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Vicksburg, Mississippi
—  City  —
Aerial view of Vicksburg harbor
Nickname(s): "Gibraltar of the Confederacy"[1]
Location of Vicksburg in Warren County
Coordinates: 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611, -90.87528Coordinates: 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611, -90.87528
Country United States
State Mississippi
County Warren
Incorporated January 29, 1825
 • Mayor George Flaggs, Jr.
 • City 35.3 sq mi (98.32 km2)
 • Land 32.9 sq mi (85.2 km2)
 • Water 2.4 sq mi (6.2 km2)
Elevation 240 ft (82 m)
Population (2012)
 • City 23,450
 • Density 803.1/sq mi (310.1/km2)
 • Metro 48,084
Time zone CST (UTC-6)
 • Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 39180-39183
Area code(s) 601
FIPS code 28-76720
GNIS feature ID 0679216

Vicksburg is a city and county seat of Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is the seventeenth largest city in Mississippi. It is located 234 miles (377 km) northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and 40 miles (64 km) due west of Jackson, the state capital. In 1900, 14,834 people lived in Vicksburg; in 1910, 20,814; in 1920, 17,931; and in 1940, 24,460. The population was 26,407 at the 2000 census. In 2010, it became a Micropolitan with a population of 49,644. Vicksburg is the principal city of the Vicksburg Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Warren County.


The entire Choctaw Nation's location compared to the U.S. state of Mississippi.

The area which is now Vicksburg was previously part of the Natchez Native Americans' territory. The first Europeans who settled the area were French colonists, who built Fort-Saint-Pierre in 1719 on the high bluffs overlooking the Yazoo River at present-day Redwood. On 29 November 1729, the Natchez attacked the fort and plantations in and around the present-day city of Natchez, killing several hundred settlers, including the Jesuit Father Paul Du Poisson, and carrying off a number of women and children as captives. The Natchez War was a disaster for French Louisiana, and the colonial population of the Natchez District never recovered. But, aided by the Choctaw, traditional enemies of the Natchez, the French defeated and scattered the Natchez and their allies, the Yazoo.

The Choctaw Nation took over the area by right of conquest and inhabited it for several decades. Under pressure from the US government, in 1801 the Choctaw agreed to cede nearly 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of land to the US under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Adams. The treaty was the first of a series that eventually led to the removal of most of the Choctaw to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River in 1830. Many Choctaw remained in Mississippi, citing article XIV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, and became citizens of the state and the United States.

In 1790, the Spanish founded a military outpost on the site, which they called Fort Nogales (nogales meaning "walnut trees"). When the Americans took possession in 1798, they changed the name to Walnut Hills. The small village was incorporated in 1825 as Vicksburg, named after Newitt Vick, a Methodist minister who had established a mission on the site.

In 1835, during the Murrell Excitement, a mob from Vicksburg attempted to expel the gamblers from the city, because the citizens were sick of the rougher element treating the city with nothing but contempt. Five gamblers who had shot and killed a local doctor were hanged as a result.[2]

View of Vicksburg in 1855

During the American Civil War, the city finally had to surrender during the Siege of Vicksburg, after which the Union Army gained control of the entire Mississippi River. The 47-day siege was intended to starve the city into submission. Otherwise its location atop a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River proved impregnable to assault by federal troops. The surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate General John C. Pemberton on July 4, 1863, together with the defeat of General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg the day before, has historically marked the turning point in the Civil War in the Union's favor.

It has been claimed that the residents of Vicksburg did not celebrate the national holiday of 4th of July again until 1945 but this is inaccurate. Large Fourth of July celebrations were being held by 1907, and informal celebrations took place before that.[3][4]

Floating drydock in Vicksburg, circa 1905

Because of the city's location on the Mississippi River, in the 19th century it built an extensive trade from the river's prodigious steamboat traffic. It shipped cotton coming to it from surrounding counties and was a major trading city. In 1874, in Reconstruction-era violence, whites attacked a black Republican political gathering in Vicksburg. An estimated 300 blacks were killed, and the Republican governor Adelbert Ames left the state temporarily.[5] Election cycles had been accompanied by increasing violence from white insurgents in the state as the Democrats worked openly to suppress black voting. In 1875, they succeeded in regaining control of the state legislature.

