Why are Grant's assaults on the Vicksburg defenses considered a part of the Siege of Vicksburg, and not as its own individual battle?

General JJ

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Grant only gave his order to begin the siege on May 25 in his Special Orders No. 140, a few days after the assaults. Interestingly, the assaults on Petersburg in 1864 are considered separate from the Siege of Petersburg (Second Battle of Petersburg). Why the difference?
 

DixieRifles

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Im reading Dr Timothy Smith’s book: “The Union Assaults at Vicksburg: May 17-22, 1863”. Then I went on Amazon and it recommended a newbook by him that covers The Siege of Vicksburg. This covers the struggle after the heavy attacks were called off.
He also points out that Grant’s campaign to cross the Mississippi River and reach the fortifications was a major campaign in itself.

$ His new book will be released in June.
 

ucvrelics

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Great question. Grant initially tried to take Vicksburg in the Fall of 62. After several setbacks he started the siege in May 63. They took the whole winter to try and get in a position to take the city. Plus its easier just to lump it all together as in the scheme of thing he didn't pull back and regroup as Petersburg. Petersburg was in fact all about Richmond. Vicksburg was all about Vicksburg.
 

Hannover

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Timothy Smith's new book is available from 30th June in the UK.
 

huskerblitz

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Personally speaking, I think it's just to help isolate the study of those events a bit better. As the size of Smith's first book, there is a lot to unpack on just the assaults themselves. Just my thought.
 

Grant's Tomb

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Great question. Grant initially tried to take Vicksburg in the Fall of 62. After several setbacks he started the siege in May 63. They took the whole winter to try and get in a position to take the city. Plus its easier just to lump it all together as in the scheme of thing he didn't pull back and regroup as Petersburg. Petersburg was in fact all about Richmond. Vicksburg was all about Vicksburg.
After one of his corps commander McClernand tried to organize a new army of his own and planned a combined army-navy expedition to head straight down the river to break the city's defenses by direct assault, Grant had Sherman to bring his men down the river and have them ashore a few miles north of the city. But when Earl Van Dorn captured Grant's supply base at Holly Springs and Bedford Forrest tore up a lot of railroad tracks and telegraph wire, Grant had to pull back from keeping Pemberton's attention on him to and Sherman did not know that Grant had withdrawn and he was repulsed badly on December 29th. Then with bringing the rest of his army on the opposite bank of the river at the end of January and with McClernand's venture not turning out the way he hoped it would, Grant decided to keep the army busy with 4 different possibilities of getting at Vicksburg. First he had Sherman's corps try and build a canal across the narrow finger of land that pointed north on the Louisiana side. The object here was to have the Mississippi pour through it, bypassing the city entirely. Then the gunboats, transports and the rest of the army could float downstream unhindered. So they brought some dredges down and the canal was dug but the Mississippi refused to enter the canal in any volume. Grant tried a few more schemes like this. They even tried to cut a levee that a few streams tributary to the Yazoo River flowed into 300 miles north of Vicksburg, then they were to send transports and gunboats through, get into the Yazoo and cruise down to a landing point just above the fortified chain of bluffs in flank and the city could be taken. But that didn't work either because the two rivers that unite to form the Yazoo, the Yalobusha and the Tallahatchie, came into contact with Fort Pemberton that situated in a place that made it practically impregnable, surrounded by water and half-flooded bottom land.
 

wausaubob

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Grant only gave his order to begin the siege on May 25 in his Special Orders No. 140, a few days after the assaults. Interestingly, the assaults on Petersburg in 1864 are considered separate from the Siege of Petersburg (Second Battle of Petersburg). Why the difference?
Because the 25th probably marks his decision that no further attacks were prudent. It also was probably when the War Department and the Administration began sending him reinforcements from other departments.
 

wausaubob

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The siege of Vicksburg didn't begin until after the assault of May 22nd.
It wasn't until then that Grant saw that Vicksburg couldn't be taken unless by siege operations.
People sometimes refer to the battles and overland campaign leading up until May 23, 1863 as the siege, but that would be incorrect.
After the unsuccessful attacks on the 22nd, Grant concluded that the cost of the siege in terms of time expended and casualties due to disease, would be less than the cost of further attacks. At that point, he must have had reassurance that the War Department wanted Vicksburg captured, no matter how long it would take.
The soldiers knew that point that they were going to try to outcamp the Confederates. Therefore cleanliness and dietary support through the civilian sanitation commissions became the path to victory. (Along with some improvised siege engineering.)
 

Grant's Tomb

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After the unsuccessful attacks on the 22nd, Grant concluded that the cost of the siege in terms of time expended and casualties due to disease, would be less than the cost of further attacks. At that point, he must have had reassurance that the War Department wanted Vicksburg captured, no matter how long it would take.
The soldiers knew that point that they were going to try to outcamp the Confederates. Therefore cleanliness and dietary support through the civilian sanitation commissions became the path to victory. (Along with some improvised siege engineering.)
By late June, almost half of the men in Pemberton's army were on the sick list or in the hospital. With the city surrounded by both land and water, food supplies ran low and the citizens were reduced to eating mules, horses, dogs and even rats. In the beginning of July, daily rations for the army were down to one biscuit and one bit of bacon.
 

Tompre

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Before the first assault on Vicksburg, Grant had sent forces to encircle Vicksburg. Technically the Union forces didn’t settle into a siege till later, but I suspect that this why many considered the siege as beginning on the 18th.
 

Irishtom29

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Once Grant approached and invested the city it was in effect under siege and the question then was how to proceed in capturing the city. Sometimes a siege began with a coup de main, just, you know, in case.

Petersburg never was besieged, it was confronted, a different thing altogether.
 

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