The enabling legislation which created Vicksburg National Military Park on February 21, 1899, called for the restoration of the forts and lines of fortifications, to mark the lines of battle and other points of interest with tablets, and permit any State that had troops engaged in the campaign, siege, or defense of the city of Vicksburg from March 29-July 4, 1863 to erect monuments in honor of its troops.
The park, as established in 1899, encompassed the entire area of the siege and defense lines around the city and included the headquarters site of Major General Ulysses S. Grant, Union commander at Vicksburg. In 1964, the park boundary was adjusted as the lower one-third of the park was transferred to the City of Vicksburg.
In 1990, Senate bill S.2437 authorized the National Park Service to accept a donation of the remaining vestige of Grant's Canal for incorporation into the park, and broadened the interpretive mandate to include the operations from April 1862 to July 4, 1863, and the history of Vicksburg under Union occupation during the Civil War and period of Reconstruction.
Cultural Resource Preservation
Today the park encompasses 1,800 acres and is one of the more densely monumented battlefields in the world, with over 1,300 monuments, markers, tablets, and plaques dotting the historic landscape. In addition to the largest collection of outdoor sculpture in the southeastern United States, the park also preserves nine historic fortifications, over 20 miles of reconstructed trenches, approaches and parallels, 15 historic bridges, 5 historic buildings (including one ante-bellum home), 141 historic cannon and carriages, a visitor center, the USS Cairo gunboat and museum, 17 miles of hard-surfaced roads, and Vicksburg National Cemetery, with over 17,000 Union soldier interments, the largest number of Civil War soldiers of any national cemetery in the United States.
Vicksburg National Military Park exists as a lasting memorial to the soldiers and civilians that suffered through the widespread tragedy and conflict of the Civil War. It is a vivid legacy of America's past, a place where students can learn, and individuals can reflect on the dramatic events that shaped a young and developing nation.