More battlefield land preserved with NPS grant

Published 8:07 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has received a $109,806 grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Trust to preserve a section of the Champion Hill Battlefield.

According to information from the National Park Service Tuesday, the grant will be used to purchase a 58-acre tract of land known as the Cal-Maine Foods Tract.

“The land the Battlefield Trust plans to set aside with that grant is a key portion of the battlefield, and along a section of road that connected the two parts of the Confederate and later two parts of the Union line,” Bill Justice, Vicksburg National Military Park superintendent, said. “Preserving that portion of the battlefield for future generations is an important step.”

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National Park Service deputy director P. Daniel Smith said the Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants help provide permanent protection for land associated with historic battles in the nation’s history.

“The grants enable communities to partner with public, private and nonprofit organizations to preserve and provide access to meaningful places that connect us to our past,” he said.

The Battle of Champion Hill was a major battle in U.S. Gen. Ulysses Grant’s effort to take Vicksburg.

On May 16, 1863, about 32,000 advancing Union soldiers met 23,000 Confederates in a fierce struggle for a crossroads roughly halfway between Vicksburg and Jackson.

The field was dominated by a bald hill on land owned by the Champion family, from which Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union army.

The battle ended when the Confederate forces were crushed and forced to retreat to Vicksburg.

The retreat later led to the siege of Vicksburg.

The grant for the Champion Hill property is one of $499,705.96 from the American Battlefield Protection Program to help protect 131.49 acres of America’s battlefields threatened by development.

It is the second time Archives and History has received an American Battlefield Protection grant. The state agency in 2016 received a $668,926 grant that allowed it to partner with the nonprofit Civil War Trust to purchase about 316 acres of property considered important to the long-term preservation of the site.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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