Glorious Flag Again Unfurled
By Nancy Breed
At the time of the Civil War, the Mississippi River was the most important economic feature of the continent–the very lifeblood of America. After the southern states seceded, Confederate forces closed the river to navigation, effectively strangling northern commercial interests. President Abraham Lincoln told his civilian and military leaders, “See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket…We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg.”
Regaining control of the lower Mississippi River would reestablish important commercial routes. It would also split the South in two, sever a vital Confederate supply line, achieve a major objective of the Anaconda Plan, and effectively seal the doom of Richmond. In the spring of 1863, Major General Ulysses S. Grant launched his Union Army of the Tennessee on a campaign to besiege Vicksburg and provide Mr. Lincoln with the key to victory.
General Grant awarded the honor to the Forty-fifth Illinois regiment – Washburne’s Lead Miners – to lead the Union army’s advance into the defeated city. The regiment’s flag was the first to be raised above the court house to …more