts, there were enough felled trees and briar patches to create cover for skirmishers in the bottoms down below. But still very helpful to visualize what was going on … can you see the railroad redoubt from the Shirley House now? If they can ever get that to happen, then maybe Ed Bearss can quit claiming that Grant lied when he said he could see McClernand had made less progress than he claimed in the May 22 assault.

    🙂

    • Tony, with my glasses on my vision is good, but not that good. Even with the Six Million Dollar Man’s bionic eye, I don’t think I could see the Railroad Redoubt from the Shirley House.

  2. Tom Wiseman

    Jeff ; Thanks for posting the info on the tree removal. I hope they will remove the trees from around the 2nd Texas Lunette. My ancestor ( great great greatuncle) got killed there on May 22,1863. He was in the 2nd Texas Infantry. Have you ever run across any photos of the Lunette( before the cemetery was built)?? Thanks again from Tom Wiseman ( up here in Illinois but a member of the Pemberton SCV camp)

    • Tom,
      The property where the 2nd Texas Lunette was located belonged to brothers Harris and Elias Kiersky – in a spectacular bit of bad timing, they had purchased the land in 1862 for $5,000. After the siege the land was broken and scarred by trenches and earthworks, and in 1864 the brothers sold the property at a loss to the Congregation of Anshe Chesed to be used as their burial ground. The first interment took place in 1865. I don’t know when the lunette was removed, but it was probably pretty early into the ownership of the property by Anshe Chesed, and I have never seen a photo that shows the lunette while it was still there. I don’t know of any remaining rifle pits or fortifications still existing near the site of the 2nd Texas Lunette, but I will check with a buddy of mine who works at the park and see if he knows of any.

      • Tom Wiseman

        Jeff: Thanks for the information on the Second Texas Lunette. The source of the info on fortifications was a civil war blog, Texas in the Civil War. So, not the most authoritative source. I emailed Mr. Winschel and he said he didn’t know of any either. I can’t wait to see the cleared ground in person, but your pictures captured it well and I do thank you. I try to read all the books I can on Vicksburg. I have the book you co-authored with Mr. Cotton. It has some pictures in it I have never seen elsewhere so you have a right to be proud, it is a nice book. I once saw a reference to a Vicksburg diary of a soldier in the 2nd Texas, I believe his name was Alex Frazier or something like that. i have never been able to find his diary in print form or on the Internet. I wonder if it has any more information on my ancestor’s death. Luckily Maurice Simons, who was in the 2nd texas, left a good diary and told what he believed happened although he did not personally witness it.
        On a different subject, do you know if anyone ever did any looking for the famous gun “Whistling dick” which was dumped in the Miss. river, (as was done with the Hunley or the Cairo? surely it would be some where on the bottom of the Yazoo Diversion channel? Just wondering about that, although I never heard any one speculate. I don’t know if that material ( iron or whatever) would resist the watery conditions or not.
        Thanks again for the reply. Tom Wiseman

      • Tom,
        The diary of Alex Frazier (Company E, 2nd Texas Infantry) is at the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg – you can reach them at 601-636-0741. The director of the Old Court House is Bubba Bolm, and I am sure he can help you in obtaining a copy of the diary. As to Whistling Dick, I have never heard of anyone mounting a search for it, I imagine it would be pretty hard to find given how much junk must be on the bottom of the Yazoo Diversion Canal. It should, however, be in good condition, as being sunk in the mud would preserve it very well.

      • Tom Wiseman

        Thank you for the information, Jeff, I will follow up with the museum! Tom Wiseman

  3. Marty Bertera

    Great site I really like your page and I do agree with you in regard to the cutting the trees at Vicksburg, My wife and I was there in 2011 and took a number of images. By chance did you take a photo looking at De Golyer’s Battery Position, looking from the Third Louisiana Redan or vice versa?

    • Marty, I don’t remember if I have any additional pictures, but I will check, and if I find any, I will post them at the end of the article.

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