Vicksburg National Military Park

Vicksburg National Military Park Vicksburg National Military Park preserves and interprets the Vicksburg Campaign and siege that ended in the surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi to General Ulysses Grant's Union army in July, 1863 - the turning point of the American Civil War.

Vicksburg National Military Park, established in 1899, is a unit of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The 1800 acre main portion of the park preserves the eastern Confederate defenses and Union siege lines of the Vicksburg Campaign of May - July, 1863. The park also includes several sites along the Mississippi River and Pemberton's Headquarters in downtown Vicksburg, a three acre remnant of Grant's Canal in Delta, Louisiana; and the preserved Union ironclad gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, as well as artifacts retrieved from her raising. Both the park's Visitor Center and the U.S.S. Cairo and Museum are in the main park, along with a 16 mile tour road through Union and Confederate lines.

Mission: National Park Service Purpose and Mission The National Park Service Organic Act of 1916 states that the purpose of the National Park Service (NPS) is to “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” “The National Park Service Mission is to preserve unimpaired natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.” -NPS Mission Statement Vicksburg National Military Park Mission “Through the preservation and interpretation of its cultural, natural, and historical resources, VNMP employees and its partners provide opportunities for people to connect to this piece of history, enhancing their learning and personal experiences.” – VNMP Long Range Interpretive Plan

Throughout its history, the United States Navy has never barred free African Americans from enlisting, and in September ...
02/22/2020

Throughout its history, the United States Navy has never barred free African Americans from enlisting, and in September 1861, it adopted the policy of recruiting former slaves. This was done two years before the Army even allowed African Americans to enlist. During the Civil War, colored sailors comprised approximately one-quarter of the entire Union naval fleet.

Aboard the U.S.S. Cairo there were four colored sailors holding the rank of Seaman. Of the 175-man crew, only 28 had any sort of sailing experience – the colored sailors represented four of the 28. They brought with them a wealth of experience having served on sea-faring vessels in the private sector. Eager to recruit colored sailors and to have them re-enlist, the Navy tended to treat them fairly well. Segregation and discrimination were at a minimum with colored sailors being messed and quartered with the other crew members.

Much has been written about the colored soldier’s display of courage during the Civil War, yet the colored sailor had been quietly fighting for his country since the Revolutionary War. Because of the long history of colored sailors in the Navy, little is written about them during the Civil War. This was not due to their lack of participation, but because the United States Navy has always been desegregated.

#vicksburgnps #ironclads #navy #blackhistorymonth

[Image #1 Description: Black and white photograph of the U.S.S. Cairo docked. The crew can be seen on deck.]

[Image #2 Description: Photograph of the diverse crew of the U.S.S. Hunchback posing on deck. Photograph courtesy of the National Archives.]

Earlier today US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith visited Vicksburg National Military Park to tour the damage from the recent to...
02/21/2020

Earlier today US Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith visited Vicksburg National Military Park to tour the damage from the recent torrential rain and flash flooding. Learn more about the damage and park response here:https://www.nps.gov/vick/learn/news/tour-road-and-national-cemetery-damaged-by-heavy-rains.htm

Image Descriptions: Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is shown storm damage in Vicksburg National Cemetery by Superintendent Bill Justice, Bess Averett, Executive Director of the Friends of Vicksburg National Military Park and Campaign, and General Robert Crear, President of the Board of the Friends of Vicksburg.

National Park Service
02/21/2020

National Park Service

On February 21, 1899, a national military park was established in Vicksburg, Mississippi to commemorate the siege and defense of Vicksburg during the Civil War. The park and cemetery were transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service in 1933. The Vicksburg campaign was waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863. It included battles in west-central Mississippi at Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, Big Black River and 47 days of Union siege operations against Confederate forces defending the city of Vicksburg. Located high on the bluffs, Vicksburg was a fortress guarding the Mississippi River. Known as "The Gibraltar of the Confederacy," its surrender on July 4, 1863, coupled with the fall of Port Hudson, Louisiana, divided the South, and gave the North undisputed control of the Mississippi River.

