The city has increased in population since 1900, when 14,834 people lived here. The population was 26,407 at the 2000 census. In 2010, it was designated as the principal city of a Micropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) with a total population of 49,644. This MSA includes all of Warren County.
The area which is now Vicksburg was long occupied by the Natchez Native Americans as part of their historical territory along the Mississippi. The Natchez spoke a language isolate not related to the Muskogean languages of the other major tribes in the area. Before the Natchez, other indigenous cultures had occupied this strategic area for thousands of years.
The first Europeans who settled the area were French colonists, who built Fort-Saint-Pierre in 1719 on the high bluffs overlooking the Yazoo River at present-day Redwood. They conducted fur trading with the Natchez and others and started plantations. On 29 November 1729, the Natchez attacked the fort and plantations in and around the present-day city of Natchez. They killed several hundred settlers, including the Jesuit missionary Father Paul Du Poisson. As was the custom, they took a number of women and children as captives.
The Natchez War was a disaster for French Louisiana, and the colonial population of the Natchez District never recovered. But, aided by the Choctaw, traditional enemies of the Natchez, the French defeated and scattered the Natchez and their allies, the Yazoo.
The Choctaw Nation took over the area by right of conquest and inhabited it for several decades. Under pressure from the US government, in 1801 the Choctaw agreed to cede nearly 2,000,000 acres (8,100 km2) of land to the US under the terms of the Treaty of Fort Adams. The treaty was the first of a series that eventually led to the removal in 1830 of most of the Choctaw to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River. Some Choctaw remained in Mississippi, citing article XIV of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek; they became citizens of the state and the United States. They struggled to maintain their culture against the pressure of the binary slave society, which classified people as only white or black.
In 1790, the Spanish founded a military outpost on the site, which they called Fort Nogales (nogales meaning "walnut trees"). When the Americans took possession in 1798 following the American Revolutionary War and a treaty with Spain, they changed the name to Walnut Hills. The small village was incorporated in 1825 as Vicksburg, named after Newitt Vick, a Methodist minister who had established a Protestant mission on the site.
In 1835, during the Murrell Excitement, a mob from Vicksburg attempted to expel the gamblers from the city, because the citizens were tired of the rougher element treating the city residents with nothing but contempt. They captured and hanged five gamblers who had shot and killed a local doctor. The historian Joshua D. Rothman calls this event "the deadliest outbreak of extralegal violence in the slave states between the Southampton Insurrection and the Civil War."
During the American Civil War, the city finally surrendered during the Siege of Vicksburg, after which the Union Army gained control of the entire Mississippi River. The 47-day siege was intended to starve the city into submission. Its location atop a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River proved otherwise impregnable to assault by federal troops. The surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate General John C. Pemberton on July 4, 1863, together with the defeat of General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg the day before, has historically marked the turning point in the Civil War in the Union's favor.
Some accounts say that the residents of Vicksburg did not celebrate the national holiday of 4th of July again until 1945, after United States victory in World War II, but this is inaccurate. Large Fourth of July celebrations were being held by 1907, and informal celebrations took place before that.
Because of the city's location on the Mississippi River, in the 19th century it built an extensive trade from the prodigious steamboat traffic. It shipped out cotton coming to it from surrounding counties and was a major trading city.
In 1876 a Mississippi River flood cut off the large meander flowing past Vicksburg, leaving limited access to the new channel. The city's economy suffered greatly. Between 1881 and 1894, the Anchor Line, a prominent steamboat company on the Mississippi River from 1859 to 1898, operated a steamboat called the City of Vicksburg.
In the first few years after the Civil War, white Confederate veterans developed the Ku Klux Klan, beginning in Tennessee; it had chapters throughout the South and attacked blacks and their supporters. It was suppressed about 1870. By the mid-1870s, new white paramilitary groups had arisen in the Deep South, including the Red Shirts in Mississippi, as whites struggled to regain political and social power over the black majority. Elections were marked by violence and fraud as whites worked to suppress black Republican voting.
