Vicksburg

Vicksburg


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In May, 1863, Joseph E. Johnston ordered General John Pemberton to attack Ulysses S. Grant at Clinton, Mississippi. Considering this too risky, Pemberton decided to attack Grant's supply train on the road between Grand Gulf and Raymond. Discovering Pemberton's plans, Grant attacked the Confederate Army at Champion's Hill. Pemberton was badly defeated and with the remains of his army returned to their fortifications around Vicksburg.

After two failed assaults, Grant decided to starve Pemberton out. This strategy proved successful and on 4th July, Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg. The western Confederacy was now completely isolated from the eastern Confederacy and the Union Army had total control of the Mississippi River.

Vicksburg was important to the enemy because it occupied the first high ground coming close to the river before Memphis. From there a railroad runs east, connecting with other roads leading to all points of the Southern States. A railroad also starts from the opposite side of the river, extending west as far as Shreveport, Louisiana. Vicksburg was the only channel, at the time the only channel connecting the parts of the confederacy divided by the Mississippi. So long as it was held by the enemy, the free navigation of the river was prevented. Hence its importance. Points of the river between Vicksburg and Port Hudson were held as dependencies; but their fall was sure to follow the capture of the former place.

You will proceed, with as little delay as possible, to Memphis, Tennessee, taking with you one division of your present command. On your arrival at Memphis you will assume command of all troops there. As soon as possible move them down the river to the vicinity of Vicksburg, and with the co-operation of the gunboat fleet under command of Flag-officer Porter proceed to the reduction of that place in such manner as circumstances, and your own judgment, may dictate.

The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc., necessary to take, will be left entirely with yourself. The Quartermaster at St. Louis will be instructed to send you transportation for 30,000 men; should you still find yourself deficient, your quartermaster will be authorized to make up the deficiency from such transports as may come into the port of Memphis.

Throughout the battle the conduct of the general officers was excellent, with a few exceptions. General Sherman was so exceedingly erratic that the discussion of the past twelve months with respect to his sanity, was revived with much earnestness.

All through the long December day the wounded lay upon the hill uncared for by either contending party. The ground was

that for which there had been so fierce a contest, and, while we could not take possession of it, the rebels did not choose to occupy it. Daybreak, sunrise, noon, sunset and night, and still the wounded uncared for. What must have been their suffering!

On the morning of Wednesday, the 31st of December the firing had been entirely stopped, and the rebels consented to receive a flag of truce. Five hours were allowed for burying the dead and taking away the wounded, and at the end of the

time the work was accomplished. A few of the rebels came out and talked freely with the bearers of the flag. They stated

that after the 1st of January they should shoot every officer captured, and put the privates at work on fortifications, with

ball and chain, in retaliation for the emancipation proclamation of the President. They expressed the utmost confidence in their ability to hold Vicksburg against the force now before it. From their statements it was inferred that Price was in command at Vicksburg, and that Tilghmans division was to arrive there on that day. There were evidently strong grounds for their hopes. They were well posted as to our strength, and informed us of the exact number of our transports and gunboats, and gave the number of men in the expedition with surprising accuracy.

All the slightly wounded had been taken to Vicksburg as prisoners of war, and we were allowed to bring away only those that we found on the ground. The rain and cold combined, with fifty hours' continued exposure, had left but few men alive. Had the flag been taken out and received on the afternoon subsequent to the battle, there is little doubt that many lives would have been saved. Doctors Burke and Franklin attended as best they could to the wants of the sufferers. By some criminal oversight there had been little preparation for battle on the part of Sherman's medical director, and the hospitals

were but poorly supplied with many needed stores. Since the battle General Sherman has persistently refused to allow a hospital boat to go above, though their detention in this region is daily fatal to many lives. The only known reason for his refusal is his fear that a knowledge of his management will reach the people of the North.

Unless the siege of Vicksburg is raised, or supplies are thrown in, it will be necessary very shortly to evacuate the place. I see no prosoect of the former, and there are too many great, if not insuperable obstacles in the way of the latter.

On 3rd July, 1863, about ten o'clock a.m. white flags appeared on a portion of the rebel works. It was a glorious sight to officers and soldiers on the line where these white flags were visible, and the news spread to all parts of the command. The troops felt that their long and weary marches, hard fighting, ceaseless watching by night and day, in a hot climate, exposure to all sorts of weather, to diseases and, worst of all, to the gibes of many Northern papers that came to them saying all their suffering was in vain, that Vicksburg would never be taken, were at last at an end and the Union sure to be saved.