In 1876 a Mississippi River flood cut off the large meander flowing past Vicksburg, leaving limited access to the new channel. The city's economy suffered greatly. Between 1881 and 1894, the Anchor Line, a prominent steamboat company on the Mississippi River from 1859 to 1898, operated a steamboat called the City of Vicksburg.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Yazoo River in 1903 into the old, shallowing channel to rejuvenate the waterfront. Railroad access to the west was by transfer steamers and ferry barges until a combination railroad-highway bridge was built in 1929. This is the only Mississippi River rail crossing between Baton Rouge and Memphis. It is the only highway crossing between Natchez and Greenville.

Interstate 20 bridged the river after 1973. Freight rail traffic still crosses via the old bridge. North-South transportation links are by the Mississippi River and U.S. Highway 61.

The historic 1894 Mississippi River Commission Building

On March 12, 1894, the popular soft drink Coca-Cola was bottled for the first time in Vicksburg by Joseph A. Biedenharn, a local confectioner. Today, surviving nineteenth-century Biedenharn soda bottles are prized by collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia. His original candy store has been renovated as the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.

During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, where hundreds of thousands of acres were inundated, Vicksburg served as the primary refugee gathering point. Relief parties put up temporary housing, as the flood submerged a large percentage of the Mississippi Delta. Because of the overwhelming damage from the flood, the US Army Corps of Engineers established the Waterways Experiment Station as the primary hydraulics laboratory, to develop protection of important croplands and cities. Now known as the Engineer Research and Development Center, it applies military engineering, information technology, environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, and geotechnical engineering.

In December 1953, a severe tornado swept across Vicksburg, causing 38 deaths and destroying nearly 1,000 buildings.

Political and racial unrest after the Civil War[]

In the first few years after the Civil War, the Ku Klux Klan developed chapters throughout the South, beginning in Tennessee. It was suppressed about 1870. By the mid-1870s, new white paramilitary groups had arisen in the Deep South, including the Red Shirts in Mississippi and the White League in Louisiana, as whites struggled to regain political and social power over the black majority. On December 7, 1874 in the Vicksburg Massacre, white men disrupted a black Republican meeting, and swept through black areas, killing at least 50 black residents. Historian Emilye Crosby estimates that upwards of 300 blacks were killed in the city and the surrounding area.[5] The Red Shirts were active in Vicksburg and other Mississippi areas.

At the request of Governor Adelbert Ames, President Ulysses S. Grant sent Federal troops to Vicksburg to quell the violence. In the aftermath of the Vicksburg Massacre, other states adopted what they called the "Mississippi Plan", an organized effort to suppress the black vote and unite whites under the Democrats. At election times, paramilitary groups intimidated black Republican voters into staying away from the polls, despite the majority of blacks in the state. In 1875 in Mississippi and within two years elsewhere in the former Confederacy, Democrats had regained control of state legislatures. Under new constitutions, amendments and laws passed from 1890 (Mississippi) to 1910, they imposed Jim Crow and disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites.

Lynchings and other forms of vigilante violence continued to occur in Vicksburg after the start of the 20th century. In May 1903, for instance, two black men charged with murdering a planter were taken from jail by a mob of 200 farmers and lynched before they went to trial.[6]

1910 panorama
1910 panorama

Activists in the Vicksburg Movement were prominent in civil rights activities, especially during the 1960s.

