Reminiscences of the Civil War

By John B. Gordon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
VICKSBURG AND HELENA

The four most crowded and decisive days of the war -- Vicksburg the culmination of Confederate disaster -- Frequent change of commanders in the Trans-Mississippi Department -- General Grant's tunnel at Fort Hill -- Courage of Pemberton's soldiers -- Explosion of the mine -- Hand-to-hand conflict -- The surrender.

IF called upon to select in the four years of war, from April, 1861, to April, 1865, four consecutive days into which were crowded events more momentous and decisive than occurred in any other like period, I should name the 1st, 2d, 3d, and 4th of July, 1863. During the first three we were engaged at Gettysburg in a struggle which might decide the fate of the Federal capital, of Baltimore, and possibly of Philadelphia, if not of the Union itself. On the 4th General Grant received the surrender at Vicksburg of 35,000 Confederates under General Pemberton.

There were other days which will always be conspicuous in the records of that war; but I do not believe that any other four days, consecutive or isolated, so directly and decidedly dashed the hopes of the Southern people. The double disaster to our arms -- the Gettysburg failure and the fall of Vicksburg -- occurring at distant points and almost simultaneously, was a blow heavy enough to have effectually dispirited any army that was ever marshalled. It is, however, a remarkable fact that the morale of the Confederate army was not affected -- at

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