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Contributing Musicians

Clark Hansbarger
Mike Jewell
Allen Kitselman
Gary McGraw

Vicksburg / June 30, 1863

Lyrics and Story:

Another Yankee ironclad round the horseshoe bend.
We pounded them with cannon and we pounded them again.
A month of bloody sunsets and I don’t know when
Johnson’s coming up from Jackson again.

Castle on a hill
Oh… Vicksburg
The siege is with us still

We fought them on the Chickasaw just past Christmas time.
They got up through the timber and came at us in lines.
Three times they marched forward, three times sent away.
We killed em on the hillsides and left them where they lay.

Castle on a hill
Oh… Vicksburg
The siege is with us still

Each night in the distance a thousand campfires glow,
Like the Greeks of Agamemnon many years ago.
Some say we’ll fight it to the death; other says we’ll go.
Me, I’m god damned either way for Vicksburg is my home.

Castle on a hill
Oh… Vicksburg
The siege is with us still

Vicksburg : The Campaign and the Siege

Vicksburg - Civil War Songs - Vicksburg by Clark Hansbarger“Let us get Vicksburg and all that country is ours. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Vicksburg is the nail head that holds the South’s two halves together,” he said. It is “the Gibraltar of the West.” — Jefferson Davis

Sitting on abluff above a horseshoe curve in the river, Vicksburg was the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi. Considered the key to control of the Western front, Vicksburg became the site of the largest Union operation to that point in the war– and its capture a major step in Ulysses S. Grant’s rise to prominence.

Vicksburg - Civil War Songs - Vicksburg by Clark HansbargerBy December 1863, Confederate ports up and down the river had fallen, giving the Union Navy near control of the river. After failed attempts to take the city by water, Gen. W. T. Sherman mounted the first of a series of land attacks against the Confederate forces led by Lieut.-Gen. John C. Pemberton. On December 26, Sherman brought Union troops from the northeast through the Chickasaw Bayou. Here, they failed to breach at the Confederate defenses, beginning six months of maneuvering for this important port.

Grant tried a number of strategies to take the city, even attempting a canal to circumvent the defenses altogether. Eventually, he crossed Vicksburg - Civil War Songs - Vicksburg by Clark Hansbargerthe river south of Vicksburg and began an overland campaign from below the city. This left his forces without a line of supply, forcing them to live off the land. They made their way first to Jackson, where they drove Johnson’s troops from the capital and then turned back to attack Vicksburg from the east.

Though the line of fortifications defending the city were strong enough to withstand months ofsiege, Pemberton eventually surrendered, giving the Union control of the river andsplitting the Confederacy in two.

The narrator of this song is both a soldier and a resident of this “castle on a hill”. His unusual dilemma is that this is his home and watching its inevitable fall is as difficult for him as for the citizens of Troy so long ago.

The Vicksburg Campaign and Siege

Vicksburg  (overview from Civil War Trust)

Fall of Vicksburg : Turning Point of The Civil War (overview and good video)

Official Union and Confederate Reports of the Vicksburg Campaign

Map of Battle and Siege of Vicksburg

Civilians and the Siege

Civilians in the Siege of Vicksburg : Living in Caves, Eating Rats ( overview with links and video)

Daily Life under Siege (anonymous female’s diary account)

May 18, 1863 : Start of the Siege- and the Starving– of Vicksburg (discussion of supplies and food during the siege)

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