Although Gettysburg is often cited as the Civil War’s most important battle, it was the fall of Vicksburg that sealed the fate of the Confederacy. Lincoln said that the war could not be won until the city was taken, as Vicksburg was the last stronghold of the Confederacy on the Mississippi River, preventing shipping between the Union-controlled Midwest and New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.
Over the course of a year-long campaign—which even included an attempt to build a canal to divert the Mississippi from the city—General Ulysses S. Grant unsuccessfully tried various ways to take Vicksburg and lost thousands of men in the efforts. Still, he never gave up and eventually succeeded through one of the oldest forms of warfare known: a siege that starved the city’s defenders and forced them to surrender on July 4, 1863.
Drawing on his new book, Vicksburg: Grant's Campaign That Broke the Confederacy Donald L. Miller tells the astonishing story of the longest and most decisive military campaign of the Civil War. He discusses how Grant’s victory split three states—Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana—from the rest of the Confederacy and left most of Mississippi in Union hands, and how it sparked a social revolution in the South, resulting in more than 100,000 slaves fleeing to the Union lines in Mississippi, with 21,000 of them joining the army.
Miller is the John Henry MacCracken professor of history emeritus at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He has hosted, coproduced, or served as historical consultant for more than 30 television documentaries and has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other publications.
Copies of Vicksburg (Simon & Schuster) are available for purchase and signing.