Contemporary Vicksburg[]

Mural of the Sprague on Vicksburg floodwall

In 2001, a group of Vicksburg residents visited the Paducah, Kentucky mural project.[7] In 2002, the Vicksburg Riverfront murals program was begun by Louisiana mural artist Robert Dafford and his team on the floodwall located on the waterfront in downtown.[8] Subjects for the murals were drawn from the history of Vicksburg and the surrounding area; they include President Theodore Roosevelt's bear hunt, the SS Sultana, the Sprague, the Siege of Vicksburg, the Kings Crossing site, Willie Dixon, the Flood of 1927, the 1953 Vicksburg, Mississippi tornado outbreak, Rosa A. Temple High School and the Vicksburg National Military Park.[9] The project was finished in 2009 with the completion of the Jitney Jungle/Glass Kitchen mural.[8] In the fall of 2010, a new 55-foot mural was painted on a section of wall on Grove Hill across the street from the original project by former Dafford muralists Benny Graeff and Herb Roe. The mural's subject is the annual "Run thru History" held in the Vicksburg National Military Park.[10][11]


Vicksburg is located at 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W / 32.33611, -90.87528 (32.335986, -90.875356).[12] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.3 square miles (91 km2), of which 32.9  square miles (85.2 km²) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) (6.78%) is water.

Vicksburg is located at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Yazoo River. Much of the city is on top of a high bluff on the east bank of the Mississippi River.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 3,678
1860 4,591 24.8%
1870 12,443 171.0%
1880 11,814 −5.1%
1890 13,373 13.2%
1900 14,834 10.9%
1910 20,814 40.3%
1920 18,072 −13.2%
1930 22,943 27.0%
1940 24,460 6.6%
1950 27,948 14.3%
1960 29,143 4.3%
1970 25,478 −12.6%
1980 25,434 −0.2%
1990 20,908 −17.8%
2000 26,407 26.3%
2010 23,856 −9.7%
Est. 2012 23,450 −11.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[13]
2012 Estimate[14]

As of the census of 2000, there were 26,407 people with a metropolitan population of 49,644, 10,364 households, and 6,612 families residing in the city. The population density was 803.1 people per square mile (310.1/km²). There were 11,654 housing units for an average density of 354.4 per square mile (136.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.43% African American, 37.80% White, 0.15% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.04% of the population. There were 10,364 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 24.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.15.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 82.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.3 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $28,466, and the median income for a family was $34,380. Males had a median income of $29,420 versus $20,728 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. About 19.3% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.8% of those under age 18 and 16.5% of those age 65 or over.

The city is also home to three large Corps of Engineers installations, the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Mississippi Valley Division headquarters, and the Vicksburg District headquarters.

Arts and culture[]

Annual cultural events[]

Every summer, Vicksburg plays host to the Miss Mississippi Pageant and Parade, and every summer the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club hosts a homecoming weekend/reunion and provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Former residents from across the country return for the event.

Museums and other points of interest[]

Vicksburg is home to the McRaven House, said to be "one of the most haunted houses in Mississippi".[15]

The 1902 City Hall is a Beaux-Arts Classical Revival design by the notable architect J. Riely Gordon, of San Antonio and later New York City. Gordon was responsible for 72 courthouses in his career (including Copiah County in Hazlehurst and for Wilkinson County in Woodville), for the Territorial (soon-was the State) Capitol of Arizona, as well as for Carnegie libraries, many mansions, and other buildings. [16][17]


The city government consists of a mayor who is elected at large. The current mayor is George Flaggs, who defeated former mayor Paul Winfield in the June 2013 election. There are also two aldermembers who are elected from one of two wards.


Mississippi River at Vicksburg

The City of Vicksburg is served by the Vicksburg-Warren School District.

