American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Battle and Siege of Vicksburg
After crossing the Mississippi River on April 30, 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army of the Tennessee waged a fighting campaign of maneuver to isolate the city of Vicksburg and the Confederates defending it. Defeats at Champion Hill and Big Black River gave Confederate commander General John C. Pemberton no choice but retreat to the defenses of Vicksburg and hold out until reinforcements could arrive.
On May 19 and 22, Grant launched a series of frontal assaults against Pemberton’s fortifications, suffering heavy losses. Finding it “desirable that no more loss of life shall be sustained,” Grant lay siege to the city, ordering his men to dig a series of trenches, also called “approaches” to the Confederate works. For 47 days, the Federal host bombarded the city while the Confederate soldiers and civilians alike suffered the hardships of siege warfare.
On July 4, Pemberton surrendered his army to Grant, ending the siege and placing control of the vital Mississippi firmly in Union hands, effectively cutting the Confederacy in half. Grant's success silenced many of his critics and increased his reputation with the Lincoln administration, ultimately leading to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Union armies.