This article describes one of the major efforts in the sensor network community to build an integrated sensor network system for surveillance missions. The focus of this effort is to acquire and verify information about enemy capabilities and positions of hostile targets. Such missions often involve a high element of risk for human personnel and require a high degree of stealthiness. Hence, the ability to deploy unmanned surveillance missions, by using wireless sensor networks, is of great practical importance for the military. Because of the energy constraints of sensor devices, such systems necessitate an energy-aware design to ensure the longevity of surveillance missions. Solutions proposed recently for this type of system show promising results through simulations. However, the simplified assumptions they make about the system in the simulator often do not hold well in practice, and energy consumption is narrowly accounted for within a single protocol. In this article, we describe the design and implementation of a complete running system, called VigilNet, for energy-efficient surveillance. The VigilNet allows a group of cooperating sensor devices to detect and track the positions of moving vehicles in an energy-efficient and stealthy manner. We evaluate VigilNet middleware components and integrated system extensively on a network of 70 MICA2 motes. Our results show that our surveillance strategy is adaptable and achieves a significant extension of network lifetime. Finally, we share lessons learned in building such an integrated sensor system.