Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

Man vs. Man

Civil War on the Mississippi

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Civil War exhibit section
Artifacts and images on loan from many sources, including:
~ Galena State Historic Sites, Ulysses S. Grant Home, Galena IL
~ Tom and Jane Hildreth, West Branch IA
~ Rock Island Arsenal Museum, Rock Island IL

In 1861, the United States was divided between free states and slave states, North vs. South. The Mississippi River became the battleground during the Civil War for control of the river, vital to supply lines and to winning the war.

The Union forces pushed on the river from two directions. Moving south, the Union won victories at New Madrid, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee. Moving north, the Union battled for New Orleans and Baton Rouge in Louisiana, Jackson, Mississippi and smaller cities. But General Ulysses S. Grant's major objective was Vicksburg, the most strategic Confederate stronghold on the river.

The Siege of Vicksburg began on May 18 and dragged on until July 4, 1863. The Confederates resisted surrender as long as humanly possible under brutal bombardment. Residents were forced to eat rats to survive and by June, serious illness had set in. But Grant was merciless and won his prize on Independence Day, simultaneous with the Union victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

With the capture of Vicksburg, the North controlled the entire length of the Mississippi which split the Confederacy. Grant's victory brought him national acclaim and eventual promotion to head all Union forces. The fighting along the river did not end after Vicksburg was defeated, but later skirmishes were minor.

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Did you know … ?
Steamboats carried soldiers and supplies up and down the Mississippi. The steamship Sultana was licensed for 350 passengers on a fateful voyage in 1865 when 2,134 Union soldiers returning from Confederate prison camps were given a ride upriver. Traveling too fast with too heavy a load, the steam boilers exploded. The death count was 1,700 - the worst ship disaster in U.S. history, worse than the sinking of the Titanic.

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This section "Man vs. Man" has the following related pages:
Civil War on the Mississippi

Continue through exhibit

2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
You are here!Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
Legends and Spirits
View Selected Artifacts
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