The Vicksburg Women

During the 47 days of the siege, the Vicksburg women would gather on the hilltops to watch the battle and cheer their Southern heroes. One such day was May 27, 1863, when the Confederate river batteries engaged the ironclad, the Cincinnati, as it steamed down river to join the gunboats below Vicksburg. The river batteries, the parrott gun known as “Whisttling Dick,” sunk the Cincinnati. Hundreds of ladies gathered on the highest hills to watch the combat, despite orders to the contrary. In a city of 5,000, that was likely the full complement of Vicksburg womanhood. But, to be fair, during a siege, amusement was rare.

As the valiant vessel went down, the brave ladies cheered and waved handkerchiefs. Many soldiers found inspiration from the courage of these women. A large number of valued goods, including hay, clothing, whiskey, a medical chest, letters, photographs were rescued from the vessel by the desperate Confederates. Some Confederates hoped the Federal doctor who penned an affectionate letter to his wife escaped unhurt from the boat.

A.A. Hoehling, Vicksburg: 47 Days of Siege (Penn.: Stackpole Books 1996), p. 65.

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