The Vicksburg National Military Park has hopes of expanding and including more of the Vicksburg Campaign under its umbrella. No telling how long that will take, but it will be worth the wait.
The Military Park is one of the major tourists attractions in this part of the country. It’s estimated that the park generates about $30 million a year for the local economy with people coming here to see where the Siege of Vicksburg ended.
Well, the park is just part of the story. It took Grant’s army marching around southwest Mississippi several weeks to get to this point. And there are still key elements of that story that can be told.
Bill Justice is the Superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park and says there are plans, albeit somewhat hazy at this time, to include more of the Grant’s March story as a part of the Vicksburg Park, specifically on the battlefields at Port Gibson, Raymond and Champion Hill.
"Over the long term, those three areas, those three battlefields, will be added as part of Vicksburg National Military Park," said Justice. "Eventually we’ll be able to tell the entire story about the campaign from the landing down in Bruinsburg and the battle of Port Gibson, through the battle of Raymond, and the battle of Champion Hill, which is arguably one of the most important battles of the Civil War. After that battle, when Pemberton’s troops were defeated, they were forced to retreat into the defenses at Vicksburg."
And then Vicksburg fell and there was no way after that for the South to win the war. There is some interpretation on the other major battlefields leading up to Vicksburg now. But by and large, you have to know what you are looking for and know where to go to find it to see it.
But portions of the battlefields at Port Gibson, Raymond and Champion Hill are already set aside and ready to be incorporated into a whole park. Not only would that it make it easier to follow Grant’s March, but you could also follow the tourist’s money trail.
"If you want to see all three of those battle fields, you have to spend more than one day here," added Justice.
And an axiom of tourism is, spend more time at a place and you will spend more money. And packaged correctly, people coming to see our Civil War may also finally become acquainted with more of what Mississippi is really all about.
It may not happen in my life time, but if it comes to a vote, mark me in favor of the Grant’s March addition to the Vicksburg Park.