Nonetheless, in August 1874 a black sheriff, Peter Cosby, was elected in Vicksburg. Letters by a white planter, Batchelor, detail the preparations of whites for what he described as a "race war," including acquisition of the newest guns, Winchester 16 mm. On December 7, 1874, white men disrupted a black Republican meeting celebrating Cosby's victory and held him in custody before running him out of town. He advised blacks from rural areas to return home; along the way, some were attacked by armed whites. During the next several days, armed white mobs swept through black areas, killing other men at home or out in the fields. Sources differ as to total fatalities, with 29-50 blacks and 2 whites reported dead at the time. Twenty-first century historian Emilye Crosby estimates that 300 blacks were killed in the city and the surrounding area of Claiborne County. The Red Shirts were active in Vicksburg and other Mississippi areas, and black pleas to the federal government for protection were not met.
At the request of Governor Adelbert Ames, who had left the state during the violence, President Ulysses S. Grant sent Federal troops to Vicksburg in January 1875. In addition, a congressional committee investigated what was called the Vicksburg Riot at the time (and reported as the Vicksburg Massacre by northern newspapers.) They took testimony from both black and white residents, as reported by the New York Times, but no one was ever prosecuted for the deaths. The Red Shirts and other white insurgents suppressed Republican voting by both whites and blacks; smaller-scale riots were staged in the state up to the 1875 elections, at which white Democrats took back control of the state legislature. Due to their success, other southern states adopted what they called the "Mississippi Plan", an organized effort to suppress the black vote and unite whites under the Democrats.
Under new constitutions, amendments and laws passed from 1890 (Mississippi) to 1908 in the remaining southern states, white Democrats disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites by creating barriers to voter registration, such as poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses. They passed laws imposing Jim Crow and racial segregation of public facilities.
The near exclusion of most blacks from the political system lasted for decades until after Congressional passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Yazoo River in 1903 into the old, shallowing channel to rejuvenate the waterfront of Vicksburg. Railroad access to the west across the river continued to be by transfer steamers and ferry barges until a combination railroad-highway bridge was built in 1929. Vicksburg has the only crossing over the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and Memphis. It is the only highway crossing of the river between Greenville and Natchez.
Interstate 20 bridged the river after 1973. Freight rail traffic still crosses via the old bridge. North-South transportation links are by the Mississippi River and U.S. Highway 61.
On March 12, 1894, the popular soft drink Coca-Cola was bottled for the first time in Vicksburg by Joseph A. Biedenharn, a local confectioner. Today, surviving 19th-century Biedenharn soda bottles are prized by collectors of Coca-Cola memorabilia. His original candy store has been renovated as the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.
During the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, in which hundreds of thousands of acres were inundated, Vicksburg served as the primary gathering point for refugees. Relief parties put up temporary housing, as the flood submerged a large percentage of the Mississippi Delta.
Because of the overwhelming damage from the flood, the US Army Corps of Engineers established the Waterways Experiment Station as the primary hydraulics laboratory, to develop protection of important croplands and cities. Now known as the Engineer Research and Development Center, it applies military engineering, information technology, environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, and geotechnical engineering to problems of flood control and river navigation.
In December 1953, a severe tornado swept across Vicksburg, causing 38 deaths and destroying nearly 1,000 buildings.
Lynchings and other forms of terrorism continued to occur in Vicksburg after the start of the 20th century. In May 1903, for instance, two black men charged with murdering a planter were taken from jail by a mob of 200 farmers and lynched before they went to trial.
Particularly after World War II, in which many blacks served, returning veterans began to be active in the civil rights movement, wanting to have full citizenship after fighting in the war. In Mississippi, activists in the Vicksburg Movement became prominent during the 1960s.
In 2001, a group of Vicksburg residents visited the Paducah, Kentucky mural project, looking for ideas for their own community development. In 2002, the Vicksburg Riverfront murals program was begun by Louisiana mural artist Robert Dafford and his team on the floodwall located on the waterfront in downtown. Subjects for the murals were drawn from the history of Vicksburg and the surrounding area. They include President Theodore Roosevelt's bear hunt, the Sultana, the Sprague, the Siege of Vicksburg, the Kings Crossing site, Willie Dixon, the Flood of 1927, the 1953 Vicksburg, Mississippi tornado outbreak, Rosa A. Temple High School (known for integration activism) and the Vicksburg National Military Park. The project was finished in 2009 with the completion of the Jitney Jungle/Glass Kitchen mural.
