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A Web Field Trip through United States History

The Civil War, 1861-1865
The nation had not yet celebrated the one hundredth year of its existence when it plunged into the cataclysmic Civil War that could have shattered the nation forever. The origins of the Civil War were long in the making.  Sectional differences that drove the North and the South to separate paths had already begun to form during the colonial period.  Despite the passage of time and the formation of a united national government under the Constitution, the sectional divide became deeper and more defined.  During the 1850s, compromise, that had long served the nation, was replaced by confrontation and a growing willingness to resort to violence in the defense of sectional differences.  Divisive sectionalism exacerbated by the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860, stimulated the secession movement with the departure of South Carolina from the Union.   President Lincoln's position to defend federal property in the seceded states led to the bombardment of Fort Sumter which turned the sectional differences into one of the most deadly wars in the nation's history.  Numerous battles were fought, largely in the South, as southerners sought to defend the Confederate States of America and as the North or Union forces  sought victory to reunite the Union and end slavery.

One of the major battlegrounds in the Civil War was over the port city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the Mississippi River.  Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July 1863, played major roles in the defeat of the Confederacy.  So, let's take a trip to that historic and crucial Battle of Vicksburg.

To go to the Vicksburg National Military Park site, please click on the URL http://www.nps.gov/vick/  . Once at the home page of the Vicksburg National Military Park, please  click on the "Site Index." At the new screen, scroll down to "Park Tour."   At the next screen, scroll down and click on "Tour Stop 2-Shirley House."  Read the information and click on your back button. Click on "Tour Stop 6-Thayer's Approach," view the site, and then repeat that process for "Tour Stop 8-Vicksburg National Cemetery" and "Tour Stop 9- Fort Hill." If you want to visit tour stops in addition to those mentioned,  you certainly may; but for the purposes of this official trip, you need only to visit stops indicated.  Once finished with "Tour Stop 9," go to the black box at the very top of the page and click on "Cairo."  Read the material on the new screen then click on "View the USS Cairo Gunboat."  Read the material and follow the arrow prompt at the bottom to take the tour from "Explosion" to "Paddlewheel."  After visiting "Paddlewheel,"  click on "Cairo Gunboat," click on the "Return" arrow, and then click on "Cairo Crew" in the slender blue bar at the top of the page.  Scroll through the list and look at the "Personal Data" and "Personal Characteristics" of the crew.  Do you find anything unusual about the crew of the Cairo?  After viewing the crew list, your visit to Vicksburg is finished. You may be able to return to the field trip by clicking the Back or Go command or the site may be available by clicking on the "FrontPage" icon on the bottom tool bar. 

Please respond to the following questions on your answer sheet.

1.    What is significant about the Shirley House?
2.   After failed assaults, what did the Union commander Brig. Gen. John Thayer decide to do to
      about subsequent attacks on the Confederate position?
3.   How many Union soldiers were buried at the Vicksburg National Cemetery?  How many Union
      soldiers were buried throughout the South and then reinterred after the Civil War?
4.   Fort Hill guarded the river approach to Vicksburg.  Did it successfully guard against a Union
      naval operation conducted on the Mississippi River in mid-April 1863?
5.   What was the U.S.S. Cairo and what happened to it in December 1862?
6.   The sinking of the U.S.S. Cairo was a first for what?
7.   What was the purpose of the two foot thick oak timbers?
8.   What kinds of canons were on the U.S.S. Cairo?  How many were there and what was
      their range?
9.   What kind of fuel did the U.S.S. Cairo use, and how much did it use?
10.  What propelled the U.S.S. Cairo and where was it located?
11.   Do you find anything unusual about the crew of the U.S.S. Cairo?


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