At three o'clock Pemberton appeared at the point suggested in my verbal message. Our place of meeting was on a hillside within a few hundred feet of the rebel lines. Pemberton and I had served in the same division during part of the Mexican War. I knew him very well therefore, and greeted him as an old acquaintance.

This news, with the victory at Gettysburg won the same day, lifted a great load of anxiety from the minds of the President, his Cabinet and the loyal people all over the North. The fate of the Confederacy was sealed when Vicksburg fell. Much hard fighting was to be done afterwards and many precious lives were to be sacrificed; but the morale was with the supporters of the Union ever after.


Siege of Vicksburg

The siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Mississippi, led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.

172 cannons captured by United States

Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River therefore, capturing it completed the second part of the Northern strategy, the Anaconda Plan. When two major assaults against the Confederate fortifications, on May 19 and 22, were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. After holding out for more than forty days, with their supplies nearly gone, the garrison surrendered on July 4. The successful ending of the Vicksburg campaign significantly degraded the ability of the Confederacy to maintain its war effort. This action, combined with the surrender of the down-river Port Hudson to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks on July 9, yielded command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces, who would hold it for the rest of the conflict.

The Confederate surrender on July 4, 1863, is sometimes considered, when combined with Gen. Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg by Maj. Gen. George Meade the previous day, the turning point of the war. It cut off the Trans-Mississippi Department (containing the states of Arkansas, Texas and part of Louisiana) from the rest of the Confederate States, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two for the rest of the war. Lincoln called Vicksburg "The key to the war." [6]


The first attempt to capture Vicksburg in summer 1862 is sometimes called the First Battle of Vicksburg. It consisted of prolonged bombardment by Union naval vessels and sputtered out when the ships withdrew. At the same time, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was moving overland to invest the town from the rear. His advance ended when Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry tore up his rail supply line, and Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn captured his supply base at Holly Springs.

Grant’s efforts to seize Vicksburg resumed in December but met repeated failures. An assault by troops of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s corps against the high ground of Chickasaw Bluffs north of the town resulted in nearly 1,800 Union casualties, compared to just over 200 for the defenders. Over the coming months, Grant’s men would attempt to dig canals or find ways through the shallow, narrow bayous to bypass what is called the Confederate "Gibraltar of the West." Finally, he decided his army would have to operate south of Vicksburg, and that required the cooperation of the navy. To mask his army’s movement down the Louisiana side of the river, he had Sherman conduct two feints north of Vicksburg, and on April 17 Col. Benjamin H. Grierson left Tennessee on a cavalry raid through Mississippi that ended May 2 when he reached Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Grierson’s raid ranks among the most remarkable cavalry exploits of the war.

On April 16, 1863, a naval fleet under Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter came down the Mississippi, running the gauntlet of guns firing from the Vicksburg bluff, and rendezvoused with Grant’s Army of the Tennessee at Hard Times, Louisiana.

In the largest amphibious operation ever conducted by an American force prior to World War II, Grant and Porter transferred 24,000 men and 60 guns from the west bank to the east. They landed unopposed at Bruinsburg, Mississippi, and began marching toward Port Gibson and Grand Gulf, towns north along the river. Four divisions clashed with a Confederate brigade along Bayou Pierre near Port Gibson on May 1, costing each side between 700 and 900 men, but the two river towns were captured without further significant fighting. The rest of Grant’s army, under Sherman, then crossed the river at Grand Gulf, bringing his force to over 45,000, which he turned inland toward the Mississippi state capital, Jackson.


Dec. 7, 1874: Vicksburg Massacre

On Dec. 7, 1874, the Reconstruction era “Vicksburg Massacre” occurred in Mississippi, with estimates ranging from 75 to 300 African Americans killed. Whites attacked Black citizens who had organized to defend Peter Crosby. Formerly enslaved and a veteran of the Union army, Crosby had been forced to resign from his elected role as sheriff.

Most important was the emergence of the White League and of the “White-Line” movement more generally, in Louisiana and Mississippi. Committed to drawing the racial “line” in politics and inviting “all white men without regard to former party affiliations” to “unite,” the league was first organized in Opelousas in late April and then spread very rapidly.

