Vicksburg National Military Park
From the start of the civil war, control of the southern Mississippi River was of vital importance to the federal government. Control of the Mississippi would not only allow unrestricted transport of troops and supplies by water, but would effectively cut the Confederacy in half. To protect this lifeline, the Confederate Army fortified positions along the Mississippi. One of the most heavily fortified passages was at Vicksburg, Mississippi. Sitting high atop hills and bluffs overlooking the River, Vicksburg was protected by artillery batteries along the river on the West, by swamps and bayous on the North and South, and by a ring of forts manning 172 cannon to the east, the only land approach.
In October, 1862, General Ulysses S. Grant was ordered to clear the Mississippi River of all Confederate resistance. After several unsuccessful attempts to overrun the Confederate defenses at Vicksburg, General Grant began formal siege operations on May 22, 1863. On July 3, 1863, after 46 days of siege and bombardments, Confederate Lt. General John C. Pemberton met with Grant to discuss terms of surrender. On July 4, 1863, Vicksburg officially surrendered to Union forces..
The terms of surrender at Vicksburg were far different from those at other battles. Legend has it that General Grant greatly desired to accept the formal surrender of Confederate Vicksburg on July 4, in accordance with Independence Day. Because of this desire, he agreed to very generous terms of surrender. We can only speculate about Grant's motives. But one thing is for certain: the lenient terms to which he agreed were not extended at any other Confederate surrender during the Civil war, either before or after the surrender of Vicksburg. After the formal surrender, any Confederate soldier who would sign a loyalty oath to the Union, agreeing not to bear arms against the United States, was given $25.00 in United States cash and allowed to return to home.
While there, The Ticketmeister took the opportunity to check on his great-great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-granduncle who fought together at Vicksburg for the 34th Georgia Infantry. Both brothers signed their loyalty oaths and returned home that same year for the duration of the war. From maps supplied at the park we determined where they had fought, and even visited the very ridge where they were dug in against the advance of the Union Army. As we stood there in the morning silence, you could almost sense the presence of those brave men. I found a large tree branch about the size of an old rifle with a bayonet. The Ticketmeister got down where his great-great-great-grandfather had fought and posed for a photo op. You can see the results below in a pictorial tour of the park.
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