In the fall of 2010, a new 55-foot mural was painted on a section of wall on Grove Hill across the street from the original project by former Dafford muralists Benny Graeff and Herb Roe. The mural's subject is the annual "Run thru History" held in the Vicksburg National Military Park.
On December 6–7, 2014, a symposium was held on the 140th anniversary of the Vicksburg Riots of 1874. A variety of scholars gave papers and an open panel discussion was held on the second day at the Vicksburg National Military Park, in collaboration with the Jacqueline House African American Museum.
Vicksburg is located at 32°20′10″N 90°52′31″W (32.335986, -90.875356). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 35.3 square miles (91 km2), of which 32.9 square miles (85.2 km²) is land and 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2) (6.78%) is water.
Vicksburg is located at the confluence of the Mississippi River and Yazoo River. Much of the city is on top of a high bluff on the east bank of the Mississippi River.
In 2017 Emma Green of The Atlantic stated that "The Army Corps of Engineers sustains the town economically".
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,407 people with a metropolitan population of 49,644, 10,364 households, and 6,612 families residing in the city. The population density was 803.1 people per square mile (310.1/km²). There were 11,654 housing units for an average density of 354.4 per square mile (136.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 60.43% African American, 37.80% White, 0.15% Native American, 0.61% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 0.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.04% of the population. There were 10,364 households out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.9% were married couples living together, 24.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.2% were non-families. 32.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 27.9% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 82.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,466, and the median income for a family was $34,380. Males had a median income of $29,420 versus $20,728 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,174. About 19.3% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.8% of those under age 18 and 16.5% of those age 65 or over.
Every summer, Vicksburg plays host to the Miss Mississippi Pageant and Parade. Also every summer, the Vicksburg Homecoming Benevolent Club hosts a homecoming weekend/reunion that provides scholarships to graduating high school seniors. Former residents from across the country return for the event.
Every spring and summer, Vicksburg Theatre Guild hosts Gold in the Hills, which is in the Guinness World Records book for longest running show.
Vicksburg is home to the McRaven House, said to be "one of the most haunted houses in Mississippi".
The 1902 City Hall is a Beaux-Arts Classical Revival design by the notable architect J. Riely Gordon, of San Antonio and later New York City. Gordon was responsible for 72 courthouses in his career (including Copiah County in Hazlehurst and for Wilkinson County in Woodville), for the Territorial (soon-was the State) Capitol of Arizona, as well as for Carnegie libraries, many mansions, and other buildings.
The city government consists of a mayor who is elected at-large and two aldermembers. The current mayor is George Flaggs Jr., who defeated former mayor Paul Winfield in the June 2013 election. The two aldermembers are elected from single-member districts, known as wards.
The city is home to three large US Army Corps of Engineers installations: the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Mississippi Valley Division headquarters, and the Vicksburg District headquarters.
The 412th Engineer Command of the US Army Reserve and the 168th Engineer Brigade of the Mississippi Army National Guard are also located in Vicksburg.
The United States Coast Guard's 8th District/Lower Mississippi River sector has an Aids To Navigation unit located in Vicksburg, operating the buoy tending vessel USCGC Kickapoo.
The City of Vicksburg is served by the Vicksburg-Warren School District.Vicksburg High School
1988–1989 National Blue Ribbon School
Warren Central High School
Vicksburg Junior High School
Warren Central Junior High School
Beechwood Elementary School
Bovina Elementary School
Bowmar Avenue Magnet School
Dana Road Elementary School
Porters Chapel Academy (K-12)
Redwood Elementary School
Sherman Avenue Elementary School
South Park Elementary School
Warrenton Elementary School
Vicksburg Intermediate School
Warren Central Intermediate School
Porters Chapel Academy
Vicksburg Catholic School- St. Francis Xavier Elementary & *Saint Aloysius Catholic High School
Vicksburg Christian Academy
Vicksburg Community School (K-12)
Hall's Ferry Road Elementary School
1985–1986, National Blue Ribbon School
Culkin Elementary School
Jett Elementary School
Cedars Elementary School
Vicksburg Middle School
All Saints' Episcopal School was a local boarding school located on Confederate Avenue, which closed in 2006 after 98 years in operation. The historic campus is currently used by Americorps as a regional training center.