Today, Vicksburg National Military Park includes 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, a 16 mile tour road, antebellum homes, 144 emplaced cannon, the restored Union gunboat-USS Cairo, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Learn more at nps.gov/vick

Image: Illuminated at night, the Illinois State Memorial, dedicated in 1906, was modeled after the Roman Pantheon. There are forty-seven steps in the long stairway, one for each day of the Siege of Vicksburg.

#FindYourPark #OTD

It’s time for another rousing edition of “What is it Wednesday?!?” Can you guess what is pictured below? Hint: It’s TWO ...
02/19/2020

It’s time for another rousing edition of “What is it Wednesday?!?” Can you guess what is pictured below? Hint: It’s TWO items in one!

Comment below to share your thoughts!

#whatisitwednesday #vicksburgnps #findyourpark

[Image Description: wooden handle and metal T-shaped item connected with twine.]

The opportunity for African Americans to fight and die for their freedom did not come easy. Using former slaves as soldi...
02/18/2020

The opportunity for African Americans to fight and die for their freedom did not come easy. Using former slaves as soldiers evolved over painful stepping stones of hostility, discrimination, and ill will. However, four months before the Emancipation Proclamation, freemen and runaway slaves began forming the country’s first African American regiments in the form of the Louisiana Native Guards and the Corps D’Afrique. Primary duties for these regiments involved the hard, physical labor of building forts and repairing bridges. However, as time went on and the Emancipation Proclamation was made law, Abraham Lincoln realized that African Americans would need to be given the chance to fight for their liberation if they were to ever be accepted as free.

The first use of African American troops took place along the Mississippi River during the Campaign for Vicksburg. South of Vicksburg sat the Confederate stronghold of Port Hudson, Louisiana. A formidable foe, Port Hudson boasted fortifications twenty-feet thick surrounded by a fifteen-foot ditch. Guarding the fortifications was a semi-circle of abatis, 20 siege guns, and over 100 artillery pieces.

On the morning of May 27, 1863, 1,100 colored soldiers formed four columns and advanced to the frontline at Port Hudson in an attempt to take the city. Gripping the unfurled banner was Colored Sergeant Anselmas Planciancois of the 1st Louisiana with the orders to “protect, defend, die for, but do not surrender these flags.” Sergeant Planciancois responded, “Colonel, I will bring these colors to you with honor or report to God the reason why.” On that day, Sergeant Planciancois was decapitated while assaulting the fortifications and fell still clutching the flag. Six others died for the honor of carrying the flag.

Although the assault was ultimately deemed a failure, Port Hudson was the first formidable battle in which colored troops were used. The bravery of those men, and the history of that day, proved to the United States Government that it had found in this group of men effective supporters and defenders of a country in which they were not considered citizens.

#blackhistorymonth #uscoloredtroops #porthudson #vicksburgnps

[Image Description: Newspaper illustration of the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard’s assault at Port Hudson.]

Happy President’s Day from all of us here at Vicksburg National Military Park! Pictured below is a President greatly sig...
02/17/2020

Happy President’s Day from all of us here at Vicksburg National Military Park!

Pictured below is a President greatly significant to our park’s history, Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was the Union military leader who led the campaign for the control of Vicksburg and the Mississippi River. Three years after the end of the American Civil War, Grant was elected as the 18th president of the United States, serving two terms.

The portrait below was painted by Norwegian artist, and Union Civil War veteran, Ole Peter Hansen Balling. Balling served as an officer in the Union Army until his resignation in 1863. However, he would ultimately return to the front lines as a portrait artist. After receiving an exclusive introductory letter to General Grant from President Lincoln, Balling joined Grant in the field in 1864. Balling spent five weeks meticulously studying the General, even accompanying him into battlefield trenches. It was during one of those moments that Balling noted General Grant’s calm demeanor during chaotic and dangerous times – an attitude that Balling wished to illustrate in his portrait of Grant.

