History of Vicksburg
To many, Vicksburg is synonymous with history. It is almost impossible to summarize in a few paragraphs, but here we make an attempt. The Mississippi River has long played a part in the historical, economic and residential development of Vicksburg. Founded in 1811 by Newitt Vick, Vicksburg was incorporated on January 29, 1825, and grew rapidly as a center for commerce, agriculture and river traffic.
Vicksburg’s best known contribution to history is the role it played in the Civil War. Following Abraham Lincoln’s election, the state seceded by a vote of 8,415 on January 9, 1861. With this vote, Mississippi followed South Carolina into the Confederate States of America. By February, seven states had seceded. President Davis gave his first address as the first President of the Confederate States of America.
Control of the Mississippi River was a strategic objective of the Northern and Southern armies. Simultaneous Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July 1863 marked a decisive turning point in the Civil War.
The crossroads of river, rail, and highway at Vicksburg, combined with imposing defenses and a critical strategic objective, produced one of the most complex and protracted engagements of the Civil War, and involved joint operations between the army and navy; overland and over-water troop movements; and tactics of diversion, siege, and defense.
Vicksburg National Military Park, with its cultural and natural resources, today plays a vital role in our nation’s heritage and provides a place of peace, reflection, enjoyment, and community engagement.
The monuments at Vicksburg comprise one of the largest collections of significant commemorative military art in the United States, and, indeed, one of the most extensive collections of such art in the world. Representing the states involved, the monuments and memorials, with their varied symbolism, commemorate the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg. New monuments continue to be added, including the recent memorial to black soldiers—the park’s first monument to the U.S. Colored Troops.
Vicksburg’s society was transformed by war, enduring changes that ranged from deprivation and destruction of a prosperous community to liberation of formerly enslaved people.
On April 26, 1876, the Mississippi River changed course and left the river port of Vicksburg with no river! The economic effect on the city was devastating. The change in the river course helped change Vicksburg’s future. In 1873, a Vicksburg office of the Army Corps of Engineers was established to coordinate federal and local river management and flood control efforts. The city still enjoys the pleasure of being “home” to the Corps.