Legislation authorizing the expansion of the Vicksburg National Military Park in Claiborne and Hinds counties has been introduced by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, with U.S. Senator Roger Wicker as a primary cosponsor.
The Champion Hill, Port Gibson and Raymond Battlefield Addition Act (S.3952) would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire—through voluntary sale, donation or exchange—approximately 10,000 acres of property determined to be significant to the preservation of historic battlefield sites.
“The Vicksburg Campaign is significant because it proved pivotal to the outcome of the Civil War. It represents an important moment in Mississippi history,” Cochran said. “Interest in protecting battlefield sites is heightened as the nation prepares for the 150th anniversary of the start of that war. This legislation would allow new protections for sites in Mississippi, and I hope it can be enacted soon with broad support.”
“I am glad to join Senator Cochran and state and local officials in this effort to protect historic Civil War battlefields in Mississippi,” said Wicker. “Expanding the Vicksburg National Military Park is an important way we can preserve the history of our state.”
The measure addresses three separate parcels: the Port Gibson Unit in Claiborne County and the Raymond Unit and Champion Hill Unit, both in Hinds County. Designated “modified core battlefield” sites by the NPS, these properties also encompass several historic homes, such as the Shaifer House at Port Gibson and the Coker House at Champion Hill. The NPS would assume maintenance and security responsibilities for these structures once they are included in the Military Park.
The legislation was developed with input from the NPS, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Civil War Preservation Trust and local officials.
The measure has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. While late in the legislative session, Cochran has indicated his intent to seek every opportunity to move the measure during the current lame duck session of Congress.