St. Mary's Catholic School served the African-American community.
McIntyre Elementary School served the African-American community.
Magnolia Avenue School serviced the African-American community and was renamed Bowman High School to honor a former principal.
Rosa A. Temple High School served the African-American community.
King's Elementary School served the African-American community.
Carr Central High School.
J.H. Culkin Academy (grades 1-12 until 1965, thereafter Culkin Elementary School).
H.V. Cooper High School. First graduating class 1959.
Jefferson Davis School.
Oak Ridge School.
Eliza Fox School (a.k.a. Grove Street School).
All Saints' College. An Episcopal college for white women. Opened in 1908 and closed in 1962.
The Vicksburg Post, formerly the Vicksburg Evening Post, is a family-owned daily paper. It operates in facilities in a shopping center off Interstate 20.
FM StationWilliam Wirt Adams, Confederate Army officer and member of the Mississippi House of Representatives
Katherine Bailess, actress, singer and dancer
Edwin C. Bearss, historian
Joseph A. Biedenharn (1866–1952), entrepreneur: first bottled Coca-Cola in 1894 at a location in Vicksburg
Johnny Brewer, football player
Roosevelt Brown, former Major League Baseball outfielder for the Chicago Cubs
William Denis Brown, III, lawyer, businessman, state senator from Monroe, Louisiana; born in Vicksburg in 1931
Ellis Burks, former MLB outfielder
Charles Burnett, filmmaker
Malcolm Butler, cornerback for the New England Patriots
Jack Christian, businessman; mayor-president of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from 1957 to 1964, was born in Vicksburg in 1911
Odia Coates, country singer
Rod Coleman, defensive tackle for the Atlanta Falcons
Mart Crowley, playwright, TV executive
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America (previously U.S. Congressman, Senator, Secretary of War)
Bobby DeLaughter, Mississippi state judge and prosecutor
Willie Dixon, blues bassist, singer, songwriter, and producer
John "Kayo" Dottley, college All-American and professional football player
Myrlie Evers-Williams, civil rights activist and journalist
Nikki Griffin, actress
Mark Gray, country music singer, born in Vicksburg in 1952
Louis Green, linebacker for the Denver Broncos
Milt Hinton, jazz bassist
Jay Hopson, football head coach, Southern Mississippi
Joseph Holt, longest-serving Judge Advocate General of the Army
Delbert Hosemann, Jr., MS Secretary of State
Hank Jones, jazz pianist, born in Vicksburg
Martin F. Jue amateur radio products inventor, entrepreneur
Patrick Kelly, fashion designer
Brad Leggett, football player, Seattle Seahawks center
George McConnell, former guitarist for Widespread Panic, Kudzu Kings, and Beanland
William Michael Morgan, country music singer
Michael Myers, defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals
Key Pittman, U.S. Senator of Nevada from 1913-40; born in Vicksburg
Vail M. Pittman, 19th Governor of Nevada
Evelyn Preer, African-American film actress
George Reed, former running back for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, CFL Hall of Fame member
Beah Richards, African-American film and television actress
Roy C. Strickland, businessman and politician in Louisiana and Texas, born in Vicksburg in 1942
Taylor Tankersley, Florida Marlins relief pitcher
John Thomas, former MLB player (Colorado Rockies, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Kansas City Royals)
Jan-Michael Vincent, actor in the CBS-TV Airwolf'
Carl Westcott, entrepreneur, founder of 1-800-Flowers and Westcott Communications
Nanette Workman, singer-songwriter, actress, and author; honored by Gov. Haley Barbour at the opening of The Nanette Workman French (Francophone) House
Delmon Young, outfielder for the Philadelphia Phillies
Dmitri Young, first baseman for the Washington Nationals
Jaelyn Young, pleaded guilty to charges relating to her attempts to join ISIS
Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum
Catfish Row Art Park
The Jacqueline House African American Museum
Lower Mississippi River Museum and Riverfront Interpretive Site
Old Court House Museum
Southern Cultural Heritage Center
Vicksburg Battlefield Museum
Vicksburg National Military Park
U.S.S. Cairo Gunboat & Museum
Vicksburg Riverfront Murals
Vicksburg Theatre Guild
Southern Region AmeriCorps Campus