150 years ago today, Vicksburg, Mississippi. was in between two major assaults that began a more than month-long siege of the city. What began as a conflict between Gen. Grant’s Army of Tennessee and the Confederate forces of Lt. Gen. Pemberton would eventually bring the town and control of the Mississippi River into Union hands. You can read more about the campaign and siege at the Vicksburg National Military Park website.
Various collections in Acumen give us a window into this event, including the Meriwether Family Papers. John Samuel Meriwether was serving with the 40th Alabama Infantry Regiment, and he drew this map of their movements.
Notice that the map key includes not only place names but actions taken at particular points.
In the Durst Family Papers we find the July 2 edition of The Daily Citizen. According to a description from the Library of Congress, some of the editions were printed on wallpaper, because newsprint became so scarce!
This harsh excerpt speaks of a sister newspaper being taken over by a “toad-eating Yankee, who is the lineal descendant of Judas Iscariot”:
This excerpt pulls out all the stops in describing the “gallant corps of Gen. Lee”:
According to the LOC, “On July 4, Vicksburg surrendered, the publisher fled, and the Union forces found the type of the Citizen still standing. They replaced two-thirds of the last column with other matter already in type, added the note quoted below, and started to print a new edition.”
The Samuel D. Cameron and Maxwell A. Cameron Papers contain letters from two Tuscaloosa brothers sent during the war. In this excerpt, Samuel laments the fall of Vicksburg:
“The war news is generally not so good as it has been. The fall of Vicksburg is a very bad thing both to Miss. and the whole confederacy. Everything is quiet up in this part of Miss. now but I don’t know how long it will remain so. Our Regt. has moved back down to Pontotoc again. We move every week. I think that we will be sent down the country if the Yanks gets to [?] up two much around Jackson. I heard yesterday that they were Shelling Jackson and was doing a great deal of damage to the place. I expect that they will get it two if Johnson don’t do something pretty soon. I expect that all the troops will have to face back into Ala. yet and then you will see and feel the war.”
Acumen holds more than just digital content. It also makes Finding Aids accessible so that you can have a guide to our archival collections even when they haven’t been digitized.
The finding aid for the William Lovelace Foster letter describes “a lengthy and detailed letter from Foster during the siege of Vicksburg, to his wife, begun before communications were cut off and continued at intervals throughout the siege (June 1863) until the city’s surrender to Union forces on 4 July 1863.”
Worth coming down to the reading room for, don’t you think?