The City Surrenders & 27,000 Troops Paroled
The long campaign was winding down to a ceremonious waiting game; Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton agreed to surrender twenty seven thousand defenders from Vicksburg, Mississippi forfeiting the last segment of the river that linked the Confederate East and West. Major General Ulysses S. Grant asked for its capitulation in a meeting with the bastion's commanding general on the 3rd of July, however, he agreed to wait by special request to accept the surrender the following day.
In the early morning hours of July 4th the news had already been circulated throughout the Department of the Tennessee, should the white flags appear atop the enemy's works at 10 o'clock the surrender terms had thus been accepted. Congratulatory communications were received from all over the field and river.
Three days later, one of the Confederate division commanders made an inquiry regarding the federal army allowing soldiers who desire to go north to pass through their lines as an option to avoid parole. Pemberton did not consider this possible and referencing a personal conversation he had with Major General James McPherson that all soldiers get paroled without exception, the United States authorities had no intent of administering the oath of allegiance to any of his soldiers.
On Friday the 10th of July, General Pemberton had offered to the federal department commander that Major General Martin Luther Smith carry the terms of capitulation into effect. With his presence in the city, it was asked that the federal army ensure his rank be respected while there and furnished the proper transportation, military escort and open requisition to the needed supplies in carrying out his task. General Grant accepted this designated officer and assigned four federal orderlies to go with him and render assistance. Likewise, Grant ordered the 17th Corps Commander to ensure the accuracy of the rolls and that no man is missed. General Grant would do all that he could to ensure an accurate count of men, that absentees were well marked, and everyone leaving with their respective commanders paroled. With Pemberton's desire to march out of the works at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 10th of July, McPherson was able to ensure the designated federal parties were present along the route to gain his accurate count.
The rolls of those paroled were handled in this fashion and later provided for the sake of the central government in Richmond, Virginia. Leave periods of sixty and even ninety days were granted by Smith under Pemberton's authority and when completed he was free to go in keeping with the agreement between the two commanders.
Marching the troops out the Jackson and Baldwin's Ferry Road, Pemberton's army collected at Demopolis, Alabama as paroled prisoners and awaited exchange. The Mississippi River was back in complete control of the Federal Navy and the South had been successfully torn in two. Vicksburg was the gem of the triple crowning federal victory that presented a brighter future for the northern soldier in July 1863.
Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at email@example.com