The siege of Vicksburg

vlcksburg, mississippi, is a town on the east bank of the Mississippi River between Memphis, Tennessee, and New Orleans, Louisiana. The Confederate military greatly fortified Vicksburg and set up heavy cannons that could fire on any vessel passing the town. After the Union navy conquered New Orleans and Memphis in 1862, Vicksburg and Port Hudson, to its south, were the only points that kept the river closed to Union commerce and traffic. Vicksburg was also the last place where Confederate territory west of the Mississippi could pass troops and goods east to the rest of the South. Through late 1862 and half of 1863, Union commander Ulysses S. Grant sent several Northern forces there. Each campaign failed. Then in May, 1863, Grant maneuvered an army behind the town. After some small battles, he drove Vicksburg's defenders inside the town's trenches and fortifications. Meanwhile, the Union navy began shelling the garrison from the river. The town was surrounded by Grant's forces and besieged for more than forty days. No food or ammunition entered it. Both soldiers and civilians were reduced to eating mules and rats. Citizens lived in bomb shelters in hillsides. After more than a month of hunger, repeated attacks, and shelling by Northern forces, Confederate General John Pemberton surrendered the town on July 4.

CIVILIAN BOMB SHELTERS

Some Vicksburg citizens lived in what they called "dug outs" or "bomb proofs." As this photograph shows, these were simply holes dug into the town's hillsides. Some people dug these bomb proofs themselves. Others had their slaves do the digging. Sometimes poor whites also made dug outs, and then sold them to the town's upper classes.

VICKSBURG HONORS

Regiments that served at Vicksburg were permitted to add the town's name to their list of battle honors. This meant the troops could stitch it onto their flag. Here the flag of the 51st Pennsylvania shows Vicksburg among the battle names sewn onto its tattered banner.

Vicksburg Siege 51st Pennsylvania

UNION TRENCHES AT VICKSBURG

The Mississippi sun is fierce in summer.

Many Northern troops who were at Vicksburg came from cool-weather states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin. As this newspaper illustration shows, to ward off sunstroke and dehydration, these men put up canopies over their trenches. The trenches with "sun shades" surrounded Vicksburg on its eastern, land side.

John Pemberton

THE COMMANDER AT VICKSBURG

Confederate General John C. Pemberton led the defense of Vicksburg. This photograph shows him in civilian dress. His defeat at Vicksburg cast a shadow over his Confederate military service. When angry Southerners were blaming him for the loss, many of them pointed out that John Pemberton was a native of Pennsylvania. He had married a Southern woman and thrown his loyalty behind her family and her part of the countrv when the war came.

Flat armor-punching head

Flat armor-punching head

Band that expands to fit the gun's rifling

Flanges to fit the rifling,

Band that expands to fit the gun's rifling

Flanges to fit the rifling,

HEAVY ARTILLERY SHELLS

Union artillerymen brought heavy rifled cannons to Vicksburg. This assortment of shells for rifled artillery shows the grooves or fins that allowed these rounds to travel straight to their targets over long distances. Southern soldiers also used rifled guns. However, they were not able to replenish their supply of ammunition.

Union Siege VicksburgUnion Troops Victorious

Stiff paper to stabilize fins

Lightweight wood stem

Detonation plunger plate exploded the grenade.

ATTACKING TRENCHES

The Vicksburg fight included infantry assaults. Early in the siege, Union foot soldiers rushed the Confederate trenches several times. Many of them were shot down as they tried to scale the sides of earthen ditches in front of Southern lines. Others were wounded or killed as they rushed across the open ground between their lines and Confederate trenches. After these assaults failed, Union cannons began firing on the town nonstop.

VICTORS MARCHING INTO TOWN

On Independence Day, July 4, 1863, Grant's troops marched into Vicksburg. This newspaper illustration shows the U.S. flag flying over the Vicksburg courthouse, the town's tallest landmark. This western Union victory followed by one day the Northern army's success at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. Historians consider these back-to-back Union victories the beginning of the end for the Confederate war effort.

Stiff paper to stabilize fins

Lightweight wood stem

Detonation plunger plate exploded the grenade.

