Back to Blog Main

A guest favorite along the Lower Mississippi River is a visit to Vicksburg National Military Park. There’s no better way to discover the critical role the city of Vicksburg played during the Civil War than by exploring this park which commemorates one of its most decisive battles: the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg.

The Key To Victory 

During the Civil War, the Mississippi River was the primary channel for supplies and communication through the South and was also an important conduit for goods going north. The town of Vicksburg’s strategic location along the Mississippi River made it a critical win for both the Union and the Confederacy. 

Known as "The Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” Vicksburg was a fortress high on the bluffs guarding the Mississippi River. According to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Vicksburg was the "nail head that holds the South's two halves together."  

Remarked President Abraham Lincoln, “Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” 

The Siege of Vicksburg

In May of 1863, under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, the Union army besieged the Mississippi city of Vicksburg.  

During the siege, Union forces controlled all approaches to Vicksburg and by early June 1863, the Confederate force, led by General John C. Pemberton, was on the brink of starvation and desperately low on ammunition. Having exhausted their food and supplies, the Confederate army surrendered the city on July 4, 1863. 

The Confederate loss of Vicksburg was a turning point in the war, because it opened the way for the Union to seize control of the entire Mississippi River, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two and severely weakening its capacity to continue the war.

Explore History

At Vicksburg Military Park, walk the grounds that the Union and Confederate forces occupied during the 47-day siege as your guide recounts the events and important people who fought here.

The park features thousands of historic monuments and markers, miles of reconstructed trenches and earthworks, hundreds of cannons, the restored Union gunboat USS Cairo, and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Visit some of the structures that survived the siege and learn about the people who lived in the historic neighborhood at that time.

These fascinating experiences are available on several of our many Mississippi River Cruise Itineraries such as our Grand Heartland Cruise, Mississippi Gateway Cruise, Historic Mississippi River Cruise, and Civil War Battlefields Cruise itineraries as well as our Lower Mississippi and Complete Mississippi itineraries. Call your Cruise Specialist at 888-460-4518 to learn more.