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army of northern Battle of vicksburg

Battle of vicksburg

The Vicksburg Campaign was one of the most decisive campaigns of the Civil War and also one of the  greatest campaigns in history.  Vicksburg, Mississippi, perched upon a steep bluff along the east bank of the Mississippi River was of strategic importance to the north and south.    The opening of the Mississippi River to Northern shipping was of prime importance to the Union.  It would help them move troops from camp to camp, divide the confederacy down the middle, and commerce of old Northwest would once again have access to the sea.    The capture of Fort Donelson had broken the first line of Confederate defense for the Mississippi River Valley.  Vicksburg then remained the one serious obstacle to complete command of the Mississippi River by federal forces.   It was a much needed and timely victory for the Union, the year of 1862 having been one of disasters caused by the Union and coinciding with the defeat of the Confederate leader General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, marked the turning point of the war.
The first serious attempt to take control of Vicksburg was an expedition commanded by General W. T. Sherman who went down to Mississippi and attacked Confederacy positions immediately north of town, while another army under General Ulysess S. Grant marched overland from the northern part of Mississippi.  General Sherman's army failed when his attack on Chickasaw Bluffs was easily defeated , and General Grant was forced to retreat when his supply lines were cut by the confederate calvary.
 There were also naval expeditions commanded by Admiral David Glasgow Farragut.  The Union army appeared below the city.  The next day ,   Two frigates  and six gunboats attempted to defeat Confederate river fortifications.  The attack failed , as did several other attempts to bypass Vicksburg by river.
General Grant next decided to move most of his force down the Mississippi River to Milliken's  Bend , a few miles from the town of Vicksburg.  
By  then, General Grant had 41,000 troops at hand.      His greatest problem was not being able to move his army to a more vulnerable southern approach to the city without running past Confederate river batteries constructing passage .  General Grant tried many different approaches to attack the confederacy but they all failed .  General Grant even thought about a frontal assault on enemy entrenchments.  Instead Grant decided to march and float his army through the flooded bottom lands west of the Mississippi River until they were below Vicksburg .  Then Grant would run empty transports  past Confederate batteries at night and then cross the east bank of the Mississippi River .  The plan worked well and General Grant arrived at Port Gibson, Mississippi.
The  Confederate  commander  of  Vicksburg,  General  John  Pemberton  failed to  realize  Grant's  strategy, scattered  his  troops,  and  did  nothing  to oppose  the landing.  


At Jackson, Mississippi, General Joseph E. Johnston was accumulating a force to co-operate with Pemberton's army, but Grant quickly intervened and drove Johnston's small army out of Jackson, Mississippi and then turned west and defeated General Pemberton at Champion's Hill and Big Black River.  Disregarding General Johnston's orders, Pemberton  withdrew to Vicksburg, Mississippi.  General Grant followed and after two unsuccsessful  attacks ,  drew  up  siege  lines.  General Pemberton's food supply finally ran out and he surrendered 30,000  troops .  Port Hudson was also seized by the Union army.
The loss of Vicksburg, Mississippi was perhaps   the  Confederacy's  costliest defeat in the western portion of the United States during the Civil War.
In General Grant's memoirs, he discusses what took place the day when Vicksburg was surrendered:
"At about 10:00 A.M., white flags appeared on a portion of the rebel works.  Hostilities along that part of the line ceased at once.  Soon two persons were seen coming toward our lines bearing a white flag .  They proved to be General Bowen, a division commander, and Colonel Montgomery, aide-de-camp to Pemberton,bearing the following letter to me; "I have the honor to propose to ypu an armistice for --- hours with a view to arrange terms for the capitulation of Vicksburg.  To this end, if agreeable to you, I will appoint three commissioners to meet a like number, to ... more

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Robert Edward Lee

They say you had to see him to believe that a man so fine could exist. He
was handsome. He was clever. He was brave. He was gentle. He was generous
and charming, noble and modest, admired and beloved. He had never failed at
anything in his upright soldier's life. He was born a winner, this Robert
E. Lee. Except for once. In the greatest contest of his life, in a war
between the South and the North, Robert E. Lee lost (Redmond). Through his
life, Robert E. Lee would prove to be always noble, always a gentleman, and
always capable of overcoming the challenge lying before him.
Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807 (Compton's). He was born
into one of Virginia's most respected families. The Lee family had moved to
America during the mid 1600's. Some genealogist can trace the Lee's roots
back to William the Conqueror. Two members of the Lee family had signed the
Declaration of Independence, Richard Lee and Francis Lightfoot. Charles Lee
had served as attorney General under the Washington administration while
Richard Bland Lee, had become one of Virginia's leading Federalists.
Needless to say, the Lees were an American Political dynasty (Nash 242).
Lee's father was General Henry Light-Horse Harry Lee. He had been a
heroic cavalry leader in the American Revolution. He married his cousin
Matilda. They had four children, but Matilda died in 1790. On her death bed
she added insult to injury upon Henry Lee by leaving her estate to her
children. She feared Henry would squander the family fortune. He was well
known for poor investments and schemes that had depleted his own family's
fortune (Connelly 5).
Henry Lee solved his financial problems by marrying Robert's mother Anne
Carter, daughter of one of Virginia's wealthiest men (Nash 242). Henry Lee
eventually spent his family into debt. Their stately mansion, Stratford
Hall, was turned over to Robert's half brother. Anne Lee moved with her
children to a simple brick house in Alexandria. Light Horse Harry was
seldom around. Finally, in 1813 he moved to the West Indies. His self-exile
became permanent, and he was never seen again by his family (Thomas).
Young Robert had other family problems. His mother became very ill. At the
age of twelve he had to shoulder the load of not only being the family's
provider, but also his mother's nurse. When time came for Robert to attend
college, it was obvious his mother could not support him financially. She
was already supporting his older brother at Harvard and three other
children in school. In 1824 he accepted an appointment to the United States
Military Academy. During his time at West Point Lee distinguished himself
as a soldier and a student. Lee graduated with honors in 1829 (Nash 245).
His graduation was dampened by a call to the bedside of his ailing mother.
When he arrived home he found his fifty-four year old mother close to
death. A death caused by struggles and illnesses of her difficult life.
Robert was always close to his mother. He again attended to her needs until
her death. On July 10, 1829, Anne Lee died with Robert, her closest son, at
her side. Forty years later Robert would stand in the same room and say,
It seems but yesterday that his beloved mother died (Connelly 6).
While awaiting his first assignment, Lee frequently visited Arlington, the
estate of George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was the grandson of Martha
Washington and the adopted son of George Washington. After Martha's death
Custis left Mount Vernon and used his inheritance to build Arlington in
1778. Arlington was set on a hill over looking the Potomac river and
Washington D.C. (NPS Arlington House). Custis had only one daughter, Mary
Anna Randolph. Mary had been pampered and petted throughout her life. Lee's
Courtship with Mary soon turned serious, before long they were thinking of
marriage. However, before Robert could propose he was assigned to Cockspur
Island, Georgia.
Robert returned to Arlington in 1830. He and Mary decided to get married.
The two were married on June 30, 1831(Nash 248). Shortly there after the
Lees went to Fort Monroe. Mary was never happy here. She soon went back to
Arlington. Mary hated army life. She would, for the most part, stay at
Arlington throughout the rest of Robert's time in the United States Army.
The fact that he was separated from his family, and that he was slow to
move up in rank, left Lee feeling quite depressed a great deal of ... more

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