Located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, Vicksburg, Mississippi, was so strategically important to the Confederacy that Jefferson Davis called it "the nail head that holds the South's two halves together."
It fell to Union General Ulysses S. Grant to bring down Vicksburg in a prolonged campaign that would take more than a year and involve not only armies but the U.S. Navy.
Occupying a high bluff over a bend in the Mississippi River and flanked by impenetrable swamps, "the Gibraltar of the Confederacy" controlled river traffic. If the Federals were to use the river, they had to take Vicksburg.
But doing so meant a year-long series of campaigns involving Union gunboats and ground forces, several unsuccessful ploys (widening a canal through the swamps, flooding the delta to provide enough depth for federal vessels), and repeated efforts to lure Confederate commander John C. Pemberton out of the city.
In the end, Grantfound the key to taking the city.
Hospodor is an associate professor in the CGSC's Department of Military History, where he was named Teacher of the Year for 2011. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary, the University of Mississippi, and Louisiana State University, where he completed a dissertation on the Mexican War, 1846-1848.
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