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Guide to the Area

Vicksburg National Military Park is shaped like a great crescent, enclosing the city of Vicksburg within a 9-mile arc which curves from the old bed of the Mississippi River north of the city to the river south of Vicksburg (from U. S. 61 north of Vicksburg, across U. S. 80 east of the city, to U. S. 61 south of Vicksburg). The two main avenues in Vicksburg National Military Park, Union Avenue and Confederate Avenue—constructed along the siege lines established by the two armies—are parallel. The black markers, on iron standards, indicate the position of the fortified lines and the units which occupied that sector. The remains of artillery batteries, forts (and the ditches in front), and trenches are clearly visible, although, during the 36-year interval between the siege and the establishment of the park, the fortifications and trenches have suffered marked alteration from wind and weather. All the cannon barrels are originals, used during the Civil War; the carriages are replacements. This self-guiding tour begins at the museum, going north on Confederate Avenue. It provides a brief inspection of Union Avenue, proceeds to the national cemetery, a distance of 6 miles, and returns south by way of Union Avenue. The numbered stops of this tour correspond to the numbers on the tour map found above.

museum and administration building
Museum and administration building of Vicksburg National Military Park.

1. MUSEUM AND PARK HEADQUARTERS. Located at the center of Confederate Avenue, at its junction with U. S. 80. Here are exhibits illustrating and explaining the campaign and siege of Vicksburg and the outstanding features of Vicksburg National Military Park. A recorded lecture synchronized with lights on a large relief map explains fully the story of the Vicksburg operations.

2. JEFFERSON DAVIS STATUE (in front of museum). Davis was a West Point graduate, Mexican Warcolonel, Mississippi cotton planter, United States Senator, Secretary of War, and, finally, President of the Confederacy.

As you begin the tour, notice the natural strength of the Confederate position on the crest of the ridge. The ground drops away to your right and, several hundred yards across the ravine, rises to a similar and parallel ridge. From this, the Union Army launched its siege operations against the Confederate line. Before the siege began, all the trees between the lines had been cut down by the Confederate engineers to insure a clear field of fire.

3. PEMBERTON STATUE. Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, a native Pennsylvanian, elected to fight for the South and commanded the Confederate Army of Vicksburg. When a command in keeping with his rank of three-star general was unavailable after Vicksburg, he voluntarily resigned his commission and served as a lieutenant colonel of artillery for the remainder of the war—a testimonial of his loyalty to the South.

4. MISSISSIPPI MONUMENT. A State memorial to her 4,600 soldiers in the siege, the bas-relief and sculptures around the base of the shaft depict battle scenes. The 9-inch Dahlgren gun at the rear of the monument was one of the largest used at Vicksburg.

5. TILGHMAN STATUTE. This is a monument to Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman who was killed at the battle of Champion's Hill, 18 miles east of Vicksburg, as he manned an artillery piece in an attempt to hold off a Union charge. A broken gun carriage lies under his horse's forefeet.

6. LOUISIANA MONUMENT AND GREAT REDOUBT. The largest fort on the Confederate line, its well-preserved walls extend on both sides of the Louisiana memorial. On top is the Eternal Torch. The low marble markers on the slope, below the avenue in front of the fort, mark the farthest advance of Union regiments in the unsuccessful assault of May 22. On the ridge, 200 yards away, is the Union line.

7. SURRENDER SITE. Grant and Pemberton met under an oak tree, midway between the lines, for surrender negotiations. The tree immediately vanished to provide souvenirs of the historic event; notches on this monument erected by Union soldiers after the surrender are the work of latter-day souvenir hunters.

The tour now follows Union Avenue, which parallels Confederate Avenue, for a short distance before returning to the Confederate line.

8. MICHIGAN MONUMENT. Symbolic figure of Michigan bringing laurels to her soldiers of the siege. Beyond the monument, left of the avenue, notice the wall which protected the Union artillery.

9. SHIRLEY HOUSE. A siege landmark, and termed the "White House" by the soldiers, it is the lone surviving wartime structure in the park.

The Illinois Memorial.

10. ILLINOIS MONUMENT. Modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, this Memorial Temple, the largest monument on the field, is dedicated to the 36,312 Illinois men whose names are inscribed on the bronze plaques within. The Illinois Commission specified that no device in dicative of war should appear on the memorial.

11. THIRD LOUISIANA REDAN. This Confederate fort, marked by the three artillery pieces at right of the avenue, was reached by "Logan's Approach," a Union advance trench. Federal engineers constructed a mine underneath the redan and exploded 2,200 pounds of powder, which blasted a tremendous crater into which Union infantry raced, only to be driven back after severe fighting.

12. GLASS BAYOU BRIDGE. The precipitous slopes of the ridges and deeply cut ravines protected the city, making Vicksburg a natural fortress. The 75-foot drop from the bridge well illustrates the difficult terrain over which the Union Army moved.

13. ARKANSAS MONUMENT. Site of the Arkansas memorial. The twin pylons are representative of North and South, which were split by the sword of war and reunited by the cross of faith in a restored Union. Depicted on the left are Arkansas soldiers repelling a Union assault; on the right, the Confederate ram Arkansas.

