One of the things I love most about doing Facebook LIVE events for ECW is the interactivity with viewers. As they watch, many people type in questions and comments and share stories, and we can in turn respond to those messages in real time. It really helps build a connection with the audience and adds to the fun.

Our partnership with the American Battlefield Trust on those Facebook LIVE events in May took us to Chancellorsville and Vicksburg. While in Mississippi for the 155th anniversary of the Vicksburg Campaign, one recurring theme in the comments really struck me. I’ll paraphrase, but it goes something like this: “I didn’t realize how important Vicksburg was.” That floored me!

A lot of people chimed in with Gettysburg stories—wrong “burg,” but they were trying to make a connection with the war, I suppose—but many, many people admitted they didn’t really know much about Vicksburg.

Many other people said, “I’ve never been there but now I can’t wait to go” or something similar. Vicksburg’s not easy to get to, but if you do ever go—and I strongly urge you to—you won’t be disappointed. It is a magnificent battlefield, with as much to see (or more) than Gettysburg. And if you follow Grant’s entire campaign, there’s even more to explore. It’s well worth the trip for any serious Civil War buff.

While summer is prime battlefielding season, I’d like to offer an additional suggestion. Think of it as a challenge, really: Pick a battle you don’t know that much about and read up on it. Pick several books, not just one, and dive in. There’s comfort in reading about your favorite Civil War battle, of course, but challenge yourself to learn a bunch of new stuff this summer about something beyond the familiar. Maybe even make a visit. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.