Quarter to feature VNMP design

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vicksburg’s most popular attraction and one of the nation’s oldest national parks, the Vicksburg National Military Park has been selected to appear on a quarter to be produced by the U.S. Mint in 2011.

The VNMP quarter will be the ninth released in a series of 56 quarters paying homage to the country’s national parks and other federally preserved areas. The quarters will begin to reach circulation in April, and a new one will be released every 10 weeks. The design of the quarter is still in progress, said VNMP Acting Superintendent John Bundy.

“We will be involved in helping set that direction some,” Bundy said. “We look forward to working with the mint on a design that will tell the story of the great events that are commemorated here.”

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Boasting the largest collection of tablets, busts and monuments among all the country’s national parks — nearly 1,400 — the VNMP is older than the National Park Service itself, having been established by Congress in 1899, 17 years before the NPS. With 18,000 gravestones, it features the largest national cemetery for those who fought in the Civil War and is one of 391 parks managed by the NPS. Approximately 700,000 visitors pass through the 1,800-acre park each year. 

The America the Beautiful quarters program was authorized by Congress in 2008 to celebrate the nation’s legacy of conservation. Each state and U.S. territory has selected one of its parks or preserved areas to be featured on a quarter. The coins will feature 48 national parks, two U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges and six U.S. Forest Service sites.

“It’s quite an honor to be included,” said Bundy, who will finish his 90-day appointment today and be replaced by Patricia Wissenger as acting superintendent.

Wissenger will also have a 90-day appointment while the NPS continues its search for a full time superintendent. In June, former Superintendent Monika Mayr left the park to become deputy superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Mayr was appointed the park’s first female superintendent in 2004.

The Vicksburg Campaign was complex and strategically important to the Civil War. Due to the city’s well fortified location high on the bluffs over a wide bend of the Mississippi River, both the Confederate and Union armies recognized they could not control the river without holding the city known as “the Gibraltar of the Confederacy.”

Confederate President Jefferson Davis said, “Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South’s two halves together,” while President Abraham Lincoln famously wrote, “Vicksburg is the key. The war can never be brought to a close until the key is in our pocket.” Between December 1862 and July 1863, 11 distinct battles took place in areas south, east and north of the city, as the Union army attempted to take the city. Battles at Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill and others preceded a 47-day siege of the city.

The Confederate Army surrendered Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, a day after the Southern army was defeated at Gettysburg. The coinciding defeats are now considered to be a major turning point in the war for the Confederate cause, although the Southern army would continue to fight for secession for nearly two more years before the war’s end.


Contact Steve Sanoski at ssanoski@vicksburgpost.com