It clearly built on foundations established by the Klan and the Knights of the White Camelia — a Union army commander regarded the league as a “second edition of the White Camelia campaign of 1868” — but was even more directly aligned with the Democratic party. Indeed, leagues were often little more than local Democratic clubs converted into paramilitary companies. “If the democratic party is arrayed against the negro and the republicans,” the Opelousas Courier proclaimed, “it becomes a White League, and no one can object to its efficient organization.”

White Leaguers surely recognized that the federal government was losing interest in interfering in southern politics and sustaining Republican regimes by military means. But they also responded to the growing assertiveness of African Americans within the Republican party, which showed itself in the rising incidence of Black office holding.

By that time, too, White-Line counterparts in Vicksburg, Mississippi, had demonstrated how paramilitary mobilization and “very definite intimidation” could bring electoral success even where Black voters held decided numerical sway.

If anything still held back a full-scale white paramilitary offensive, it was removed when, in the November elections of 1874, congressional Democrats won control of the House of Representatives for the first time since southern slaveholders had rebelled against the national government. In Vicksburg, White-Liners seemed to commemorate the event by moving quickly to complete the work they had begun in the summer. This time, they focused on the county, rather than the municipal, government, which was almost wholly dominated by Black Republicans, including the sheriff Peter Crosby, a native Mississippian who had served in the Union army during the war. Meeting in early December, they demanded the resignations of all the Black officials and pressured Crosby to yield under what he regarded as thread of assassination. Crosby then headed to the state capital for help.

Republican governor Adelbert Ames, of the party’s radical faction, turned a sympathetic ear. He ordered the “riotous and disorderly persons” who had “expelled from office the legally elected sheriff” to “disperse and retire peaceably” and “submit to the legally constituted authorities.” He also instructed a Warren County militia company to “cooperate” with Crosby’s effort to “regain office” and “suppress the mob,” and suggested that Crosby should summon a posse for further assistance.

Ame’s orders did little to change the behavior or temper of the Vicksburg whites, but Crosby’s call for a posse revealed a strong foundation of loyalty and organizational readiness among African Americans in the surrounding countryside. With dispatch, owing to the churches, political clubs, and other institutions of Black community life, a major mobilization took place. As several hundred Blacks marched in three columns toward Vicksburg, even Crosby feared the consequences and tried to turn some of them back. It was too late. Whites opened fire, and despite some brief standoffs, the Blacks were forced to flee. For another ten days, some of the young white participants, joined by reinforcements from across the river in Louisiana, stayed on “the war path.”

When the smoke cleared, at least twenty-nine African Americans had been killed and a great many more had been wounded and terrorized. The seat of county government remained in the hands of the White-Liners. And Peter Crosby, briefly held prisoner, was compelled to resign yet again.

Ames called the state legislature into special session and together they succeeded in convincing Grant to send a company of federal troops to quell the disturbances in Vicksburg and reinstall Crosby as sheriff. But Crosby’s days in office were numbered and so too, it appeared, were those of Republicans over much of the state. For the several-month White-Line campaign in Vicksburg and Warren County amounted to a “rehearsal for redemption” in Mississippi.

Torchlight processions, paramilitary drilling, the disruption of Republican political meetings, the harassment of Black workers, the intimidation and assassination of Black leaders, the driving off of local officeholders, and the disabling of armed Black resistance — all of which made their appearance in Vicksburg in 1874 — were to come into concerted use in 1875 in counties that previously had “safe” Republican majorities.

This was one of many massacres in U.S. history. Many of the massacres, such as this one, were designed to reassert white supremacy during Reconstruction.

Find resources below to teach about Reconstruction, reparations, and the long history of voter suppression by white supremacists.


Vicksburg - History

Hours for Visitors are Friday, Saturday, Sunday 1:00 - 5:00 PM

A special exhibition offered by the Vicksburg Historical Society in the Depot Museum will be

open for visitors on Saturdays during the winter. The Historical Society launched its 50th season in 2018 and will open extended hours on May 17, 2019.

A special exhibition, “Then and Now: Our Changing Landscape in Photographs”, explores the ways Vicksburg and its surrounding areas have changed over time. The exhibition pairs historic photographs and real photo postcards with current snapshots to contrast the face of Vicksburg yesterday and today.

It asks questions: Where was Vicksburg's first frame building and what’s on the site now? How does downtown look today compared with the late 19th century? What businesses operated through the years in the spaces where you shop, eat, work, and play today? These questions and more are answered in this new exhibition, which also draws on related artifacts from the museum's collection.

