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Dark Destinations > Locations - V > Vicksburg National Military Park


 
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Filed Under: Cemeteries/Graveyards
Historical Locations > The Civil War
Museums/Libraries/Exhibitions
Paranormal Hot Spots > Haunted Parks
Added By: TheCabinet
Added On: June 07, 2007 - 06:36 PM UTC
Last Modified: July 12, 2007 - 01:13 AM UTC
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Vicksburg National Military Park, USA (Vicksburg, Mississippi)
 
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The Siege of Vicksburg
The town of Vicksburg, Mississippi served as a fortified stronghold for the Confederate Army early in the Civil War.  With high bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, the Confederates built strong artillery units that made Union passage almost impossible.  To the Union, possession of the Mississippi River meant a supply line for reinforcements to Union troops in the south and a way to divide the Confederate Army in half; isolating the states of Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas from their counterparts to the east of the river.  For this reason alone, President Abraham Lincoln said, "See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key, the war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket."

There were several attempts made by the Union to take Vicksburg, but all were successfully resisted by the Confederacy.  In October of 1862, command over the Mississippi was given to Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton of the Confederate Army with the strict instructions to keep the river open.  At the same time, Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant was commanded to take the Mississippi River and put it under Union control.  It was obvious to all from the start that Vicksburg was going to be a deciding factor of the war.

By mid-May 1863, through a series of strategic maneuvers and diversions (which managed to lure some of Pemberton's army out of Vicksburg) and Union victories in all directions, Grant had managed to isolate much of Vicksburg and secure the river adjoining it.  Pemberton knew that he was being surrounded and decided to try and break through Union lines.  The resulting battles at Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge resulted in high casualties for the Confederacy and Pemberton was forced to withdraw his troops back into Vicksburg.

With the Confederate Army in Vicksburg grossly outnumbered and believing that the troops were demoralized by the preceding battles, Grant ordered the corps under the command of William Tecumseh Sherman to attack from the north on May 19, but they were met with ruthless fire and were forced to retreat.  Undeterred, Grant assembled his entire army for a complete assault of Vicksburg on May 22.  Though there were some minor advances, the fortified positions of the Confederate Army proved to be to big of an advantage and the Union troops were forced to fall back, but not before suffering over 3,000 casualties.

Realizing that he had the town completely surrounded and that the strong defenses would result in heavy casualties on the Union side, Grant decided to dig in and lay siege.  Pemberton meanwhile, as well as the troops and residents of Vicksburg, believed relief would be coming from the west from General Joseph E. Johnston, who had recently been defeated in Jackson, but was already recruiting more troops and restocking his army.  Outside the city, the Union troops from the former assault lay dead or dying in the heat of a Mississippi May sun and the screams and smell descended over the city.  A truce was called and the Union was allowed to recover their wounded or dead before both sides again took up their positions.

The siege would last from May 22 to July 4.  Over the many days and nights, the Union artillery on one side fired around 7,000 mortars on the city, while their ships on the river fired around 4,500 shells.  The soldiers and residents in the city were forced out of their houses and hid in caves and dugouts around the city.  Grant's troops meanwhile dug in and slowly inched forward.

On June 25th, his engineers had succeeded in installing a mine under the Third Louisiana Redan and it was detonated.  Union soldiers immediately descended into the crater hoping to gain entry into the city, but were pinned down inside the crater.  Brutal combat broke out and faced with short-fused shells being thrown down from the Confederate troops above, the Union soldiers were forced to withdraw.  Over the next several days, the engineers would begin to widen the crater and prepare for an all-out assault of Vicksburg, but it would become unnecessary.

At the start of July, Pemberton realized that the anticipated relief from Johnston, who felt his force was too small, would not be coming.  To the north, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had decided not to come to the rescue either and instead attempted to move further north into Union territory in hopes of pulling away some of the Union soldiers.  On July 3, Lee suffered dramatic losses in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was forced to withdraw back into Virginia.  Meanwhile, Pemberton's troops were out of rations and starving.  Over half of his troops were sick and the cause was hopeless.

On July 3, negotiations began for Vicksburg's surrender.  Faced with feeding and transporting over 30,000 Confederate soldiers, Grant offered them parole; assuming that their morale was shattered and they would never fight again.  On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg officially surrendered and was handed over to the Union Army.  Ironically, many of the men that Grant paroled that day would later face him again in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The near-simultaneous victory at Gettysburg and surrender of Vicksburg represented major Union victories and would represent what some call the "turning point" of the Civil War.  Grant had succeeded in dividing the south in half and opening a supply line for Union reinforcements, while the seemingly invincible General Robert E. Lee had sustained his first major loss of the battle.  However, much to the surprise of everyone, the War would continue on for another two years.

The Ghosts of the War
There are reports today that the Vicksburg National Military Park still plays hosts to the soldiers of the past.  Visitors have reported hearing the sounds of the battle (cannon fire, horses, orders being issued, and screams of the wounded) over the empty fields, while ghostly troops are spotted hiding in the trees or walking the grounds.  There are even reports of the smell of smoke and gunpowder coming from seemingly nowhere.  Some have even reported seeing a strange fog or mist form over the fields on a bright and sunny day.  Meanwhile, many of the homes in the city itself that were around during the siege report ghostly visitors from the days of the Civil War.

The Five Faces
One of the most fascinating ghostly activities reported at Vicksburg National Military Park occurs at The Pennsylvania State Memorial, also known as the Five Faces.  It got that name because on the front of the monument there are five bronze medallions with the faces of the Pennsylvania unit commanders.  The legend goes that during a powerful storm, blood trickles from the eyes in the form of tears.
 
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Related Sites
Vicksburg National Military Park
The official site of the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The park was the site for a prolonged Union siege of the city that took countless Union and Confederate soldiers' lives. It is still haunted by them to this day.
Civil War Ghosts and Hauntings
The Shadowseeker's page detailing the various alleged hauntings of Civil War battle locations. Includes Antietam, Chickamauga, Stones River, and Vicksburg.
 
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See Also on TheCabinet.com
Blog: The Ghosts of Vicksburg (05/19/08)
 
Available from Amazon.com
Civil War Ghost Stories & Legends
Historic Haunted America
Ghosts and Haunts of the Civil War: Authentic Accounts of the Strange and Unexplained
Gettysburg: Sentinels of Stone
Vicksburg: 47 Days of Siege
Struggle for Vicksburg
 
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Images
 
Entrance to Vicksburg National Military Park
June 2007 photo of the entrance to Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.
From: TheCabinet
 
Battery De Golyer at Vicksburg
June 2007 photo of Union battery that fired on the Confederate Great Redoubt.
From: TheCabinet
 
Missouri Memorial in Vicksburg Military Park
The Missouri Memorial inside Vicksburg National Military Park in June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
 
Mississippi River from Fort Hill in Vicksburg
Overlooking the Mississippi River and the states of Louisiana/Mississippi at Fort Hill in June 2007.
From: TheCabinet
 
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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