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Civil War Trust

Civilians During the Battle of Vicksburg -

The Battle of Vicksburg was the culmination of Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s campaign into Mississippi, and combined with the Union victory at Gettysburg, Grant’s successful siege of Vicksburg through May and June is considered one of the major turning points of the Civil War.

Through April and May 1863, Grant trailed Confederate Maj. Gen. John C. Pemberton south across Mississippi from Corinth, eventually crossing the Mississippi river and forcing Pemberton to set up defenses around the city at Vicksburg. Two failed assaults and 40 days of siege later, the garrison at Vicksburg surrendered to Grant, ceding control of the river and dividing the Rebel territories in half.

Interestingly, the Battle of Vicksburg facts show that Pemberton had an escape route open to him at the south of the city at the beginning of the siege. Grant’s forces were insufficient to completely encircle the city, until reinforcements began arriving on June 11 to help complete the 12 mile ring around the city. As the siege drew on, supplies were so low in Vicksburg that adults resorted to eating shoe leather. A simple Battle of Vicksburg summary might pass over the fact that though 22,000 shells were fired into the fortress, fewer than 12 citizens were killed during the siege. Yet many of them felt that digging caves into the clay kills between the Confederate battle lines and the city made them safer, which led Union troops to nickname the city “Prairie Dog Village.”

The Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates the siege of the city that did not celebrate Independence Day for 80 years because of its surrender on July 4. The park includes more than 1,300 historical monuments including a restored Union gunboat and 20 miles of historic earthworks. Visitors to the park can walk a 16-mile tour road, experience a number of reenactments, and experience various exhibits about the battle and the city.

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