Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Small Towns in a Big War

How did the attack go?

Grant made rather few mistakes in the war, and he admitted to even fewer, but to the end of his days he regretted his decision to make a quick attack on Vicksburg. Grant’s army lost over 1,000 men in the rash assault.

Even then, Grant did not give up entirely. He planned a second attack for May 23, and it failed as dismally as the first. From that moment, he knew he had to settle in for a long siege. The prospect was daunting. Vicksburg’s defenses ran from Fort Hill on the north side to South Fort on the opposite, and the city had over 200 large cannon. The only way to take the place was with a slow, protracted movement of men and artillery. This was one of the few times in the war—to date—when either side would use the trenches and parallels of a formal siege. The men on the Union side would be more occupied with shovels than rifles, at least for the time being.


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