The occasion for this invasion of journalists and travel writers and tour guides is the upcoming 150th Anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign during the Civil War.
A small army of writers is retracing the same trail that General Grant's army took from Bruinsburg, through Port Gibson and Raymond to Vicksburg. And the writers have been invited, hand-picked, to take a look at one of the best preserved Civil War battle sites in the nation, with the idea that they will go back to their respective outlets and write about what they've seen here in Mississippi, especially in conjunction with upcoming 150th Anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign coming up in 2013.
It's been almost a forced march for the group. But they are being shown so much in such a short time. And Parker Hills has been along to tell them the significance of the places they are seeing. From the Windsor Ruins where the Union troops camped in the cornfields.
Then past Bethel Church where pot shots were taken at the steeple as the army marched by, giddy at being so deep in enemy territory undetected, past the Shaifer House, where the first shots of the Vicksburg Campaign were fired.
Shaifer House is the only structure still standing on the battlefield that was there then. And with the exception of an occasional grading and re-graveling, the roads are almost exactly the same as they were when the Union Army marched down them toward Port Gibson and on eventually to Vicksburg in 1863.
The towns of Vicksburg, Port Gibson and Raymond are jointly sponsoring this Preserve America Travel Writers Conference funded by a Preserve America Grant through the National Park Service.
Bill Serratt is with the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"We know that we will get good ink and good PR out of this for cultural heritage tourism and it will bring lots and lots of people to Mississippi. So, it's been fun, it's been fun," said Serratt.
It's been long days and many miles for the writers. But they have lots of new sights and new insights about Mississippi to take back home with them.
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