The southern states of the Mississippi River region are rich in history, from Native American civilizations to decisive battles in the Civil War. Civil War battlefields tell the story of this tumultuous time—here are three sites any Civil War historians should put on their list.
Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
Located along the Mississippi River in the western part of the Magnolia State, Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the site of the battle of Vicksburg, which was waged from March 29 to July 4, 1863. The battle followed 18 months of fighting throughout the region as the two sides sought control of Vicksburg and its priceless access to the Mississippi. The park includes more than 1,300 historic monuments and markers, a 12.5-mile (20km) walking trail and the restored gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, among other attractions. A 16-mile (26km) road allows visitors to take a driving tour of the site.
Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee
The figures are staggering: Over two days in April 1862, nearly 110,000 Union and Confederate troops clashed in the woods and fields near the Tennessee River here, resulting in more than 23,000 casualties—more casualties than in all of America’s previous wars combined. The park is home to a visitor center with permanent exhibitions, films and displays, and visitors can take a 12-mile (19km) self-guided driving tour through notable battlefield locations. The park is also home to Shiloh National Cemetery and the Shiloh Indian Mounds site.
The first (and largest) national military park to be established after the Civil War, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park spans 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) on the Tennessee-Georgia border. These two bloody battles, held in September and November of 1863, ended with the Union in control of the rail and river routes out of Chattanooga and the Confederacy on the run. The park consists of four main areas: Chickamauga Battlefield, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park, and Moccasin Bend.
Other sites to visit:
- Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Missouri: Wilson’s Creek, located southwest of Springfield, was the site of the first major Civil War battle fought west of the Mississippi River in 1861
- Port Hudson State Historic Site, Louisiana: This nearly 900-acre (365 hectare) battlefield about 20 miles (32km) north of Baton commemorates the siege of Port Hudson, the longest siege of the Civil War, which lasted for 48 days in 1863