Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi

Day 274

     The battle of Vicksburg is unique in that during the 47 day siege, May 19 to July 4, 1863, of the 100 skirmishes the union was only successful in taking one hill, which they were not able to keep. The Union Army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, could not take the city of Vicksburg by force because the city was bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and by 300 foot bluffs on the remaining sides. However, Grant was able to cut off all supplies to the city. 

     Grant’s counterpart and defender of the city was General John C. Pemberton. (See day 272). On July 4, 1863, Pemberton surrendered 2,166 officers and 27,230 men, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Grant. This combined with the battle of Gettysburg, being fought also July 1-3, 1863, irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor. 

     Interesting note: Following the surrender on July 4, 1863, the city did not celebrate Independence Day for 82 years. It appears Mississippi is a sore loser, as their state flag still displays the stars and bars. 


     We toured by car and walking the 16 mile loop of the Vicksburg Battlefield. Markers were placed at the location of each encounter, blue for Union, red for Confederates. 

     Also on the battlefield was The Cairo, a Union ironclad warship that engaged the Confederates on the Mississippi and surrounding rivers. Contrary to my high school memory, that there were only two ironclads during the Civil War, there were hundreds. This gunboat was sunk on December 12, 1862 at 11:52 AM by a mine on the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg. This was the first sinking of a vessel by a mine. The mine was manually operated electronically by soldiers hidden on the banks of the river.

     Quire: Does anyone know why the South is referred to as Dixie?

6 thoughts on “Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi

  1. You said the ‘mine was manually operated electronically’ Was this a trick statement to see if we were paying attention?

    The south is known as dixie as it has something to do with the ten-dollar (dix) bill.


    1. You are correct about the ten-dollar (dix) bill. In the early 1800’s the Citizen’s Bank of Louisiana, based in New Orleans, issued a series of bank notes that became the most popular currency of the lower Mississippi Valley and were printed in various denominations; on the face the writing was in English, and on the back in French. The $10 note, which was the most popular, had on the back the Arabic 10 and the Roman X. In the center, in large capital letters, was DIX – French for ten.
      The Mississippi River was the main trade route from New Orleans and the North. Men who worked on riverboats would often boast that when they returned from the South they had a “pocket full of Dixies”, or ten dollar notes. Soon the South become known as the “Land of Dixies” and eventually “Dixie Land”. All because of the incorrect pronunciation of the French word for ten.

      I try not to do trick statements. The mine that blew up the Cairo (pronounced Kay-Row), called torpedoes in the Civil War, was the first time this device was used to actually sink a ship. Two Confederate sailors, Zedekiah McDaniel and Francis M. Ewing, hid behind a river bank and waited for the Cairo. At the right moment, they detonated the torpedoes with an electric charge.

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