Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on May 18, 2013
Siege of Vicksburg

Siege of Vicksburg

May 18, 1863: The Battle of Vicksburg begins. The Mississippi River is a major waterway in the US. It is the second longest river in the US at 2,340 miles and only to one of its tributaries, the Missouri River (2,540 miles) is longer. The Mississippi borders or runs through 10 states and with the four main tributaries (and many smaller ones) creates an even larger network. Control of the river was essential to commerce and communication throughout the Midwest. It was a strategic holding for either of the combatants of the US Civil War. The river enters the Gulf of Mexico through Louisiana. The Confederate States of America (CSA) controlled the river after the secession.

In September 1862, the CSA began construction of a fortification system to protect their holding. Fort Hill was on the bluffs above the Mighty Mississippi with Vicksburg just 1.5 miles south. South Fort was another 3 miles south of the city. The Confederate position was strengthened by 20-foot thick walls resting behind a ditch with armament placed to defend against assault. Most of the trees were cut down to give a clear shot for those behind the fortifications and barricades. There were six roads and one railway leading to Vicksburg.

There were many smaller battles fought with the goal of gaining control of Vicksburg, and thus the control of the Mississippi, from December 26, 1862 on. Union troops began to converge on the main target. Troops advanced by water and over land. Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was not terribly successful but Grant himself was determined, stubborn, and would not quit. The troops under his command finally met as they herded and trapped Confederate forces at Vicksburg.

The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18-July 4) began with Grant’s failed assaults on the fortified line. After suffering nearly 3,200 casualties, the Union strategy changed from frontal assault to siege. The Union forces controlled the roads and rail line. No food or supplies were permitted to enter and the Union forces continually bombarded the Rebel holdings. General Pemberton (CSA) surrendered to Grant on July 4, 1863. With the surprising victory at Gettysburg on July 3 and now in control of the Mississippi River, the tide had turned. The North would win the war.

“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.”

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.”

“In every battle there comes a time when both sides consider themselves beaten, then he who continues the attack wins.”

“Everyone has his superstitions. One of mine has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, never to turn back or to stop until the thing intended was accomplished.” – all from Ulysses S. Grant

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Mississippi River is the main river of the largest drainage system in North America. The river itself lies entirely within the US but it does drain part of Canada. There are twelve rivers flowing into the giant with six coming from the left and six from the right. Some of the major cities bordering the river are Minneapolis, St. Paul, St. Louis, Memphis, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. The river system drains 1,151,000 square miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. Waters come from the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian system and drain the central portions of the US. The headwaters start at Lake Itasca in Minnesota. The Mississippi River is the fourth longest and the tenth largest river in the world. The name comes from the Native American name for Great River, Misi-zibi.

Also on this day 3,858 Years Old? – In 1952 Professor Libby dates the building Stonehenge.
The Count – In 1897. Dracula was published.
Separate but Equal – In 1896, Plessy v. Ferguson was decided.

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