View single post by Wrap10
 Posted: Sun May 8th, 2011 03:53 pm
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Joined: Sat Jul 28th, 2007
Location: Oklahoma USA
Posts: 97

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Vicksburg is one of my favorite parks, and is probably a very close second to Shiloh for me. Like I think pretty much everyone has said already, I can see both sides of the tree issue at Vicksburg. Shiloh is very similar, in that it's a beautiful park and the trees contribute to that, but it can also make it difficult to get a sense for what happened during the battle. You could forgive a first-time visitor for wondering why anyone would point a cannon at all those innocent and beautiful trees just a few feet away. :)

I've seen a few early 20th Century pictures from Vicksburg, and like Tim says, you can see that the park was more open at that time than it is now. It's the same for Shiloh. The trees and underbrush were not as thick and overpowering as they are now. You had better lines of sight, or so it looks like from the pictures. Part of me would like to see it that way again at both parks. But when I think that, part of me also says not so fast with the chainsaw there, big boy. Those trees are what make Shiloh and Vicksburg the Shiloh and Vicksburg that I know and love. You go messing with that, you might regret it.

Even so, I think some sort of compromise must be possible, even though it certainly wouldn't be easy or quick. Plus, I don't think you have to cut down everything. At Shiloh, for instance, thinning out some of the underbrush would go a long way in helping to re-establish some of 1862 sight lines. Easier said than done, but still. At Vicksburg, thinning out some of the trees between the lines would do much the same thing. Maybe not all of them, but enough so that folks could get an idea of what it would have looked like in 1863.

I do have to disagree just a tad with the idea that Vicksburg is not a park, even though I do agree that it's a battlefield. I think it's actually both, and that it was meant to be both. The same holds for the other battlefield parks. In fact, that whole subject is somewhat fascinating to me. I posted a note about it a while back on the Shiloh board that I run, about the dichotomy underlying the idea of something being a "battlefield park." I still think that's about the most ironic description a person could come up with, and yet it fits perfectly. And that duel nature is something that I think all of us sense when we visit one of those battlefield parks. Even if we aren't always consciously aware of it. For lack of a better way of putting it, there's a 'something' underneath the calm and tranquil exterior of a park like Vicksburg or Shiloh. That 'something' is the stark nature of the battlefield, which forever lurks within, and as part of, the undeniable beauty of the more visible park. It's not really something you can see. It's something you quite simply sense.


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