The portrait shows a calm and collected Grant standing in one of the trenches at Vicksburg – the location indicated by the map to the left clearly showing Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. The gabion that the map rests upon and the U.S. shovel behind are symbolic of the trench warfare strategy that ultimately aided in the Union victory at Vicksburg – a strategy Grant would utilize throughout the remainder of the Civil War. Of particular note is the date at the lower left-hand corner of the painting indicating when the work was completed – July 4, 1865 – the two year- anniversary of the Confederate surrender of Vicksburg. Balling’s portrait of Grant is currently on display within the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.


We hope that you have not taken the long weekend for GRANTed and have enjoyed the time wisely! Has anyone visited a national park this weekend? We would love to see your pictures!

#presidentsday #vicksburgnps #grant #vicksburg

[Image Credit: Ole Peter Hansen Balling, “Ulysses S. Grant,” 1865. Oil on Canvas. National Portrait Gallery. Smithsonian Institution. Washington D.C.]

[Image Description: Bearded man wearing a hat and union general’s overcoat. He holds a cigar in his left hand and is standing within a trench. To the left is a map of Vicksburg with binoculars laying on top of it and a shovel resting behind.]

EVENT DATE CHANGE:The winter lecture titled "Mount Locust: Frontier Plantation on the Old Natchez Trace" with Ranger Gra...
02/13/2020

EVENT DATE CHANGE:

The winter lecture titled "Mount Locust: Frontier Plantation on the Old Natchez Trace" with Ranger Graham Osborne has been rescheduled. The program will now be held on Saturday, February 22nd from 10:00 AM until 11:00 AM.

We apologize for any inconvenience and hope to see you all there!

What is it Wednesday? Below we have an artifact from our collection. Do you know what it is? Share your thoughts below. ...
02/12/2020

What is it Wednesday? Below we have an artifact from our collection. Do you know what it is? Share your thoughts below.

#whatisitWednesday #vicksburg #artifacts #findyourpark

[Image Description: White and brown tube object on beige background]

North Union, Grant Avenue, and the National Cemetery Road are Closed:
02/12/2020

North Union, Grant Avenue, and the National Cemetery Road are Closed:

Attention to those who utilize the park for early-morning or evening exercise:Between the hours of 5:00pm Sunday, Februa...
02/08/2020

Attention to those who utilize the park for early-morning or evening exercise:

Between the hours of 5:00pm Sunday, February 9th through 8:00am Monday, February 10th, the Visitor Center parking lot will be closed. This brief closure is in preparation for the restriping of the Visitor Center Parking Lot, as well as other lots within the park.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please accept this awesome historic photograph of a CCC work truck as our condolences (it was also the only cool photograph reminiscent of a parking lot we could find!).

Thank you for your understanding! This project is putting your fee dollars at work!

#vicksburgnps #yourfeedollarsatwork #newpaint #newyearnewstripes

[Image Description: black-and-white photograph of a darkly painted, 1930s era work truck. Painted on the side it reads “MP.1 – Forestry.”]

Today is National Send a Card to a Friend. Letters and cards have always been a part of Vicksburg from the letters home ...
02/07/2020

Today is National Send a Card to a Friend. Letters and cards have always been a part of Vicksburg from the letters home to post cards that people send today about their experiences in the park.

What would you write on a post card about Vicksburg National Military Park?

#2020parkvision #vicksburg #findyourpark #postcard #lettershome #flashbackfriday

[Image Description: Indian Mound in National Cemetery, Vicksburg, Miss
Gazebo on a hills with steps leading up to it. Surrounded by headstones and trees]

It's “What is it Wednesday?!?” Pictured below are a couple of artifacts from our park's collection. Any idea what they a...
02/05/2020

It's “What is it Wednesday?!?” Pictured below are a couple of artifacts from our park's collection. Any idea what they are? Comment below to share your thoughts!

#whatisitwednesday #vicksburgnps #artifacts #findyourpark

[Image Description: two pointed, gray tube objects against a beige background.]

