Battle of Vicksburg Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

The Battle of Vicksburg was a significant battle in the Civil War of the United States. In this lesson, learn how and why this battle occurred, who the important military leaders were, and which side was victorious in this Civil War battle.

Nation at War

How would you feel if the area of the country where you lived was at war with another part of the country? That's exactly what happened during the Civil War in the United States (1861 - 1865). States in the south were known as the Confederacy, and they were fighting in support of slavery. States in the north were part of the Union and were against the practice of slavery. The Civil War was full of violent and bitter battles throughout the country and this lesson is going to take a look at the very significant Battle of Vicksburg.

Vicksburg Fortress

The Vicksburg fortress was a Confederate-controlled area on the Mississippi River in Mississippi. It was important to the Union forces that they overtake this fortress. In fact, President Abraham Lincoln stated, ''Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.''

John Pemberton

If you were cheering for a specific team, would it be hard to switch and cheer for the opposite team? Probably so! This is kind of what happened with John Pemberton. He was someone who originally supported the Union cause, but when he married a lady from Virginia, his loyalties changed. Virginia was a Confederate state, so it is believed that his marriage was the reason for the switch. In fact, not only was he a Confederate supporter, but he was also the general of the Confederate forces at Vicksburg!

John Pemberton, leader of the Confederate forces at Vicksburg

First Battles

In the summer of 1862, and again in December, the leader of the Union forces, Major General Ulysses S. Grant, had been unsuccessful in his attempts to conquer the Vicksburg fortress. But, he did not give up. In April of 1863, he decided to attack Vicksburg from the south. After several unsuccessful assaults, Major General Grant decided on a new tactic.

The first attempts to overtake Vicksburg were unsuccessful for the Union.

Long Siege

On May 22, 1863, Grant and the Union forces began what is now called the Siege of Vicksburg. This meant that he surrounded Vicksburg and cut off supplies and support that the Confederates needed. It's hard to believe, but this siege attack lasted over 40 days!

Once the Confederate forces led by Pemberton were surrounded, their defeat was inevitable.

During this time, Grant's men dug trenches and tunnels that would help them get access to the Confederate forces. People who lived in Vicksburg had to hide in caves to stay safe, and they were hungry because food supplies had been cut off.

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