Help Preserve 32 Acres at Chickasaw Bayou and Champion Hill
The Vicksburg Campaign is often called one of the turning points, if not the turning point, of the Civil War.
Now, this is our once-in-a-generation opportunity to buy, and protect forever, almost 32 acres of the remaining pieces of the Vicksburg Campaign.
The total value for all parcels is more than $2.1 million.
We’ve applied for federal and state grants — some have already been awarded, and some are still pending — that could help get us over the finish line. If we are able to secure these grants, the Trust would still need to come up with an additional $327,825 to close the deal.
That means that every dollar you give today will be matched $6.50-to-$1 to save 12 parcels that add up to nearly 32 acres of prime, unprotected battlefield land at Chickasaw Bayou and Champion Hill.
The Land History
Chickasaw Bayou, Miss.
The fall of Vicksburg wasn’t accomplished in a single battle. It took a bloody campaign. And one could say, it began at the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou, where General William T. Sherman attempted to defeat Confederate forces led by Generals John C. Pemberton and Stephen D. Lee.
As part of the Federal forces under General Ulysses S. Grant marched south down the Mississippi Central Railroad in December 1862, Sherman’s men made an attack on the Confederates at Chickasaw Bayou, Mississippi.
Despite the importance of their mission, neither artillery bombardment nor infantry attack could dislodge the Confederate forces from their defenses. Union soldiers suffered a staggering 1,776 casualties compared to 207 on the Confederate side.
Sherman then attempted to lead a Union advance against the Confederates at nearby Drumgould’s Bluff on December 31, 1862, but heavy fog interfered with his plans, and he called off the attack.
Though the resounding Confederate victory at Chickasaw Bayou effectively thwarted the Union’s first overland attempt to capture Vicksburg, the Union’s fortunes changed in a few months, as the Vicksburg Campaign heated up.
At Chickasaw Bayou, we have the chance to save 11 acres divided into eight parcels with eight different owners.
Getting all the sellers on the same page and getting all to agree to sell would seem nearly impossible. But somehow, we have done it, and we cannot lose this opportunity!
Every owner is now at the table and ready to sell. We just need to raise the last $327,825 to seal the deal here, and at Champion Hill.
Champion Hill, Miss.
By the spring of 1863, the heart of the Vicksburg campaign was at Champion Hill.
Historians far and wide acknowledge Champion Hill as the most decisive battle of the most crucial campaign in the most important theater of the Civil War.
At 7:00 a.m. on the clear morning of May 16, 1863 ... A brigade of Alabamans stretching west, along a ridge. A brigade of Georgians running south along the Jackson Road to the all-important Crossroads formed by the intersection of the Jackson, Middle, and Ratliff Plantation roads.
Union troops fought off the Confederate forces at Champion Hill and moved on to the Crossroads.
The bloodshed began when two Federal divisions, part of Grant’s Army of the Tennessee, advanced toward the Hill. With a mighty cheer, the men in Union blue slammed into the Confederates along the ridge and drove them back, fighting their way toward the Crossroads.
Confederate General John C. Pemberton ordered his finest combat division into action to check the Federal advance and secure the Crossroads. The Rebel Yell echoed above the din as battle-hardened Missourians and Arkansans launched a vicious counterattack, rolling across the vital Crossroads and re-taking the crest of Champion Hill.
The Southerners’ great surge, which threatened to split Grant’s army, was finally brought to a halt by the arrival of fresh Union troops and the withering fire of massed batteries. In seven or eight hours of some of the hardest fighting of the entire War, described as “wild confusion and panic,” the Union army suffered nearly 2,500 casualties while the Confederates lost almost 4,300 men, resulting in the Southerners’ retreat.
The twin Union victories at Champion Hill and nearby Big Black River Bridge the next day forced the Confederates into a doomed position inside the fortifications of Vicksburg.
While the Civil War raged on, the fall of Vicksburg was a turning point from which the Confederacy never fully recovered.
In 2007, the Trust purchased an easement directly from the Champion family — the reason it’s called Champion Hill. And then as you’ll no doubt remember, in 2021, the Champion family gave us the extraordinary opportunity to purchase the 144 acres of land outright, as well as an additional 354 acres of family-owned land nearby.
As we honor the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Champion Hill, we have the opportunity to put some of these pieces back together and save 20 acres at this significant battlefield park.
These tracts are contiguous, making it a remarkable opportunity to preserve this historic land. More importantly, each of them is a critical “missing piece” adding to the 1,223 acres that you have already helped to save at Champion Hill.
Your generous gift today will be matched $6.50-to-$1, multiplying your battlefield-saving impact!