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The Vicksburg Campaign, March 29-May 18, 1863

Edited by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear

Publication Year: 2013

Ulysses S. Grant’s ingenious campaign to capture the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River was one of the most decisive events of the Civil War and one of the most storied military expeditions in American history. The ultimate victory at Vicksburg effectively cut the Confederacy in two, gave control of the river to Union forces, and delivered a devastating blow from which the South never fully recovered. Editors Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear have assembled essays by prominent and emerging scholars, who contribute astute analysis of this famous campaign’s most crucial elements and colorful personalities.

Encompassed in this first of five planned volumes on the Vicksburg campaign are examinations of the pivotal events that comprised the campaign’s maneuver stage, from March to May of 1863. The collection sheds new light on Grant’s formidable intelligence network of former slaves, Mississippi loyalists, and Union spies; his now legendary operations to deceive and confuse his Confederate counterparts; and his maneuvers from the perspective of classic warfare. Also presented are insightful accounts of Grant’s contentious relationship with John A. McClernand during the campaign; interactions between hostile Confederate civilians and Union army troops; and the planning behind such battles as Grierson’s Raid, Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Big Black River Bridge.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Map, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 3-8


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. xi-xii

Many people have helped us develop this book. We, the editors, owe our deepest gratitude to all the contributors. Their cooperation and dedication to this book made it a joy to work on—more importantly, it would not exist without them. Thank you all. ...

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pp. 1-7

It lasted only seven and a half weeks, but the maneuver segment of the Vicksburg Campaign reversed the verdict of the previous six months’ operations on the Mississippi, all but sealed the doom of the Gibraltar of the Confederacy and its defending army, secured the reputation of Ulysses S. Grant as one of history’s greatest generals, ...

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1. Running the Gauntlet: The Effectiveness of Combined Forces in the Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 8-23

Vicksburg, Mississippi, was considered by both the Union and Confederate high commands to be the key to ultimate control of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. Until the seemingly impregnable fortress fell into Union hands, Federal control of the great river would be all but impossible. ...

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2. “Through the Heart of Rebel Country” : The History and Memory of Grierson’s Raid

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pp. 24-42

At dawn on April 17, 1863, the men of Colonel Benjamin Henry Grierson’s cavalry brigade broke camp in Tennessee not knowing they were about to embark on the most daring Union raid of the Civil War. Fulfilling their part in the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign, the horsemen traversed Mississippi and Louisiana for sixteen days, ...

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3. “In the Enemy’s Country” : Port Gibson and the Turning Point of the Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 43-64

On May 1, 1863, Union and Confederate forces collided west of Port Gibson, Mississippi, in what one Confederate veteran later called “one of the hottest little battles of the [American Civil] War.” As part of the Vicksburg Campaign, the battle of Port Gibson had important ramifications for both sides as well as for the future of the United States. ...

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4. Roads to Raymond

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pp. 65-95

The first rays of sunlight filtered through the shroud-like haze that remained over the battlefield, and soon the cluttered ground appeared to come to life as soldiers stirred from their leafy beds. Hundreds of campfires seemed to magically spring out of the earth, and within minutes the acrid smell of burnt gunpowder was overpowered by the pungent aroma of boiled coffee. ...

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5. The First Capture and Occupation of Jackson, Mississippi

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pp. 96-115

The surprising encounter between James B. McPherson’s Seventeenth Corps and John Gregg’s oversized Confederate brigade at Raymond, Mississippi, on May 12, 1863, brought the nearby capital city of Mississippi to the forefront of Grant’s thinking. It was clear that Gregg’s troops had marched from Jackson and must have been based there, ...

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6. “I Am Too Late” : Joseph E. Johnston and the Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 116-128

On the morning of May 9, 1863, a telegram arrived in Tullahoma, Tennessee, addressed to General Joseph E. Johnston. The telegram, written by Confederate secretary of war James A. Seddon, peremptorily ordered Johnston to: “Proceed at once to Mississippi and take chief command of the forces, giving to those in the field, ...

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7. Grant, McClernand, and Vicksburg: A Clash of Personalities and Backgrounds

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pp. 129-152

Traditional Civil War history has demeaned John McClernand as a bombastic, mediocre soldier who should never have been allowed to serve in the Union army, certainly not as a general. The story usually goes that McClernand used his political status to wedge his way into the war, and that U. S. Grant put up with him, ...

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8. “Developed by Circumstances” : Grant, Intelligence, and the Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 153-172

On July 4, 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant telegraphed the War Department with news he had been longing to send for months: “The Enemy surrendered this morning.”1 These five words marked the end of the Vicksburg Campaign, one of the more remarkable and significant military victories in the Civil War ...

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9. “A Victory Could Hardly Have Been More Complete” : The Battle of Big Black River Bridge

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pp. 173-193

Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton was in a no-win situation, literally. He had just been soundly defeated earlier that day, May 16, 1863, at the Battle of Champion Hill, where Major General Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee had shattered the mobile Confederate army defending Vicksburg. ...

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10. The “Stealing Tour” : Soldiers and Civilians in Grant’s March to Vicksburg

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pp. 194-213

On April 30, 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant landed twenty-four thousand men at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. With the arrival of Major General William T. Sherman’s Fifteenth Corps a few days later, Grant’s force exceeded forty thousand hard fighting veterans. ...

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11. Politics, Policy, and General Grant: Clausewitz on the Operational Art as Practiced in the Vicksburg Campaign

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pp. 214-230

Familiarity with Clausewitz for many begins (and unfortunately often ends) with a famous definition: “war is a continuation of policy (or politics) by other means.” Less a thesis perhaps than an observation, Clausewitz’s meaning is clear; in war it is the policy of one entity to attack another, and the policy of another to defend itself. ...


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pp. 247-256


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pp. 231-232


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pp. 233-239

Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland, Further Reading, Back Cover

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pp. 266-268

E-ISBN-13: 9780809332700
E-ISBN-10: 0809332701
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809332694
Print-ISBN-10: 0809332698

Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 22
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Vicksburg (Miss.) -- History -- Siege, 1863.
  • Mississippi -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Campaigns.
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