Earlier this month, the Civil War Trust, along with the National Park Foundation and HTR Foundation joined together to announce the protection of a portion of the Champion Hill battlefield, the largest battle of the Vicksburg Campaign. The announcement comes to us today from Hinds County, Mississippi.
“The Civil War Trust today [May 9] announced the preservation of a 319-acre property associated with the 1863 Battle of Champion Hill. With this addition, the Trust has helped save almost 800 acres at Champion Hill, the site of the largest, bloodiest, and most consequential action of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. The decisive Union victory at Champion Hill was instrumental in forcing the Confederate Army into a doomed position inside the entrenched fortress of Vicksburg.
‘Thanks to the generosity of our partners, land that played a crucial role in the Vicksburg Campaign and eventual Union control of the Mississippi River is now saved forever,’ said Trust President James Lighthizer. ‘The protection of these 319 acres guarantees that future generations of Americans will be able to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors and see the places where the issues of the American Civil War were decided.’
The land, which runs along the historic Middle Road and is traversed by Jackson Creek, was purchased by the Trust for $1.28 million. Funding was provided by matching grants from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, along with generous contributions from the HTR Foundation and the National Park Foundation. The HTR Foundation, a longtime supporter of battlefield preservation, is one of the Trust’s largest private donors, and its timely contribution was integral to ensuring the property was preserved. The remaining funds, totaling about $117,000, were donated by Trust members during a fundraising campaign announced in September 2016.
‘We are always proud to partner with the Civil War Trust in the shared mission to safeguard our national heritage. As with much of the work we have done together, this latest agreement with the Trust will keep hallowed ground at Champion Hill preserved for generations to come,’ said HTR Foundation President Jeffrey McClanathan.
The Civil War Trust will maintain the property for the immediate future. It will be transferred eventually to the National Park Service for stewardship and interpretation as part of Vicksburg National Military Park.
‘When federal dollars alone aren’t enough, private philanthropy can bring a preservation project like Champion Hill battlefield to life,’ said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, the national nonprofit partner to the National Park Service. ‘We are honored to work with the Civil War Trust and its partners to expand the story of the courage and sacrifice told at Vicksburg National Military Park.’
On May 16, 1863, more than 30,000 Union soldiers clashed with 23,000 Confederates at a crucial crossroads between Jackson and Vicksburg. That morning, Confederate artillery opened fire from Champion Hill, but the first Federal assault drove the Southerners back. Late in the afternoon, the Confederate troops of Maj. Gen. William W. Loring’s division finally arrived and deployed into line of battle, but overwhelming numbers of Federal troops began advancing against them. Realizing that the battle was already lost, Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton ordered a withdrawal. Years later, renowned British military historian J. F. C. Fuller would write: ‘The drums of Champion’s Hill sounded the doom of Richmond.’
The Civil War Trust is the premier nonprofit organization devoted to the preservation of America’s hallowed battlegrounds. Although primarily focused on the protection of Civil War battlefields, through its Campaign 1776 initiative, the Trust also seeks to save the battlefields connected to the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. To date, the Trust has preserved more than 45,000 acres of battlefield land in 23 states, including 795 acres at Champion Hill and almost 4,000 acres in Mississippi.”