The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

11
The Fall of Vicksburg

Ulysses S. Grant

I now determined upon a regular siege -- to "outcamp the enemy," as it were, and to incur no more losses. The experience of the 22d convinced officers and men that this was best, and they went to work on the defences and approaches with a will. With the navy holding the river, the investment of Vicksburg was complete. As long as we could hold our position the enemy was limited in supplies of food, men and munitions of war to what they had on hand. These could not last always.

The crossing of troops at Bruinsburg commenced April 30th. On the 18th of May the army was in rear of Vicksburg. On the 19th, just twenty days after the crossing, the city was completely invested and an assault had been made: five distinct battles (besides continuous skirmishing) had been fought and won by the Union forces; the capital of the State had fallen and its arsenals, military manufactories and everything useful for military pur

ULYSSES S. GRANT, Personal Memoirs, 2 vols. ( New York, 1885), Vol. 1, Chs. xxxvii- xxxix.

Late in October, 1862, Ulysses S. Grant was placed in command of the Department of the Tennessee. Since the early months of the year, he had been growing in stature, in military experience, and in public acclaim. In February he had moved from Cairo southward. He had taken Fort Henry on the Tennessee River with little trouble, and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland with little more. Nashville had fallen without a fight and he had occupied it and begun the work of clearing the rebels out of middle and western Tennessee. In April he had won a desperate victory at Shiloh. After Shiloh General Henry W. Halleck took command of Grant's army and advanced slowly upon Corinth. Late in May, the city fell to the Federal forces. During the summer Grant occupied Memphis and repelled a Confederate effort to retake Corinth. This accomplished, he suggested to Halleck, now in Washington as general-in-chief, that he advance upon Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

During the winter of 1862-63, Grant made a series of efforts to strike Vicksburg. He advanced to Holly Springs, Mississippi, and directed an effort to move toward Vicksburg from the north. He attempted to cut a canal across a peninsula caused by a bend in the river, hoping to divert the river from the city. Finally, he marched his men down the west side of the river to a point south of the city, while Admiral David D. Porter ran the batteries of Vicksburg with gunboats and transports. Then Grant moved eastward, taking Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, capturing Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, and defeating the Confederates at the Battle of Champion's Hill. The Confederate commander, John C. Pemberton, fell back into Vicksburg and prepared to defend the city. Twice, on May 18th and 22d, Grant assaulted Pemberton's works and was defeated.

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