The stabilization project for the Railroad Redoubt in Vicksburg National Military Park will start on February 3, 2020. T...
02/02/2020

The stabilization project for the Railroad Redoubt in Vicksburg National Military Park will start on February 3, 2020. The work will be done by Keller-North America. This project will construct a retaining wall to correct and stabilize an eroding bluff below the historic Railroad Redoubt earthwork fortification and Texas State Memorial. The project is expected to take up to a year to complete.

During this project access to the Railroad Redoubt and the Texas Memorial and the parking area at Tour Stop 13 may be restricted or closed to the public. The South Loop of the park will remain open and access to other monuments in the park will not be affected by this project.

Grant Avenue and Grant and Sherman Circles remain closed to the public for safety reasons.

[Image Description: Stone monument with columns with the words Texas, a single star, and laurel wreath in the center. In front a statue of a soldier with a cannon and plants.]

It’s National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day!Born in 1834, John Wesley Powell spent most of his life living in and expl...
01/31/2020

It’s National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day!

Born in 1834, John Wesley Powell spent most of his life living in and exploring the Mississippi River Valley. When the Civil War began, Powell immediately signed up to fight for the Union under the 20th Illinois Infantry. Significant to our park, Powell served throughout the duration of the campaign for Vicksburg, during which time he suffered the loss of his right arm at the Battle of Shiloh – an injury that would cause him pain for the rest of his life.

While Powell served bravely during the American Civil War, his most notable contributions to the country would come in the years following. Powell’s first loves were geology, cartography, and exploration – three passions he would indulge in 1869 and 1871 as the first American to undertake a government-sponsored geographic survey of the Colorado River through, what would in later years be referred to as, the Grand Canyon. From the 1871 expedition would come realistic photographic portrayals of the western landscape – unlike the grandiose, romanticized landscapes in paint created by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran. Much like the battlefield photography of the Civil War years which brought the war into American homes for the first time, these expedition photographs brought the mysterious west into the homes of Americans, inspiring one’s Manifest Destiny.

Pictured here is a photograph of Powell’s boat taken within Marble Canyon on the Colorado River. Note Powell’s armchair sitting valiantly atop the vessel. Also unique to Powell’s transportation was a life vest – he being the only member of the expedition to have one due to his lack of appendage. Photograph courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park.

We hope that Powell’s story and the photograph from his expedition inspires you to get out and explore your national parks! If you already have, do you have any gallery-worthy photographs you would like to share? If so, post them in the comments -- we would love to see them!

Image Caption: Artist Unknown. Number 17249 from John Wesley Powell’s 2nd Expedition. “In Marble Canyon on the Colorado River.” Powell’s Armchair in Boat. GRCA 14772. 1872.

[Image Description: black and white photo with canyon walls on either side in the background with a river in between and a boat in front]

#2020parkvision #findyourpark #nationalinspireyourheartwithart #art #oldphotos #parkconnections #shiloh #vicksburg #grandcanyon

Vicksburg National Military Park is searching for a Biology Assistant intern to survey Euarthropoda species (such as spi...
01/31/2020

Vicksburg National Military Park is searching for a Biology Assistant intern to survey Euarthropoda species (such as spiders, millipedes/centipedes, and insects)!

The intern will work hands on with the Biologist/Natural Resource Manager to learn procedures for collecting, identifying, and preserving the various euarthropods found within the park. If desired, the participant may also help with ongoing surveys which include herpetological surveys (such as amphibians, lizards, and snakes), and/or avian surveys (birds), and/or vascular plant surveys in order to gain a more varied experience of field biology.

The deadline for applying is on February 3 and this is the link: https://www.mosaicsinscience.org/apply/

#vicksburgnps #bugsandbirdsandsnakesohmy

Earlier this month, Grant Avenue was closed due to erosion issues.  Following a heavy rainstorm, a large section of the ...
01/30/2020

Earlier this month, Grant Avenue was closed due to erosion issues. Following a heavy rainstorm, a large section of the embankment gave way, and took about a 1/3 of the road surface with it. It is hard to gauge scale on this photo, but the drop-off is now over 50 feet, and estimates say close to 9,000 cubic yards of dirt have washed away. All monuments are currently safe.

