Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

What was that meeting like?

Grant, Pemberton, and one general officer from each army met under a tree, within sight of the city. Pemberton asked for terms, whereupon Grant declared that the only ones he could offer were those he had named in his letter: unconditional surrender, to be followed by respect for those who had fought so valiantly in the city’s defense. Irritated, nearly enraged, Pemberton said he would break off the conference, and Grant, typically, shrugged. The two general officers that accompanied these commanders asked to be allowed to speak to one another, and in the next hour or so, they sketched out the detail of what would be the surrender of Vicksburg.

The Confederate defenders could stack their arms in the city so they would not be watched while engaged in that humiliating exercise. They would then march out of Vicksburg, on the afternoon of the Fourth of July, and one Union regiment would enter. Over the next few days, lists would be made, and the Confederates would be sent home on parole. These terms were the best that could be pried from the victorious Grant. In a telegraph to Washington, D.C., Grant signaled his intention to commence a hundred-gun bombardment if Vicksburg did not yield by the morning.


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