14. MISSOURI MONUMENT. A border State, Missouri was divided in sympathy during the Civil War. Her soldiers enlisted in the armies of both the North and the South. By the fortunes of war, in this sector of the siege line, Missouri soldiers of the Union and Confederate armies faced and fought each other. The monument honors both. The plaque on the left depicts Missouri Federals attacking this position; on the right, Missouri Confederates defending it. Between the panels, the prow of the Ship of State symbolizes the divided Union; the figure above is the Republic, emerging from the war with renewed strength.

15. STOCKADE REDAN. For a close view of siege warfare, walk up into the fort, to the artillery piece at the right of the avenue. From the ridge 150 yards away, Union cannon, which are trained on the fort, blasted the Confederate defenders continuously. During the assault of May 22, Grant's infantry reached the wall of the fort. The two black markers in front of the cannon and just below it indicate where colorbearers planted their flags, almost at the top of the wall, before the assault was broken and driven back.

16. OBSERVATION TOWER. Erected by the Vicksburg National Military Park Commission, in 1909, to provide a panoramic view of the park and the city of Vicksburg.

17. FORT HILL. Anchoring the Confederate left flank on the Mississippi River, its guns commanded the Union right as well as the river. The flags of England, France, Spain, the United States, and the Confederate States have flown over this historic site, where the bluffs meet the river, during the centuries-old struggle for control of the Mississippi. Fort Nogales (Spanish) was built here in 1791, and Fort McHenry, 1798, was the first American settlement at Vicksburg. The water below the fort is not the Mississippi River—it changed its course in 1876—but the Yazoo Diversion Canal, bringing the Yazoo water into the old bed of the Mississippi.

Terraces in Vicksburg National Cemetery.

18. VICKSBURG NATIONAL CEMETERY. Established in 1866 to reinter the remains of nearly 17,000 Union soldiers who had been given temporary burial in scattered locations during the war. The identity of almost 13,000 of the soldiers is unknown. The national cemetery also contains the remains of veterans of the Mexican and Spanish-American Wars, World Wars I and II, and Korea.

From the lower cemetery drive, you may leave the park and emerge 2 miles north of downtown Vicksburg on U. S. 61. If time permits, we recommend your completing the tour of the park by following the "Park Tour" arrows from the cemetery, south on Union Avenue, in order that you may view the Union lines and monuments and the southern portion of the park.

19. UNION NAVY MEMORIAL. The 202-foot shaft is a tribute to the achievements of the Union Navy in the Vicksburg operations. Statues of four fleet commanders, Admirals Farragut and Porter and Flag Officers Davis and Andrew H. Foote, surround the base.

20. GRANT'S HEADQUARTERS. An equestrian statute of General Grant marks his headquarters location. Impressive monuments, here, of five northeastern States—PENNSYLVANIA, NEW HAMPSHIRE, MASSACHUSETTS, NEW YORK, and RHODE ISLAND—indicate their troops were on the exterior line of defense against Johnston's army.

21. WISCONSIN MONUMENT. "Old Abe," the famous Wisconsin war eagle and mascot of the 8th Wisconsin, was carried alongside the regimental colors, on the march and in battle, through 3 years of war. A 6-foot bronze replica atop the State monument now honors his war service. Names of all Wisconsin soldiers at Vicksburg are on plaques around the base.

22. MINNESOTA MONUMENT. At the base of the 100-foot shaft, a symbolic figure of Peace holds a shield and a sword, signifying that the soldiers of both armies have placed their weapons in her keeping, and the Union is at peace.

23. IOWA MONUMENT. In front, a mounted colorbearer with unfurled flag awaits the order to advance. The six bronze bas-relief panels portray scenes of the Vicksburg operations in which Iowa soldiers participated—the bombardment of Grand Gulf, the battles of Port Gibson, Jackson, Champion's Hill, and Big Black River, and the assault on Vicksburg of May 22, 1863.

24. FORT GARROTT. Also called Square Fort, its walls are well preserved. The two lines of markers in front of the fort indicate the site of "Hovey's Approach"—a Union trench dug almost against the walls of the Confederate fort.

The Alabama Memorial.

25. ALABAMA MONUMENT. Around the flag—which represents the spirit of Alabama—the group of figures symbolizes the courage and devotion of both the soldiers and women of Alabama during the war. The monument was dedicated in 1951.

This completes the park tour. By continuing northward on Confederate Avenue for one-half mile, you will reach U. S. 80 at Memorial Arch. Turning left, through the arch, you will be in the city of Vicksburg. Colored route markers will guide you over U. S. 61 north and south and U. 5. 80 west through the city. You may also reach U. S. 61 south and U. 5. 80 west by turning south at the Alabama Monument and following Confederate Avenue through the southernmost portion of Vicksburg National Military Park to U. 5. 61, below the city of Vicksburg.


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Last Modified: Mon, Dec 2 2002 10:00:00 am PDT

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