The four days between July 1 and July 4, 1863 marked a major turning point of the Civil War. Beginning in mid-May, Ulysses S. Grant's troops had begun a siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Located on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi, Vicksburg allowed the Confederacy to control river traffic between Memphis and New Orleans. The day after the defeat of Lee's army at Gettysburg, Vicksburg surrendered. Five days later, Union forces captured Port Hudson, Louisiana. These victories gave the North complete control of the Mississippi River and isolated confederate territory west of the Mississippi from areas east of the river.
After the defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, southern morale began to sag. Yet despite military defeats, inflation, shortages, desertions, the flight of thousands of slaves, and flagging resolve, the Confederacy continued to fight for another 22 months.
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