“Then and Now” highlights sites including the Sun Theatre, Dancer's, the White Front, Vicksburg Governor Works, the Fulton Hotel and Lee Paper Company. This special exhibition, displayed in the Depot Museum, is presented free of charge and may be enjoyed when the Depot is open or by special reservation.

Visitors can explore new displays and see recent acquisitions added to the Historic Village buildings. Get some vintage retail therapy in the General Store, relive sweet memories in the Sweet Shop, and picture yourself as a student in the one-room Strong School. Uncover snapshots of your friends and family within the yearbooks, newspapers, and photo albums lining the Depot shelves. Kids will have fun boarding the cherry red caboose and sounding the new interactive Ford brakes in the Village Garage.

The Vicksburg Historical Society’s Annual Bake Sale kicked off a day long, holiday gathering in Vicksburg

The Bake Sale doors opened with “Quilts, Crafts, Baked Goods and More.” This fundraiser is at the Depot Museum located at 300 N Richardson. The popular Holiday Caboose was open again this year and is a favorite spot to take Christmas photos along with the Model Train Display in the Township Hall. Visitors in downtown Vicksburg took wagon rides through the Historic Village and visited with Santa’s reindeer who were placed next to the Township Hall.

The activities in downtown Vicksburg kicked off with shopping, a Winter Farmers’ Market and Elf Workshops for kids to make a special holiday craft and treats. There was entertainment in a warming tent in Oswalt Park and Historical Society Bake Sale goodies at 101 E. Prairie Street. Free horse drawn wagon rides provided a unique way to tour the Village and visit the Model Train Display. The Christmas Parade stepped off at 6 PM featuring the award-winning Vicksburg High School marching band and lots of Christmas decorated floats. Many area firetrucks were all decked out in their Christmas finery. After the parade children and adults joined in the tree lighting ceremony in Oswalt Park, caroling and visits with Santa. Please see Vicksburg DDA Christmas in the Village for complete details.

There are activities and events for all ages throughout the Village of Vicksburg.


History of Vicksburg

To many, Vicksburg is synonymous with history. It is almost impossible to summarize in a few paragraphs, but here we make an attempt. The Mississippi River has long played a part in the historical, economic and residential development of Vicksburg. Founded in 1811 by Newitt Vick, Vicksburg was incorporated on January 29, 1825, and grew rapidly as a center for commerce, agriculture and river traffic.

Vicksburg’s best known contribution to history is the role it played in the Civil War. Following Abraham Lincoln’s election, the state seceded by a vote of 8,415 on January 9, 1861. With this vote, Mississippi followed South Carolina into the Confederate States of America. By February, seven states had seceded. President Davis gave his first address as the first President of the Confederate States of America.

Control of the Mississippi River was a strategic objective of the Northern and Southern armies. Simultaneous Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in July 1863 marked a decisive turning point in the Civil War.

The crossroads of river, rail, and highway at Vicksburg, combined with imposing defenses and a critical strategic objective, produced one of the most complex and protracted engagements of the Civil War, and involved joint operations between the army and navy overland and over-water troop movements and tactics of diversion, siege, and defense.

Vicksburg National Military Park, with its cultural and natural resources, today plays a vital role in our nation’s heritage and provides a place of peace, reflection, enjoyment, and community engagement.

The monuments at Vicksburg comprise one of the largest collections of significant commemorative military art in the United States, and, indeed, one of the most extensive collections of such art in the world. Representing the states involved, the monuments and memorials, with their varied symbolism, commemorate the campaign, siege, and defense of Vicksburg. New monuments continue to be added, including the recent memorial to black soldiers—the park’s first monument to the U.S. Colored Troops.

Vicksburg’s society was transformed by war, enduring changes that ranged from deprivation and destruction of a prosperous community to liberation of formerly enslaved people.

On April 26, 1876, the Mississippi River changed course and left the river port of Vicksburg with no river! The economic effect on the city was devastating. The change in the river course helped change Vicksburg’s future. In 1873, a Vicksburg office of the Army Corps of Engineers was established to coordinate federal and local river management and flood control efforts. The city still enjoys the pleasure of being “home” to the Corps.


Never Forget: The ‘Vicksburg Massacre’ Lynched Dozens Of African Americans Defending Black Sheriff In Mississippi

O n this day in history, up to hundreds of African Americans were lynched for coming to the defense of the first Black sheriff in a Mississippi county in 1874. It is one of the more shameful aspects of American history that has seemingly been forgotten amid this country’s purported nationwide racial reckoning.

