VNMP rangers demonstrate weapons and life of a soldier

Published 7:52 pm Sunday, May 27, 2018

Visitors to the Vicksburg National Military Park caught a glimpse of what the Civil War was really like this weekend. A couple of park rangers, with the help of several volunteers, demonstrated how infantry and artillery operated in that time period and even demonstrated how a cannon would’ve been fired, which was met with both amazement from the onlookers and shock at the loudness.

“It’s been great to see how much visitors are enjoying our program, learning about the park itself and the daily lives of soldiers, and coming up and talking to us, and talking to our volunteers,” Park Ranger Lela White said. “We wouldn’t have this program without our volunteers.”

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Fellow Park Ranger Daniel Martin addressed the crowd during the demonstration,  sharing information about the battle and details about the cannon such as the type of rounds it would use, and giving a look into what it was like to be a soldier in that time period.

“We’re showing the weapon systems, but for me personally it’s more about the realism of it,” Martin said. “There’s nothing you can really do today to show what it was exactly like back then, but it being Memorial Day weekend, we’re honoring fallen soldiers from this battle. Yes, the Confederacy and the Union were separated, but they were also Americans, and it was a tragedy that it happened.”

The historic weapons portion of the Living History program used to happen every summer, but had fallen off the last two years before White and Martin brought it back, which was no easy task.

“We had to do a lot of training like the civil war soldiers would have to do,” White explained. “We had to practice pretty much all the time. It takes a lot of drill and practice before someone can work with the cannon.”

Martin said they plan to have more demonstrations in the future.

Martin’s parents were also rangers, and his father was one of the people who originally created the historic weapons program.

“I was a volunteer out here, shooting this exact cannon out here since I was 12 years old,” Martin said. “It’s cool, it’s kind of weird originally being the youngest guy out here and then growing up and teaching rangers how to do this stuff, and now I’m actually one of the rangers in charge of the programs.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can visit the military park’s website, and go to the volunteer section located under the “Get Involved” tab.