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CASE HISTORICAL MUSEUM

VICKSBURG - UNION COMMAND DECISION

July 1863

   The City of Vicksburg situated on a hill overlooking the Mississippi River was indeed the Citadel of the South  Control of the Mississippi River woud effectively cut the Confederacy in half.  This was a goal for northern strategy early in the war.  General Ulysses S. Grant begaan organizing Federal Forces to march on Vicksburg in late December 1862.  Grant had risen from an obscure Colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers to command the Union Army in the Tennessee Theater.  His victories at Fort Donelson and Shilo were enchanted with the efforts of William Tecumsdh Sherman.  Grant's first approach to Vicksburg was by way of Helena, Arkansas and Fort Hindman.  The Union Army was repulsed at the Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs.  A second attempt to force navigation from Lake Providence also failed.  Northern Forces were again foiled in an attempt to bypass Vicksburg by cutting a canal in the Mississippi River

Vicksburg Command Decision
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   The Confederate Army in Vicksburg was under the command of Lt. General John C. Pemberton.  He had  fortified the city from all sides.  But on the night of April 15, 1863 Admiral Porter successfully ran past the Vicksburg Batteries with a large flotilla of Gunboats.  Now, with the southern part of the river secured, Grant with Sherman at his side, made a strategic "Command Decision" by altering his battle plans.  He ordered part of his army to march across the Mississippi and then march inland to Jackson.  This overland march placed the Union Army east of Vicksburg and forced Pemberton to re-deploy his units.  With the division of Sherman and General McClermand in the vanguard, the Federal forces overran the Confederate defenses at Champion Hill and two days later were besieging Vicksburg from the land side.

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   Several direct assaults on the city's defenses failed with bloddy consequences.  Grant next began a methodical operation of slowly advancing his lines and forcing the  Confederates into an ever-smaller defense.

Union Artillery
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   Union batteries now directly shelled the city causing the occupants to retreat into caves dug into the bluffs.  With no reinforcements in sight, Pemberton knew that it was only a matter of time.  By early July, with supplies exhausted, Pemberton opened negotiations for the surrender of the city.  At 3:00 p.m.on the afternoon of July 3rd, Grant and Pemberton were in face to face negotiations.  Ironically this is the same day and hour Pickett was making his historic charge in the battle of Gettysburg.

   On the morning of July 4, 1863 the Union Army marched into Vicksburg.  Although the Civil War would last for almost two more years, the fate of the Confederacy was sealed.