Discover the Vicksburg National Military Park

By Joe Morris on April 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm EST
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The Vicksburg National Military Park draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, largely because of the site’s pivotal role in the American Civil War. But for those that live here, it provides an artistic amenity unparalleled elsewhere.

“In the park, there are over 1,300 monuments created by leading artists of the 1900s,” says Bill Seratt, executive director of the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It is one of the most valuable outdoor art gardens in the country.”

The park was established in 1899 to commemorate the siege of Vicksburg and the battle that, along with Gettysburg, ended the Civil War. Every state involved was allowed to place monuments and memorials within the park, and almost all have done so.

“The artists represented here at Vicksburg are among the foremost American and European sculptors of the 19th and 20th centuries,” says Terry Winschel, park historian. “Some of the best known include Victor Holm, Henry Hudson Kitson and his wife, Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson, and then there are others such as Solon Borglum, whose brother Gutzon is well known for creating the heads at Mount Rushmore, and Adolf Weinman, who, in addition to his magnificent statuary, designed several pieces of U.S. coinage, including the Mercury dime and the Walking Liberty half dollar.”

Holm’s work at Vicksburg includes the Spirit of the Republic sculpture incorporated into the Missouri monument. Another significant work within the park is the Peace sculpture that is part of the Minnesota monument, created by William Couper. Other artists represented in the park include Francis Elwell and Anton Schaaf.

An example of Theo Kitson’s work may be seen incorporated into the Massachusetts monument, while Henry Kitson created the sculpture of Admiral David Farragut, which is the largest of the park’s 43 castings by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Off the battlefield, the presence of Tiffany in Vicksburg takes a dramatic turn toward peace and reflection with the six windows found at the Church of the Holy Trinity. The Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi created the parish in 1869, and the building went up between 1869 and 1880. The Tiffany windows are a portion of the 34 in total, and get their share of admirers from both the art and ecumenical worlds, says the Rev. Michael Christopher Nation, the church’s rector.

The city’s abundance of world-class works provides a solid foundation for a new generation of creative people here. The Vicksburg Art Association leads the charge on that front, presenting three art shows annually – two for adult artists and one for youth, as well as several workshops and events.

“We have monthly programs at our home in the Old Constitution Firehouse, and we offer a lot for people who are working artists, as well as those who are just looking to get started and want to mix with other people,” Vicksburg Art Association Co-President Jean Blue says. “We would love to see even more of the community get involved, and we’re looking at a lot of projects to make that happen.”

Discover more on Vicksburg, MS's history.

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