Vicksburg, Mississippi is full of history, from antebellum homes to Civil War battlegrounds. One of the most famous battles to be fought in the town was the Siege of Vicksburg, the final major military action in the Vicksburg campaign of the American Civil War. The Union Army held the Confederate Army at Vicksburg under siege for 47 days, until they finally surrendered on July 4, 1863, ultimately becoming a major turning point in the war.
Today, you can visit parks, battlegrounds, and monuments throughout Vicksburg that are dedicated to the famous battle. In addition to Vicksburg’s Civil War history, you can also see what life was like on the Mississippi River, learn about old transportation methods, and visit beautiful historical neighborhoods.
Here are a few of our must-sees for the history buff’s visit to Vicksburg:
Vicksburg National Military Park
This 1,800-acre park tells the history of the Siege of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Campaign leading up to the battle. Within the park’s grounds you’ll find 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of historic trenches and earthworks, a 16-mile tour road, a 12.5-mile 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. You’ll also find the Vicksburg National Cemetery, an incredible 116 acres that hold the remains of 17,000 Civil War Union soldiers, more than any other national cemetery in the United States.
To explore the park’s vast offerings, you can hire a Licensed Battlefield Guide to take you on a two-hour tour, or you can do a self-guided driving tour using the routes laid out in the park’s map. Along the self-guided tour, you can use your cell phone to dial specified numbers at each stop and hear a brief 30-second description of the site’s significance. Another fun option is the Vicksburg Battle App, a GPS-enabled touring application to guide you to all the historic spots in the park. The app includes historian videos, audio accounts of soldiers from the battle, photos, orders of battle, chronologies, key facts, and more.
Soldiers’ Rest Cemetery/Cedar Hill Cemetery
A plot in Cedar Hill Cemetery called Soldiers’ Rest serves as the final resting place for 5,000 Confederate soldiers who died of sickness or wounds during the Civil War. The city of Vicksburg served as a major hospital center in the early years of the Civil War. A local undertaker, Mr. J.Q. Arnold, was hired by the Confederate government to bury Southern soldiers. He kept a list of each soldier buried there, although a portion of the list was lost and only 1,600 names are known today. You can see that list in the Old Courthouse Museum in Downtown Vicksburg.
While at Cedar Hill Cemetery, keep an eye out for a grave that’s a little different than the others: the grave of Douglas the Camel. Old Douglas faithfully served the 43rd Mississippi Infantry, Company A, nicknamed “The Camel Regiment,” until he met his untimely end when he broke free of his tether and wandered into Union territory.
Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trails
Explore a bit of Downtown Vicksburg’s history with the Vicksburg Heritage Walking Trails. Choose from five different routes for these self-guided walking tours that feature 35 markers placed throughout the downtown and historic districts. Start with the three-mile Heritage Route, which acts as a branching off point for the other four tours. It guides you through early Vicksburg’s history, heritage, and the Civil War. Another popular option is the Captain Speeds Route, a two-mile walk through Vicksburg’s very first neighborhood.
Spend some time exploring three museums dedicated to Vicksburg’s history, located within the downtown district. At the interactive Lower Mississippi River Museum, learn what life is like for those who live and work on the Mississippi River. The Old Warren County Courthouse was built in 1858 and features a museum with thousands of artifacts, including the sash worn by George Washington and Jefferson Davis at their inaugurations, antique furniture, and a Confederate flag that was never surrendered. At the Old Depot Museum, you can explore railroad memorabilia, boat models, a diorama of the Siege of Vicksburg, 40 original war-themed paintings by Herb Mott, and much more.
Vicksburg is home to 10 historic homes available to tour, with the oldest built in 1700 and the most recent during the post-Civil War era. Must-see homes include Anchuca, built in the late 1830s and best known as the home of Joseph E. Davis, brother of Confederate President Jefferson Davis; McRaven, consisting of three portions built in 1797, 1836, and 1849 and named “the most haunted in Mississippi”; and Duff Green, which was initially constructed as a gift to a cotton broker’s bride, but was instead used as a Civil War hospital.
Unlock Vicksburg’s rich history by visiting these deeply significant sites. For dining ideas and cozy accommodations to round out your Vicksburg experience, please request a free visitor guide by clicking here.
We look forward to welcoming visitors to Vicksburg’s storied historical sites. Guests are advised to follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines while both traveling to and visiting the area. Safe practices include washing hands regularly with soap and water, minimizing close contact with others, and maintaining a minimum of six feet of social distance from others. Visitors are also encouraged to stay informed of additional public health guidance in local destinations throughout the state to minimize risk to themselves and others. We are dedicated to doing our part to ensure all visitors can experience the joy of traveling to Mississippi. We thank you for doing yours. #VisitVicksburgResponsibly #VisitMSResponsibly