Thom Bassett: Rashomon at Vicksburgtags: NYT, Civil War, Disunion, Vicksburg
Thom Bassett is writing a novel about William Tecumseh Sherman. He lives in Providence, R.I., and teaches at Bryant University.
The fall of Vicksburg, Miss., on July 4 sent a shock wave through both North and South – it split the Confederacy in two and gave the Union nearly unfettered control of the Mississippi River. Less clear was what brought about the surrender. Indeed, the principal players in the surrender drama — John C. Pemberton for the South and Ulysses S. Grant for the North — insisted on very different accounts.
On the night of July 2, Pemberton laid out for his divisional commanders a dismal set of options. According to his subordinate S.H. Lockett, Pemberton said that they had the stark choice “either to surrender while we still had ammunition enough to demand terms, or to sell our lives as dearly as possible” in a doomed assault against the Yankees.
When virtually all his generals voted to surrender, Pemberton said that he would offer to give up the city on July 4. Pemberton (who was born in Philadelphia, but had married a Virginia woman) further stated that doing so would be to the Confederates’ advantage. “I am a Northern man,” he told his officers, and “I know my people; I know their peculiar weaknesses and their national vanity; I know we can get better terms from them on July 4 than any other day of the year.”
Accordingly, on the morning of July 3, Confederate Maj. Gen. John S. Bowen approached the federal lines under a white flag. Upon being met by Maj. Gen. A.J. Smith, he asked to see Grant, who refused to meet him (despite having been neighbors with Bowen in Missouri before the war)....
comments powered by Disqus
- Florida professor to burn Confederate flag
- Could another English king be buried under a parking lot?
- Huckabee says archaeology supports the Bible
- George W. Bush's CIA Briefer: Bush and Cheney Falsely Presented WMD Intelligence to Public
- Unfinished film about the Holocaust made in 1945 to finally be seen by audiences
- Daniel Pipes calls the rulers of Iran "madmen" on official Iranian TV
- A Professor Tries to Beat Back a News Spoof That Won’t Go Away
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- Sean Wilentz is being called “Hillary’s Historian"
- Hundreds of British historians challenge assumptions of “Historians for Britain” campaign