Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi stands as the second largest military park in the United States (the largest is in Georgia and Tennessee).
It commemorates a key battle in American history.
What happened on this land potentially changed the course of our nation.
One of the largest battles fought during the Civil War happened at Vicksburg. Confederate President Jefferson Davis called Vicksburg the “nailhead that holds the South’s two halves together.”
President Lincoln claimed Vicksburg as “the key” to victory for the Union.
After 18 months of campaign and 47 days of siege, the Confederate army fell to General Grant and the Union army.
The siege was brutal and the sacrifices were great. Both sides wanted to honor the fallen right away.
The result is what is now Vicksburg National Military Park which is also home to the largest Union national cemetery.
What To Do at Vicksburg National Military Park
The park has earned the title of “The Largest Outdoor Art Gallery in the World.”
More than 1,300 monuments, tablets and markers can be found throughout the park. Rolling hills and paved walkways make Vicksburg National Military Park an excellent place to go for a bike ride or a long, leisurely walk.
If you’re looking to take in the whole of the park, I recommend joining one of the guided driving tours.
There are three different ways of going about this:
Go on a self-guided driving tour using the park map and brochure.
Upon entrance to the park, you will receive the map as a guide and the brochure with the added information to get the most out of the tour. This tour is free after the entrance fee.
Take the cell phone driving tour.
This is the same idea as the self-guided tour with the added bonus of 30-second descriptions via cell phone of each stop.
Request the phone number at the Visitor Center.
Both of the self-guided tours take 1.5-2 hours.
Finally, my personal recommendation is to take the tour with a licensed tour guide.
Our guide, Morgan Gates, was incredibly knowledgeable and full of zeal for the park and its history.
He shared interesting facts, fun stories and is such an engaging story teller that you won’t regret taking a guided tour with him.
While on your tour, you’ll notice several memorials featuring women.
These women of the park include the Roman goddess of Peace, the Greek goddess Athena, North, South, and History atop the Illinois Memorial, the Greek goddess Nike, and a woman of the Civil War representing Alabama.
B.A.R.K. Ranger Program at Vicksburg National Military Park
The B.A.R.K. Ranger program is much like the Junior Ranger program but for dogs!
As a dog lover myself, I appreciate such a clever and beneficial program.
Your dog can become a B.A.R.K. Ranger by completing an activity checklist provided by the Visitor Center.
This program teaches dog owners such as myself about the importance of following the rules of “B.A.R.K.”
Myths of Vicksburg National Military Park
There are a number of myths of Vicksburg National Military Park.
Old Abe, the veteran eagle, is said to take flight on occasion.
General Grant may tip his hat to you.
Keep an eye out for holes freshly dug by the ghost of Tom Mallory.
The most famous of the myths claims that if you visit the Pennsylvania Memorial at midnight and shine lights on the unit commanders’ faces, they’ll cry tears of blood.
While this could have something to do with rainwater turned red by rust and minerals, I believe it just might be something else entirely.
Find more things to do outside in Vicksburg.