High Schools[]

  • Vicksburg High School
    • 1988-1989 National Blue Ribbon School[18]
  • Warren Central High School

Junior High Schools[]

  • Vicksburg Junior High School
  • Warren Central Junior High School

Elementary Schools[]

  • Beechwood Elementary School
  • Bovina Elementary School
  • Bowmar Avenue Magnet School
  • Dana Road Elementary School
  • Redwood Elementary School
  • Sherman Avenue Elementary School
  • South Park Elementary School
  • Warrenton Elementary School
  • Vicksburg Intermediate School
  • Warren Central Intermediate School

Private Schools[]

  • Vicksburg Community School (K-12)
  • Porters Chapel Academy
  • Vicksburg Catholic School- St. Francis Xavier Elementary & St. Aloysius Catholic High School
  • Rebul Academy in Learned, Hinds County, Mississippi

Former Schools[]

  • Hall's Ferry Road Elementary School
    • 1985–1986, National Blue Ribbon School[18]
  • Culkin Elementary School
  • Jett Elementary School
  • Cedars Elementary School
  • Vicksburg Middle School
  • All Saints' Episcopal School was a local boarding school located on Confederate Avenue, which closed in 2006 after 98 years in operation. The historic campus is currently used by Americorps as a regional training center.
  • St. Mary's Catholic School served the African-American community.
  • McIntyre Elementary School served the African-American community.
  • Magnolia Avenue School serviced the African-American community and was renamed Bowman High School to honor a former principal.
  • Rosa A. Temple High School served the African-American community.
  • King's Elementary School served the African-American community.
  • Carr Central High School.
  • J.H. Culkin Academy (grades 1-12 until 1965, thereafter Culkin Elementary School).
  • H.V. Cooper High School. First graduating class 1959.
  • Jefferson Davis School.
  • Oak Ridge School.
  • Eliza Fox School (a.k.a. Grove Street School).
  • All Saints' College. An Episcopal college for white women. Opened in 1908 and closed in 1962.

Notable people[]

  • William Wirt Adams, Confederate Army officer and member of the Mississippi House of Representatives[19]
  • Katherine Bailess, actress, singer and dancer.
  • Edwin C. Bearss, historian
  • Joseph A. Biedenharn (1866-1952), entrepreneur: first bottled Coca-Cola in 1894 at a location in Vicksburg[20]
  • Johnny Brewer, American football player.
  • Roosevelt Brown, former Major League Baseball outfielder for the Chicago Cubs
  • William Denis Brown, III, lawyer, businessman, state senator from Monroe, Louisiana; born in Vicksburg in 1931[21]
  • Ellis Burks, former MLB outfielder
  • Charles Burnett, filmmaker
  • Jack Christian, businessman; mayor-president of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from 1957 to 1964, was born in Vicksburg in 1911.
  • Odia Coates, country singer
  • Rod Coleman, defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons
  • Mart Crowley, playwright, TV executive
  • Jefferson Davis, Mexican war hero, U.S. Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War, and President of the Confederate States of America.
  • Bobby DeLaughter, Mississippi state judge and prosecutor.
  • Willie Dixon, blues bassist, singer, songwriter, and producer.
  • John "Kayo" Dottley, college All-American and professional football player
  • Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights activist and journalist.
  • Mark Gray, Country music singer, born in Vicksburg in 1952.
  • Louis Green, linebacker for the Denver Broncos
  • Milt Hinton, jazz bassist
  • Joseph Holt, longest-serving Judge Advocate General of the Army.
  • Delbert Hosemann, Jr., MS Secretary of State.
  • Hank Jones, jazz pianist, born in Vicksburg.
  • Patrick Kelly, fashion designer.
  • Brad Leggett, Football player: Seattle Seahawks center[22]
  • George McConnell, former guitarist for Widespread Panic, Kudzu Kings, and Beanland
  • Michael Myers, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals.
  • Vail M. Pittman, 19th Governor of Nevada[23]
  • Evelyn Preer, African-American film actress
  • George Reed, former running back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, CFL Hall of Fame member
  • Beah Richards, African-American film and television actress
  • Roy C. Strickland, businessman and politician in Louisiana and Texas, born in Vicksburg in 1942
  • Taylor Tankersley, Florida Marlins relief pitcher.
  • John Thomas, Former MLB player (Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals)[24]
  • Jan-Michael Vincent, actor in the CBS-TV Airwolf'
  • Carl Westcott, American entrepreneur, founder of 1-800-Flowers and Westcott Communications
  • Nanette Workman, singer-songwriter, actress, and author; honored by Gov. Haley Barbour at the opening of The Nanette Workman French (Francophone) House
  • Delmon Young, outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies
  • Dmitri Young, first baseman for the Washington Nationals

