Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Western Theater Wednesday

Greetings Cosmic Americans!

Yes...I know I seem to talk more about the war in the East than anything else. Guilty as charged - I confess that I am drawn to the East - the battles in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania have held my interest for decades - even though my own ancestors fought in the West. What can you do.

But my Twitter friends have noticed - and politely (without attacking me for being Eastern-centric) suggested to look more in to the West. I aim to please - so here you go...actually an idea from my friend Joseph (@josephaswanson) ...Western Theater Wednesday! At least once a week - Wednesdays - I will dedicate this blog to a western topic.

A lot of people say that the war was won and lost in the West. Let's just see....I am open to discussion on the subject. This week we go to Vicksburg. We all know that the city fell on July 4th, 1863 - securing the Mississippi River for the Union and cutting the Confederacy in two. This was an important part of the overall Union strategy (see - my Anaconda Plan post) and worked partially to bleed the Rebs to death.

I am most intrigued by the Confederate civilian reaction to the city's loss. By coincidence, Vicksburg fell on the day after the Rebs lost at Gettysburg - what many would retrospectively cast as the war's turning point. 1863, the southern civilians were troubled by the loss in Pennsylvania - but they were devastated by the fall of Vicksburg.

This point is key to understanding the relative importance of the two theaters - at least in the summer of 1863. Based on newspaper reports, it seems that civilians saw the loss in the west as a crushing blow - much more so than the loss at Gettysburg. The Mississippi River was absolutely vital to the survival of the Confederacy - or that's what people thought anyway...and perception is 9/10ths of the game.



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