| American History Stories, Volume IV|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Stories of the great conflict from the time Lincoln became president and the southern states seceded, through the battles of Bull Run, Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, until the close of the war. Includes poems, songs, and illustrations commemorating the events. Ages 8-12 |
SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.
 Now that the North had come out
fairly, and had, by freeing the slaves,
declared one grand principle of Right,
we might well expect success to be
found on their side; for although it
doesn't always look so to us, Good
does govern, and it gains the victory
in the end. In any struggle the man
or woman, boy or girl, who knows that
his side is the right side, will feel more courage to go on,
more surety of success.
And now we shall begin to hear more about Gen. Grant.
Grant's soldier's were mostly men from States up and
down the Mississippi. Now, this river, they said, belonged
to them. To shut it up, to cut off their trade, would ruin
their part of the country; their farms would be of no
value, their flocks and herds, their manufactories would be
of no value, all because there would be no way of sending
their produce to other markets.
"We will fight for this river," said they,
"till our blood
flows with it; to the Gulf of Mexico!"
New Orleans you know, had already been taken by
Far-  ragut and Butler. Not far from New Orleans, up the river,
was the city of Vicksburg. This was held by the Confederates,
and was said to be so strongly fortified that no army
in the world could take it from them.
"But it must be taken," said Grant. "Holding New
Orleans is of no use, if the Confederates just above can
keep us from going up and down the river."
"But Farragut and Porter tried to take it after New
Orleans; didn't they batter away at it with cannon ball and
bomb-shell until they were tired out?" said the doubting
"That makes no difference," said Grant and his men;
"Vicksburg must be taken!" The city was built on high
bluffs which rose straight up from the low flat river bed.
All around it were swampy lands, with creeks and little bays,
and muddy places where a man would sink in mud over his
head; more than this, there were dense tangled forests of
hanging moss and brush, with every where fallen trees
lying across each other in a way to make it seem almost
impossible for an army to get across.
But Grant, only knew one thing—that the Unionists
needed to hold that city. He didn't say very much—Grant
never did say very much—but he could think, and think,
and think; and after Grant had thought, there was pretty
sure to be something done.
The year before, when Farragut had tried to take the
 city, he had begun cutting a canal through towards it. If
this canal could now be finished, ships and gunboats could
get around behind the city, and so attack it from the rear.
The soldiers began working at this canal. For several
days the work went on, the courage of the workmen rising
with every spadeful of earth they threw up; but one day,
the ungrateful river, which they were working so hard
to save from Confederate hands, overflowed, and away went
the banks of the canal, the workmen themselves having to
run for their lives.
"The good old river will protect us," said the Vicksburg
people; but I'm afraid the river neither knew nor cared
very much about either Unionists or Confederates; for it
seemed always ready to cut its pranks and capers, first on
one side, then on the other.
After this, Grant gave up the canal plan. He had another
however, and began at once to carry it out. Marching
towards the city to attack it from the rear, he learned
that a Confederate force was behind him.
"I leave no enemy in the rear," said Grant. "I do not
propose to be shut in here like a rat in a trap," said he; so
back he marched, to attack the enemy in the rear. The
enemy, however, knew too well they could not withstand
an attack, so they fled. The Union soldiers ran up the Union
flag on the state-house of the city which the Confederates
left, sang a good old battle-song, and then marched back
 again to meet the enemy coming from the opposite direction.
Half-way between Jackson and Vicksburg, the armies
met in battle. The Confederates, driven back into the city,
shut themselves up, and waited to see what Grant would do.
Grant made one attack on the city, but it was useless.
Now if that other army did not come and attack them,
Grant was sure that he could in time starve out the
city. So he settled his army round about, and the whizzing
of bombs and shells into the city was the only sign of war.
Inside the city the people had dug caves, and had taken
their food and furniture into them, that they might be
safe from the shells.
In time, however, provisions began to grow scarce. The
people had already begun to eat horses, and rats even.
Their only hope was that some Confederate force would
come and attack Grant. Grant's only hope was that some
Confederate force would not come to attack him.
No force came; and in July a white flag was seen
floating from the walls of the city. This of course meant, "We
can hold out no longer."
On the Fourth of July, the Confederate army marched
out, each man throwing down his gun and knapsack as he
passed. The Union soldiers stood quietly by as the beaten
 army passed; but when later they marched into the city,
and ran up the Union flag, then cheer on cheer rent the
air. This was the happiest "Fourth" the country had seen
for a long time.
All this time Gen. Banks had been besieging Port Hudson,
just below Vicksburg. But as soon as word came that
Vicksburg had surrendered, the commander within Port Hudson
knew that all was over. He, too, surrendered; and now
the Mississippi was free from its source to its mouth. Every
point was in the hands of Union soldiers; and from
every fort and from every city floated the Union flag.
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