House approves park expansion to include Pemberton house

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Pemberton’s Headquarters at 1018 Crawford St. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[09/25/02]Another step toward adding Pemberton’s Headquarters to the Vicksburg National Military Park has received final congressional approval.

Senate Bill 1175, modifying the boundaries of the park, passed the House Tuesday by a voice vote, said news releases from the offices of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Mississippi, and District 3 U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Mississippi. District 2 U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson has also supported the effort.

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“We are absolutely thrilled,” said park historian Terry Winschel. “Elation does not describe the feeling.”

Pemberton’s Headquarters is an antebellum home at 1018 Crawford St. Now privately owned and restored, it had been deteriorating for decades.

It was in a first floor room of the residence that Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, commander of the Confederate forces defending Vicksburg from May 23 to July 4, 1863, met with his staff to decide the city’s surrender. It was a major turning point in the war and reunification of the United States as a nation.

“Pemberton’s Headquarters is a needed addition to the Vicksburg National Military Park as this park was established in 1899 to commemorate one of the most decisive battles of the Civil War,” Lott said.

Lott also said the inclusion of Pemberton’s Headquarters is part of a larger effort to expand the local park by encouraging the preservation of other historic sites related to the Campaign and Siege of Vicksburg.

Thompson, D-Mississippi, could not be reached this morning. His district includes Vicksburg and Warren County.

Winschel said the National Park Service will have authority to begin formal negotiations with Andrew Johnson, owner of Pemberton’s Headquarters, for the sale.

The next step in the negotiating process is receipt of the appraisal which, when approved, will result in an offer to Johnson who is advertising the structure for sale.

If the park’s offer is accepted, Winschel said the park will use the building as an interpretive center about the campaign and siege, Reconstruction and the role of black soldiers. Since the center is in town, the effects of the war and Reconstruction on the civilian population will also be explained.

The park’s boundaries were set by Congress in 1899. An expansion 100 years later allowed the park to accept the donation of the last remaining part of Grant’s Canal near Delta, La.