President Lincoln proclaimed that the: “Mississippi River was the backbone of the Rebellion, the
key to the whole situation.” He was speaking of the Confederacy running food and supplies to their troops and citizens. Vicksburg Mississippi was a hilly fortress at a prime location along the river, also known as the “Gibraltar of the West.” The Union Navy made attempts at leveling the Confederate Powerhouse, but could barely make a dent, and the cost, in terms of casualties for both sides, was high. “I never saw such a magnificent spectacle in all my life,” wrote one Union sergeant watching aboard a waiting transport, speaking of one June battle where the Confederate gunners fired back creating a brilliant spectacle of lights.
When two major Union assaults on the city failed, General Grant decided to lay seige to the city, cutting off soldiers and civilians alike to food, supplies, and medicine. People huddled in makeshift caves and the city became like one big hospital within itself. It was just a matter of time before the garrison finally surrendered on July 4th.
The Vicksburg surrender by the Confederates is considered to be the turning point of the war, as it cut off the states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana from the rest of the Confederacy and impacted the communication of Confederate forces operating in the Trans-Mississippi area.
The hard-fought, long bloody war was coming to an end and a fractured country with splintered families would have to somehow come together and rebuild. In amongst these beautiful green hills lies a certain sadness. There are beautiful markers, and canon replicas, statues and busts along with a large cemetery containing rows of crosses. All is quiet there now, the battle guns have long been silenced.
There is space for reflection and remembrance and the formation of ideals…. to hopefully instill in young people, the impetus to go forward as more compasionate, compliant, and open-minded and do their part in creating a better world… or so the dreamer dreams.