The Vicksburg battlefield is most famous for its involvement in the US Civil War. During the war, the city’s location by the banks of the Mississippi River made it a key port for the Confederacy. However, it’s most well-known as the site of the Siege of Vicksburg, the culmination of Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign and one of the most important turning points in the war.
Vicksburg was vital to the Confederacy both because of its access to the river and because it connected the eastern states to Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas in the west. The Union’s early attempts to reach the city in December 1862 and January 1863 failed, as did General Grant’s attempt to dig canals and trenches that would allow his men to approach Vicksburg without coming under artillery fire. Despite these failures, Grant, who was known for his stubborn determination, came up with a risky plan: he would march his army down the western side of the Mississippi, cross the river south of Vicksburg, and launch a full-on assault on the city.
Grant’s strategy was a partial success. Using a series of diversions, he was able to cross the river and win several battles, driving the Confederate Army of Mississippi back to Vicksburg. However, his assaults on the city itself were repulsed. Rather than attempting another costly attack, Grant decided to lay siege to Vicksburg and wait for his opponents to run out of supplies. After a grueling six weeks marked by constant bombardment from Union guns, the city surrendered, dealing a devastating blow to the Confederate war effort. Without control of Vicksburg, the Confederate leadership in Richmond was separated from the west, preventing their armies from receiving much-needed supplies. The Confederacy had also suffered a significant defeat at Gettysburg only a day before Vicksburg surrendered and would ultimately never recover.