Vicksburg National Military Park CW150 Events
Congress established Vicksburg National Military Park in 1899 to commemorate the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg, and to preserve the history of the battles and operations conducted on the ground where they were fought. In 1990, Congress expanded the park's interpretive mandate to include 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.
The Vicksburg Heritage Fair (April 5-7, 2013) is an event that recalls the tent shows that traveled the South and Midwest in the 19th century, featuring 'hot topics' of the day, along with entertainment, music, dance, craft exhibitions, and theatre. The fair will spotlight downtown attractions such as Confederate General John C. Pemberton's Headquarters on Crawford Street, the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, and the Old Court House Museum. Crafts people, musicians, and dancers are being contacted to participate in the heritage fair. Part of the fair will involve a debate and discussion of Civil War topics by actors portraying significant persons involved in the war.
Month of May & Memorial Day Weekend Siege and Commemoration (May 23-27, 2013) - Programs commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg will be held throughout the month of May 2013, culminating in activities held over the Memorial Day weekend. Specific programming details are highlighted below.
A series of open air concerts will take place in front of the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center. The U.S. Navy Band will perform with a theme revolving around the Civil War on Friday evening, May 24, 2013. The performance on Saturday evening, May 25, 2013, will feature the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra with a guest appearance by Trace Adkins, and on Sunday evening, May 26, 2013, The Jackson Mass Community Choir will present a choral program. All of these concerts are free to the public.
Soldiers Through the Ages will be presented near the USS Cairo and Vicksburg National Cemetery. A timeline of the military will be presented through static displays and programs on Saturday, May 25, 2013 and Sunday, May 26, 2013.
On Monday, May 27, 2013, Vicksburg National Military Park will work closely with Veterans Groups and the Vicksburg community to assist with the Memorial Day parade as well as the Vicksburg National Cemetery wreath laying ceremony. The 41st US Army Band, Mississippi Army National Guard, has been contacted to participate in this event.
The US Navy played an important role in the Vicksburg Campaign. River gunboats like the USS Cairo were critical to the success of the US Navy. Special Boat Unit 22, part of the Navy's modern river forces, has been invited to establish a static display of a modern gunboat near the USS Cairo and possibly demonstrate the capabilities of their gunboat on the water.
On Saturday, May 4, 2013, and Sunday, May 5, 2013, Civil War reenactors will be stationed at numerous locations along the siege lines telling stories about the soldiers who fought and died for their respective causes.
Also during the month of May, 2013, wreaths honoring the soldiers who fought and died during the Vicksburg Campaign will be placed on their respective state memorials. There were 28 Northern and Confederate states that were involved in the Vicksburg Campaign, and every day in May a wreath will be placed on a different state memorial and a proclamation will be read. Additional recognition of the casualties suffered by each state that participated in the Campaign for Vicksburg will be denoted by the placement of luminaries at each state memorial inside and outside the park over July 3-4, 2013.
Along the Campaign Trail is a program that includes a dedicated team of interpreters to present outreach programs for communities, schools, and other interested organizations on the history of the campaign and siege. Beginning in January, 2013, five park rangers will travel along the campaign trail visiting schools, libraries, and civic organizations to present outreach activities and interpretative programs about the Vicksburg Campaign, as well as offering presentations at battlefield sites in Raymond, Champion Hill, Port Gibson and Milliken's Bend. These rangers will also get involved with the cultural and natural resources in the campaign area.
Vicksburg National Military Park Youth Leadership Academy will provide an immersive experience for future leaders in both the mission and culture of the National Park Service and the 21st century relevancy of the Civil War. The academy will develop skills in a variety of disciplines related to historic preservation, natural resources management, education, and community leadership. Candidates will be young people, ages 16-20, who live or attend school in the Vicksburg-Warren County region. Students will work closely with park rangers who will mentor the students for the program.
Did You Know?
Thomas O. Selfridge, captain of the USS Cairo, commanded three boats which sank during the war. Each began with the letter "C"-Cumberland, Cairo, and Conestoga. The coincidence was noted after the Conestoga sank, and Selfridge was assigned to the USS Osage, which survived to the end of the war.