The carnage was called the “Vicksburg Massacre,” named for the town in which it took place. Vicksburg was part of Warren County Sheriff Peter Crosby’s jurisdiction. But the racist white men living there didn’t like having a Black man as its top law enforcement officer and “forcibly removed him,” the Vicksburg Post reminded its readers in a news story published in 2015.

Crosby was a former slave and fought in the Union army, which further enraged the group that the Vicksburg Post kindy referred to as an “angry mob.”

When they were finished with Crosby, they went after Vicksburg’s Black residents. The Zinn Education Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes teaching history, estimated anywhere “from 75 to 300” Black people were killed — or lynched, a violent, hateful term that does not only refer to hangings.

The Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based nonprofit criminal justice organization, has written extensively about the “Vicksburg Massacre” and property put the ugly stain on American history into its proper perspective:

“During the Reconstruction era that followed Emancipation and the Civil War, Black Mississippians made progress toward political equality. Despite the passage of Black codes designed to oppress and disenfranchise Black people in the South, under the protection of federal troops in place to enforce the newly established civil rights of Black people, many Black men voted and served in political office on federal, state, and local levels.

Following this brutal attack, federal troops were sent to Vicksburg and Mr. Crosby was appointed as sheriff again. However, in early 1875, a white man named J.P. Gilmer was hired to serve as Sheriff Crosby’s deputy. After Sheriff Crosby tried to have Mr. Gilmer removed from office, Mr. Gilmer shot Sheriff Crosby in the head on June 7, 1875. Mr. Gilmer was arrested for the attempted assassination but never brought to trial. Mr. Crosby survived the shooting but never made a full recovery, and had to serve the remainder of his term through a representative white citizen.”

It’s important to recognize that this type of violence has continued up until this day in America it just presents itself differently.

White domestic terrorism has not just endorsed the decades since the racist coup that targeted Sheriff Peter Crosby in Vicksburg. It has also thrived.

It was only last year when Patrick Crusius left behind a racist manifesto on his way to killing at least 15 people in El Paso, Texas, because he didn’t like “race-mixing.”

Nevermind the fact of how police are killing Black people at will and getting away with it because their purported fear for their lives left them with no other point f recourse than to shoot to kill…

While the numbers pale in comparison to the kind of vigilante violence that killed Black people just for being Black in the 1800s and before, that was precisely the same reason why three white men racially profiled Ahmaud Arbery, went to arm themselves, jumped in pickup trucks, hunted him down, boxed him in, shot him in broad daylight on a Georgia road and most got away with it for months — in 2020.


What We Learned: from the Siege of Vicksburg

In early 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant, with help from the Western Gunboat Flotilla, captured Forts Henry and Donelson in Tennessee and then won a victory at Shiloh, allowing a Union siege of the Confederate bastion at Vicksburg, Miss. Meanwhile, Flag Officer David Farragut took New Orleans, threatening all of Louisiana and positioning the converging Union forces to split the Confederacy.

Wetlands and the Mississippi itself impeded advances on Vicksburg. Unable to protect his supply line, Grant halted a march through central Mississippi, ordering General William T. Sherman to boat his 31,000 men downriver. In the last week of 1862, Sherman sent his men against bluffs north of the city. Repulsed, his corps held its ground through winter, fixing significant Confederate forces in the defense of Vicksburg.

Grant then crossed to the west bank of the Mississippi and cleared eastern Arkansas while seeking to move his gunboats and transports downriver past the city. Vicksburg’s batteries, set on a bluff above the river’s east bank, could pierce the decks of Union gunboats. Grant ordered canals built to bypass the bluff, but those attempts failed. With most of his army waiting on the west bank of the river south of the city, Grant challenged Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter to run the Vicksburg batteries. Porter’s first 10 ships did so in the dark on April 16, 1863, losing just one vessel. By early May, Grant had some 40,000 men on the east bank south of the city. Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton had 33,000 defenders in and around Vicksburg, while another Confederate force held Jackson—until driven out by Grant on May 14. He then punished Pemberton at Champion Hill and the Big Black River Bridge, forcing him to flee to entrenchments along the eastern approaches to Vicksburg.

Grant assaulted the works, but the Confederates had spent months fortifying the ridges around the city. The assaults failed, so Grant—reinforced to some 77,000 men—pressed the siege with trenches and bombardments. Union miners dug beneath Rebel positions and packed the tunnels with explosives, destroying one fort on July 1.

