Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vicksburg







  Vicksburg was a tough nut to crack. Grant had originally started his first Vicksburg Campaign in November 1862 by starting out from LaGrange Tennessee. His goal was to take Vicksburg from the eastern side of the Mississippi. He eventually had to turn back because Nathan Bedford Forrest and Earl Van Dorn destroyed his supply lines in West Tennessee and Holly Springs Mississippi. Grant was forced to march back after a failed attempt by Sherman to take Vicksburg by attacking Chickasaw Bluffs. Sherman learned a valuable lesson on this failed campaign. The Union Army didn't need supply lines because they could live off the land. He applied this principle in his later Meridian Campaign and his March to the Sea. All through that winter of 1863 Grant tried various ways to take Vicksburg but with no success. Even though he wasn't hopeful of success he was able to keep his troops active and healthy during a season that is usually unhealthy for inactive troops in winter quarters. Then in the Spring he devised a brilliant plan. He would cross over to the western side of the Mississippi, and travel down the river until he arrived opposite of Bruinsburg Mississippi. There Grant would cross over on transports after the Union Navy under Admiral David Porter was able to bypass the guns along the bluffs at Vicksburg. After a series of battles he was able to hold off General Joseph Johnston and drive the Confederate forces under General John Pemberton, a Pennsylvania native, into Vicksburg where they were bottled up by both the Union Army and Navy.

 The siege lasted from May 18, 1863 until July 4, 1863. Both soldiers and civilians living in Vicksburg suffered extreme hunger, and deprivation. Soldiers and civilians were killed by bombardment from both land and naval artillery bombardment. They were forced to live like rats in holes dug out of the bluffs to protect them from the shells. The Confederate Army surrendered on July 4 and Grant captured over 30,000 men. We visited Vicksburg in 2007. I was not all that impressed with the town. There were shacks everywhere sitting alongside fine old antebellum mansions. These mansions were everywhere. There was much to see during the day but little to do at night unless you liked to gamble because there were several riverboat casino's. The closest movie theater was 40 miles away and the local mall was a dump. We ate in one restaurant that was an antebellum house. You could still see damage from union artillery shells but the food was good. I can say that I have seen Vicksburg but I would never go back. Gettysburg however was a place I would love to visit again and again. The first picture is of the Union fleet slipping by the Confederate guns on the bluffs of Vicksburg. The second is Vicksburg National Battlefield Park. The third is the Yazoo River that now passes in front of Vicksburg. Over the years the course of the Mississippi has changed and it no longer flows by Vicksburg.


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