The Mississippi Campaigns:
Vicksburg
May-July, 1862

The city of Vicksburg, was known as "queen city of the bluff," to its residents. To the Union, it was the key to the river, and the last major Confederate stronghold. The Union commander here was General Ulysses S. Grant (below left), also known as "Unconditional surrender Grant," who was receiving help from Admiral Porter (below right).

Grant knew that it would be nearly impossible to attack Vicksburg as it stood, so he devise a plan that would cut off the supply route to the city. Grant's plan was to march his men along the river along the Lousiana shore at the same time Admiral Porter was running his empty gun boats past Vicksburg.

They met south of the city and Porter ferried Grant's troops across the river. After crossing the river, Grant marched his troops to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, to take the city from General J.E. Johnston. The purpose of this was to cut off the railroad and supplies to Vicksburg. He sent two generals, McPherson and Sherman to begin his famous seige tactics on the city on May 14. 1863.

After taking Jackson, Grant advanced to Vicksburg. Meanwhile Conferate General Pemberton (left) prepared troops to attack Grant's army in defense of the city. This attack occured on May 16, two days after Jackson fell. The battle was known as Champions hill, because the battle was located on a plantation owned by the Champion family. It was half way between Vicksburg and Jackson, where the Black River crosses the railroad to Vicksburg. There was a total of 7,000 people there and the battle lasted from mid morning to late afternoon. Then the fighting ended because Pemberton had to retreat to defend vicksburg.


The Mississippi Campaigns

Island #10 & New Madrid
New Orleans
Memphis

Vicksburg was a highly fortified city on 200 foot bluffs that covered a three mile stretch along the river. Grant and his troops attempted to attack Pemberton on May 19 and 22. On both occasions Grant retreated because of a lack of affective offense. After these two failed attempt Grant began his siege on Vicksburg. The citizens of Vicksburg faced many hardships during the siege.

The people realized that their homes were unsafe so they began digging approximately 500 underground caves. These caves were temporary homes, some of them smaller than a fireplace. Many of the caves had several families packed together.


Artist's depiction of the Vicksburg caves.

Because food was scarce, the people resorted to desperate measures such as eating mice and boiling shoes. Federal soldiers gave Vicksburg the name Prairie Dog Village because the people were popping up out the caves, much like prairie dogs coming out of their holes.

There were many other stories that told of the horrors that the people of the city suffered through. Mark Twain once told of a man was shaking a friends hand when a shell exploded. After the explosion, he was left holding a disembodied hand.

On July 3 Pemberton asked for terms of surrender. Grant's terms were that Pemberton would surrender and than Grant would feed the army and let the officers keep their fire arms and personal belongings. The siege had lasted about six weeks ended on July 4, when 29,500 Confederate troops marched out of Vicksburg and laid down their arms while Union troops cheered them on. This was a disaster for the Confederacy considering it followed another huge loss at Gettysburg.

With the fall of Vicksburg the Mississippi River lay totally in Union hands. Over a span of almost two years the Union had divided the CSA and cut off supplies, communications, and a major transportation route. Because of this the Union held "the country by the heart," and all the advantages that went along with the mighty Mississippi.

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