Book Review: Occupied Vicksburg


by Bradley R. Clampitt

Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016. Pp. viii, 304. Notes, biblio., index. $48.00. ISBN: 0807163384

Vicksburg After the Siege

Prof. Clampitt (East Central University), the author of The Confederate Heartland, examines events in wartime Vicksburg following the surrender of 30,000 Confederate troops to U.S. Grant on July 4, 1863, after a six week siege, hitherto a largely untold story. Following a short introduction to show the the reader how the events of that July 4th came about, Clampitt devotes a chapter to the events of the day, as experienced by the Union and Confederate armies, and also, and how the surrender was perceived by civilians, both white and black, including free as well as enslaved.

Clampitt follows up with chapters on the curious interactions between victors in Blue and prisoners-of-war in Gray for several weeks during which they were in close proximity until the latter were paroled. He then follows with a series of chapters devoted to particular relationships: the occupiers and local white citizens, both Confederate and Unionist; the occupation and the African-American residents, slave and free, many of whom soon turned up in Union Blue; and Confederate resistance and Union response.

Clampitt throws light on a number of complex issues not closely examined before, such as why black body servants often wished to remain with their Confederate officer masters, rather than accept freedom, the management of the local economy during the occupation, and so on. He concludes with a epilogue on how one African American woman experienced newfound freedom.

A volume in the LSU series “New Dimensions in the American Civil War,” Occupied Vicksburg is a ground-breaking work, and is an important read for the serious student of the Civil War, or of the evolution of U.S. occupation polices, and perhaps most imortantly of the nuances of race and slavery in nineteenth century America.

Note: Vicksburg Occupied, is also available in several electronic editions.


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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