Guide Defense of Vicksburg

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The blast itself was more effective but the assault forces again bogged down. The fighting at the second crater continued until the 3 July ceasefire. Though having only been in uniform for a matter of weeks, black troops immediately made their mark on the battlefield. While the Confederate fortifications had largely been constructed by forced black labor, and slaves were frequently used for the most dangerous countermining and engineering work rather than Confederate soldiers, whereas black Union soldiers took portions of the line just as any other unit.

In fact, Union officers found that the sight of black soldiers so enraged Confederate defenders that they could be induced into wasteful and ill-advised attacks. The attack was defeated by newly raised black units and supporting naval gunfire from the river. Inside Vicksburg, soldiers and civilians suffered alike.

Mule and muskrat meat quickly became staples and civilians built a tunnel network where they lived to avoid Union shelling. Outside the city, civilians felt the pain of military operations just as much. Mississippi agriculture was in tatters due to looting, foraging, and deliberate destruction on the part of both armies.

Confederate guerrilla attacks continued, especially against Union forces holding the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River. It did not. In fact, 8, more Union troops were sent west as reinforcements for Grant. Although the Confederate defenders held against everything Grant threw at them, they could not last forever and Pemberton knew it. As defections rose and food stocks dwindled, Pemberton, with the unanimous consent of his subordinate officers, asked Grant for a ceasefire and a discussion of surrender terms on 3 July After discussing the issue with his corps commanders, however, Grant realized that the care and feeding of some 30, Confederate prisoners was not a task he wanted to take on.

The now-prisoners were paroled and allowed to leave provided they agreed not to fight until exchanged for Union prisoners. Officers retained sidearms and, if they had one, a single horse. Pemberton accepted these more lenient terms and on the morning of 4 July, white flags fluttered all along the Confederate earthworks. At , Union troops marched into Vicksburg.

In material terms, the loss of Vicksburg was devastating. Fully 9, Confederate soldiers were casualties during the campaign but before the siege. When Pemberton surrendered, another 29, troops surrendered with him.

Inside Vicksburg were cannon, 38, artillery shells, 50, rifles, and , rounds of ammunition. While Pemberton wisely cut rations, he surrendered with plenty of food stocks on hand. Confederate forces at Port Hudson, south of Vicksburg and the last point on the Mississippi controlled by the south, surrendered to Union General Nathaniel Banks, their mission now irrelevant.


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Confederate troops provided Grant his greatest challenge yet, but the entire south paid for it. It cost him 10, Union soldiers, but the entire Confederacy could not stop the Union now. It could only slow it down. The Vicksburg Campaign yields a number of lessons for tacticians and strategists. Grant was a talented commander to be sure, but the most important reason for his success was the Union Navy under the able leadership of Admiral Porter.

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Not just its presence, but the tight coordination between the two allowed one to support the other and vice versa. Meanwhile, Union infantry seized and destroyed coastal emplacements from the landward side, contributing to sea or at least river control and naval maneuverability. Somehow, years before modern amphibious operations took shape, Grant and Porter mastered it, allowing Grant the ability to move his troops faster, supply them better, and strike the enemy where he was not. More options is one thing, knowing what to do with them is another.

The Union Navy was also at George B.

Battle Of Vicksburg

He was eminently successful as Pemberton never attacked until he was hopelessly outnumbered and Johnston never attacked at all, even though between the two of them they had Grant between their pincers in hostile territory. Grant could, and did move in confusing and ambiguous directions, concentrating and dispersing his forces at will, striking at the disparate places that Pemberton had to defend with paltry forces.

In just seventeen days, Grant mounted the largest American amphibious operation up to that time, marched miles, fought and won five major battles, captured a Confederate state capital and forced the government to flee, and besieged the most important Confederate stronghold.

Sappers performed feats that would be impressive today with tools that we would consider primitive. Between building roads, throwing up or tearing down bridges, diverting the Mississippi River, completing trenchworks, and digging mines, engineers on both sides were some of the busiest troops during the campaign.

Their ideas and tactics were ahead of their times, it was only technical limitations that led to failures. He was never an engineer, but surely the performance of Union sappers in the Vicksburg Campaign informed his later campaigns in Virginia. Lastly, Grant had to contend at every step of the way with guerrilla raids. This is not a historical aberration; the space between most great battles in history is filled with often untold and overshadowed raiding, skirmishing, and irregular fighting. Yet, Grant was so successful despite the efforts of guerrillas because he moved fast, hit weak points, and deceived Confederate leaders.

Wicker Asks About Army’s Defense Supercomputing in Vicksburg, ERDC's Partnership with Jackson State

In other words, he fought his conventional forces like a guerrilla leader. The Vicksburg Campaign was an early preview of the current convergence of conventional and irregular tactics.

The Defense of Vicksburg

Thus, Vicksburg is an instructive story for modern students of war, navalists, and otherwise. The proliferation of anti-access coastal defense systems are a modern version of the Vicksburg artillery emplacements that controlled the Mississippi. Modern defenses will have to be dismantled in much the same way that Grant defeated Pemberton: relying on landing at, and then attacking enemy weak-points, avoiding detection and deceiving enemy leaders, and employing speed to get in and behind the defense, dislocate it, and then strike it from the land.

Brett A. Have a response or an idea for your own article? Enjoy what you just read? Please help spread the word to new readers by sharing it on social media. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Pages New York: Random House, Vicksburg: The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi. Page Oxford: Oxford University Press, July 4, The Strategy The Western theater was always a concern for Confederate President Jefferson Davis, but it never rose in priority above the east. The Commanders By late , most of the players in the campaign were in place.

Initial Moves Action in the Mississippi River began well before the two army commanders were in place. The Siege Even though Grant had been in the Vicksburg vicinity for three weeks, little had been done to shore up the city's actual defenses.

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As a young officer, Grant had seen dozens of Mexican positions fall to direct assaults during the Mexican War. In the East, General Lee argued that his second invasion of the North, destined to end at Gettysburg, would draw Union troops away from Vicksburg. On the morning of 4 July, white flags fluttered all along the Confederate earthworks. Aftermath In material terms, the loss of Vicksburg was devastating. Conclusion The Vicksburg Campaign yields a number of lessons for tacticians and strategists. Grant: A Victor, Not a Butcher. Edward H. Bonekemper III. The Words Of War.

Donagh Bracken. Strangling the Confederacy. Kevin Dougherty. Champion Hill. Timothy B. Barksdale's Charge. Thomas Tucker. War on the Waters. James M. To the Gates of Richmond. William H. Manning Ferguson Force. Clement A.

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One Continuous Fight. Eric J. The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads. Sherman's March Through the Carolinas. John G. Rashness of That Hour.


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