The Mississippi Civil War Sesquicentennial continues and in the coming months we will be highlighting Museum Division collections related to 1863 and the Civil War. Special thanks to Nan Prince, assistant director of collections, for writing this series.

May 26–July 3, 1863 – The Vicksburg Campaign:  The Siege of Vicksburg

Shingle and nails from Pemberton's headquarters. Accession number: 2001.20.1-2 and 2001.30.1 (Museum Division collection)

Shingle and nails from Pemberton’s headquarters. Accession number: 2001.20.1-2 and 2001.30.1 (Museum Division collection)

President Abraham Lincoln called Vicksburg, Mississippi, “the key” to winning the Civil War, and General Ulysses S. Grant launched the Vicksburg Campaign in the spring of 1863. The campaign was a series of battles and maneuvers that led to the eventual siege and surrender of the Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River.

Battle flag of 1st Mississippi Artillery, Co. A (Withers Light Artillery). Accession number: 1968.43.1 (Museum Division collection)

Battle flag of 1st Mississippi Artillery, Co. A (Withers Light Artillery). Accession number: 1968.43.1 (Museum Division collection)

After two failed assaults on Vicksburg, the “Gibraltar of the Confederacy,” on May 19 and May 22, General Grant decided to lay siege to the city. While cutting off all supplies and communications to  Vicksburg, federal troops began constructing thirteen different approaches to the Confederate line. Lt. Gen. John Pemberton set up his headquarters in a home in the city known as “Mrs. Willis’s House.” In this house, Pemberton led his operations and endured the long siege. The nails and shingles pictured above were from the Greek Revival home that served as Pemberton’s headquarters. Also pictured below is the battle flag from the 1st Mississippi Artillery, Company A (Withers Light Artillery), which participated in the defense of Vicksburg.