A HAND GRENADE

Northerners tried several infantry assaults on the Vicksburg trench lines. In those attacks, they sometimes used Ketchum hand grenades. These weapons exploded when they landed on the detonation plates fixed to their noses. Confederates stopped these grenades by catching them in blankets and throwing them back at the attacking Union troops.

Northern life

Citizens of new england and the Midwest were stunned when the Southern states left the Union. Many had believed their family of states would never break up. When Confederates fired on Fort Sumter and the flag of the United States, that shock turned to anger. From Minneapolis to Philadelphia, people shouted for revenge. Men answered President Lincoln's call for army volunteers immediately But unhappy Northerners had to wait for more than two years to hear about a satisfying military victory. Until July, 1863, Union armies were often losers on the battlefield. Through that period, the North's real success was on the homefront. Industries in Northern towns employed extra men and, in some places, allowed women into the workplace. Immigrants kept flowing into towns in Union states, and after President Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, many others headed west to make new homes on free frontier land. Theater performances, books, newspapers, and other forms of amusements were inexpensive and available to almost everyone. While Southerners were suffering shortages of food and clothing, and their rebellious nation was shrinking in size daily, the Union was growing larger and richer, and it never seemed to run out of new soldiers for its armies.

Wool tray

A WISHFUL CARTOON

Political cartoons were popular in Civil War-era magazines and illustrated newspapers. President Lincoln was often teased in them. But sometimes he was praised. This cartoon, published shortly after Lincoln's 1860 election victory, expressed the public's hope that the new leader could bring the nation back together.

Political Cartoons 1860 ElectionJob For The New Cabinet Maker

A JOB FOR THE NEW CABINETMAKER.

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 2,1861.

A TRAGIC FIRST LADY

Mary Todd Lincoln was from a Kentucky slave-holding family and had relatives who served in the Confederate military. When she married Abraham Lincoln in 1842, he was considered a bad catch. He came from a poor family and was self-educated. But Lincoln earned a modest fortune in the practice of law before being elected U.S. president in 1860. Sadlv, two of their four sons died before Lincoln's assassination in 1865, and a third son died in 1871. Subsequently, Mrs. Lincoln suffered a series of emotional illnesses and was cared for by her eldest son, attornev Robert Lincoln. She died in 1*882, while Robert was serving as a member of President James Garfield's cabinet.

James Garfield Cabinet

A JOB FOR THE NEW CABINETMAKER.

From Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February 2,1861.

A TOOL OF UNION VICTORY

Many historians claim Northern industry won the war for the Union. This steam-driven wool-carding machine from a Pennsylvania factory is an example of that. It made wool that could be turned into military uniforms. The South supplied manufacturers with cotton and other raw materials, but it lacked large amounts of machinery and free workers to make products for its own use. The loss of raw materials from the South did not cripple Northern industry. Union states simply purchased those items abroad. This allowed their factories to keep making uniforms, weapons, and equipment without interruption.

Civil War Baseball Uniform

THE START OF AMERICA'S NATIONAL PASTIME

Organized baseball was gathering a foothold in American life during the Civil War years. Northern towns had the peace, prosperity, and leisure time to establish simple baseball leagues. This is an 1864 photograph of the Brooklyn Atlantics, a baseball team from Brooklyn, New York. The Atlantics had their team photographs mounted on palm-sized pieces of cardboard. The photographs were passed around like modern-dav baseball cards.

Carding roll

A MACHINE OF PROGRESS

Called a universal driver, this nineteenth-century steam engine could be attached to many different manufacturing devices. Its boiler was fed by coal, a raw material that the North had in abundance. Many Southern plants and mills, though, still relied on power supplied by the running water of rivers and streams.

Steam supply from a boilc

Gear lever

Driving wheel

Steam supply from a boilc

Gear lever

Driving wheel

Lever Wheel Gears

Driving rod

Driving rod

Drive gear

Belt drive wheel h-VV-B^

Battle Vicksburg Uniforms
Baseball For Boys

Baseball For Boys

Since World War II, there has been a tremendous change in the makeup and direction of kid baseball, as it is called. Adults, showing an unprecedented interest in the activity, have initiated and developed programs in thousands of towns across the United States programs that providebr wholesome recreation for millions of youngsters and are often a source of pride and joy to the community in which they exist.

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Responses

  • aleisha
    Who commanded the union troops at vicksburg mississippi?
    7 years ago

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