Civil War Tour
Explore Civil War battle sites, antebellum mansions, famous cemeteries and more in this tour!
Prior to the Civil War, Natchez was home to more than 500 millionaires, second only to New York. More than a dozen of the palatial mansions built by wealthy cotton planters are open for tours all year; many more welcome visitors during Natchez’s annual Spring and Fall Pilgrimages. Arrive in time for lunch and allow time for a visit to the Natchez City Cemetery, where the marker inscriptions recount poignant tales from the distant past. Spend a fun-filled evening exploring Natchez Under-the-Hill. Once the notorious lair of riverboat gamblers, thieves, and ladies-of-the evening, Under-the-Hill is now a colorful area of shops, restaurants, and 24-hour casino gaming.
NATCHEZ TO VICKSBURG
Spend the morning touring more magnificent mansions. Then, enjoy lunch in one of the tour homes and browse the city’s antique shops or take a carriage ride through historic downtown. Washington, a small community just north of Natchez, was once known as the "Versailles of the Mississippi Territory." Jefferson College, the first educational institution chartered in Mississippi, conducted its first classes here in 1802. Today, the oak-shaded antebellum campus is a museum. From Washington, take the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway north. Along this route you may stop to visit Springfield first land grant African-American college in the United States. Next stop is Port Gibson, the town Union General Ulysses S. Grant proclaimed "too beautiful to burn." Most of the antebellum homes and churches are located along Highway 61, making for an easy walking tour. Take an interesting side trip to the Ruins of Windsor, the crumbling remains of the largest antebellum mansion ever built in Mississippi. Windsor survived the Civil War only to burn to the ground in 1890 at the hands of a careless smoker. Located just north of Port Gibson, the 400-acre Grand Gulf Military Monument Park encompasses a Civil War fort, cemetery and earthworks, a small but excellent museum of Civil War artifacts, and several restored antebellum buildings. Continue north to Vicksburg, where you’ll enjoy a sunset dinner overlooking the Mississippi River.
View the film "The Vanishing Glory" as an introduction to the siege and fall of Vicksburg, one of the most famous Civil War battle sites. The capture of the city was crucial to the Union victory. After 47 days of fighting, Confederate General John C. Pemberton finally surrendered the city to Grant on July 4, 1863. Nicknamed "Vicksburg’s Attic," the Old Court House Museum is packed with antebellum and Civil War-era artifacts. The Court House building was itself a Civil War target – until Union prisoners were moved into the upstairs courtroom. After lunch, spend the afternoon exploring the Vicksburg National Military Park, 1,800 acres of earthworks, cannons, and monuments. A local historian will re-create the siege and battle as you tour the battlefield, noting the marked Union and Confederate lines and monuments honoring soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Also displayed at the Military Park is the USS Cairo, a Union ironclad sunk by the Confederacy and raised after more than a century underwater.
VICKSBURG TO JACKSON
Traveling east toward Jackson, Mississippi’s capital city, you’ll pass the site of the Battle of Champion Hill in Edwards, another of our famous Civil War battle sites. The Confederate loss at Champion Hill led to the fall of Vicksburg, and ultimately, to the collapse of the Confederacy. During the 1860s Union troops reduced Mississippi’s capital city to a smoking ruin, earning Jackson the dismal nickname "Chimneyville." Tour the 1842 Governor’s Mansion, which served as a Civil War hospital, and the magnificent Old Capitol Building where the Ordinance of Secession was passed in 1861. After lunch, stroll the colorful, formal gardens outside antebellum City Hall, and then tour the Manship House, home of Jackson’s Civil War-era mayor. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring Jacksons’s art, natural science or agricultural museums before enjoying a delicious meal in one of the capital city’s fine restaurants.
JACKSON TO TUPELO
From Jackson, take the famed Natchez Trace Parkway north toward Tupelo, following a scenic route dotted with marked historic sites. The Tupelo National Battlefield features a large memorial, cannons, and interpretive markers recounting the Battle of Tupelo, which pitted Union forces led by General A. J. Smith against Confederate troops commanded by the legendary General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
TUPELO TO CORINTH & HOLLY SPRINGS
Continue north to Baldwyn and the 836-acre Brice’s Crossroads Battlefield, site of a major victory for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Continue to Corinth, site of the bloodiest battle in Mississippi history, an infamous spot amongst Civil War battle sites. The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center offers a presentation on the battle and the city’s significance to the conflict. Reminders of the war are found in the well-marked park, Battery Robinette; the Corinth National Cemetery, final resting place for hundreds of soldiers; and in miles of earthworks found throughout the city. From Corinth travel to the picturesque town of Holly Springs, where General Ulysses S. Grant held a city under occupation. During this time, his wife and son were housed at Walter Place Estate. While Grant stockpiled supplies for General Sherman's attempt to invade Vicksburg, General Van Dorn, CSA, conducted a raid to destroy those supplies, successfully delaying the fall of Vicksburg. The lovely home called Airewood served as Grant's headquarters in Holly Springs, and thirteen Confederate generals rest among the stones of serene Hillcrest Cemetery. The Marshall County Historical Museum is currently preparing to house the largest collection of Civil War memorabilia in the state.