1018 Crawford Street, Vicksburg, MS
During the establishment of Vicksburg National Military Park, the significance of Pemberton's Headquarters was not lost on Union and Confederate veterans, who lobbied Congress from 1895-1899 for preservation of important sites of the campaign and siege. They sought inclusion of the house in the park's enabling legislation, but the subsequent language specifically focused the park's mission on the then rural battlefield. The legislation did, however, provide for the placement of a memorial plaque at the headquarters site. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977.
In 1890, the house was deeded to Mary Frances Cowan, and was thereafter known as the "Willis-Cowan House." In 1919, the house was sold by executors of Mrs. Cowan's estate to the Sisters of Mercy, whose educational legacy began in Vicksburg in 1860. Following the war, the religious order was allowed to return to their convent at the former Cobb House across from the Willis home. Purchase of the Willis-Cowan House enabled expansion of their facilities as their school grew. Naming the structure "St. Anthony's Hall," it was used for school purposes until sold to private concerns in 1973.
In 1990, new Federal legislation changed the interpretive responsibilities of Vicksburg National Military Park, "...to interpret the campaign and siege of Vicksburg from April 1862 to July 4, 1863, and the history of Vicksburg under Union occupation during the Civil War and Reconstruction." This compelled the park to consider acquisition of the historic structure and its operation as a visitor contact facility to address the park's expanded interpretive mandate.
An excellent addition to Vicksburg National Military Park, the property provides the opportunity to learn from and utilize the resource for enhanced interpretation of the campaign and siege of Vicksburg.
Did You Know?
President Abraham Lincoln, in speaking of Vicksburg's importance, is reputed to have stated early during the Civil War, "See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key, the war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket."