Warren & Emily Swan → Trips → 1998 Civil War Battlefields
We headed South along the Great River Road. We stayed at Pere Marquette State Park. We’d been to a dulcimer festival at Gebhard Woods at Morris, IL earlier this summer. Now we attended a much smaller festival here at the State Park, where we met Dale C. Evans, a luthier. (Later this year, the day after Thanksgiving, we would drive down to his home in Bloomington, IL and purchase one of his 16/15 hammered dulcimers.)
In Alton we visited the Elijah P. Lovejoy monument. At Kaskaskia, we crossed over to the Missouri side so we could get to this Illinois town that the shifting Mississippi River has cut off from the Illinois side. Actually, the original main part of town, which was the site of Illinois’s first capitol, is under the river. We also visited Fort Kaskaskia overlooking the river from the Illinois side.
We visited the Vicksburg Battlefield as we had with little Olive in 1985. It was interesting to see again the Cairo ironclad, which had been raised from the bottom of the Mississippi River in the 1960s.
We stayed a night at Monte Sano State Park in Alabama before visiting the George C. Marshall U. S. Space Center in Huntsville, Alabama; an expensive but fascinating museum. An SR-71 “Blackbird” was parked out front.
It was a very hot summer, and we tried to find a campground with a swimming pool each evening. Near Chattanooga we stayed at the Raccoon Mountain Campground, and went swimming as usual. Warren was intrigued to see a pop-up tent trailer all closed up with this heat, but then noticed the air conditioning unit on the top of it. Air conditioning on a pop-up? He hadn’t seen (or noticed) that before. This was enough to “push him over” into leaving tent camping in the future in favor of using such a trailer, which gets you up off the ground — very useful when it rains.
Strangely enough, this campground had good air conditioning in the bathrooms! In the evening Warren went in for a break and decided to sit on a bench there to cool down. Here he met Stewart Frederick, a minister of the same type of church that we’d been going to. We were invited to their campfire and became friends with this wonderful family from Sabetha, Kansas. At Chattanooga we visited the Chickamauga National Military Park, and then Lookout Mountain overlooking the city.
At Myrtle Beach in South Carolina we stayed with Emily’s sister, Wilma, and her family. Myrtle Beach had just been hit by Hurricane Bonnie earlier. By now the only damage that we saw was a downed Pizza Hut sign. While there we went to the beach and took in a Sunday service at Florence Baptist Temple.
Then on to see more Civil War sites. Pamplin Park is where General Grant’s army broke through the Petersburg defenses, and where Confederate General Ambrose P. Hill was killed. We drove the auto tour road at Petersburg National Battlefield, observing what is left of the crater, which has slowly filled in over the years. We also drove the auto tour road at the Richmond Battlefield, and visited Cold Harbor (where Grant made a rare mistake).
At Guinea we visited the Jackson Shrine, the cabin where “Stonewall” Jackson, who had been injured 7 days earlier, said “Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees.” and then died.
We camped near Fredericksburg and visited some old friends of ours. We took the auto tour and a hike at the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania Battlefields. Then we took the auto tour of The Wilderness and visited the Chancellorsville Visitor Center, a short distance from which is the spot where General Jackson was shot accidentally by one of his own men.
We visited the Manassas/Bull Run Battlefield and the stone bridge there. We swam at our campground, Greenville Farm, that evening. Oddly enough, Warren saw a work truck parked there with Sabetha, Kansas on the side of it. We’d only just heard of this small town a few days earlier.
At Pittsburgh, PA we stayed a night with Emily’s mother, Olive Wells. Her father, James, had passed away earlier that summer. Our last visit on this vacation was the Miami & Erie Canal near Toledo, Ohio. We took the canal boat ride, which was staffed by folks who were dressed in period dress from Grant’s presidency, and who pretend as if they are still in that time.