CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – I guess one of the last gatherings to actually go off as scheduled before the COVID-19 quarantine was the annual Wintergreen Cemetery Tour back in March in Port Gibson. They call it Whispers in the Cedars. It’s an interesting way to get a little local history.
But I like an excuse to hit the backroads by myself now and again. You can either find yourself or lose yourself out here, depending on what you need to do that day.
The oldest “backroad” we have in Mississippi is the Natchez Trace. It is thousands of years old. I you take it back to its origins, animal trails through the woods were adapted by Native Americans and connected together by pioneers, settlers and postal riders into a complete path from Natchez to Nashville. It’s paved today, but bits of the old sunken footpath are still hidden in the woods.
One of the roads Ulysses S. Grant’s army marched to get to Port Gibson is still pretty much as it was in 1862, when his troops tromped down it. The road cuts through the bluffs like the old Natchez Trace. This one is still in use today, however.
Port Gibson has to be the only southern town to adopt a quote from a Union general as its town slogan: Too Beautiful To Burn. Supposedly that’s how Grant described it as he rushed through town on the heels of the Confederate army heading toward Utica, Raymond and Jackson.
In his memoirs, Grant recalled the bluffs of southwest Mississippi punctuated by the deeply eroded gullies and said it looked like it was a land stood on its edge.