When Congress created Vicksburg National Military Park in 1899, the intent was not only to preserve the site of the siege of Vicksburg, but to also serve as a place for "professional military study." The military park was administered by the US War Department (now the Department of Defense) until 1933 and hosted numerous structrued visits from active duty military groups. These groups would study the tactics, terrain, and leadership aspects of both the Union and Confederate armies engaged at Vicksburg. This first-hand learning experience at Vicksburg would then be used to inform and influence contemporary military decisions.
National Park Service continues this learning tradition today as units from all branches of our nation's military and ROTC groups continue to conduct staff rides in the park. These staff rides are specialized visits designed to encourage our modern servicemen and women to consider the lessons of these Civil War battles as they might apply to their current military occupations. To learn more about the basic framework and scope of a staff ride, please read The Staff Ride by Dr. William Glen Robertson, and published by the US Army's Center for Military History.
By definition, the visiting military group is largely responsible for the success of their educational visit. A staff ride is a group exericse of three distinct phases: preliminary study, field study, and integration. It is designed the development of officers, in which each participant gives a briefing on plans, orders, events, decisions, and individuals. You can begin to prepare for a staff ride by reviewing Staff Ride Handbook for The Vicksburg Campaign, by Dr. Christopher R. Gabel and published by the US Army Command and General Staff College.
Park Rangers at Vicksburg National Military Park can facilitate military staff rides as staffing allows. The park also has a small cadre of trained Licensed Battlefield Guides who have specialized in facilitating military staff rides of the park. To discuss your potential staff ride with a park ranger, please email us.
Last updated: February 15, 2023