Walt's Look Around: House on the battle field - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: House on the battle field

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PORT GIBSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The 150th anniversary of the Union Army crossing the Mississippi River at Bruinsburg and marching down this very road won't be until May of next year. By that time there will be a lot of attention on this area, hopefully. But it's kind of quiet right now. It's SO quiet that you had better not zip too fast down these old roads through the bluffs out west of Port Gibson, or you may find yourself as I found myself, the first person to pass this way since a tree limb fell down and blocked the road. Hopefully, when that happens, the limb is not so big you can't move it to the side of the road by yourself. If it is, then this is the end of the line until the road crew comes back through.

But I got past this one and made it to my destination, the old Shaifer house. This is the only structure that was here during the battle that is still standing 150 years later. Matter of fact, the house is older than that. But it took its place in history in the wee hours of May 1st of 1863 when Grants army met the Confederate sentinels in the side yard. And as the Shaifer women were trying to move the furnishings to Port Gibson and safety, the battle started that ended in the fall of Vicksburg a little over two months later, and ended a year on nothing but failure for Grant and his Union army.

The house has undergone many preservations over the years. The latest one attempted to seal the structure up tightly enough to keep vandals out. But boot prints on the attic door shows some are determined to try to get in anyway. And the one window who's shutters were left open after the last renovation so we who are interested could see how they looked open, has been shattered by those who figure any pane of glass in a lonely building is there for them to break.

Last time they fixed up the place, they put steel posts on either side of the drive with a locked chain between them to keep vehicles out. The chain is still locked. But one of the posts has been ripped up.

But all in all, the house is in pretty good shape. I've seen it a lot worse this long after the last preservation. There is a move to get the Shaifer House as well as the Port Gibson Battle Field, and the battlefield in Raymond all under the auspices of the Vicksburg Military Park, since they are all tied to the siege of Vicksburg.

Meanwhile, it gives me a destination to drive down to now and again and check on how the house is holding up under the siege of time and isolation.

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