We are working with our partners at the Federal Highways Administration to address this issue. We have received over 11.2 inches of rain so far in January, which means we have received close to 20% of our yearly average in just 29 days.

Where is it Wednesday? For those who have visited, or those who wish to take a shot at it (see what we did there?), wher...
01/29/2020

Where is it Wednesday? For those who have visited, or those who wish to take a shot at it (see what we did there?), where in the park can this low-relief sculpture be found?

#whereisitwednesday #artinthepark #vicksburgnps #vicksburg #findyourpark

[Image Description: Black, low-relief sculpture of crossed cannons with stacked cannon balls in front. A drum and cannon carriage wheel sit atop the cannons. Multiple rifles with bayonets make up the background.]

What would you do for the one you love? Would you abandon an idyllic life to head straight into the depths of hell? On t...
01/26/2020

What would you do for the one you love? Would you abandon an idyllic life to head straight into the depths of hell? On this National Spouse’s Day, let us take a moment to appreciate the strength and sacrifice of a woman who did just that.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Henry William Hart and Almeda Sumner Butler Hart had been married for two years and were living in newly-wedded bliss in DeKalb County, Illinois. Yet just one year later, Henry chose to enlist into the 127th Illinois Infantry, Company F. Rather than be parted from her husband, Almeda chose to join him on campaign, as several other wives did. Henry worked as a blacksmith for the infantry and Almeda travelled alongside him cooking meals, washing laundry and, most importantly, remaining close to her beloved. However, in December 1862 as General William T. Sherman prepared his corps for the last leg of their march south from Memphis towards Vicksburg, he ordered that women would no longer be allowed to follow. Unwilling to be parted from her husband, Almeda did the unthinkable…she dressed as a man and assumed the identity of a fellow soldier named James Strong.

As James Strong, Almeda served alongside her husband acting as a courier under the command of Brigadier General David Stuart. Almeda and her husband would see action at Sherman’s failed attack on Vicksburg at Chickasaw Bayou in December 1862 and the successful assault on Arkansas Post in January 1863. Below is an excerpt from a letter composed by Almeda on the eve of the attack on Chickasaw Bayou while aboard the steamer Westmoreland:

“We are within 4 miles of Vicksburg and are going to land and attack this evening. I expect before night comes again some of our numbers will be killed…This morning the enemy is seen in large numbers on every side but Dear Mother do not let this startle you in the least for we may live to see you again…We are fifty thousand strong and well armed besides 4 thousand cavalry and 40 iron clad gun boats…You would be surprised if you were to see me for I have turned from Henry Hart’s wife to a nice young man…Write soon to James Strong for that is my name now Dear Mother…”

In the spring of 1863, Almeda returned to DeKalb County, but without her husband. Sadly, Henry passed away from a heart condition in a regimental hospital in Tallulah, Louisiana while stationed at the Young’s Point supply depot. Henry is buried in Vicksburg National Cemetery. Unfortunately, there are no known records of Almeda after her return to Illinois. Although not in service for long, Almeda exemplified spousal sacrifice and undying love.

#nationalspousesday #vicksburgnps #civilwarwomen

[Image Descriptions: (1) Sepia toned photo of a woman wearing period dress with a hooded black cloak and gloved hands. Her hair is curled and she is staring directly at the camera. (2) Gray Tombstone in grass with the inscription, “3117 H.W. Hart ILL.”]

Address

3201 Clay St
Vicksburg, MS
39183

General information

This is the official page of Vicksburg National Military Park. Its purpose is to provide information about the park, its activities and events; and provide two-way communication between park staff and the public. We seek your input, suggestions and feedback on postings, programs and activities, and will use them to improve this page and park programs. The Civil War was the most traumatic event in our nation's history. It profoundly changed what we were as a country, and who we are as a people, even to the present day. Some of its controversies remain, 150 years later. As National Park rangers, it is our job to interpret the Civil War, and the role Vicksburg played in that great struggle. This includes addressing controversies and respecting multiple points of view. We will answer questions posed to us with the most accurate and responsible scholarship available on the subject. Vicksburg has an incredible story and resource to share, and we hope that this page provides an outreach to all in our attempts to share it!

