Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter

The 2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter is the fourth quarter-dollar release in 2011, and the ninth in the U.S. Mint America the Beautiful Quarter Program. The coin features Vicksburg National Military Park in the state of Mississippi.

2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter (US Mint image)
Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter - Click to Enlarge

These coins honoring the military park will enter into general circulation through the Federal Reserve Banks on August 29, 2011. They will also be available beginning on that day directly from the US Mint. The Mint will be selling them in 100-coin bags or two-roll sets.

The final design for the reverse of the Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter was chosen by the Secretary of the Treasury from design candidates submitted to him by the Director of the US Mint. His selection shows the U.S.S. Cairo as it would have appeared steaming down the Yazoo River during the American Civil War. The Cairo was recovered and partially reconstructed and is now on display at Vicksburg National Military Park. The reverse was  designed by AIP Master Designer Thomas Cleveland and sculpted by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna. 

Choosing the final design for the coin’s reverse is a lengthy process. The artwork must represent the essence the park’s heritage and significance. Four "candidate designs" were created and submitted by the United States Mint to the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) for review — two bodies charged with reviewing American coinage designs.

Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-01
2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-01 (Click to Enlarge)
Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-02
2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-02 (Click to Enlarge)
Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-03
2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-03 (Click to Enlarge)
Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-04
2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter Design MS-04 (Click to Enlarge)

For the Vicksburg coin, the two government groups did not agree on the same design proposals. The CCAC selected MS-02, but the CFA preferred MS-04. The U.S. Treasury Secretary is responsible for selecting each America the Beautiful Quarter design after receiving recommendations from the U.S. Mint Director. Treasury Secretary Geithner selected the second design, noted as MS-02, for the fourth 2011 America the Beautiful Quarter. The Mint made the design announcement on December 1, 2010.

Earlier in 2010, the CCAC said in their recommendation letter to the Secretary of the Treasury:

"For the coin portraying Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi, the Committee strongly favored design MS-02, which carries an image of the U.S.S. Cairo on the Mississippi River as it would have appeared during the Civil War. Members felt that this design, in addition to the quality of its composition, has the virtue of showcasing the historical significance of the Navy in the Civil War."

The CFA wrote of its selection, "The Commission supported alternative #4, depicting the entrance arch of the park, while recommending development of a simplified design that emphasizes this iconic feature without the attempt to depict a realistic landscape setting."

The US Mint will also be issuing a five ounce silver bullion version of this coin known as the Vicksburg America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin.

Additional 2011 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:

Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi

Cannons Along Union Lines in Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi
Cannons Along Union Lines in Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi - Click to Enlarge

The Civil War battle in Vicksburg was very critical by 1863, because the winner controlled the Mississippi River, also known as the “lifeblood of America.” The siege for control lasted 47 long days in the south’s humid summer. Ultimately, the Confederate army surrendered their vital stronghold of the Mississippi River to Major General Ulysses Grant’s Union army.

The National Park commemorates the campaign and siege of Vicksburg, and includes a national cemetery for more than 17,000 graves of Civil War soldiers and a few more from other wars. The park maintains over 1,300 monuments, the restored USS Cairo (a Union ironclad gunboat), a 16 mile tour road and a virtual museum exhibit depicting life during the siege.

Many visitors of the park attend the living history demonstrations, also called Civil War reenactments, in the summer. Veterans marked the battle lines shortly after 1900, making Vicksburg National Military Park one of the most accurately marked military parks in the world, according the government’s National Park Service site.

Headstones, cannons, cast iron tablets and position markers all blanket the well preserved park, and its tour stops and buildings from the war do well to remind a million annual visitors the importance of this sacred place in American history.