The Vicksburg 4th Of July Celebration, Was It Really 80 years?

ucvrelics

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Most everyone knows that Vicksburg fell on July 4th 1863 and that staunch Southerners refused to celebrate the 4th for a very long time. There were no fireworks, no picnics, no days off work. The post office didn’t even close on the 4th of July in Vicksburg for decades. In reality the 4th of July celebration went on but it was mostly in the African American community. Most of these event were held outside of Vicksburg. The first "Official" celebration took the end of WW2 to get it restarted. It was so well received and attended the next year 1946 it was a 2 day event and billed as the Carnival Of The Confederacy. After a few years of these type celebrations it waned and it really wasn't until the Bicentennial in 1976 that it got back on track with the rest of the country. Below are a few articles and advertisements for 4th Of July celebrations in Vicksburg.

All the high-toned colored people that reside for miles around’ excurted on on the steamer Cherokee yesterday to Anthony’s Ferry, in celebration of the glorious fourth. A colored picnic on DeSoto Island was also a strong feature of the days celebrations in the Hill City. (The Vicksburg Herald, July 5, 1884)
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Many Vicksburgers will participate in the celebration of Independence Day today. A barbecue and picnic at Swett’s Pond will be the chief feature of attraction during the day and tonight, beginning at 8:30 o’clock, an appropriate and patriotic program will be presented at the Carnegie Library…Many of the stores of the city will close during the afternoon hours, in order to allow their clerks to attend the barbecue. Conveyances will operate between the grounds and city throughout the day. (The Vicksburg Herald, July 4, 1918)

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Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
Most everyone knows that Vicksburg fell on July 4th 1863 and that staunch Southerners refused to celebrate the 4th for a very long time. There were no fireworks, no picnics, no days off work. The post office didn’t even close on the 4th of July in Vicksburg for decades. In reality the 4th of July celebration went on but it was mostly in the African American community. Most of these event were held outside of Vicksburg. The first "Official" celebration took the end of WW2 to get it restarted. It was so well received and attended the next year 1946 it was a 2 day event and billed as the Carnival Of The Confederacy. After a few years of these type celebrations it waned and it really wasn't until the Bicentennial in 1976 that it got back on track with the rest of the country. Below are a few articles and advertisements for 4th Of July celebrations in Vicksburg.

All the high-toned colored people that reside for miles around’ excurted on on the steamer Cherokee yesterday to Anthony’s Ferry, in celebration of the glorious fourth. A colored picnic on DeSoto Island was also a strong feature of the days celebrations in the Hill City. (The Vicksburg Herald, July 5, 1884)
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Many Vicksburgers will participate in the celebration of Independence Day today. A barbecue and picnic at Swett’s Pond will be the chief feature of attraction during the day and tonight, beginning at 8:30 o’clock, an appropriate and patriotic program will be presented at the Carnegie Library…Many of the stores of the city will close during the afternoon hours, in order to allow their clerks to attend the barbecue. Conveyances will operate between the grounds and city throughout the day. (The Vicksburg Herald, July 4, 1918)

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Thanks for sharing this. Very interesting indeed. The citizenry of Vicksburg probably suffered more than any other during the civil war with the 1862 bombardment and 1863 siege. Glad to see they finally celebrated at long last.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
Lest we forget...
When I was an infant sill in diapers, General Eisenhower came to Vicksburg to deliver a speech dedicating the new Warren County Courthouse sited across the street from the old. The event fell on July 4, ‘47 or ‘48. We have photos of Dad holding me in his arms with Ike about ten feet behind, evidently taken after his speech. About a decade before, General U.S. Grant,III came to Vicksburg on the 4th and likewise made a speech. About that same time park road construction workers were happening upon remains of bodies never properly recovered or interred in 1863. There are photos out there of Grant’s visit and the grisly business of finding overlooked bodies.
Years later ON the occasion of the centerNIAL observance of the surrender , Maj. Gen Grant returned to Vicksburg for that shindig, which included simulated shelling of the city performed by miniature motorized ironclads, overlain by an enormous 4th of July fireworks show. We sat under the Yazoo seawall and got a concentrated cposure to the noise. The day beforeI I had been one of the deputation of roughly 10 H.V. Cooper High School class of 1965 seniors sent to meet his plane at our little airport. I had the chance to shake hands with the old gentleman who was taller than his grandfather. More Grant Trivia:
Frederick Dent Grant followed his father on foot from Bruinsburg to Vicksburg. He managed to get shot in the ankle for his precociousness. Years later as a cadet at West Point, Fred embarrassed his father the then president by joining in the malicious hazing of the first black cadet ever appointed to West Oint. His appointment had been made by MISSISSIPPI Govervor Adelbert Ames. The corps succeeded in running this young man off. Later, Fred as an officer of cavalry led an invasion of Mexico to rescue a group of white children captured by hostiles. Their rescue was a success but caused an international problem with Mexico. This event is the loose basis of John Ford’s John Wayne cavalry epic “Fort Apache”. I find this doubly interesting since Wayne, Bill Holden and Ford’s regulars rode into Vicksburg in uniform on Union tacked horses while in the vicinity filming Ford’s “The Horse Soldiers”, a retelling of Grierson’s Raid. Enjoy.
PINE HILL RESIDENT
 

