Vicksburg National Military Park is situated at Clay Street in Vicksburg, Mississippi just a quarter of a mile north of Interstate 20, off Exit 4B. The park is open throughout the year from 7.30am closing at 5pm between October and March and 7pm for the rest of the year. It remains closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Thepark commemorates the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg during the Civil War and has over 1,340 monuments, museums, a restored Union gunboat, and National Cemetery along the 16 mile tour road. Here visitors can enjoy an area of natural beauty as well as discovering more about the Civil War through guides, books and interactive media. It was established in 1899 as the fifth national military park created by congress and is the eighth oldest national park in the United States.
The Visitor Center at Clay Street is open from 8am to 5pm throughout the year and has lots of information about the site, its history, educational tours and a bookstore. Park rangers are on hand to help visitors with any questions they may have as well as guiding them to specific areas of the park. There are several exhibits here including an 18 minute orientation film and several scenes from the Civil War such as a Confederate hospital, a trench and a field officer's tent.
Guided tours of the battlefields are available either on request or preferably through booking in advance. The tours generally take approximately two hours and can be arranged for groups of all sizes and are led by professional guides. The guides will ride in the visitor's vehicle and can relay their knowledge of the events of the Civil War and specifically how it affected Vicksburg.
Also featured at the park is the U.S.S Cairo Museum, which recounts the tragically short life of the gunboat, sunk 11 months after it was commissioned in 1862. The ship was lifted out of the river in the 1960s, restored and displayed here at the park. The museum has many of the artifacts recovered from the gunboat, which remained in very good condition such as weapons, sailors' possessions and many other tools and munitions.
Another place to visit at the park is Pemberton's Headquarters, which is a historic mansion built in 1835-36. The mansion was selected by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton as his headquarters a week after the siege of Vicksburg began. The property provides visitors with a further insight in to the events of the Civil War and retains much of its historic fabric dating from the 1863 siege.
Visitors should note that camping is not available in the park, but pets are welcome so long as they are kept on leashes. However, petsare not allowed invisitor facilitiesor on the USS Cairo gunboat exhibit.Visitors with special needs can purchase an audio CD tour, rent a GPS Ranger device or hire a licensed battlefield guide to help get around the site.