Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, United States

Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates and interprets the campaigns, siege, and defense of Vicksburg, Mississippi, during the Civil War; interprets the history of Vicksburg from 1862 through Reconstruction; and preserves and protects the battlefield, Vicksburg National Cemetery, and related significant resources

This collection highlights one of the Civil War’s pivotal struggles, the battle for control of the Mississippi It features life in Vicksburg, Mississippi during the devastating 47-day siege of 1863 It depicts hardships of civilians and soldiers in a besieged city

In addition to the siege, this collection gives richly illustrated insights into life aboard the USS Cairo, a Union ironclad gunboat in the “Brown Water” navy On December 12, 1862, in the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg, Cairo struck two underwater torpedoes and sank in 12 minutes, with no loss of life

Preserved by mud and silt, the Cairo sat on the bottom of the river for 102 years She was raised in 1964 and was later restored along with many of the objects that were found aboard The recovered objects give a unique window into daily life and leisure time of Union officers and sailors during the Civil War

The park includes 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles (32 km) of historic trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile (26 km) tour road, a 125-mile (201 km) walking trail, two antebellum homes, 144 emplaced cannons, the restored gunboat USS Cairo (sunk on December 12, 1862, on the Yazoo River), and the Grant’s Canal site, where the Union Army attempted to build a canal to let their ships bypass Confederate artillery fire

The Cairo, also known as the “Hardluck Ironclad,” was the first US ship in history to be sunk by a torpedo/mine It was recovered from the Yazoo in 1964
The Illinois State Memorial has 47 steps, one for every day Vicksburg was besieged

The remnants of Grant’s Canal, a detached section of the military park, are located across from Vicksburg near Delta, Louisiana Union Army Major General Ulysses S Grant ordered the project, started on June 27, 1862, as part of his Vicksburg Campaign, with two goals in mind The first was to alter the course of the Mississippi River in order to bypass the Confederate guns at Vicksburg For various technical reasons the project failed to meet this goal The river did change course by itself on April 26, 1876 The project met its second goal, keeping troops occupied during the laborious maneuvering required to begin the Battle of Vicksburg

The national military park was established on February 21, 1899, to commemorate the siege and defense of Vicksburg The park sprawls over 1,800 acres (73 km2) of land The park and cemetery were transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service (NPS) on August 10, 1933 Of the park’s 1,73647 acres (not including the cemetery), 1,72963 acres (69996 km2) are federally owned

In the late 1950s, a portion of the park was transferred to the city as a local park in exchange for closing local roads running through the remainder of the park It also allowed for the construction of Interstate 20 The monuments in land transferred to the city are still maintained by the NPS As with all historic areas administered by the NPS, the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966 Over half a million visitors visit the park every year