Vicksburg surrender, good or bad for the confederates

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
The surrender at Vicksburg did not prevent cross river commerce or individual traffic. It did relieve the confederacy of trying to defend fixed positions vulnerable to combined US army/naval operations. Mobile was far more important to the confederacy than Vicksburg and the surrender freed the confederates to fight a mobile defense in the Alabama/ Mississippi theater. Note confederate forces in the theater didn't surrender at end of war until well after Lee/Johnston.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
After New Orleans fell, keeping the Miss river open was important as the areas of North Louisiana and Ark plus all the goods and troops from Texas as well as items that came into the Texas coast were very important. The fall of Vicksburg also saw the loss of almost 40,00 troops and all the weapons and ammo.
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
The Confederates could've held out a little longer....but not much longer. The siege was taking its toll on the soldiers as well as the civilian population. The Southern hope was for Johnston's Army of Relief to come through and that never happened. Pemberton didn't know where he was and communications were cut off.
In hindsight, the Confederates were fortunate enough to be paroled. Many re-joined the army and fought in the east. But the loss of Vicksburg was the ultimate defeat.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
In addition to the fine points noted by @TomHughes and @BillO, subjugating the garrison of Vicksburg released the federal AotT to operate on the next important strategic axis: Chattanooga to Atlanta. Vicksburg was always a thorn in the side of complete federal control of the Mississippi River, given that most of the river system from New Orleans in the south and Memphis in the north were in Union hands by the spring of 1862. It took another year to get at Vicksburg, an effort that had to be accomplished in order to turn attention to defeating the 2 major Confederate armies in Tennessee and Virginia.
 

BillWright

Private
Joined
Jul 15, 2021
The Confederates could've held out a little longer....but not much longer. The siege was taking its toll on the soldiers as well as the civilian population. The Southern hope was for Johnston's Army of Relief to come through and that never happened. Pemberton didn't know where he was and communications were cut off.
In hindsight, the Confederates were fortunate enough to be paroled. Many re-joined the army and fought in the east. But the loss of Vicksburg was the ultimate defeat.
Vicksburg could not have survived but two days more. Grant had a grand assault scheduled for the 6th.
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
keeping the Miss river open was important plus all the goods from Texas as well as items that came into the Texas coast were very important.

Especially the Texas cattle and pork that helped feed the CSA Armies East of the Mississippi River.

The loss of Vicksburg and Port Hudson was a tremendous blow to the Confederacy.
(The Western theater was treated like the proverbial "red headed step child" from the start) .

But there are many threads about that fact on CWT.
 

Tom Hughes

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2019
Location
Mississippi
Vicksburg could not have survived but two days more. Grant had a grand assault scheduled for the 6th
Remember though, that at the time of the surrender on July 4th, Johnston's Army of Relief was already knocking on the door of the Big Black River. Within the 2 days that Grant would launch his massive assault, he would be attacked from the rear by Johnson's army. So, things would've been very interesting indeed. Of course, Pemberton, at this time, was unaware of Johnston's location and he made the decision to surrender based on his current knowledge of the situation at hand.
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
Remember though, that at the time of the surrender on July 4th, Johnston's Army of Relief was already knocking on the door of the Big Black River. Within the 2 days that Grant would launch his massive assault, he would be attacked from the rear by Johnson's army. So, things would've been very interesting indeed. Of course, Pemberton, at this time, was unaware of Johnston's location and he made the decision to surrender based on his current knowledge of the situation at hand.
Pemberton did NOT put much faith in Johnston:nah disagree:
 
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
Remember though, that at the time of the surrender on July 4th, Johnston's Army of Relief was already knocking on the door of the Big Black River.
And that was the problem.

"Knocking on the door or kicking the door down" are two separate situations.

As the argument about Johnston's overly cautious style ... has been debated in depth over many years on this site (I'm trying to avoid that discussion again) . But Johnston could have marched his "Army of Relief " from Canton to Vicksburg way before the end of June.

Three or four days if he was serious ( including all of his support regiments ) .


But I will say, IMHO I doubt he would have made any difference.
His Army may have severely disrupted Grant's operation. but I'm willing to bet Johnston would have sent his standard telegram to Richmond:

" I'm too late, thus I must make a strategic movement back to my supply depot".
 
Last edited:
Joined
Sep 28, 2013
Location
Southwest Mississippi
I’m not sure that there is a way to spin the loss of an army, a strategic city, and a river into a victory but have at it.
I don't think anyone commenting within this thread is trying to "spin" anything.

Vicksburg was lost from the start.
I've always been amazed that Pemberton held on until July 1863.
 
Last edited:

GwilymT

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
I don't think anyone commenting within this tread is trying to "spin" anything.

Vicksburg was lost from the start.
I've always been amazed that Pemberton held on until July 1863.
Yeah, Pemberton played a bad hand as best he could.

However, the OP asked if the surrender was a good or bad thing and the leading comment was attempting to illustrate Vicksburg as some sort of positive for the CSA... unless I misread the thread title and the first comment?
 

huskerblitz

Major
Joined
Jun 8, 2013
Location
Nebraska
However, the OP asked if the surrender was a good or bad thing and the leading comment was attempting to illustrate Vicksburg as some sort of positive for the CSA... unless I misread the thread title and the first comment?
I think you misinterpreted the intent of the post. It seems to me the post was to suggest there were more important aspects the Confederacy needed to attend to rather than Vicksburg.
 

DixieRifles

Captain
Member of the Year
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Mar 22, 2009
Location
Collierville, TN
Johnston's Army of Relief was already knocking on the door of the Big Black River. Within the 2 days that Grant would launch his massive assault, he would be attacked from the rear by Johnson's army
There is a lot written about Johnston’s “relief” Army but how large was it? I never see any details on his command.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Yep.

Pemberton was dealt one of the worst hands of all Civil War Generals.

North or South.

But he played his cards better than most ... while knowing he would probably never win.
Pemberton was indeed placed in an untenable position. His immediate military superior, Joe Johnston, directed Pemberton to save his army by maneuvering in open field, whereas Jeff Davis ordered that Vicksburg be held at all costs. To some extent, this was a problem with the muddled leadership of the Confederacy and the lack of clear lines of authority. Pemberton should have followed Johnston's urgings, which would have sacrificed the city but left his army intact, allowing it to link up with whatever forces Johnston was able to bear, and present a clear threat to Grant and the AotT.
 
Top