Grant Against the Prairie Dogs

Ulyssess S. Grant
Ulyssess S. Grant

May 19, 1863
General Ulyssess S. Grant Attempted to Take Vicksburg, Mississippi

Vicksburg, Mississippi, was an important, well-protected fortress for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. On May 19, 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant attacked Vicksburg–a direct assault with intent to take over the city. The Union navy had already prevented other regiments from joining Confederate General C. Pemberton at Vicksburg, but the Southern city held strong that day. Grant, however, did not stop there.Vicksburg, Mississippi, was an important, well-protected fortress for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. On May 19, 1863, Union General Ulysses S. Grant attacked Vicksburg–a direct assault with intent to take over the city. The Union navy had already prevented other regiments from joining Confederate General C. Pemberton at Vicksburg, but the Southern city held strong that day.

Grant, however, did not stop there.   Grant settled down to a six-week siege, surrounding the city, cutting off supply lines, firing upon Vicksburg continually, and moving in so close that, at some points, Union and Confederate soldiers held their lines within shouting distance. By mid-June, 80,000 Union troops camped on the Mississippi River bluffs above the city. To escape shells, Vicksburg residents left their homes for caves in the city’s hills. The Union soldiers called this maze of dugouts “Prairie Dog Village.” The people of the village were starving and tired but still held on to hope.

By the forty-fourth day, with no supplies coming into town, the editor of Vicksburg’s Daily Citizen was reduced to printing the news on wallpaper. He wrote that General Ulysses S. Grant wished to celebrate the Fourth of July “dining in Vicksburg.” Little did the writer know that on July 4, 1863, Pemberton would surrender to the Union general. Finding the newspaper, Grant’s men added a paragraph declaring that Grant had indeed dined in Vicksburg and celebrated Independence Day! What else do you know about Vicksburg, Grant, or the many conflicts of the American Civil War?