Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg- The Campaigns That Changed the Civil War
Edwin C. Bearss
It’s a poignant irony in American history that on Independence Day, 1863, not one but two pivotal Civil War battles ended in Union victory, marked the high tide of Confederate military fortune, and ultimately doomed the South’s effort at secession. But on July 4, 1863, after six months of siege, Ulysses Grant’s Union army finally took Vicksburg and the Confederate west.
On the very same day, Robert E. Lee was in Pennsylvania, parrying the threat to Vicksburg with a daring push north to Gettysburg. For two days the battle had raged; on the next, July 4, 1863, Pickett’s Charge was thrown back, a magnificently brave but fruitless assault, and the fate of the Confederacy was sealed, though nearly two more years of bitter fighting remained until the war came to an end.
In Receding Tide, Edwin Cole Bearss draws from his popular Civil War battlefield tours to chronicle these two widely separated but simultaneous clashes and their dramatic conclusion. As the recognized expert on both Vicksburg and Gettysburg, Bearss tells the fascinating story of this single momentous day in our country’s history, offering his readers narratives, maps, illustrations, characteristic wit, dramatic new insights and unerringly intimate knowledge of terrain, tactics, and the colorful personalities of America’s citizen soldiers, Northern and Southern alike.
So with little preparation at all, Grant orders an attack on the Confederates that afternoon. The earthworks around Vicksburg were surveyed by Major Lockett in late July and in August 1862. The earthen lines form a rude crescent, almost nine miles long, that extends a mile or more outside of Civil War Vicksburg. Along the ridges Lockett laid out redoubts, redans, lunettes, and fieldworks to guard the major avenues of approach into the city, and these works have been connected by rifle pits. A.
Winebrenner’s Run, where they have been lying in the hot sun all afternoon. After the Confederate attack crests against Culp’s Hill, first Hays, then Avery, begin their en echelon assault. When they advance, two Union skirmish regiments in Culp’s Meadow fall back to von Gilsa’s right flank, with the Rebels closing fast. Avery’s North Carolinians sweep across Culp’s Meadow, aiming directly at von Gilsa’s men. The Tar Heels are soon greeted by the roar of the six Napoleons of Battery E, Fifth.
Of struggling to hold that location. That leaves a pall of smoke filling the swales between the lines, and the eastern slope of Seminary Ridge is quickly enveloped with smoke from the cannon. So visibility is almost zero. Longstreet’s heart is not in this attack, and he sits on a rail fence back on Seminary Ridge near Spangler’s Woods. The tree line of Spangler’s Woods juts out eastward for about 300 yards, and this serves as the separation line for Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s divisions. Pettigrew.
Shown holding the captured Confederate sword in one hand, and as a compromise, the hatchet is lying at his feet. Hancock has been up and down the line all day, and when the attack starts, one of his subordinates says, “General, the corps commander ought not to risk his life that way.” Hancock looks out at the approaching Confederates and says, “There are times when a corps commander’s life does not count.” Then, just as Stannard has gotten the 13th and 16th Vermont regiments into position,.
Second Missouri has been garrisoning Grand Gulf, is ordered by Bowen to spike the guns and blow the three magazines, which Senteny does just before dawn. Loring finally assumes command of Bowen’s retreating columns and races toward the Hankinson’s Ferry floating bridge. As the column marches to the northeast, the vanguard runs into Alexander Reynolds’s Tennessee Brigade, which has gotten lost in the maze of back roads in the inky blackness of the night and has failed to go the assistance of Col.