December, 1862-July, 1863
During the Battle of Gettysburg, other important action was taking place in the western states. The battle occurred between Pemberton and Grant. The two generals would continue to clash in different spots for more than a half a year. Eventually, Grant reach his goal, Vicksburg, and took what he originally started out to take.
Grant had an army nearly twice the size of Pemberton's 22,000. Before Grant decided to act on the siege of Vicksburg, a powerful politician by the name of John A. McClernand brought the whole idea around. He wanted to raise an army from the Midwest and race down to Vicksburg and capture it, and went to Lincoln with his idea. In fearing that he might lose a valuable politician, Lincoln agreed with command, although Grant never new until the December of 1862. When he finally did, Lincoln told him that he had total control over all of the Western Theater, and could move McClernand's troops how he wanted.
The first thing that Grant did was decide that he should take Vicksburg instead, and not let McClernand get in the way. So, in the December of '62, Grant set out southward, but did not go far before he encountered trouble. As Grant was moving south, Davis called in Bragg to help out Pemberton. For once, Bragg made himself useful. He sent one division of soldiers, under the command of Early Van Dorn, to attack Grant's supply outpost at Holly Springs. The cavalry, nearly 3,500, went in riding, quickly defeating the 1,500 man garrison, and then looted and burned the post. To the north Nathan Forrest did the same to Jackson Tennessee, destroying sixty miles of rail, and smashing telegraph wires. The result was devastating, costing the Federals millions in dollars in damage and supplies, while at the same time causing Lee to back track to Grand Junction, Tennessee.
While Van Dorn and Forrest were raiding Jackson and Grand Junction, Major General William T. Sherman took off down the Mississippi River with an army of 32,000 on December 20. By December 26, he was on the outskirts of Vicksburg and launched an attack on the Chickasaw Bluffs to the north. The result was a total waste of Union ammunition and lives. The Federals lost 1,800 while the Confederates lost 187. When Sherman launched the attack he did not know that Grant had been forced to retreat due to the attack on Holly Springs. At this point, although badly beaten, Sherman was ready to launch another attack but McClelernand showed up and superseded him in command. Soon, Sherman and Navy officer David Porter were both fed up with the new general and begged for Grant's assistance at Vicksburg and command. From then on Grant took the matter into his own hands.
Although Grant felt that the only way to attack Vicksburg was from the east, the movements of Sherman and McClernand forced him to the west bank of the River. Grant sent detachments of troops up and down the Mississippi looking for a good place to attack but after several weeks of searching nothing lay in site. Grant then decided to go with his original plan. Through the use of diversions Grant would move his army across the Mississippi. Sherman was to attack Haynes' Bluff north of Vicksburg while Porter ferried his ships down the Mississippi at night, drawing the fire from Vicksburg. Porter's troops would then head farther south and attack the battery at Grand Gulf. Meanwhile, McPherson and McClernand would move south to Hard Times to cross the Mississippi, where they would meet Porter's ships who would ferry them across. Once the Union troops reached the town of Hard Times they found the battery was still fully intact and almost impossible for Porter's boats to penetrate. Grant then moved McPherson and McClernand ten miles south and crossed them there. There was a brief skirmish near Port Gibson but the Union brushed aside the small Confederate force. Second, the corps marched up behind the battery and Grand Gulf and quickly seized control of the guns. Now the army headed east to Jackson were it turned west again and headed back for Vicksburg. Grant's 41,000 men met some resistance from Pemberton's 32,000, but making no mistakes, continued to march on. When Grant moved within shelling range of Vicksburg, Pemberton moved into the fortifications. Here is where the real siege began for nearly forty-eight days. Most of the men inside were starving, and on July 3rd Pemberton asked for terms on surrender. The following day as Pemberton's men walked out of the city, Lee's men in the east walked away defeated at Gettysburg.