Tour Champion Hill Battlefield
with Sid Champion V
Bring bug spray with you when you come as well as plenty of cold drinks. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t forget your camera.
$100 per person (minimum of 2)
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Don and Kay Cornelius
No matter how many historic battle sites you may have visited, you have never seen anything as powerful and moving as "The Hill of Death" known as Champion or Champion's Hill.
Our tour, on a lovely, sunny. day, began with Sid Champion V, great-great-grandson of the owners of the property on which this battle raged, showing us the huge iron pot which had belonged to Sid and Matilda Champion before the war. After the battle, the house was converted into a Union hospital and the Yankees used Matilda's iron pot to make soup for the wounded soldiers.
We saw the old railroad tracks over which trains carried soldiers and goods. Then, having gone as far on any road as possible, we walked to the crest of the hill itself. In the midst of a mixed hardwood forest, the rolling land is dotted with so many deep ravines that one can easily see why this battle turned into the hand-to-hand, kill or be killed combat that proves that "the hill of death" is an accurate name for the place.
Now, an all-encompassing peace prevails here. It is as if Nature attempts to heal the horror which happened here by offering her best gifts, the soothing wind sighing in the tree tops and the melodious tones of song birds, while underfoot, ancient forest loam covers most of the sacred spots where many men on both sides bled and died.
We are forever grateful to our friends, Jim and Rebecca Drake, and especially to Sidney Champion V, for giving us the absolutely unforgettable experience of touring Champion Hill with them.
Rebecca B. Drake
I’ll never forget the first time I toured Champion Hill with Sid Champion. We parked at The Crossroads then proceeded to walk the sunken Old Jackson Road which eventually led to a sharp incline which peaked at "The Hill of Death.” As I stared down to the valley below I suddenly got chill bumps thinking of all the soldiers, blue and gray, who had lost their lives on this hallowed ground.
My dear friend and co-author, Margie Bearss, now deceased, expressed similar sentiments: “As Ed [Bearss] and I climbed the side of the hill, I began to feel uneasy and apprehensive. Too many men had died in the various charges on this hill. It was a solemn place of death. As I reached the top, my hair stood out from the back of my neck and my arms broke out in chill bumps. I could almost feel the menace of the Yankee charge breaking across the field. I have never since felt such unease and apprehension on the hill.”
Later, as Margie and I began to write about Champion Hill, I would enjoy many excursions in the company of Sid. One particular day he showed me a large pasture down by the railroad bridge over Baker’s Creek. Sid said his grandfather, Sid Champion III, had told him that in years gone by, people gathered there to catch the train. I later discover that site was described in the Official Records as being Midway Station. On another visit, we visited other sites such as the hillside on the Old Jackson Road where Sid and Matilda’s first home stood. It was later burned by the Yankees. Daffodils continue to bloom in the spring and mark the house site as well as the overseer’s house site a short distance down the road.
The Champion Hill battlefield is unique because it is pristine. Little has changed since 1863 when blue met gray and, led by Pemberton and Grant engaged in one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign for Vicksburg.
During my visits with Sid, he would tell me stories of the Champion family and show me all of the sites. Not even the heat of a 100-degree day would deter us from our destination. When talking about his great-great grandmother, Matilda Champion, he would look at her photograph and lovingly and, “Yep, that’s the old gal - that’s Matilda alright.” Of his great-great grandfather Sid Champion I, Sid would comment, “I look just like him, - don’t you think?” And he did.
As I listed to Sid’s stories which he told with a mesmerizing Southern drawl, I found myself being carried back in time and identifying with all of Champions who at one time called Champion Hill home.
and Eddie Lanham
During the fall of 2005, Felicia and I walked up the sunken Old Jackson Road to "The Hill of Death" with Sid Champion. Earlier in the year, I had researched the dead and wounded of the Georgia regiments engaged in the battle of Champion Hill. I had become familiar with each of the 179 Georgians that were killed and 375 that were wounded in this brief battle.
Walking from The Cross Roads and along the line of battle was a step back into history as we walked in the footsteps of the Georgia units of Stevenson's Division that lined Champion Hill and the Old Jackson Road. It was a eerie experience knowing that we were standing on that hallowed ground.
A Rebel flag was firmly planted on the "The Hill of Death" overlooking the peaceful landscape. The beautiful fall colors and calm provided a quiet peace to the land where the fierce battle raged. Leaves on the forest floor cover the sacred grounds where so many bled and died.
Felicia and I enjoyed our trip back into history with Sid Champion. Sid's stories of his grandfather who watched the battle from Vicksburg, wondering his plantation was under fire, while his grandmother, Matilda, was in the basement of her house clutching her babe in arms during the fight. Sid is a great story teller, a gracious host, and super guide.
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Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 2008. All Rights Reserved.