Gulf Operations in 1862 and 1863

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Pemberton retreated into Vicksburg and Grant followed. So war on a large scale came to Vicksburg again, with the Union army arched around the city from north to east to south and the Union navy on the river. The siege had various impacts on the lives of people caught in the city. Upper-class white women often went from comfortable circumstances to deprivation and humiliation, lower-class white females went from not having much to having even less, and slave women went from a structured existence to uncertainty.

Whatever their station, the women who stayed in their hometown rather than escaping before Grant arrived struggled to survive. The women had to look out for themselves and try to keep their lives going while the war whirled around them. Their story is one of courage, sacrifice, and persistence. Their surviving letters and diaries tell stories of both physical and mental terror.

Diarist Emma Balfour of Vicksburg worried about trapped citizens like herself and her physician husband. Food supplies would not last long. Confederate commanders urged citizens to occupy caves built the previous summer and to dig more. Emma Balfour wrote of the early fighting: As all this rushed over me and the sense of suffocation from being underground, the certainty that there was no way of escape, that we were hemmed in, caged: Nearly all the families in town spent the night in their caves.

For civilians trapped in the city, the siege proved to be a time of hourly uncertainty. Between brief lulls came terror and extreme mental stress. Caves provided the only security.

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Battle of Young's Point - Wikipedia

The soil around Vicksburg was mostly easy to dig, yet firm enough so that caves could be dug into the sides of the hills without great fear of cave-ins. People carefully selected cave sites in order to minimize risks of being hit with artillery shells. Both white citizens and their slaves labored with shovels, though most of the work fell on the latter.

The caves could be simple one-room abodes or multi-room suites.

They contained parlors and bedrooms that were furnished with items from home; most cooking was done outside the main cave entrance. Sometimes there were connecting openings from one family cave to another for escape purposes in case an artillery shell caused the earth to crumble. All caves were prepared, as near as possible, in this manner.


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As the fragments of shells continued with the same impetus after the explosion, in but one direction, onward, they were not likely to reach us, fronting in this manner with their course. On one occasion, I was reading in safety, I imagined, when the unmistakable whirring of Parrott shells told us that the battery we so much feared had opened from the entrenchments.

A campaign

I ran to the entrance to call the servants in; and immediately after they entered, a shell struck the earth a few feet from the entrance, burying itself without exploding. I ran to the little dressing room, and could hear them striking around us on all sides.

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One fell near the cave entrance, and a servant boy grabbed it and threw it outside; it never exploded. And so the weary days went on. While some women coped with caves, others braved the streets to help out at hospitals. One such volunteer nurse earned the admiration of a pastor, who noted her dedication: Women, like all others in besieged Vicksburg, civilian and soldier alike, suffered also from a lack of food and good drinking water.

By the time Pemberton surrendered his army, there were still ample supplies in town, but rations had been cut severely in an effort to make food last longer. Women, as did Confederate soldiers in the trenches, lost weight, became dehydrated, and suffered from severe malnutrition.

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When the day siege ended on July 4, , Vicksburg women shed tears, but many remained defiant. Margaret Lord, wife of a local minister who served in a Mississippi regiment, refused to be disheartened. She turned down the offer of a hated Yankee to help find supplies for her family. Many Confederate soldiers who survived the war eventually came to terms with the bitterness of the harsh four years, and they attended joint reunions with former foes.

The men who had fought each other shared a common legacy of experiences, a legacy that healed psychological scars wrought by the horrors of battle. For women in Mississippi, and elsewhere in the South, forgiving attitudes did not come that easy. They worked to make sure that succeeding generations of southerners did not forget what they had suffered. It was used as a staging area for the Arkansas Post Expedition and as a headquarters by Maj.

Vicksburg During the Civil War (1862-1863): A Campaign; A Siege

Grant and of the XV Corps during the winter of It was used by Adm. Porter 's Mississippi River Squadron as an advanced naval station during that time. As the veterans of Brig. Hawes 's brigade moved against Young's Point. Provided with inefficient local guides and faulty intelligence, Hawes's Brigade, 1,strong, left Richmond south of Tallula at 7: Instead of arriving at dawn as planned, the exhausted brigade reached the vicinity of Young's Point at As the Texans advanced across the fields, they saw Federal reinforcements arrive by transports supported by gunboats. Realizing that the chances for success had disappeared, Hawes ordered his troops to retire.

Thus, Confederate efforts at Young's Point ended in failure. Young's Point was used as a major Union supply depot and trans-shipping point throughout the Vicksburg Campaign.