"Vicksburg is the key," said President Abraham Lincoln. "The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket."
The United States government had to control the lower Mississippi River in order to move agricultural products to world markets, to split the South and sever its supply lines. In the spring of 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant launched the Army of the Tennessee on a series of maneuvers and battles to pocket Vicksburg and end the war.
"The most brilliant campaign ever fought on American soil" involved deception and counter-intelligence, rapid marches, naval actions, a large-scale amphibious crossing, and fighting in difficult terrain and harsh climate. Grant's invading force brought war to the interior of the Deep South and eventually captured Vicksburg and an entire Confederate army, re-opening the Mississippi River.
A Driving Tour
Along this tour you will experience the terrain these armies crossed in 1863, some of the most varied and difficult terrain of any military campaign. Some of the sites and nearby roadways have changed little since the Vicksburg Campaign. At several sites along the way, and at the Vicksburg National Military Park, interpretation is provided.
(Left Drawing Caption)
Bombardment of the Vicksburg Batteries by Rear Admiral David Porter's gunboats on the night of April 16, 1863. Among the variety of innovations used to conduct war in the lower Mississippi River valley was this flotilla of vessels designed specifically for use on these rivers. The remains of one of these gunboats, the "USS Cairo," can be viewed in the Vicksburg National Military Park.