Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hilton Head to Vicksburg, finally

You might think that one trip to the Civil War Battlefield at Vicksburg, Mississippi would be enough, but it is such a surprisingly beautiful park in addition to being adjacent to Interstate Hwy. 10, that neither my cousin Debby nor I seem to be capable of driving through Vicksburg without stopping.

Prior to this particular trip through Vicksburg, I had learned that our 2nd cousin, 3x removed, Capt. Harris Wilkerson, Jr. who served the Confederacy in the 1st Regiment, Missouri Cavalry during the seige of Vicksburg, had returned to Vicksburg and married after being paroled and released following the war. Dying there in 1879, he was buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery adjacent to the park. This new information made simply driving through Vicksburg without stopping at the Battlefield or the cemetery out of the question.

Also adjacent to the park is Soldiers' Rest C.S.A. Cemetery which began in 1866 when the remains of over 1600 soldiers who died in the Vicksburg campaign and seige were re-interred there.

Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Page 294 -
...Captain (J. W.) Barclay and Lieutenant (Harris) Wilkerson, of Bowen's division, with 50 brave fellows of that command, are entitled to special mention for their gallant conduct on the night of May 30, in burning the sunken gunboat Cincinnati, which they accomplished as far as was practicable with an iron-clad vessel in her condition. They brought off her flag, which I presented to them...Respectfully, your obedient servant, J. C. PEMBERTON, Lieutenant- General, Headquarters, Gainesville, Ala., August 26,1863

From the Historic Roll of the 1st Missouri Cavalry - Harris Wilkerson was engaged in the Battles of Sugar Creek, Bentonville, Elkhorn, Farmington, Iuka, Corinth, Grand Gulf, Bakers Creek, Big Black, and Vicksburg. He served during the Campaign in Georgia - was in the siege of Atlanta, fight on Peach Tree Creek, Jonesborough & all the fighting from Rome to Lovejoy’s Station, Battle of Allatoona, Tilton, Franklin & was made a prisoner at Franklin and incarcerated at Johnsons Island. Served six months in the M.S.G. (Missouri State Guard) in Gen. Harris' Report and was in the Battle of Lexington.

Traveling home to Texas on that particular day, there was only only time to photograph a few family gravestones and monuments from the Missouri lines on the battleground, but the Cedar Hill Cemetery is filled with amazing gravestones and monuments. I envision many more visits there in the future and doubt that I will ever be able to just drive through Vicksburg without stopping.

Moore's Brigade-TexasGen. John S. Bowen, CSA Division Commander Vicksburg Missouri Third Battery

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