Opening Hours

Monday 08:30 - 16:30
Tuesday 08:30 - 16:30
Wednesday 08:30 - 16:30
Thursday 08:30 - 16:30
Friday 08:30 - 16:30
Saturday 08:30 - 17:00
Sunday 08:30 - 16:30

Telephone

(601) 636-0583

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Welcome to the Vicksburg National Military Park page. We hope this will become a place where fans feel comfortable sharing information and experiences about Vicksburg National Military Park with one another. ... While this is an open forum, it is also a family friendly one, so please keep your comments and wall posts clean. Please be considerate of other fan's opinions. In addition to keeping it family friendly, we ask that you follow our posting guidelines here. If you do not comply, your message will be removed. We do not allow graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments or submissions, nor do we allow comments that are abusive, hateful or intended to defame anyone or any organization. We do not allow solicitations or advertisements. This includes promotion or endorsement of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. Such posts and/or links are subject to deletion. People who continue to post such content and/or links may be subject to page participation restrictions and/or removal from the page. We do not allow attempts to defame or defraud any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. We do not allow comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity. You participate at your own risk, taking personal responsibility for your comments, your username and any information provided. Posting of external links on this site that are intended as advertising (or to drive traffic to websites unrelated to Vicksburg National Military Park), or do not contribute to dialog and discussions about Vicksburg may be deleted. People who continue to post such links may be subject to page participation restrictions and/or removal from the page. External links do not constitute official endorsement on behalf of the U.S. National Park Service or the U.S. Department of Interior.


