During the 19th century, rivers meant trade and transit—none more than the Mississippi. This mighty artery of commerce was the nation's single greatest economic feature. In late 1862, Vicksburg remained the primary Confederate stronghold along the river. Union leaders realized the critical nature of Vicksburg's position, and launched a campaign to strike the Confederate heartland. More than 100,000 soldiers and sailors from 28 states, North and South, fought here in 1863.
After two failed assaults on Vicksburg's defenses, Grant switched to siege tactics to take the city. Union troops kept the Confederates locked in their own city for 47 days. With no hope of supplies or reinforcements from outside, Pemberton finally surrendered. The Stars and Stripes flew over Vicksburg once again on July 4, 1863.
Bottom photo captions:
In 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant was ordered to clear the Mississippi River corridor of Confederate resistance.
Confederate General John C. Pemberton was given command of Mississippi and East Louisiana in 1862—including the defense of Vicksburg.