May 1863 – July 1863
The siege of Vicksburg was the one of the last major military actions of the Civil War in the western theater. Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold along the Mississippi River. It was also the only thing standing in the way of the Union Army from finally instituting the Anaconda Strategy and essentially cutting the Confederacy in half. The Union victory at Vicksburg in the west also corresponded with the Union victory at Gettysburg in the east. Both of these wins can effectively be coined the turning point in the Civil War. After the losses at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the Confederacy had essentially been defeated and was just holding out as long as humanly possible. The siege at Vicksburg was the final part in the overall Vicksburg Campaign. The Vicksburg Campaign was an overall strategy by the Union to seize control of the Mississippi River and culminated in the capture of the fortified Confederate city of Vicksburg. The two main contenders in the entire campaign were the Army of Tennessee led by Major General Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of Mississippi led by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton. The beginning of the Vicksburg Campaign started when the Army of Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River south of Vicksburg and the march east towards Jackson, Mississippi. General Grant soon captured Jackson, the capitol of Mississippi, and forced General Pemberton to retreat westward towards Vicksburg. General Pemberton burned and pillaged all he could on his retreat to Vicksburg desperate to slow the advancing Union army. Upon arrival to Vicksburg, General Pemberton quickly dug in for what he knew would be a long and arduous siege. Pemberton was at a disadvantage with only 18,500 soldiers under his command. The Union army however, with the capture of Hayne’s Bluff, was able to be well supplied by Union ships coming down the Mississippi River. Grant began the siege with the Union Army being 35,000
Cited: Ballard, Michael. Vicksburg, The Campaign that Opened the Mississippi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. Bearss, Edwin. The Campaign of Vicksburg Vol. 1. Dayton, OH: Morningside House, 1985. Eicher, David. The Longest Night: A military History of the Civil War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Foote, Shelby. The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Random House, 1958.