Siege of Vicksburg May 18–July 4, 1863


Map Code: Ax02503

Vicksburg was vital to the Confederacy. It denied the Union control of the Mississippi River, and held the Eastern and Western portions of the Confederacy together, allowing the East to be resupplied with Western reserves, horses, food, and salt (crucial for curing meat). After Union pressure in the summer of 1862, during which Vicksburg was vulnerable to capture, the Confederacy extensively reinforced the city in the autumn and winter, initially repelling the attacks of Union general Ulysses S. Grant. Grant returned in the spring, however, having taken the Mississippi state capital Jackson; two further offensives in mid-May were again repulsed, before Grant decided to besiege the city. Vicksburg held out for over 40 days, before surrendering on 4th July 1863. Union success in the Vicksburg campaign, combined with simultaneous victory at Gettysburg, is generally considered a turning point of the war – Lincoln described it as the war’s ‘key’. After Vicksburg, Union forces controlled the Mississippi River, providing them with a key supply line and effectively splitting the Confederacy in two, leading to significant shortages of food and manpower in the East. In conjunction with their naval blockade, success at Vicksburg completed the Union’s Anaconda Plan, and the Confederacy slowly suffocated.

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