Battle of vicksburg
Battle of vicksburg
The Vicksburg Campaign was one of the most decisive campaigns of the Civil War and also one of the greatest campaigns in history. Vicksburg, Mississippi, perched upon a steep bluff along the east bank of the Mississippi River was of strategic importance to the north and south. The opening of the Mississippi River to Northern shipping was of prime importance to the Union. It would help them move troops from camp to camp, divide the confederacy down the middle, and commerce of old Northwest would once again have access to the sea. The capture of Fort Donelson had broken the first line of Confederate defense for the Mississippi River Valley. Vicksburg then remained the one serious obstacle to complete command of the Mississippi River by federal forces. It was a much needed and timely victory for the Union, the year of 1862 having been one of disasters caused by the Union and coinciding with the defeat of the Confederate leader General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, marked the turning point of the war.
The first serious attempt to take control of Vicksburg was an expedition commanded by General W. T. Sherman who went down to Mississippi and attacked Confederacy positions immediately north of town, while another army under General Ulysess S. Grant marched overland from the northern part of Mississippi. General Sherman's army failed when his attack on Chickasaw Bluffs was easily defeated , and General Grant was forced to retreat when his supply lines were cut by the confederate calvary.
There were also naval expeditions commanded by Admiral David Glasgow Farragut. The Union army appeared below the city. The next day , Two frigates and six gunboats attempted to defeat Confederate river fortifications. The attack failed , as did several other attempts to bypass Vicksburg by river.
General Grant next decided to move most of his force down the Mississippi River to Milliken's Bend , a few miles from the town of Vicksburg.
By then, General Grant had 41,000 troops at hand. His greatest problem was not being able to move his army to a more vulnerable southern approach to the city without running past Confederate river batteries constructing passage . General Grant tried many different approaches to attack the confederacy but they all failed . General Grant even thought about a frontal assault on enemy entrenchments. Instead Grant decided to march and float his army through the flooded bottom lands west of the Mississippi River until they were below Vicksburg . Then Grant would run empty transports past Confederate batteries at night and then cross the east bank of the Mississippi River . The plan worked well and General Grant arrived at Port Gibson, Mississippi.
The Confederate commander of Vicksburg, General John Pemberton failed to realize Grant's strategy, scattered his troops, and did nothing to oppose the landing.
At Jackson, Mississippi, General Joseph E. Johnston was accumulating a force to co-operate with Pemberton's army, but Grant quickly intervened and drove Johnston's small army out of Jackson, Mississippi and then turned west and defeated General Pemberton at Champion's Hill and Big Black River. Disregarding General Johnston's orders, Pemberton withdrew to Vicksburg, Mississippi. General Grant followed and after two unsuccsessful attacks , drew up siege lines. General Pemberton's food supply finally ran out and he surrendered 30,000 troops . Port Hudson was also seized by the Union army.
The loss of Vicksburg, Mississippi was perhaps the Confederacy's costliest defeat in the western portion of the United States during the Civil War.
In General Grant's memoirs, he discusses what took place the day when Vicksburg was surrendered:
"At about 10:00 A.M., white flags appeared on a portion of the rebel works. Hostilities along that part of the line ceased at once. Soon two persons were seen coming toward our lines bearing a white flag . They proved to be General Bowen, a division commander, and Colonel Montgomery, aide-de-camp to Pemberton,bearing the following letter to me; "I have the honor to propose to ypu an armistice for --- hours with a view to arrange terms for the capitulation of Vicksburg. To this end, if agreeable to you, I will appoint three commissioners to meet a like number,