Please join us for one of the last Civil War Sesquicentennial battlefield tours in Vicksburg, Mississippi November 6-8.
From the earliest days of the War, President Abraham Lincoln knew the key to victory was the seizure of the Mississippi River. The key to that conquest was the city of Vicksburg “The Gibraltar of the West”. What proved to be the longest campaign of the war, by far, to capture the Mississippi River City, resulted in many Union failures and repulses before ultimate victory. The consensus among historians of the Civil War today is that the fall of Vicksburg marked the “turning point of the war”. Once the Father of Waters “flowed unvexed to the sea”, the days of the nascent Confederacy were numbered.
Indeed, Providence had situated that city on bluffs above the mighty Mississippi, where many thousands of Americans would die defending or trying to storm its parapets. With a Pennsylvania-born Confederate Major General Pemberton pitted against the Illinois bulldog, Ulysses S. Grant, the consuming drama of Vicksburg played itself out with dire implications for both nations and for the generals whose reputations were made or broken on its barricades. The fight not only consumed soldiers, however. The women, children and elderly citizens of the city were bombarded mercilessly and many resorted to living in caves and dugouts for survival. The stories of mothers buying rats in the marketplace and the starvation and deprivation that many underwent are reminiscent of medieval sieges.
This tour will encompass three major battlefields and a museum: Port Gibson, Champion Hill, Vicksburg and the Old Courthouse. Few battles in American history have had such profound implications for the outcome of a war. Combined with Gettysburg, which ended the day before in Pennsylvania, the Confederacy was dealt a terrible blow.
We will begin the tour at Port Gibson, where General Grant crossed the Mississippi a few miles downstream from the city as an outnumbered Confederate force fought valiantly to slow down the blue host. As Generals Sherman, MacPherson, and McClernand moved toward Jackson and Vicksburg, the Southern troops fell back fighting, and made a bloody stand at Champion Hill. Pemberton’s Vicksburg line was seven miles in length and Grant’s about fifteen miles. The siege of Vicksburg began May 25th and the soldiers and civilians trapped in the encirclement sustained bombardment, starvation, and disease while repulsing the hammer blows of the encircling enemy, capitulating on the 4th of July, 1863.