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Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi
May 23 to July 4, 1863
from National Park Service
Web Author's Notes:
The following is a brief but concise description of the first assault on Vicksburg. The summary was obtained from the National Park Service.

The Siege of Vicksburg

Following the failure of the May 22 assault, Grant realized Vicksburg could not be taken by force, and decided to lay siege to the city. Slowly his army established a line of works around the beleaguered city and cut off all supplies and communications from the outside world. Commencing May 26, Union forces constructed thirteen approaches along their front aimed at different points along the Confederate defense line. Their objective was to dig up to the Confederate works, then tunnel underneath them, plant charges of black powder, and destroy the fortifications. Union troops would then be able to surge through the breaches and gain entrance to Vicksburg.

Throughout the month of June, Union troops expanded their approaches slowly toward the Confederate defenses. Protected by the fire of sharpshooters and artillery, Grant's fatigue parties neared their objectives by late June. On June 25, along the Jackson Road, a mine was detonated beneath the Third Louisiana Redan, and Federal soldiers swarmed into the crater attempting to exploit the breach in the city's defenses.

The struggle raged for 26 hours during which clubbed muskets and bayonets were freely used, as the Confederates fought with grim determination to deny their enemy access to Vicksburg. The troops in blue were finally driven back at the point of bayonet and the breach sealed. On July 1, a second mine was detonated but not followed by an infantry assault.

Throughout June the gallant, but weary, defenders of Vicksburg suffered from reduced rations, exposure to the elements, and constant bombardment of enemy guns. Reduced in number by sickness and battle casualties, the garrison of Vicksburg was spread dangerously thin. Soldiers and citizens alike began to despair that help would ever come. At Jackson and Canton, General Johnston gathered a relief force, which finally took up the line of march toward Vicksburg on July 1. But by then it was too late, as time had run out for the fortress on the Mississippi River

On the hot afternoon of July 3, 1863, a cavalcade of horsemen in gray rode out from the city along the Jackson Road. Soon white flags appeared on the city's defenses as General Pemberton rode beyond the works to meet with his adversary -- General Grant. The two officers dismounted between the lines, not far from the Third Louisiana Redan, and sat in the shade of a stunted oak tree to discuss surrender terms. Unable to reach an agreement, the two men returned to their respective headquarters. Telling Pemberton he would have his final terms by 10 p.m., Grant was true to his word, and his final amended terms were forwarded to Pemberton that night. Instead of an unconditional surrender of the city and garrison, Grant offered parole to the valiant defenders of Vicksburg. Pemberton and his generals agreed that these were the best terms that could be had, and in the quiet of his headquarters on Crawford Street, the decision was made to surrender the city.

At 10 a.m., on July 4, white flags were again displayed from the Confederate works, and the brave men in gray marched out of their entrenchments, stacked their arms, removed their accouterments, and furled their flags. The victorious Union army now marched in and took possession the city.

When informed of the fall of Vicksburg, President Lincoln exclaimed, The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea.

The fall of Vicksburg, coupled with the defeat of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in the battle of Gettysburg fought over July 1-3, 1863, marked the turning point of the Civil War.

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