National Geographic : 1963 Jul
ler. But times had changed more than we thought. Hydroplanes screeched up and down the canal past our small boat; we nearly cap sized in the wake of one. Jim and I decided that the best way to understand what happened when Grant ap proached Vicksburg was to follow his route all the way. We did just that. Our guide was Edwin C. Bearss, National Park Service Historian. Bearss is the author of Decision in Mississippi, in which he maintains that the Civil War's decisive battle-one that is almost forgotten-was fought at Champion Hill as part of the Vicksburg campaign. As we jolted over the same roads the Fed erals used, Ed Bearss-he pronounces it "Barse"-recounted what led to the Siege of Vicksburg. In 1862, he said, the Union's west HROMES BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERJAMES P. BLAIR © N.G.S. Paddle-wheeler at Twilight Evokes a Mood of Long Ago Slapping rippled waters in the Mississippi's old bed, Kanawha sails on a voyage back in time. Last spring willows at bankside sprout ed feathery green, and haze shrouded the tangled Louisiana swamplands with an air of mystery (background). Passengers on the sightseeing boat looked up at the cannon bris tling from heights in Vicksburg National Military Park (foreground). A century ago Confederate-held Vicksburg enjoyed a brief lull following almost a year of sporadic attacks (page 43). Filled with fore boding, the city bided its time as the enemy undertook a campaign of encirclement. Threading swamplands on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi (above), General Grant took his army from Milliken's Bend to the river shore 28 miles below Vicksburg. From there transports ferried him across to Bruins burg, Mississippi, and in early May, 1863, he launched his successful campaign to take Vicksburg from the rear.