John A. Logan

John A. Logan

On July 4, 1863, General John C. Pemberton surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant after a siege that started on May 18th. This important victory gave the North control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two. Located on the bluffs some 300 feet above the river, Vicksburg defended itself well and made it a difficult city to attack. In 1868, while commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Major Genera, John A. Logan issued an order that fixed May 30 as “Decoration Day,” a day to decorate soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags. This practice is now observed nationwide as Memorial Day. In 1899, Congress established the Vicksburg National Military Park to commemorate the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg during the Civil War with more than 1,300 monuments located on some 1,800 acres.

Museum of Coca-Cola

Museum of Coca-Cola

We learned more about this city’s unique history with a visit to the Vicksburg Riverfront Murals painted on the city’s floodwall. Accordingly, the city was founded in 1819 by Newit Vicks, a Methodist minister. In 1902 when Theodore Roosevelt chose not to kill a treed bear 25 miles north of the city, this incident became the basis for “Teddy’s Bears” or simply ‘teddy bears.” The Miss Mississippi Scholarship Pageant, started in 1934, was held in various cities until 1958 and since then only in Vicksburg. In the summer of 1894 Joseph Biedenharm, a candy merchant and soda fountain operator, was the first to sell bottled Coca-Cola.  We visited the museum featuring the history of Coca-Cola along with equipment of the type Mr. Biedenharm used to bottle the first Coca-Cola. A wide variety of original Coca-Cola advertising and memorabilia is on display. It was interesting to see the company’s slogans listed by year of use. On Saturday night, we experienced Mississippi blues firsthand at the Bottleneck Blues Bar within the Ameristar Casino where Eddie Cotton, Jr. and his five musicians shared earthy, funky, soulful music. Vicksburg,under the shadow of John A. Logan, was a stimulating stop for Memorial Day weekend.

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