THE VICKSBURG CAMPAIGN Edit
Vicksburg was one of the 2 most important strategic points of the confederacy (the other being the rail center of Chattanooga). It was a strong supply line from the west due to the train station. The union taking this important piece of land and controlling the largest river in Mississippi would enable an attack to the west that would cut the confederation in half.
Confederate cavalry destroyed Grants supply depot at Holly Springs. 50 miles of railroad the union needed to resupply were also destroyed.
After reaching Vicksburg from the west, Grant discovered he could not just march in. There was a barrier of swampy land surrounding the area, worsened by a rainy winter. It could however be reached by the east, through enemy territory.
Hundreds of soldiers were dying of swamp borne illnesses.
Most other river cities to the north were already taken, but Grant needed ships to the south and had to find a way to bypass the batteries by Vicksburg.
First they tried making canals, but they turned out too shallow. Then they sent a corps to try and open a passage but that was abandoned in favor of the third plan which was more promising, 400 river miles north in the Yazoo Delta.
They cut through a levee to enter Tallahatchie River, but were driven away by a Confederate base.
At Spring, Grant tried a final experiment to move through a tangled system of rivers and backwater called Steele’s Bayou. During that operation many ships were slowed by trees and attacked from the shore by rebel infantry. The ships eventually had to be rescued and backtrack through it all again.
Grants final plan during the summer. The ground had tried enough to allow his army to march south on the Louisiana side of the river. Once troops were south of Vicksburg, the troops were to be ferried across by Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fleets, who still needed to make it through the batteries.
2 diversionary operations went into play to disguise his troops movement. One attacking Haines’s Bluff, the other a cavalry raid south through Mississippi. These operations began after the objections of the entire staff.
Running the batteries began just before midnight, April 26, 1863. The ships were snuck down, but were spotted from the shore and attacked. The fleet then rushed through, with the loss of only one ship and a few barges. A few days later more Union ships made it through.
The diversions were also working, confusing the Confederate generals and causing them to put more effort into rounding up the other two battles. The cavalry raid took many supplies and kills while only taking 24 casualties of their own, all while riding 600 miles of enemy territory.
May 1st, Grants troops were now ferried across the Mississippi. Grants first went south to join General Nathaniel Banks in attacking Port Hudson. Grant learned that Nathaniel was currently busy with an elaborate and ill-fated Red River Campaign.
Grant then began a historic and bold move to cut off supply and communication lines to Jackson, discouraging enemy reinforcements from the east. He would then march east and take Vicksburg from the dry side, without enemy support behind him.
Vicksburg were distracted by Sherman while Jackson was attacked, stopping reinforcements.
Troops then marched with only the supplies they could carry, and would forage other supplies they needed from the countryside.
Grant arrived at Jackson on May 13. General Joseph E. Johnston ordered Pemberton to find and cut the Union supply line, which did not actually exist and wasted a day looking for a non existant supply line. By the time Pemberton made it back, Jackson had already fallen.
May 16th, 22000 confederate soldiers ran into 29000 of grants soldiers on Champion’s Hill. The biggest battle of the campaign.
After a fruitless battle with 2k casualties on each side, Pemberton retreated to Vicksburg and were attacked again at the bridge of Big Black River, and another 1700 troops were captured, but he reached the city with most of his troops.
The defenses of Vicksburg were the biggest of the Confederacy. There were 9 miles of trenches with 9 forts as strong points along with broken ground difficulty to traverse.
May 19 there was a full scale assault gaining only a few yards.
There was another attempt a few days later, failing, costing 3200 Union casualties to Pemberton’s 500. (Grant admitted these were mistakes.)
The northerners sieged gradually extending lines outside the city.
The troops and townspeople inside were now starting to starve and dug into the hills to avoid constant Union shelling. Pemberton and Grant then met to come to terms. Vicksburg was to surrender on July 4, and Grant would parole them until exchange rather than take them prisoner.
Grant had captured an entire Confederate army. To the east the south had also lost another battle at Gettysburg, but it was Vicksburg that sealed the fate of the Confederacy.
MAIN ENVIRONMENTAL POINTS:
-West side of city, on the other side of Mississippi, was soaked swampland impossible to march.
-River was guarded by large masses of batteries
-East Defenses of city were 9 miles of trenches and 9 forts, along with broken land difficult to traverse
-Union troops had no supply lines, and thus low supplies that were mostly foraged from the countryside
-Grants direct attacks on the city failed
-Champion Hill is where most of the fighting happened, resulting in Pemberton retreating.
-Happened around same time as Gettysburg
MISSISSIPPI WEATHER Edit
- The average warmest month is July.
- The highest recorded temperature was 110°F in 2000.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- The lowest recorded temperature was 2°F in 1989.
- The maximum average precipitation occurs in March.
Long growing season and plentiful rainfall. During the battles there was heavy rainfall and an intense winter.
No dry ground to pitch a tent.
Malarial, measles and smallpox outbreaks.
MISSISSIPPI WILDLIFE & Environment Edit
Live oaks and several varieties of pines are characteristic of the southern counties, while fruit trees and hardwoods, such as oak and hickory, thrive in the north. Magnolia and pecan trees are favourites throughout the state. Pine forests, often intermixed with oaks, are found extensively on the state’s sandier soils. More than half the land area is forested, and the state is studded throughout with many naturally occurring and cultivated flowers.
Wolves, pumas (cougars), bobcats, bears, deer and wild turkeys throughout the state. (Wolves and pumas now extinct, bobcats and bears rare)
The state has a variety of resident and migratory birds, including, among others, bald and golden eagles, many types of waterfowl and wading birds, and an array of warblers, woodpeckers, and hummingbirds.
Some game fish can be caught throughout the year, with catfish, bream, bass, and perch the leading freshwater species. The gulf is rich in shrimp, oysters, and fish.