??The fall of New Orleans in April1862, capped the beginning of an 18-month driveto control Vicksburg and the Mississippi River.The fight for this strategic location was arduous. Vicksburg, sitting high atop bluffs, was protected by artillery and a maze of bayous. Confederateriver fortifications interrupted the flow ofNorthern troops, supplies and commerce.(Map included)
Driving southward from Tennessee andnorthward from the Gulf, Federal troops forced the surrender of Vicksburg. With thisvictory, the North opened the Mississippi anddealt a psychological blow to the Confederacy. The South was split in two and unable to movemen and munitions across the river. While war's end was still 20 months away, control of thegreat Mississippi led ultimately to Union victory.
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An 18-Month Campaign
The battle for Vicksburg hit a fevered pitch whenUlysses S. Grant was appointed commander ofthe Department of the Tennessee and Lt. Gen.John C. Pemberton, a West Point graduate andnative of Pennsylvania, was given charge of 50,000Confederate troops defending the Mississippi.Grant was ordered to clear the river of Confederateresistance and Pemberton to defend it.
Grant planned to draw Confederate troops defending Vicksburg north and pin them down while another column. led by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, moved moved south from Memphis. Grant led 40,000 troops from La Grange, Tennessee, toward Grenada, Mississippi, but met fierce resistance from Confederate forces dug into the Yalobusha riverbank to defend the crossing and the railroad. Grant's plan was thwarted.
Confederate cavalry, led by Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn, headed northward from Grenada, captured the Federal supply base at Holly Springs, Mississippi, and stopped the Union advance. The Mobile & Ohio Railroad carrying Northern supplies fell to Brig. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's raiders. These events caused Grant to retreat to Memphis. Confederate troops heading south toward Vicksburg engaged and decisively beat, Sherman's forces at Chickasaw Bayou.
Grant launched yet another drive to disrupt Southern communications and transportation, confuse the Confederates, and divert Pemberton's troops. He led his troops 50 miles down the west side of the river from Milliken's Bend, Louisiana to Hard Times. At the same time, Union Col. Benjamin H. Grierson led a brigade of 1,700 cavalry from La Grange through Mississippi to Baton Rouge destroying rolling stock, bridges, trestles, track and telegraph lines during this 16-day, 475-mile ride. He also succeeded in luring Pemberton's cavalry and one infantry division in pursuit.
With Grant in southern Louisiana, Adm. David D. Porter maneuvered his gunboats into place to secure the river at Grand Gulf, forcing Grant farther down river to cross at Bruinsburg. Grant fought his way towards Vicksburg on the eastern side of the river, overwhelming and scattering Confederate troops. With these victories to buoy his resolve, Grant began the final siege of Vicksburg with Confederate surrender coming on July 4, 1863. Five days later Port Hudson fell and the domination of the Mississippi River was complete.
(Bottom) 1862 - 1863 Timeline
Farragut calls for surrender of Vicksburg
South May 18
Vicksburg refuses demand
Farragut steams upriver past Vicksburg
Brown and Arkansas launch surprise attack against Farragat's fleetSouth July
Farragut retreats to New Orleans
Federal divisions sent to reinforce Buell at Louisville
Bragg sweeps across Tennessee to Louisville, KY
Grant orders attacks from north and south against Price at Iuka
Confederate force moves from Baldwyn to Iuka, MI [ sic] to deter Federal divisions
Confederates evacuate Iuka and return to Baldwyn
Van Dorn suffers defeat by Union at Corinth
Grant appointed to secure the Mississippi for Union
Pemberton appointed to defend Mississippi
Grant marches from Grand Junction, TN into southern Mississippi along Mississippi Central Railroad
Sherman pushes down Mississippi River toward Vicksburg
Pemberton successfully defends river and railroad at Grenada
Van Dorn captures Federal supply base at Holly Springs
Forrest secures the Mobile & Ohio Railroad
Grant retreats to Memphis
Confederate troops repel Sherman at Chickasaw Bayou
Grant launches unsuccessful Bayou Expedition
Grant begins march from Milliken's Bend south through Louisiana to Hard Times
Grieson marches from La Grange, TN through Mississippi to Baton Rouge
Porter's gunboats unsuccessfully bombard Confederate forts at Grand Gulf
Grant continues south and crosses river at Bruinsburg
South MayPemberton's forces attempt to defend Port Gibson and retreat to Vicksburg
Grant defeats Confederate force at Port Gibson, Raymond and captures Jackson
Grant moves along Southern Railroad toward Vicksburg with victories at Champion Hill and Big Black River Bridge
Grant and Porter assault Vicksburg and are repulsed
Grant and Porter continue the siege of Vicksburg by land and sea
South July 4
Pemberton surrenders Vicksburg