Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Vicksburg, Siege of

Civil War Battle Summary

Vicksburg, Siege of | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeAn etching published by Johnson, Fry & Company from a painting by Chappel of the Union lines during the battle.

The Siege of Vicksburg, 1863 ca.

Vicksburg, Mississippi. An etching published by Johnson, Fry & Company from a painting by Chappel of the Union lines during the battle. View the original source document: WHI 70070

EnlargeConfederate "Fort Hill" on the south side of Jackson Road where the Confederate entrenchments run southward. The Siege of Vicksburg lasted from May to July 1863.

Fort Hill, 1863 ca.

Confederate "Fort Hill" on the south side of Jackson Road where the Confederate entrenchments run southward. The Siege of Vicksburg lasted from May to July 1863. View the original source document: WHI 70083

Date(s): May 18-July 4, 1863

Location: Vicksburg, Mississippi (Google Map)

Other name(s): Individual engagements included Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Milliken's Bend

Campaign: Grant's Operations Against Vicksburg (March-July 1863)

Outcome: Union victory

Summary

The Confederate surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863, opened up the Mississippi River to Union troops and vital supplies.

For the first two years of the war, the Confederacy controlled Vicksburg and the surrounding areas. Cannons mounted in the fortified hilltop city could easily destroy ships in the Mississippi River below. This prevented the Union from moving troops and supplies any further south.

The Union attempted an assault on Vicksburg during the spring and early summer of 1863. The two sides clashed repeatedly at locations around the city. Confederate forces held on despite battles at Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Jackson, Champion Hill, and Milliken's Bend, and a direct assault on Vicksburg itself May 19-22, 1863.

To lay siege to Vicksburg, Union troops surrounded the city, cutting off all supplies and communication beginning in May 1863. After six weeks, Confederate leaders surrendered on July 4, 1863, and Union forces took possession of the gateway to the Deep South. Between May 18 and July 4, 1863, nearly 20,000 soldiers were killed or wounded in and around Vicksburg.

Wisconsin's Role

By the time the Siege of Vicksburg began, approximately 10,000 Wisconsin soldiers were stationed around the city in 12 regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, and three batteries of artillery.

Learn more

[Source: Report on the Nation's Civil War Battlefields (Washington, 1993); Estabrook, C. Records and Sketches of Military Organizations (Madison, 1914); Love, W. Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion (Madison, 1866).]