Civil War battlefield bill reintroduced by senators

VICKSBURG — Legislation to authorize the expansion of the Vicksburg National Military Park has been reintroduced by U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

The Champion Hill, Port Gibson and Raymond Battlefield Addition Act (S.305) would authorize the National Park Service (NPS) to acquire approximately 10,000 acres of property deemed significant to the long-term preservation of historic battlefield sites in Claiborne and Hinds counties. The bill specifies that any purchases must be acquired through voluntary sales, donations or exchanges.

“This is an appropriate time for the Congress to embrace this legislation, particularly as the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg this year. There is support in Mississippi and around the nation for protecting additional tracts related to the Vicksburg Campaign, and I am hopeful that this backing will help move this bill forward,” Cochran said.

The Cochran-Wicker bill has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Though the Mississippi senators pushed for passage of the bill last year, this committee did not approve any so-called “lands bills” during the 112th Congress.

S.305 concentrates on three separate parcels: the Port Gibson Unit in Claiborne County and the Raymond Unit and Champion Hill Unit, both in Hinds County. Designated “modified core battlefield” sites by the NPS, these properties also encompass several historic homes, such as the Shaifer House at Port Gibson and the Coker House at Champion Hill. The NPS would assume maintenance and security responsibilities for these structures if they are ultimately included in the military park.

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