Vicksburg National Military Park sets events for siege anniversary

Published 8:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2023

Camels, cannons, Yankees and generals will be at the Vicksburg National Military Park on Saturday and Sunday as the park commemorates the 160th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg.

Events featuring live cannon fire, presentations by re-enactors about a soldier’s life in the Civil War and the reenactment of the surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate Gen. John C. Pemberton to Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant will take place at the park Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting.

The Texas Camel Corps, a popular exhibit, will be at the park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday by the Visitors Center.

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“This is our surrender weekend that we have each year, but we’re adding a little extra because it’s the 160th anniversary, so there is some additional programming,” said Brendan Wilson, the park’s chief of interpretation, education and partnerships. “This is kind of the culmination of the 160th.”

Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. with cannon firing demonstrations at Tour Stop No. 1, Battery DeGolyer, and Tour Stop No. 3, the 3rd Louisiana Redan.

The demonstrations allow park visitors to learn about 19th-century artillery as park staff and volunteers demonstrate how soldiers learned how to be efficient artillerists during the Civil War.

The firing demonstrations and talks will be Saturday and Sunday at 9 and 10 a.m. on both days.

Members of Company C, 45th Illinois Infantry will be encamped at the Shirley House and provide programs on life during the siege.
The re-enactors will hold rotating presentations throughout Saturday and Sunday at stations both in and around their camp and inside the historic Shirley House. Children will be able to participate and learn how Civil War soldiers trained, fought and experienced the conflict.

The programs include:

• Overview of the Vicksburg Campaign, where a re-enactor of the 45th explains the importance of Vicksburg and the campaign from 1862-1863 with a special emphasis on the role of the common soldier.

• The equipment of the Civil War Federal Soldier — the weapons, uniforms, backpacks, blanket rolls and other equipment carried and used during the war.

• Siege Life for the Soldier — a soldier explains the challenges and hardships faced by Union soldiers as they besieged Vicksburg. The hillside dugouts shown in a photograph of the Shirley House will be contrasted with the tents and other shelters used by the 45th.

• A soldier will describe the typical rations issued and demonstrate methods for cooking. Another soldier will talk about and show the haversack used by the men.

• The Battle for the 3rd Louisiana Redan, where a soldier will discuss the June 25th mine explosion at the 3rd Louisiana Redan and the attempt to break through the Confederate lines with a special emphasis on the role of the 45th Illinois in the battle.

A theatrical performance involving the last 24 hours before the surrender of Vicksburg will be presented at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Surrender Monument.

The performance, “Last 24 Hours: Grant and Pemberton Tell All,” features Curt Fields and Morgan Gates performing as Ulysses S. Grant and John C. Pemberton as they discuss the experiences each commander faced during the Vicksburg Campaign. Fields and Gates are considered the preeminent scholars of their respective personas and will bring life to these historic figures using their own words to tell the story of the siege and surrender of Vicksburg.

A first-person program, “The Last 24 Hours” will be Saturday and Sunday at the Visitor Center auditorium at 2 p.m.


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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