Date of Visit


United States


Vicksburg National Military Park



The Vicksburg National Military Park was established in 1899 to preserve and commemorate the Battle of Vicksburg, which took place between May 19 to July 4, 1863. Within its 1,728 acres are the reconstructed trenches, canons, buildings, and bridges as well as numerous memorials and the remains of the ironclad gunboat raised from the riverbed.

Located just outside of downtown Vicksburg, Mississippi, Vicksburg National Military Park occupies the grounds where the Union forces mounted an offensive and siege of the city between May 19 to July 4, 1863. 

Vicksburg was strategically vital to both the Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War. Both sides were aware of its importance due to it being one of two remaining strongholds along the Mississippi River that prevented the Union Navy from completely controlling the river. 

The Union had mounted direct attacks on Confederate fortifications without success and which resulted in them sustaining a huge loss of life.  General Grant, the Union Commander, therefore decided to lay siege to the city which resulted in surrounding the city, cutting off all supplies, while constantly bombarding Confederate positions which ended in the surrender of the city. Victory here and at Port Hudson, further south in Louisiana, gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.

Established in 1899, the Vicksburg National Military Park protects 1,728 acres of battlefield land encompassing the Union and Confederate trenches surrounding the city and overlooking the Mississippi River. It also commemorates the greater Vicksburg Campaign which led up to the battle. The Park contains reconstructed forts and trenches, memorials and the National Cemetery.

On entry to the park is the Visitor Center which contains an information desk staffed by park Rangers, a book and souvenir shop, and a small museum,
A trip around the park area gives visitors an appreciation of the land that formed the battlefield, much of which is unchanged since the fighting. 


Running around the area is a 16-mile (26 km) tour road, which enables visitors to visit many of the main points of interest.  


The Park includes 20 miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks and 144 emplaced cannons, 

It also includes 1,325 historic monuments and markers, which include a number of monuments erected by different States to honour their soldiers who fought in the battle.

The park's first state memorial was dedicated in 1903, with more than 95% of the other monuments erected in the next 15 years. The Tennessee State Memorial was one of the last to be built, and that was dedicated in 1996.

The Wisconsin State Memorial was dedicated on May 22, 1911, and cost $90,644.  It is constructed of granite and stands 122 feet in height. A bronze statue of "Old Abe" the war eagle, mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, sits on top of the monument. The memorial features bronze tablets with the names of the 9,075 Wisconsin troops who fought at Vicksburg. A relief tablet at the base of the column pictures a Union and Confederate soldier with hands clasped in friendship to symbolize the peace which now exists between the states. 


The Missouri Memorial, standing 42 feet tall, was dedicated in October 1917 and is one of the most elegant memorials at Vicksburg National Military Park. It is the only memorial dedicated to both Union and Confederate troops, for the men of Missouri fought on both sides of the war meeting at Vicksburg near the area of the memorial.


The Iowa State Memorial was dedicated on November 15, 1906, and construction was completed in 1912 at a cost of $100,000. The memorial was constructed of Vermont white granite in Greek-Doric style and is semi-ellipsed with six bronze relief panels that depict successive engagements in the Vicksburg Campaign. The sculptured works are constructed of bronze.


The Alabama State Memorial was dedicated on July 19, 1951. Resting on a base of Weiblin grey granite, the bronze work depicts seven heroic men from Alabama being inspired by a woman representing the state itself. The cost of the memorial was $150,000,


The Illinois State Memorial honours the Union Army soldiers from Illinois who fought in the siege of Vicksburg. The Memorial, modelled on the Roman Parthenon, commemorates all of the 36,325 Illinois soldiers who participated in the Vicksburg Campaign.See Separate Article


Close to the Illinois Memorial is the antebellum Shirley House. Built in the 1830s, it is the only surviving structure in Vicksburg National Military Park that was around during the Civil War. The Confederates tried to burn it down so the Union could not use it, but the soldier who was sent to do the task was shot dead by Union troops that arrived at the same time.

With the Union Army now positioned all around the house, it took constant fire from Confederate artillery and was heavily damaged during the fighting. The house was purchased by the U. S. government in 1900 which restored it to its 1863 appearance. It is only open to the public on weekends during the summer, staffing allowing. 


The first memorial of any kind in the park was the Vicksburg National Cemetery, this was created in 1866 to rebury the Union soldiers who died in the campaign.  This has the greatest concentration of Civil War burials of any cemetery in the country. 


National Cemeteries were originally for Union soldiers only, so all of the 17,000 Civil War soldiers at the cemetery are Union soldiers, and about 40% of these are black. Furthermore, 13,000 are Unknowns. Following the Spanish-American War, the rules for National Cemeteries were changed to allow all veterans to be buried in them, including Confederate veterans who joined the U. S. military after the Civil War. There are around 1,300 graves of military personnel and their spouses up through the Korean War. The cemetery was closed for burials in 1961.

The men buried at the cemetery are not all casualties of the fighting at Vicksburg. Prior to the establishment of the National Cemeteries, soldiers who died in the war were buried at hospitals, on the battlefield, and just about anywhere else they were found dead. With the creation of Vicksburg National Cemetery in 1866, the remains of all Union soldiers found south of the Arkansas state line and north of Grand Gulf, Mississippi, which is just south of Vicksburg, were reburied here. Confederate soldiers who died at Vicksburg are buried at the nearby Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Unlike a private cemetery with ornate tombstones, a military cemetery is full of plain, government-issued ones. Standard tombstones mark identified soldiers, while small, square stones with a number on top mark unknown graves. A few stones issued by the government have been replaced by the families of some individuals.

Next to the Vicksburg National Cemetery, is the USS Cairo Exhibit and Museum, although it was not involved with fighting at Vicksburg.  


The Cairo was an ironclad gunboat that was sunk in December 1862 on the Yazoo River near Vicksburg. It remained at the bottom of the riverbed until being discovered in 1952, although it took more than thirty years for the ship to be raised, restored, and put on display. 




              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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