Vicksburg - Mississippi Historic Site
Battle of Vicksburg - Mississippi Historic Site

Vicksburg Illinois Memorial

Where is Vicksburg?

The Vicksburg Battlefield is located 50 miles east of Jackson, Mississippi at 3201 Clay Street, Vicksburg, MS 39183.

Vicksburg Battlefield Map

Did you know: The Vicksburg Cemetery is the nation’s largest burial site of Civil War Union soldiers and sailors, the graves total over 17,000, of which almost 13,000 are unknown.

Did you know: Had Confederate General Pemberton taken the advice of his commanding officer General Joseph Johnston and evacuated his positions, a major portion of the Confederate Army could have survived and possibly gone on to further victories, with a better chance at winning the Civil War.

THE BATTLE OF VICKSBURG

The Summer of 1863 provided President Lincoln with two desperately needed victories which would help propel him to a second term in office. The Battle of Vicksburg was one of them. More accurately described as a “siege”, it lasted from May 18th to July 4th, 1863- 47 days during which Union forces surrounded and essentially starved the Confederate Army into submission.

The Confederates led by General John C. Pemberton were reviewing a series of defeats which they knew could spell eventual ruin for their cause. General Ulysses S. Grant had won victories at Port Gibson and Raymond, then captured Jackson- the capital of Mississippi- on May 14th, 1862, forcing Pemberton to withdraw eastward. Pemberton also knew that Union General William Tecumseh Sherman was planning to flank him from the north, so he retreated and ordered his beleaguered troops to salvage every living plant and animal to find refuge in the southern stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. More than 75% of Pemberton’s Army had been lost in the previous two battles and he hoped Confederate General Joseph Johnston would arrive to help with reinforcements. Johnston never showed up; he sent a message to Pemberton requesting him to surrender the city of Vicksburg and save his troops to fight again another day, but Pemberton refused. What ensued was one of the saddest human tragedies of the Civil War- a combination of a series of bloody assaults- some of which the Union lost- and eventually a siege ordered by General Grant which forced the Confederates to surrender.

Union gunboats on the river had lobbed over 22,000 shells into the town; land-based Union cannonades were even worse. Rebel soldiers and local citizens were forced to eat horses, dogs and eventually even rats to survive, their food supply cut off by Union forces. After suffering from dysentery, malaria and other diseases along with devastating wounds from Union artillery fire, the Confederates realized they had to give up the fight. On July 4th, 1863- “the glorious 4th”- Ulysses S. Grant got what he wanted- a total surrender of rebel forces and the capture of a major stronghold in the Confederacy which he understood would change the tide of the war.

Today the Vicksburg National Military Park covers many acres with numerous monuments, cannons and walking trails.