Vicksburg National Military Park | VISITOR CENTER

Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

OPERATING HOURS

The Visitor Center for Vicksburg National Military Park is open daily except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. From April through October the hours are 8 AM to 5 PM, and for the rest of the year, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Keep in mind that times can always change, so for the latest schedule be sure to check the National Park Service’s official Basic Information web page for the park.

AMENITIES

  • Ranger-staffed information desk where you can ask questions and pick up a park brochure
  • Park film
  • Museum
  • Outdoor exhibits near the building
  • Book and souvenir store
  • Restrooms

There is a charge to enter the battlefield, and this is usually paid at a booth near the entrance to the battlefield tour road, but if the booth is closed you must come inside the Visitor Center to pay.

Information desk and souvenir store at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

Information desk and souvenir store at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

PARK FILM

A 20-minute film about the fighting at Vicksburg shows every half hour on the hour at the Visitor Center. Unless you are well versed in the Vicksburg campaign, be sure to catch this film before heading out to explore the battlefield so you have an idea of what went on. The film dedicates time to Grant’s overall march to Vicksburg and the battles fought along the way; the initial attacks on May 19 and 22, 1863; the Confederate forts that ringed the city; and the May 26-July 3 siege of the city. Though not rated, the film is suitable for young children who are old enough to understand what war and death are. It is a live action documentary (real actors and action) and there is shooting and death, but no blood is shown, just men falling down.

MUSEUM

For all I’ve heard about Vicksburg and its importance to the Civil War, I expected much more out of the Visitor Center’s museum. The majority of the small exhibit area is given over to five dioramas that focus on the siege. Camp Life tells of the boredom endured by troops of both sides. The caves that Vicksburg citizens dug and lived in to escape the Union shelling of the city are discussed in the “Shut up as in a trap” diorama. There is also a diorama depicting trench life, a field hospital, and the Union push to enlist black soldiers. Many of the items used in the dioramas are real Civil War artifacts. Additional artifacts include a mortar and weapons used by officers in the battle.

Mortar and sword display at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

Mortar and sword display at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

Diorama depicting cave life of Vicksburg citizens

Diorama depicting cave life of Vicksburg citizens

Information on the actual fighting is sparse except for an animated map program that visually shows the entire Vicksburg Campaign. A written and dated account of the battles is included at its base. This, along with the park film, are the best ways to learn about the battle before heading off on the Battlefield Tour.

Animated light map presentation of the battles at Vicksburg

Animated light map presentation of the battles at Vicksburg

OUTDOOR EXHIBITS

A number of exhibits are outside the Visitor Center. There is a display of the artillery used during the battle and an exhibit that really should not be missed—I used photos of it a number of times in my Vicksburg National Military Park review. Once on the battlefield you will see a number of Confederate forts. All are earthen and now appear to be nothing more than big hills. However, wooden structures also made up part of the fort, and the National Park Service has built a reconstruction of what the forts would have looked like during the war. I highly suggest visiting this exhibit so you have an idea of what an intact fort looked like.

View of the exterior of a Civil War-era earthen fort

View of the exterior of a Civil War-era earthen fort

Protective interior walls of a Civil War-era earthen fort

Protective interior walls of a Civil War-era earthen fort

Artillery display outside the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

Artillery display outside the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center

SCHEDULING YOUR TIME

Most people will just watch the film and maybe visit the museum while waiting for it to start, so they’ll be done at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center in a half hour, but if you want to take in all the Visitor Center has to offer, allow an hour for your stop. The park film takes up 20 minutes of that time, and you should be able to read all of the information in the museum in no more than 30 minutes. The rest of the time is spent at the outdoor exhibits.

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Last updated on January 19, 2022
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