Port Gibson in the News

New Orleans Daily Delta - 1855 

“Port Gibson:  Its Unparalleled Site--Its Bridges--Churches--Its Arcadian Shrubbery--and Noble-Hearted Citizens”


Vidalia, La., Feb., 1855.

Messrs. Editors of the Delta:    
Gentlemen:  Having seen Port Gibson, the county town of old Claiborne, in Mississippi, some three weeks since, my impressions of the beauty and extreme loveliness of that favored spot are still so vivid that I am constrained, like a painter who has a likeness engraved upon the retina of his eye, to paint it in a visible form, and thus disburden myself of a vision that has clung to me like a charm.    

Landing at the waning and dilapidated town of Grand Gulf, which is but the piraeus or landing place of the real city, I was whirled, in some ten minutes' time, over a fast and substantial railroad, some eighteen miles, right into the centre of a beautiful city, of which I had no previous conception.  The wide, regular streets, cutting each other at right angles, lined with elegant mansions embowered in a perfect sea of evergreen shrubbery, showed me an Arcadian vision of spring in bloom even while winter was reigning monarch of all the rest of the world.  The site is most unique and romantic. 

An amphitheatre of hills is thrown around a warm, sunny, circular valley, like a curtain, or a series of carved bastions.  At the foot of the circular sweep of those ramparts of hills, the Bayou Pierre flows round, encircling a large part of the city like a curved arm, and another bayou, probably dry a part of the year, completes the circle.  From the inner banks of these bayous the site of the city swells up, cone-like and oval, like a flattened hemisphere, with a regularity, beauty and grandeur even that almost defies description. 

Every street and square of the city, as well as the proud sweep of the circumambient hills, are drained by these bayous, forming natural outlets for inundating showers and gratuitous sewerage for the handsome and tidy city.  As on the apex of the flattened dome which constitutes the site of the city, the court-house is seen like a crown of beauty, flanked on Church Street with four sacred edifices whose eloquent spires, pointing heavenward, would seem to indicate to the time-worn and weary even a better world than the earthly paradise around.    

From the highest point or centre of the city, a view is gained, away down the main avenues, of the arches of three splendid bridges, spanning the crystal waters of the now clear and limpid Bayou Pierre.  One of these bridges is on the road leading to the capital of the State; another on the high road to Grand Gulf; and the third, the longest self-sustaining wooden arch in the world, is the Port Gibson and Grand Gulf railroad bridge.  It is the splendid creation of those eminent bridge architects of Natchez, the Brothers Weldon, who have done so much in the public Parish works of upper and middle Louisiana.  Aided by their consummate knowledge of science, these architects are capable of any conceivable achievement.          

The private city residences which shelter a refined, educated and noble-minded population of some eleven or twelve hundred, seem to vie with each other in architectural beauty and evergreen shrubbery; while on every summit of the proud surrounding circle of hills are seen beautiful villas, and in a spot, sacred to memory and immortality, rise the white and solemn monuments of "the city of the silent."  The whole panorama combines beauty, peace and grandeur.        

I found the citizens, all of them, distinguished by that noble but refined air of independence, so peculiarly Mississippian, which, in Europe, would be called lordly and aristocratic.  It has an excellent principal hotel in the Bobo House.  It is full of academies and schools of education, and boasts of two eminent weekly journals, "The Correspondent," and "The Reveille."           

My stay was far too brief, and I left the enchanting spot with a plaintive sigh of Moore's Vale of Avoca on my lips, which ran thus:    

Good Vale of Port Gibson!  how calm could I rest       
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best,       

Where the storms that we feel in this cold world would cease,   
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.

submitted by Sue B. Moore

sbmoore@swbell.net

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