Vicksburg Falls – Pemberton Surrenders to Grant – July 2 to July 4, 1863

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article is the history brief for July 2021. Because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the in-person meetings of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable in the 2020-2021 season, this history brief was submitted during the following summer and not as part of a monthly meeting.


We pick up where we left off last month with the second underground mine explosion by the Union on July 1, which destroyed the Confederate’s Third Louisiana Redan in the fortified line defending besieged Vicksburg. This was the second such detonation at this redan. The first was followed by a failed Union assault. After the second blast no assault was attempted pending General Grant’s desire to do so at such time when numerous underground mines could be detonated simultaneously.

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Grant Besieges Vicksburg – May 23 to July 1, 1863

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article is the history brief for June 2021. Because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the in-person meetings of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable in the 2020-2021 season, this history brief was submitted during the following summer and not as part of a monthly meeting.


We pick up from last month’s history brief where we left off in the wake of Grant’s second major assault on the prepared defenses of the Vicksburg fortress. It was marginally more successful than the hasty first attack of the May 19 and was deliberately planned, complete with an early morning prebombardment. The assault succeeded in taking the Railroad Redoubt for several hours but seriously threatened only one other major defensive work, that being the Second Texas Lunette. Overall, the attack was another disappointing setback. Going forward, Grant would more patiently await the demise of the Vicksburg garrison via siege warfare, which inevitably over time would exhaust its food, stores, and munitions. Ultimately, in Grant’s mind, it should force a C.S.A. surrender by their Commanding General Pemberton.

Continue reading “Grant Besieges Vicksburg – May 23 to July 1, 1863”

Grant Advances from the Big Black River and Assaults Vicksburg – May 18 to 22, 1863

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the May 2021 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We left off in February with Union General Grant’s army defeating Pemberton at Champion Hill and in turn the Confederate rear guard bridgehead on the Big Black River, the latter bolstered mainly by a cunningly opportunistic charge led by the inspiringly huge and unforgettable General Lawler. As a result, on the morning of May 18, 1863, Grant issued orders to McClernand’s and McPherson’s corps to advance the seven remaining miles between the Big Black and the rebel fortifications ringing Vicksburg and sent Sherman’s corps to seize the high ground north of the city.

Continue reading “Grant Advances from the Big Black River and Assaults Vicksburg – May 18 to 22, 1863”

Grant Attacks Pemberton at Champion Hill and Advances to the Big Black River

By Daniel J. Ursu, Roundtable Historian
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2020-2021, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article was the history brief for the February 2021 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We left off in January with General Grant’s three corps of about 30,000 soldiers advancing westward toward Vicksburg, Mississippi. Grant had just defeated General Johnston, who was in overall command of rebel troops in the west, at the state capital, Jackson. On May 16, 1863, Grant had McPherson’s corps on or near the railroad line with McClernand’s corps south of McPherson’s. Following close behind was Sherman’s corps after carrying out Grant’s orders to destroy the military and manufacturing value of Jackson – he burned the city so badly to the ground that henceforth it became known as “Chimneyville.”

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A Review of Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Civil War by James M. McPherson

By Patrick Bray
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2016, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This review was originally published in The Charger in January 2016.


James McPherson has done it yet again: published an insightful, fair, and very readable book on the Civil War. This time his subject is the wartime presidency of Jefferson Davis, a man whose reputation over the years has had more ups and downs then a stretch along the Appalachian Trail. In his introduction McPherson acknowledges the challenges of writing about a person who has occasionally been portrayed as a tragic hero, but more often has been a target for scathing criticism.

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