Set on the Mississippi River, the town of Vicksburg was the site of one of the Civil War’s most important battles. The Confederates had previously held control over the important body of water all the way into the Gulf of Mexico.
It brought in soldiers, weapons, and much-needed resources. Even President Abraham Lincoln saw the significance of Vicksburg, noting that taking the city was the key to winning the war.
What to See at Vicksburg National Military Park
In 1863, Union forces from both the north and the Gulf to the south launched on Vicksburg. For 47 days, the city was under Union siege before finally surrendering. The battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg signaled the turning tide of the Civil War and the Union victory, which became official on April 9, 1865.
The area became a national landmark on February 21, 1899, and included 1,800 acres that made up the battlefield and military cemetery where over 18,000 are buried.
It also has two antebellum homes and over 100 cannons. A walking trail was later developed and a driving route so that cars can stop along the way to visit the memorials. A visitor’s center plays a short film that informs visitors about the battle.
A number of the states who sent soldiers to fight in the Civil War set up monuments and markers to honor their dead. The Illinois Monument, at the top, is perhaps the best known, sitting atop the highest point of the park and bearing a Neoclassical design.
It’s because of the 1,300 sculptures and markers that earned Vicksburg National Military Park the title of the world’s largest outdoor art gallery. Over 500,000 visitors come to the park every year.
The military park also includes the USS Cairo Museum, which has an ironclad ship that was the first in United States history to be sunk by a torpedo.
The wood and metal ship was found on the bottom of the Yazoo River and pulled up in 1964 before finding its home in the military park. Inside the museum are items found inside, including well-preserved guns, plates, and other items.
Tips for Visiting Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park and USS Cairo Naval Museum National Park are located at 3201 Clay Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi 39183. Park entry is $20 per vehicle and is good for a week. Guided tours are also available.
Where to Eat Near Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park is a sprawling acreage so there are a number of nearby restaurants. Beechwood Restaurant & Lounge has been open since 1956 and is known for its steaks, martinis, and live music. The Coffee House Cafe has coffee, pastries, and sandwiches.
If you’d rather be downtown, try 10 South, a rooftop bar, or their sister restaurant ROCA Restaurant & Bar. The Breakfast Club of Vicksburg is a go-to for breakfast and brunch while Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Que has pit-style pork featured in countless publications.
Where to Stay Near Vicksburg National Military Park
Hampton Inn & Suites Vicksburg is the closest hotel to the park entrance. Duff Green Mansion is a historic home that has cozy rooms set around a courtyard. Ameristar Casino and Resort is another favorite, offering AAA diamond level service. There are also a number of campgrounds and RV parks in the area, including at Ameristar.
I visited Vicksburg National Military Park with Visit Vicksburg and Travel South USA.