RobertP

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Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Location
Dallas
I grew up in Jackson, 40 miles east. All I know is that the first fireworks on the Fourth of July I ever saw was at Ft. Bliss, Tx, 7/4/72. Though we had picnics on the 4th, fireworks were reserved for New Year’s Eve. We got them in our Christmas stockings.
 

Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
When I was an infant sill in diapers, General Eisenhower came to Vicksburg to deliver a speech dedicating the new Warren County Courthouse sited across the street from the old. The event fell on July 4, ‘47 or ‘48. We have photos of Dad holding me in his arms with Ike about ten feet behind, evidently taken after his speech. About a decade before, General U.S. Grant,III came to Vicksburg on the 4th and likewise made a speech. About that same time park road construction workers were happening upon remains of bodies never properly recovered or interred in 1863. There are photos out there of Grant’s visit and the grisly business of finding overlooked bodies.
Years later ON the occasion of the centerNIAL observance of the surrender , Maj. Gen Grant returned to Vicksburg for that shindig, which included simulated shelling of the city performed by miniature motorized ironclads, overlain by an enormous 4th of July fireworks show. We sat under the Yazoo seawall and got a concentrated cposure to the noise. The day beforeI I had been one of the deputation of roughly 10 H.V. Cooper High School class of 1965 seniors sent to meet his plane at our little airport. I had the chance to shake hands with the old gentleman who was taller than his grandfather. More Grant Trivia:
Frederick Dent Grant followed his father on foot from Bruinsburg to Vicksburg. He managed to get shot in the ankle for his precociousness. Years later as a cadet at West Point, Fred embarrassed his father the then president by joining in the malicious hazing of the first black cadet ever appointed to West Oint. His appointment had been made by MISSISSIPPI Govervor Adelbert Ames. The corps succeeded in running this young man off. Later, Fred as an officer of cavalry led an invasion of Mexico to rescue a group of white children captured by hostiles. Their rescue was a success but caused an international problem with Mexico. This event is the loose basis of John Ford’s John Wayne cavalry epic “Fort Apache”. I find this doubly interesting since Wayne, Bill Holden and Ford’s regulars rode into Vicksburg in uniform on Union tacked horses while in the vicinity filming Ford’s “The Horse Soldiers”, a retelling of Grierson’s Raid. Enjoy.
PINE HILL RESIDENT
Thanks for these recollections. They were fun to read!
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
When I was an infant sill in diapers, General Eisenhower came to Vicksburg to deliver a speech dedicating the new Warren County Courthouse sited across the street from the old. The event fell on July 4, ‘47 or ‘48. We have photos of Dad holding me in his arms with Ike about ten feet behind, evidently taken after his speech. About a decade before, General U.S. Grant,III came to Vicksburg on the 4th and likewise made a speech. About that same time park road construction workers were happening upon remains of bodies never properly recovered or interred in 1863. There are photos out there of Grant’s visit and the grisly business of finding overlooked bodies.
Years later ON the occasion of the centerNIAL observance of the surrender , Maj. Gen Grant returned to Vicksburg for that shindig, which included simulated shelling of the city performed by miniature motorized ironclads, overlain by an enormous 4th of July fireworks show. We sat under the Yazoo seawall and got a concentrated cposure to the noise. The day beforeI I had been one of the deputation of roughly 10 H.V. Cooper High School class of 1965 seniors sent to meet his plane at our little airport. I had the chance to shake hands with the old gentleman who was taller than his grandfather. More Grant Trivia:
Frederick Dent Grant followed his father on foot from Bruinsburg to Vicksburg. He managed to get shot in the ankle for his precociousness. Years later as a cadet at West Point, Fred embarrassed his father the then president by joining in the malicious hazing of the first black cadet ever appointed to West Oint. His appointment had been made by MISSISSIPPI Govervor Adelbert Ames. The corps succeeded in running this young man off. Later, Fred as an officer of cavalry led an invasion of Mexico to rescue a group of white children captured by hostiles. Their rescue was a success but caused an international problem with Mexico. This event is the loose basis of John Ford’s John Wayne cavalry epic “Fort Apache”. I find this doubly interesting since Wayne, Bill Holden and Ford’s regulars rode into Vicksburg in uniform on Union tacked horses while in the vicinity filming Ford’s “The Horse Soldiers”, a retelling of Grierson’s Raid. Enjoy.
PINE HILL RESIDENT
Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your recollections.
 

