Enabling Legislation Establishing Vicksburg National Military Park

30 Stat. 841

An Act to establish a national military park to commemorate the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg, approved February 21, 1899 (30 Stat. 841)

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


That in order to commemorate the campaign and siege and defense of Vicksburg, and to preserve the history of the battles and operations of the siege and defense on the ground where they were fought and were carried on, the battlefield of Vicksburg, in the State of Mississippi, is hereby declared to be a national military park whenever the title to the same shall have been acquired by the United States and the usual jurisdiction over the lands and roads of the same shall have been granted to the United States by the State of Mississippi;


that is to say, the area inclosed by the following lines, or so much thereof as the commissioners of the park may deem necessary, to wit: Beginning near the point where the graveyard road, now known as the City Cemetery road, crosses the line of the Confederate earthworks, thence north about eighty rods, thence in an easterly direction about one hundred and twenty rods, thence in a southerly direction, and keeping as far from the line of the Confederate earthworks as the purposes of the park may require and as the park commission, to be hereinafter named, may determine, but not distant from the nearest point on said line of Confederate earthworks more than one hundred and sixty rods at any part, to a point about forty rods south and from eighty to one hundred and sixty rods east of Fort Garrott, also known as the "Square Fort;" thence in a westerly direction to a point in the rear of said Fort Garrott, thence in a northerly direction across the line of the Confederate earthworks and to a point about two hundred feet in the rear of the said line of Confederate earthworks, thence in a general northerly direction, and at an approximate distance of about two hundred feet in the rear of the line of Confederate earthworks as the conformation of the ground may require, to the place of beginning. This to constitute the main body of the park. In addition thereto a strip of land about two hundred and sixty-four feet in width along and including the remaining parts of the Confederate earthworks, namely, from the north part of said main body of the park to and including Fort Hill or Fort Nogales on the high hill over looking the national cemetery, and from the south part of said main body of the park to the edge of the bluff at the river below the city of Vicksburg; and also in addition thereto a strip of land about two hundred and sixty-four feet in width, as near as may be, along and including the Federal lines opposed to the Confederate lines here-in and above named and not included in the main body of the park; and in further addition thereto such points of interest as the commission may deem necessary, for the purposes of the park and the Secretary of War may approve;


the whole containing about one thousand two hundred acres, and costing not to exceed forty thousand dollars.


SEC. 2. That the establishment of the Vicksburg National Military Park shall be carried forward under the control and direction of the Secretary of War; and the Secretary of War shall, upon the passage of this Act,


proceed to acquire title to the same by voluntary conveyance or under the Act approved August first, eighteen hundred and eighty-eight, entitled "An Act to authorize the condemnation of land for sites of public buildings, and for other purposes," or under Act approved February twenty-second, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, entitled

VOL 25, P.357, VOL 14, P 399

"An Act to establish and protect national cemeteries," as he may elect or deem practicable; and when title is procured to all of the lands and roads within the boundaries of the proposed park, as described in section one of this Act, he may proceed with the establishment of the park; and he shall detail an officer of the Engineer Corps of the Army to assist the commissioners in establishing the Park.


SEC. 3. That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to enter into agreements of leasing upon such terms as he may prescribe, with such occupants or tenants of the lands as may desire to remain upon it, to occupy and


cultivate their present holdings upon condition that they will preserve the present buildings and roads and the present outlines of field and forest, and that they will only cut trees or underbrush under such regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and that they will assist in caring for and protecting all tablets, monuments, or such other artificial works as may from time to time be erected by proper authority:


Provided, that the United States shall at all times have and retain full right, power, and authority to take possession of any and all parts or portions of said premises and to remove and expel therefrom any such occupant, tenant, or other person or persons found thereon whenever the Secretary of War or the commissioners shall deem it proper or necessary; and such right, power, and authority shall be reserved in express terms in all leases and agreements giving or granting such occupant or tenant the right to remain in possession as herein contemplated; and thereupon said occupant or tenant or other persons who may be required to vacate said premises shall each and all at once surrender and deliver up the possession thereof.


