- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The preservation of the Champion Hill Battlefield site as a part of the Vicksburg Campaign could soon be reality.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has received a $668,926 National Park Service American Battlefield Protection grant to ensure the preservation of property associated with the Battle of Champion Hill in Hinds County, according to information from U.S. Senator Thad Cochran’s office.

The grant will allow the Department of Archives and History to partner with the nonprofit Civil War Trust to purchase about 316 acres of property considered important to the long-term preservation of the site.

The purchase will allow the Civil War Trust to place the property with MDAH to make landscape rehabilitation easier and allow better public access and interpretation of the Champion Hill Battlefield.

“The battle to control Vicksburg was pivotal, and the fight at Champion Hill makes it an important site in the history of our state and our country,” Cochran (R-Miss.) said. “I’m pleased the National Park Service is making funding available to better preserve this historic landmark.”



The land is one of three battle sites - Grand Gulf, Raymond and Champion Hill - that are part of the Vicksburg Campaign, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s effort to take Vicksburg and give the Union control of the Mississippi River.

“What we have to do now is look how we can pool that (the Vicksburg National Military Park and Champion Hill) together to enhance the tourism in Vicksburg, Bolton and Port Gibson,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

He said the benefit to Vicksburg will be the ability to get the 600,000 people who visit the park annually to stay longer in the city so they can see all the battle sites connected with the Siege of Vicksburg.

“It will take more than eight hours to see all that,” he said. “My thanks to Sen. Cochran and the state’s delegation for helping us.”

He said he plans to ask the state for help with a feasibility study to show how the four historic sites can be connected into an attraction that will bring more people to the state.

On May 16, 1863, about 32,000 advancing Union soldiers met 23,000 Confederates in a fierce struggle for a crossroads roughly halfway between Vicksburg and Jackson.

The field was dominated by a bald hill on land owned by the Champion family, from which Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union army at 9:45 a.m.

The battle ended when the Confederate forces were crushed and forced to retreat to Vicksburg.

The retreat led to the siege of Vicksburg.

___

Information from: The Vicksburg Post, https://www.vicksburgpost.com

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