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. 

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     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?