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.

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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.”

Continue reading “Grant Attacks Pemberton at Champion Hill and Advances to the Big Black River”

Grant Defeats Johnston at Jackson, Mississippi and Turns toward Pemberton

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 January 2021 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We left off last December with General Grant having advanced from his Mississippi River Bruinsburg landing south of Vicksburg. From there, he went on to win a small but sharp battle in front of Raymond, just west of the Mississippi capital, Jackson. However, before we progress I would like to pause and thank our president, Steve Pettyjohn, for providing modern photos from his extensive collection of some of the places mentioned in these history briefs last month and going forward.

Continue reading “Grant Defeats Johnston at Jackson, Mississippi and Turns toward Pemberton”

Grant’s Troops Cross the Mississippi and Movement toward Jackson

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 December 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Picking up where we left off at the end of November’s history brief, during April of 1863 Union General U. S. Grant’s troops had marched south along the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River to rendezvous with Union Admiral Porter’s fleet and cross to the eastern shore in the vicinity of Grand Gulf. Specifically, McClernand’s corps of about 10,000 troops would board the transports after Porter’s river ironclads destroyed the Confederate batteries atop the cliffs defending the town. Mr. Ed Bearss, former Chief Historian of the National Park Service and renowned expert on the Vicksburg Campaign, characterized it as follows in his book Fields of Honor, “By April 28, Grant’s troops and Porter’s fleet are ready to undertake what, for that time and place, is a formidable amphibious operation.”

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Grant’s Combined Arms Generalship at Vicksburg – Part II

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 November 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


We resume where we left off in October with General Grant having decided to move ahead with Admiral Porter’s daring plan to help achieve Grant’s goal of ultimately landing troops on dry ground on the east bank of the Mississippi south of Vicksburg. Porter’s plan was to slip by fortress Vicksburg “running the batteries” under the cover of darkness. However, before we venture further, one of our members, Brian Kowell, after reading last month’s history brief submitted some additional research to me on the ironclads in Porter’s fleet that I believe readers of this history brief would enjoy.

Continue reading “Grant’s Combined Arms Generalship at Vicksburg – Part II”

Grant’s Combined Arms Generalship at Vicksburg – Part I

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 October 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Please recall last month’s history brief where we left off with the end of Grant’s creative winter efforts of 1862-3 to bypass Vicksburg, which sputtered out in a haze of impracticability. From the engineering attempts for a proposed trench to reroute the Mississippi River along the neck of a peninsular bend near the fortress city, itself, and the push for a channel through marshy terrain to ultimately join with the Red River and its tributaries and thence to the Mississippi and finally a military effort to land troops just north of Vicksburg through the Yazoo River environs, all of these endeavors came to naught. But not for lack of effort; Grant recorded in his “Memoirs” that he was proud of the hard work his troops had undertaken, which had at least kept them productive outside the campaigning season. Now Grant huddled with Admiral Porter to devise a daring combined arms effort to achieve his goal of landing his troops on dry ground on the east side of the river below Vicksburg.

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Grant’s Winter of 1862-3: Three Attempts at Vicksburg

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 September 2020 meeting of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable.


Please recall Grant’s campaign in the West to capture Vicksburg where we left off at the CCWRT December 2019 meeting with the “Battle of Chickasaw Bayou.” This was a defeat for General Grant, who commanded a two-pronged attack to vanquish the fortress. The first prong was his own movement through central Mississippi that would hopefully draw Confederate troops from Vicksburg to allow a direct thrust at the fortress. The second prong along the Mississippi River was under his friend and colleague, General Sherman. Grant’s drive was short-lived as his supply lines were disrupted by “that devil” General Nathan Bedford Forrest amongst others. Accordingly, Confederate General Pemberton maintained the majority of his troops in the Vicksburg defenses and decisively repulsed Sherman’s attack through the Chickasaw Bayou.

Continue reading “Grant’s Winter of 1862-3: Three Attempts at Vicksburg”