Fire-eater

Cadet
Joined
Feb 7, 2012
I lived in Vicksburg in the late 90's and I don't remember any big celebrations. I don't remember any firework stands anywhere. It was recognized and everyone got a day off but I do not remember it being a big city ordeal.
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
I used to spend my July 4th holiday hunting relics in a permission I had over there in the early 80's. Man, that was a lot of fun! But hot as all get out!! We'd get eaten up by chiggers and mosquitoes but would always take a break at lunch and head over to Burger King and then get back at it....I never remember any city wide fireworks either.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
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Location
Alabama
FYI.

For 81 years after the July 4, 1863, surrender of Vicksburg the city did not celebrate Independence Day. The surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate General John C. Pemberton to Union General Ulysses S. Grant was not a cause for celebration for the fallen city. The 47-day siege of the city had left the citizens exhausted and humiliated. During the siege, the city was bombarded every day. By the end, the starving population of the city had been reduced to eating mules, dogs, cats and even rats. The horrors of the siege are documented in the diaries kept by citizens of the city such as Mary Loughborough whose diary was later published as My Cave Life in Vicksburg. In her diary, she wrote:

“A young girl, becoming weary in the confinement of the cave, hastily ran to the house in the interval that elapsed between the slowly falling shells. On returning, an explosion sounded near her – one wild scream, and she ran into her mother’s presence, sinking like a wounded dove, the life blood flowing over the light summer dress in crimson ripples from a death-wound in her side, caused by the shell fragment.”

It was not until after World War II in 1945 that Vicksburg joined the rest of the nation in the celebration of Independence Day. The patriotic fervor after the war and a visit by General Dwight D. Eisenhower set the stage for a return to celebrating the birth of our nation.
 

Fire-eater

Cadet
Joined
Feb 7, 2012
FYI.

For 81 years after the July 4, 1863, surrender of Vicksburg the city did not celebrate Independence Day. The surrender of Vicksburg by Confederate General John C. Pemberton to Union General Ulysses S. Grant was not a cause for celebration for the fallen city. The 47-day siege of the city had left the citizens exhausted and humiliated. During the siege, the city was bombarded every day. By the end, the starving population of the city had been reduced to eating mules, dogs, cats and even rats. The horrors of the siege are documented in the diaries kept by citizens of the city such as Mary Loughborough whose diary was later published as My Cave Life in Vicksburg. In her diary, she wrote:

“A young girl, becoming weary in the confinement of the cave, hastily ran to the house in the interval that elapsed between the slowly falling shells. On returning, an explosion sounded near her – one wild scream, and she ran into her mother’s presence, sinking like a wounded dove, the life blood flowing over the light summer dress in crimson ripples from a death-wound in her side, caused by the shell fragment.”

It was not until after World War II in 1945 that Vicksburg joined the rest of the nation in the celebration of Independence Day. The patriotic fervor after the war and a visit by General Dwight D. Eisenhower set the stage for a return to celebrating the birth of our nation.
He may have returned to celebrate it, but I never experienced a celebration from 1996 to 2000.
 
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