Thursday, May 6, 2010

THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG - May 18,1863-July 4,1863

Up to this point we haven't mentioned that our visit to Mississippi was specifically to visit Vicksburg, MS, and the Vicksburg National Battlefield, site of the Siege of Vicksburg on May 18 - July 4, 1863. We decided to commute to Vicksburg via the historic Natchez Trace Parkway, about an hour away from Natchez.

Our blog is being published on Mother's Day, May 9, 2010, to pay tribute to mothers and families who have lost fathers, sons, and loved ones in wars in our country as well as all over the world. In our visits to hallowed battlefields throughout our country you see so many innocent lives forever changed and to remind us of the tragedy and sadness associated with war.

My great-great-grandfather, Private Daniel D. Lockwood, Company I, Alabama 31st Infantry, was killed at the age of 49, in the Siege Of Vicksburg on June 18, 1863 (At his muster it was noted his hair was grey and his eyes were blue). Daniel D. Lockwood was born in Connecticut around 1814, and through whatever his fortune was to be, relocated his family to Montgomery, AL, according to the U.S. Census of 1860. His final burial place was unknown to our family, and we were hoping to locate his grave, should one exist. RV and I were somewhat prepared for the sadness you encounter at a National Battlefield site from having visited Gettysburg, Shiloh, Olustee, Manassas and Chicamauga; however, there was a slight possibility that we might find a grave with a marker, as well as a state designation regarding his service.

The Siege of Vicksburg was a 47 day siege, which in the end gave control of the Mississippi River to the Union. The Confederate surrender following the Siege of Vicksburg is sometimes considered, combined with General Robert E. Lee's defeat at Gettysburg the previous day, the turning point in the war.
Private D. D. Lockwood found himself in a hopeless situation into about 2 weeks of the Confederate occupation of Vicksburg, MS. The Union troops, under the direction of General Ulysses Grant, had cut off all supply lines to Vicksburg. Nothing coming in.....nothing going out. Scurvy, malaria, dysentery, diarrhea and other diseases were destroying the army. His life would end 31 days after the Siege began. He would never know about the CSA surrender on July 4 - he never knew that most of his infantry perished in the Siege, and he never knew that at the surrender most of the Confederate soldiers were parolled as Grant had no provisions to feed 30,000 men. The parolled soldiers were exchanged and received back into the Confederate Army on August 4, 1863, and then went on to Chattanooga, TN to fight again. Most likely his wife and family sadly wondered what had happened to him, and whether he was dead or alive. Any Confederate soldier who was killed during the Siege was probably buried in a mass grave (which was usually the case). I read somewhere that wars "tell of the movement of armies and the acts of generals".

Dead Confederate soldiers were given space at the Soldier's Rest Public City Cemetery - at Cedar Hill - not the Vicksburg National Cemetery. We visited the very old City Cemetery - Cedar Hill, and the CSA area was divided into the states who were represented in the Siege and the majority of the graves were "unknown" soldiers. Of the 17,077 graves of Civil War soldiers, there were 12,909 "unknown". We went to the Alabama section - all known dead sign of Private D. D. Lockwood, 31st Alabama Infantry. His sacrifice and the sacrifice that thousands of "unknown" soldiers have made is such a sad but true commentary.

After driving through the Vicksburg National Battlefield, a 16 mile driving tour of the Battlefield, it was clear where the 31st Alabama Infantry was positioned during their occupation, and most likely where my great-great grandfather perished.

There are over 1,340 monuments throughout the Battlefield - not enough time to read them all - it would have required days!

We should pause and thank our forefathers, whichever side their allegiance was, and thank them for their ultimate sacrifice. We should also pray for our present day soldiers' families, and that the day may soon come when their loved ones will return safely. The cost of war can never be measured in just dollars and cents. There's so much more to consider. Some unknown author once said "Freedom is not free"! ......and it never will be.
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