Blue & Gray Reunion
The Blue and the Gray Re-union at Vicksburg last week was taken advantage of to celebrate the battle of Champion Hill, by a grand barbecue and picnic on Thursday last [May 29].
This historic battle-ground is situated on a lofty eminence one mile South of a point on the A. & V. R. R. about midway between Jackson and Vicksburg. The two regular trains from Jackson were loaded to the guards with passengers, and in the two excursion trains run out from Vicksburg the sign “standing room only,” was early displayed, while the wagon roads were lined with vehicles and dust.
A pavilion gaily decorated with Union and Confederate flags, had been erected near the crown of the eminence for the benefit of the speakers, and distinguished guests, while coffee and ice cream booths thickly dotted the sides of the hill, Capt. Frank Johnston led off with the address of welcome, which was couched in eminently appropriate terms expressive of sentiments to which every true Southern and loyal Federalist might alike say amen. To this Col. A. T. Lee, of Chicago, made most fitting response, Miss Celia Davis, of Bolton, then recited, in the sweetest and most charming way, a poem specially prepared for the occasion by her gifted mother, Mrs. Allie Davis, that elicited the heartiest applause.
After an elegant address by Col. Hooker, such as he only can make, dinner was announced and the crowd repaired to a beautifully shaded vale below, which nature seemed to have specially designed for such a banquet feast. There were four long lines of tables, from which arose the smoking order of the freshly barbecued meats, amid a tempting setting of viands [tasty dishes of food] which the fair women of the neighborhood had so generously contributed; while around on every hand could be seen little knots of friends disposing of special family baskets.
When dinner had been disposed of the crowd again assembled at the pavilion and heard a graphic account of the military maneuvers and glowing deeds of valor that characterized the battle of Champion Hill, from the lips of Gen. Stephen D. Lee, who bravely led a brigade upon that memorable day and won for himself undying distinction.
In this battle the Federal forces under General Grant, consisting of from forty to fifty thousand men, engaged the Confederates, under Gen. Pemberton, numbering about thirty thousand. The fight began at daybreak, the two armies having camped the night before within a mile of each other without being aware of their near proximity, and late in the afternoon Pemberton retreated toward Vicksburg, from which time dated the historic siege of the Hill City. The losses in killed and wounded which were nearly equally divided between the two forces, aggregated about 10  thousand.
Too much praise cannot be given Mr. Sid Champion [II], Mr. J. J. Gould, Clay Sharkey and other gentlemen of Bolton and Edwards, for the model arrangements and perfect order that characterized this celebration which was enjoyed by no less than six or eight thousand persons.
Editor’s note: I believe that the pavilion was set up on the site where the Champion Hill Church now stands and that they went down to Matilda’s grounds near the railroad for lunch. Her house would have afforded them water and other necessities needed to have a picnic. Interesting that the Champion family loves to barbeque even today.
Rebecca Blackwell Drake
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