Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Small Towns in a Big War

What were Gettysburg and Vicksburg like before the Civil War began?

Nestled in the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania, Gettysburg was, in 1860, home to 2,390 people, of whom 188 were free persons of color. The white population was divided into 1,099 males and 1,103 females.

Anchored hard by a bend in the Mississippi River, Vicksburg, Mississippi, was, in 1860, a place of about 5,000 population (we do not know the breakdown between white and black). Vicksburg was already well known to those who read the newspapers, first because it was the largest town close to Jefferson Davis’ home plantation of Brierfield and because Admiral Farragut had attempted to force the place to surrender in 1862. He had failed.


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