Cultural references[]

  • Vicksburg is mentioned in the Pulitzer Prize winning play Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley.
  • Vicksburg is mentioned in the song "Dixie Lily" from Elton John's 8th studio album Caribou, in the last line of the chorus: "...down from Louisiana on the Vicksburg run."
  • Vicksburg is mentioned in the song "Mississippi Queen" by the rock band Mountain, in the third line of the song: "Way down around Vicksburg, Around Louisiana way, Lived a Cajun lady, Aboard the Mississippi Queen."
  • Vicksburg is mentioned in the song High Water (For Charley Patton) by Bob Dylan.
  • The city is mentioned multiple times in the series of books surrounding the Logan family including Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976) and Let The Circle Be Unbroken (1981), by Mildred Taylor.
  • A made-for-TV movie version of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, based on Maya Angelou's memoir, was filmed in Vicksburg.
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou? was filmed in Vicksburg. The Stokes campaign dinner was filmed in the Southern Cultural Heritage Center's auditorium.
  • The hospital stairway scene from Mississippi Burning was filmed in the Southern Cultural Heritage Convent (with Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe).

Places of interest[]

  • Anchuca Mansion
  • Balfour House
  • Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum
  • Catfish Row Art Park
  • Cedar Grove Mansion Inn & Restaurant
  • The Jacqueline House African American Museum
  • Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site
  • McRaven House
  • Old Court House Museum
  • Southern Cultural Heritage Center
  • Vicksburg Battlefield Museum
  • Vicksburg National Military Park
    • Pemberton's Headquarters
    • U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat & Museum
  • Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
  • Vicksburg Theatre Guild


  1. ^ "Profile for Vicksburg, Mississippi, MS". ePodunk. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Waldrep, Christopher (2005). Vicksburg's Long Shadow: The Civil War Legacy Of Race And Remembrance. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 247. ISBN 978-0742548688. 
  4. ^ Historian Michael G. Ballard, in his Vicksburg campaign history, pp. 420-21, claims that this story has little foundation in fact. Although it is unknown whether city officials sanctioned the day as a local holiday, Southern observances of July 4 were for many years characterized more by family picnics than by formal city or county activities.
  5. ^ a b Emilye Crosby, Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi, Univ of North Carolina Press, 2006, p. 3
  6. ^ "Lynched for Murder…". New York Times. May 4, 1903. 
  7. ^ Vicksburg Riverfront Murals It Took A Community To Raise A Mural!
  8. ^ a b Vicksburg Riverfront Murals "Celebrating Vicksburg: A Great American Community"
  9. ^ Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
  10. ^ Mural on Grove hill to highlight Run Thru History
  11. ^ Ready to Roll
  12. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  13. ^ United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  15. ^ Hauntings
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b Blue Ribbon Schools Program: Schools Recognized 1982-1983 Through 1999-2002
  19. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  20. ^ "Scott Rogers, "Family imprint seen in Monroe a century after arrival", April 21, 2013". Monroe News-Star. Retrieved April 22, 2013. 
  21. ^ "William Denis Brown, III". Monroe News-Star, March 9, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Brad Leggett". Retrieved November 26, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Nevada Governor Vail Montgomery Pittman". National Governors Association. Retrieved October 6, 2012. 
  24. ^ "John Thomson Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved November 26, 2012. 

Further reading[]

External links[]

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