Comments

is there anyway someone can tell me where samuel gibbs french's division was mainly mcnairs brigade, was during the vicksburg operations in 1863?? hope to hear back from someone..
Gettysburg getting a new park superintendent.
Is the display of Confederate battle flags prohibited in the park?
Coming over to battlefield in a few weeks; need a recommendation for self guided tour book that really digs into the details and has great maps - stop by stop approach
I was very impressed with the Living History presentations done over the July 4th holidays.
Our 4-H group, Klub-4-Kids/Warren County Straight Shooters enjoyed helping place Flags on the Graves this morning. We plan to help remove them also..Thank you for allowing us to join in.
My GG grandfather, Pvt.Christopher C. CATE, became a prisoner of war on July 4th, 1863 at the siege of Vicksburg. He with many other soldiers was paroled and I assume he returned to McMinn County TN at some point. Urile J. CATE his son was born in September 1865, Christopher's last child, and my great grandfather. Sp Pvrt CATE was paroled july 1863, had a male child September 1865 but is not on any record after that. Not even the 1870 Federal Census, not even death or burial records exist for him. I'm lostat where to look next, does anyone have advice for me to help find him or is her dead and gone without a trace?
Hello, There was a recent discussion here on what CS battle flags were used by Confederate units in Vicksburg and the ensuing campaign. Someone from your park denied that flags of the style of the Army of Northern Virginia, Southern Cross, were not used by units of Pemberton's or Johnston's armies in this campaign. I can prove that this is not correct based on surviving flags used in the campaign and can provide images of many of these flags. These units include: 7th Texas Infantry, 50th Texas Infantry (both with 15 stars by the way - all of Gregg's Brigade may have gotten these), Lloyd Tilghman's HQ flag (also 15 stars), 2nd Texas Infantry, Guibor's Missouri Battery (whose flag was hidden in the city and recovered after the war), Botetourt VA Battery (who tore up their state flag on July 3rd and surrendered their ANV flag), 42nd Georgia Infantry/Fowler Guard (taken at Champion Hill), 40th Georgia Infantry (taken at the surrender), 47th Georgia Infantry, and such units of Walker's Division in the brigades of Gist and Wilson that came over from Charleston after the issue of the ANV style Charleston Depot made battle flags in April 1863. While the First National flag was probably the dominant pattern, the Confederate troops used a pretty wide variety of unit colors in the campaign including, besides the ANV style already mentioned and the First National, these patterns - Bowen/Missouri pattern (in two colors - blue field, red borders, white Latin Cross and in Stevenson's Division, red field, white Latin Cross and yellow or white borders); the Kentucky regiments and other units that were part of John Breckinridge's Division probably still carried their Breckinridge Division flags of May 1862 (large blue flags with a large red Latin Cross in the center adorned by 13 white stars); units that had been in Van Dorn's and Price's old Army of the West were still using the Van Dorn pattern flags (red field, white crescent and 13 white stars - the 15th NW Arkansas lost one at Port Gibson); Army of Kentucky patterns (blue flags with solid white St. Andrews cross - these for units that had been part of Kirby Smith's old Army of Kentucky - McNair's and Ector's Brigades) as well as some Hardee pattern battle flags (blue field, white border and white circle in the center - the Florida regiments and some of the artillery of Breckinridge's Division). This does not count company flags, if still used (that fell off drastically by mid-1862 with the adoption of various battle flag patterns by Confederate forces). Southern Cross battle flags were first used in the West at Shiloh for the units of Braxton Bragg's Corps which were handed out to them as they left Corinth on the march to the battefield. These were somewhat square flags with yellow borders and bore only 12 stars. The Bragg pattern flags were made in New Orleans by Henry Cassidy. A set of these flags was also made for Polk's Corps but they got sent to the wrong location and did not arrive until after the battle. His troops used the Polk Corps pattern flags at Shiloh because of this. Hardee's Corps used their blue flags with the white circles in their centers. Staff officers rode the columns of march bearing these flags to familiarize the troops to them prior to the battle. Also used there were First Nationals, at least one Texas state flag and a Pelican flag from a Louisiana regiment. Your post also mentioned the post-Vicksburg flag of the 4th Mississippi Infantry which was a Southern Cross pattern. After the Vicksburg Campaign was over, Joe Johnston, as department commander, ordered the battle flags of the units of that department standardized as he would when he got to Georgia in late 1863. He was one of the primary proponents of the ANV flag in Virginia in the Fall of 1861. The flags issued after Vicksburg to such units that remained in his department were rectangular, bore only 12 stars and usually had unit designations and battle honors placed on them in white cotton cut and sewn letters. Some were not so marked however. These were made in Mobile by contractors Jackson Belknap and later his wife Sarah. These flags would equip the Department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana, Gen. Polk's Army of Mississippi, the Mobile garrison, S.D. Lee's Cavalry Corps and lastly, Nathan Bedford Forrest's Cavalry Corps - who would not get these flags until July 1864. The first units to get them was William Hicks Jackson's Cavalry Division in October 1863. I have studied CS flags for nearly 30 years having been published on the topic plus lecturing at the Museum of the Confederacy (both locations, twice each), Texas Civil War Museum (also twice), Fort Donelson National Battlefield (where I am the designated Staff Ride Facilitator), Shiloh National Battlefield, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. I also have spoken to Civil War Roundtables across the country and have also consulted with several state museums, auction houses and private collectors on CSA flags over the years. I would be happy to put together a lecture on the CS flags of the Vicksburg Campaign and present it to your park and Battlefield Guides as I did a few years ago for the Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guides on flags of that campaign. The public would, of course, also be most welcome. If this would be of interest please let me know at my email address - [email protected]. I knew Terry Winschell when he was park historian and he and I emailed on flags a decent amount. Hope this corrects some errors on the flags used by the Confederates in this campaign as well as being informative. Greg Biggs
West Point unveils statue of Ulysses S. Grant as his presidential stature increases.
Like Gettysburg, Vicksburg is a moving experience. Standing there looking out over the now peaceful setting it is hard to imagine what happened over a time of several months. The trinity of lost battles: Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Helena, Arkansas which happened in the space of a few days was the beginning of the end of the "Great Cause" which the Confederates were fighting for or so they believed. Some resolution, arbitration or surrender of some kind should have be sought. Alas, pride, hope or plain determination must have clouded better judgement. Nearly everyone, North and South, were weary of this war. Yet, on it went.