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The city of Vicksburg is the county seat of Warren County, Mississippi, about forty miles west of the state capital of Jackson, and on the Mississippi River, across from Louisiana. The first European-American settlement in the area were French colonists who came in 1719, trading for furs with the Natchez and started plantations. However, the French colonial population never recovered from the Natchez War of 1729. Aided by the French, the Choctaws scattered the Natchez and their allies, the Yazoo, and inhabited the region for several decades until they were forced out by the U.S. government through the Treaty of Fort Adams in 1801 and the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. In 1790, the Spanish founded Fort Nogales on the site of what would later become Vicksburg. When the Americans took it over in 1798, they changed the name to Walnut Hill, and the town that grew up around it was incorporated as the village of Vicksburg in 1825. During the American Civil War, the city surrendered to the Union during the 47-day Siege of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, one day after the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg. Due to its position on the Mississippi River, the town prospered from steamboat traffic along the river, shipping out cotton from the surrounding counties. In 1876, a flood changed the course of the river, leaving Vicksburg with limited access to the new channel, and its economy suffered. Ku Klux Klan activity was prominent in Vicksburg following the Civil War, yet a black sheriff was elected in 1874, which set off a period of unrest resulting in several deaths, mostly of black citizens. In 1903, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers diverted the Yazoo River into the former channel of the Mississippi, rejuvenating the Vicksburg waterfront, and a railroad and highway bridge was built across the Mississippi River in 1929, still the only crossing between Baton Rouge and Memphis.

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