Something strange is happening

Published 11:30 am Thursday, June 26, 2014

On Wednesday afternoon at 3:15, I decided to head to Vicksburg National Military Park for my own silent commemoration of a deadly mistake that happened over and over during the Civil War.
I had exactly 15 minutes.
On June 25, 1863, at 3:30 p.m., Union forces blew up more than a ton of black powder underneath the 3rd Louisiana Redan along what was then Jackson Road. In the impending battle — just like in Petersburg just over a year later — the Union forces who rushed into the crater became trapped and were picked off like sitting ducks by Confederates.
For someone reason, I didn’t make it to the redan last year for the sesquicentennial commemoration of the explosion, so I thought I would head there for my own private 151st.
I made it just in time. I looked down at my clock, and it was 3:29 p.m. And then as the clock rolled over to 3:30, I heard that dreaded ping of one of my car warning lights coming on.
The heat gauge had suddenly spiked, rising all the way into the red, as if the heat of an explosion in that very spot 151 years ago was welling up beneath the ground.
I wasn’t deterred from my mission. I rushed headlong up the hill and stood there in a moment of silence between the blue and red placards there to remind us of our country’s most horrific moments and the men who gave their lives for reasons and ideals so complex that today it is easier to gloss over the details.
Then out of nowhere, the sky began to darken and a cool gust of breeze blew in from the west.
Thinking it was about to rain, I headed back down the hillside that constitutes what is left of the redan. By the time I reached the bottom, the sky was clear and blue, and the air was as warm and humid as it had been all day.
Back at my car, I cranked the engine. The thermostat gave a normal reading, but I drove to the shop anyway — all the way hoping it was all just those boys in blue and gray playing a trick on me.

Josh Edwards is a reporter and can be reached by email at or by phone at 601-636-4545.

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