“If you’re in Vicksburg, you have to go to the Old Courthouse Museum,” Rob Orrison told me.
And so, upon Rob’s recommendation, I did.
There atop one of Vicksburg’s tallest hills, in one of its most historic buildings, was one of the greatest collections of Civil War stuff I’ve ever seen. Mostly (but not all) Confederate memorabilia, it was mind-bogglingly impressive. Magnificent, even—and easily the best $5.00 I spent during the road trip.
Most surprising was the quiet dignity of the original courtroom, still preserved in its antebellum appearance. A portrait of a youngish Jefferson Davis hangs near the front of the room, and the former judge’s chamber has been converted into a Jefferson Davis memorial room.
Davis had an intimate connection to the courthouse. According to a plaque in front of the museum, Davis “a local planter, launched his political career on the court square when he made a speech in a last-minute race for the state legislature” on Nov. 5, 1843. Though he lost the election, the plaque says, “he later served in Congress, the Mexican War, as Secretary of War, in the Senate, and as president of the Confederate States of America.”
Vicksburg’s Old Court House Museum is operated and maintained by the Vicksburg and Warren County Historical Society.