Vicksburg Battlefield | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Vicksburg Battlefield

Vicksburg, Mississippi, United States

Amy Irvine

22 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Vicksburg Battlefield

Vicksburg Battlefield was the site of one of the most important Union victories of the American Civil War and, together with the Battle of Gettysburg, marked a pivotal moment during the conflict.

History of Vicksburg Battlefield

With its strategically vital location near the Mississippi River, wealth of resources, access to Richmond and ability to split the south, President Abraham Lincoln considered Vicksburg to be “the key” to winning the war. Thus, Lincoln launched the Vicksburg Campaign to seize the town from the Confederates and, in 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant led the Union Army of the Tennessee here.

Vicksburg was heavily defended. After two failed attempts on 19 and 22 May 1863, Grant’s Union army finally managed to penetrate them. Grant changed his tactics from those of force to instigating a siege, cutting the Confederate troops at Vicksburg off from their communication and supply routes and preparing the way for an attack.

Then, from 26 May, the Federal troops undertook a campaign to undermine the Confederate defences by tunnelling underneath them and destroying them with explosives. Two mines were indeed detonated in June together with several clashes and ongoing gunfire.

Finally, on 3 July, Confederate General Pemberton rode to meet Grant, displaying white flags. Initially unable to agree terms, the final Confederate surrender was signed the next day on 4 July 1863. The Union had gained their key to the South.

Vicksburg Battlefield today

Today, Vicksburg Battlefield is a National Historic Park, which houses over a thousand monuments commemorating the siege of Vicksburg and its surrounding events together with a restored Federal navy boat, the USS Cairo, with its accompanying museum and a National Cemetery.

There are various activities at Vicksburg Battlefield, including an in-car 16 mile tour of the site and a visitor centre with several exhibits. Nearby are related sites including the batteries at Louisiana Circle and Navy Circle as well as South Fort.

Getting to Vicksburg Battlefield

It’s best to travel here by car. Vicksburg Battlefield is in Mississippi, approximately 42 miles west of Jackson via Route 20. Use exit ramp 4B – then follow Clay Street (US-80) west 0.25 miles to the park entrance. (New Orleans is 205 miles south via Route 55).

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