Vicksburg in Connection to the Presidency
Backstory and Context
Vicksburg National Military Park is more than just a plot of land with some statues and monuments on it. Vicksburg connect to not only one, but to two presidencies. When discussing Abraham Lincoln, things that come to mind are the policies he stood by during the Civil War and leading the Union to victory through a grueling four-year-long battle. He is remembered for his speeches and spirit that kept the Union fighting, even under some of the worst circumstances. What is not often discussed is his contribution as Commander in Chief. People often over the fact that the president is the head of the nation’s military and, in Lincoln’s case, may attain certain wartime powers. While wearing the hat of Commander in Chief, Lincoln had to try and find the best strategy that would lead the Union in triumph over the Confederacy.
Lincoln knew that Vicksburg was the key to achieving a successful victory in the Civil War (“10 Facts”). Not only would Vicksburg be a battle victory that the Union raise their spirits and continue fighting the war, but this battle, in particular, would devest the South’s war effort. Mississippi was the heart of the South. The Mississippi River was a crucial tool for the South during the war. It provided a way for resources to reach the Southerners during the war as well as export to goods out of the area and keep the South wealthy enough to maintain the war effort. By capturing Vicksburg, the Union would have metaphorically cut the head off of the snake and the South would eventually crumble and collapse without their most resourceful piece of land. Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy, also knew what was at stake if Vicksburg were captured by the Union. Ultimately, the Battle of Vicksburg would not just be another fighting in this horrific war, rather it would be the deciding factor in which side would be the victor. Not only would it determine the outcome of the war, but Lincoln’s reputation would also be determined by the outcome of the Battle of Vicksburg. If the Union were to lose the Seige of Vicksburg, Lincoln would be remembered as the person who failed to keep the Union together.
Moving away from Lincoln, there is another man who must be discussed in correlation with Vicksburg. This man is Ulysses S. Grant, the general of the Union army. Years after the Civil War, Grant would go on to become president of the United States. People often overlook the accomplishments of Grant or at least avoiding divulging into the details of his life. More often than not, Grant is remembered as an alcoholic during his presidency, which overshadows his accomplishments as the Union General. The victory at Vicksburg is one of the many great accomplishments that Grant, one that stuck with the American people as he ran for president and got him elected as president of the United States.
To understand the type of character that Ulysses S. Grant it is best to learn about some anecdotes from his life. One closely related to the Battle of Vicksburg is the story behind the horse that Grant rode into the actual battle. Grant obtained the horse from a plantation right near Vicksburg. The owner of the plantation was Joe Davis, the brother of Jefferson Davis (“Ulysses”). The horse was not in the best condition, but Grant was an expert equestrian and knew that the horse had the potential to become a mighty steed. He stole the black horse to add insult to injury, Grant name the horse Jeff Davis. Grant stole from the brother of his enemy, named the horse after the Confederate leader, then rode into the final victory needed to secure the Union’s place as the victors of the Civil War (“Ulysses”). Perhaps it was the confidence in the plan to seize Vicksburg that motivated Grant to pull such an extravagant stunt.
The actual battle and victory in Vicksburg is what makes Ulysses S. Grant to admirable and followed him to the Oval Office. Grant’s first attempt to capture Vicksburg in the winter of 1862 was a failure, but the Union army decided to attempt to seize the stronghold again the following Spring (History). Grant’s plan was the attack Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, first then turn around and force the Confederate into Vicksburg. Under Lieutenant General John Pemberton, the Confederate Army scrambled into Vicksburg and build a seven-mile trench around the city containing forts and artillery (“Battle”). Grant’s men surrounded the city and outnumbered the Confederate soldier who was there. After two attacks from the Union and a large number of casualties, Pemberton’s men were low on supplies and weakened. Over a month after the initial attack from the Union army, Pemberton and his man surrendered to Grant, realizing that the Union army had cut off any means of retrieving supplies, support, and aid (“Battle”). The Confederate Army was now divided as the Union captured and cut off supplies from the Mississippi River, which was what the Union Army needed to finally end the four-year war.
Vicksburg National Military Park is a memorial to those who served in the infamous Civil War. It also serves as a reminder that war can impact the reputation of individuals in extraordinary ways. If the Confederate Army was successful in preventing the Union Army from capturing the city, the way history remembers Abraham Lincoln could have been from a completely different perspective. Not only would the reputation of Lincoln be effected, but the nation would have never known Ulysses S. Grant as one of the leader of our nation. Vicksburg is a sample to represent how a president does not have to be present in a location to have a connection to it, or how something that a person does right now may help them in the future achieve more than ever imaged. Both Lincoln and Grant, two former presidents of our nation, are connected the Vicksburg through the Civil War but as through the fact of how this victory affected the office of the presidency.
“10 Facts: The Vicksburg Campaign.” American Battlefield Trust, History, 22 Apr. 2019,
“Battle of Vicksburg Facts & Summary.” American Battlefield Trust, 3 July 2019, www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-
History.com Editors. “Siege of Vicksburg.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009,
“Ulysses S. Grant's Jeff Davis.” Presidential Pet Museum, www.presidentialpetmuseum.com/ulysses-sgrantsjeffdavis/#:~:targetText=During%20wartime%2C%20Grant%20acquired%20Jeff,during%20the%20battle%20of%20Vicksburg.
By Eoghanacht at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6552431