National Geographic : 1963 Jul
Southern officers arrange a trysting place where their men can meet relatives among the enemy and exchange news of home. As June nears its end, Vicksburg lives on hope alone, hope that Johnston and his army will come to lift the siege. But Johnston has told his government, "I consider saving Vicksburg hopeless." "Better Surrender Us" Finally Pemberton faces defeat. His lieutenants advise that the weary army cannot fight its way out. And a mes sage comes from "Many Sol diers," saying: "Just think of one small biscuit and one or two mouthfuls of bacon per day.... If you can't feed us, you had better surrender us, horrible as the idea is." On July 3 white flags flutter from Confederate lines, and Pemberton writes Grant for terms of "capitulation." Grant first answers "unconditional surrender," but reduces de mands after the two men meet. Having served with him in the Mexican War, Grant greets the vanquished gener al "as an old acquaintance." Next morning, as the North celebrates Independence Day, Vicksburg formally surren ders. Confederates march out and stack arms. Grant and his staff watch in silent respect for an army whose lines were never broken. "Hail glorious 4th," writes a Union officer, "made thrice glorious by the success of our long toil!" "I Can Hear the Silence" And in a battered Vicks burg house, a siege-wearied man muses to his wife: "It seems to me I can hear the silence, and feel it, too. It wraps me like a soft gar ment; how else can I express this peace?"