SEC. 4. That the affairs of the Vicksburg National Military Park shall, subject to the supervision and direction of the Secretary of War, be in charge of three commissioners, to be appointed by the Secretary of War, each of whom shall have served at the time of the siege and defense in one of the armies engaged therein, two of whom shall have served in the army commanded by General Grant and one in the army commanded by General Pemberton. The commissioners shall elect one of their number chairman; they shall also elect, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War,


a secretary, who shall also be historian, and who shall possess the requisite qualifications of a commissioner, and they and the secretary shall have an office in the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, or on the grounds of the park, and be paid such compensation as the Secretary of War shall deem reasonable and just.


SEC. 5. That it shall be the duty of the commissioners named in the preceding section, under the direction of the Secretary of War, to restore the forts and the lines of fortification, the parallels and the approaches of the two armies, or so much thereof as may be necessary to the purposes of this park; to open and construct and to repair such roads as may be necessary to said purposes, and to ascertain and mark with historical tablets, or otherwise as the Secretary of War may determine, the lines of battle of the troops engaged in the assaults, and the lines held by the troops during the siege and defense of Vicksburg the headquarters of General Grant and of General Pemberton, and other historical points of interest pertaining to the siege and defense of Vicksburg within the park or its vicinity;


and the said commissioners in establishing this military park shall also have authority under the direction of the Secretary of War to do all things necessary to the purposes of the park, and for its establishment under such regulations as he may consider best for the interest of the Government, and the Secretary of War shall make and enforce all needful regulations for the care of the park.


SEC. 6. That it shall be lawful for any State that had troops engaged in the siege and defense of Vicksburg to enter upon the lands of the Vicksburg national military park for the purpose of ascertaining and marking the lines of battle of its troops engaged therein:


Provided, that before any such lines are permanently designated the position of the lines and the proposed methods of marking them by monuments, tablets, or otherwise shall be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of War, and all such lines, designs, and inscriptions for the same shall first receive the written approval of the Secretary of War, which approval shall be based upon formal written reports which must be made to him in each case by the commissioners of the park; and no monument, tablet, or other designating indication shall be erected or placed within said park or vicinity without such written authority of the Secretary of War:


Provided, that no discrimination shall be made against any State as to the manner of designating lines, but any grant made to any State by the Secretary of War may be used by any other State.


The provisions of this section shall also apply to organizations and persons; and as the Vicksburg National Cemetery is on ground partly occupied by Federal lines during the siege of Vicksburg, the provisions of this section, as far as may be practicable, shall apply to monuments or tablets designating such lines within the limits of that cemetery.


SEC. 7. That if any person shall, except by permission of the Secretary of War, destroy, mutilate, deface, injure, or remove any monument, column, statue, memorial structure, tablet, or work of art that shall be erected or placed upon the grounds of the park by lawful authority, or shall destroy or remove any fence, railing, enclosure, or other work intended for the protection or ornamentation of said park, or any portion thereof, or shall destroy, cut, hack, bark, break down, or otherwise injure any tree, bush, or shrub that may be growing upon said park, or shall cut down or fell or remove any timber, battle relic, tree, or trees growing or being upon said park, or hunt within the limits of the park, or shall remove or destroy any breastworks, earthworks, walls, or other defenses or shelter on any part thereof constructed by the armies formerly engaged in the battles, on the lands or approaches to the park, any person so offending and found guilty thereof, before any United States commissioner or court, justice of the peace of the county in which the offense may be committed, or any court of competent jurisdiction, shall for each and every such offense forfeit and pay a fine in the discretion of the said commissioner or court of the United States or justice of the peace, according to the aggravation of the offense, of not less than five nor more than five hundred dollars, one-half for the use of the park and the other half to the informant, to be enforced and recovered before such United States commissioner or court or justice of the peace or other court in like manner as debts of like nature are now by law recoverable in the several counties when the offense may be committed.


SEC. 8. That to enable the Secretary of War to begin to carry out the purpose of this Act, including the condemnation or purchase of the necessary land, marking the boundaries of the park, opening or repairing necessary roads, restoring the field to its condition at the time of the battle, maps and surveys, material, labor, clerical, and all other necessary assistants, and the pay and expenses of the commissioners and their secretary and assistants, the sum of sixty-five thousand dollars, or such portion thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and disbursements under this Act


shall require the approval of the Secretary of War, and he shall make annual report of the same to Congress. (16 U.S.C. 430h.)

Last updated: December 18, 2017

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