Inside Vicksburg, citizens dug into the hills to escape shellfire, while troops faced reduced rations. The commissariat had stockpiled little food, and Pemberton had ordered most horses and mules driven outside the city due to lack of fodder. Along with corn and peas, rats and cats virtually disappeared by the end of June. Thirsty soldiers drank directly from the river, with dire results.

By July 1, Confederate commanders reported fewer than 200 able-bodied men per regiment. Two days later, Pemberton opened negotiations with Grant, who requested unconditional surrender but accepted the parole of all Confederate troops instead. On the Fourth of July, Union troops occupied Vicksburg.

Grant took some 10,000 casualties after crossing the Mississippi, while inflicting an equal number of enemy casualties. He paroled nearly 30,000 Rebels, most of whom fought again. Five days after Vicksburg’s fall, Port Hudson, last bastion on the Mississippi, also surrendered, and Union eyes turned eastward.

■ A mobile force should never surrender its mobility (the term “sitting ducks” comes to mind).

■ A fortress is defensible only as long as its food holds out.

■ When defending a city, evacuate civilians they have to be fed. Do not evacuate animals they are emergency rations.

■ Accurate threat assessment beats shoveling canals in a swamp while the enemy improves his defenses. Damn the batteries, full speed ahead!

■ Never parole enemy troops they are veterans. You will see them again (maybe from the wrong side of a POW cage).

■Finally, boil the danged river water!

Originally published in the November 2010 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.


Published 9:31 am Friday, March 31, 2017

I recently read a book about Vicksburg under Union occupation after the Siege.

“Occupied Vicksburg (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War)” by Bradley R. Clampitt, paints a very interesting picture of the city during its occupation, touching on various aspects of life under Union troops.

When we, or the visitors to the city who tour the Vicksburg National Military Park, think of Vicksburg’s Civil War history, we do it in terms of the Siege — the clash of troops at the Railroad Redoubt or the shelling of the city by Adm. David Dixon Porter’s brown water fleet and the mortar barges on the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River of people living in caves.

We read about the battles of Port Gibson, Champion Hill and Raymond, which were pivotal confrontations on Grant’s march to Vicksburg.

Then, suddenly, it’s almost like the war ended with Pemberton’s surrender to Grant.

But the occupation, as Clampitt pointed out in several chapters, was a new front in the battle to save the Union.

In many ways, the residents of Vicksburg continued their resistance of the men in blue.

It also points out another interesting fact. Vicksburg may have fallen into Union hands, but just past the city limits and outside the Union lines, rural Warren County was a Confederate hotbed, with guerillas and bands of Confederate cavalry raiding plantations and farms leased to northerners who were trying to turn them into a business. Union supplies found their way into Confederate hands, despite the efforts of the occupation forces to prevent the practice.

And many residents still stayed fiercely loyal to the Cause, even to the point of being exiled from the city to other areas behind Confederate lines for the duration of the Civil War.

When I was growing up, and even in my early adult life, my interest in history turned toward modern, 20th century events. The Civil War held very little interest until I received a copy of the family history from my uncle, found a personal connection — my great-great-grandfather was killed at Shiloh and I visited the Shiloh National Park.

Then I moved here, and revisited the Military Park and the Cairo, and wrote two articles for The Post’s Sesquicentennial magazine on Vicksburg before and after the Siege, and about people living in caves during the Siege.

I’ve found learning about life in the city during the Siege and about the Union and Confederate navies more interesting than the battles and troop movements.

Vicksburg has a very diverse history, and it is something we need to learn more about.

The Siege is important, but it is not all to the history of Vicksburg. Vicksburg’s history is the story of the diverse ethnic and religious groups who came here and settled, about the people who lived in the small communities in the area before and after the Siege. And to appreciate where we are, we need to learn where we’ve been.
John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post.. You may reach him at [email protected]

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.


A few prospectors few entered the canyon in 1861. In 1879 the area became flooded with miners as more silver was discovered. Gold and lead was also found. Vick Keller, who the village is named for, operated a general store.

By 1880, there were some 40 buildings, including a black smith, school house, cobbler shop, two hotels, boarding house, two saloons, assay office, two billiard halls and a delivery stable. A stagecoach made a daily trip from Granite to Vicksburg and beyond.

At its peak Vicksburg had between 600-700 people. To this day, the cabins have been continually occupied ever since their creation. In 1971 the historical society was create to protect and preserve the area.


Watch the video: 5 UNSOLVED CIVIL WAR MYSTERIES That Still Baffle Us


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