“Today, Grand Gulf…lies in dreamy contemplation of the momentous events that transpired here and helped shape the nation’s destiny”.
For a period of some eighty years, the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, would not join the nation’s July 4th celebration of Independence Day. Go below the jump to find out why and how Grand Gulf fits in the picture.
Nowadays, it’s the real-time capacity of news on-line that poses a major problem for newspapers. However, in 1863, the major problem was a lack of paper; and, there are 31 known editions of newspapers printed on the back of wallpaper. One of those was the July 2 issue of the Vickburg Daily Citizen:
When issued on July 2nd, the editor included the following note: “On Dit.–That the great Ulysses–the Yankee Generalissimo, surnamed grant-has expressed his intention of dining in Vicksburg on Saturday next, and celebrating the 4th of July by a grand dinner and so forth. When asked if he would invite Gen. Jo. Johnston to join he said ‘No! For fear there will be a row at the table’ Ulysses must get into the city before he dines in it. The way to cook a rabbit is ‘first catch the rabbit’ &c.”
When Union forces finally entered the city July 4th, they found the type still standing, and proceeded to issue the paper again with the addition of the following note: “Two days bring about great changes, the banner of the Union floats over Vicksburg, Gen Grant has ‘caught the rabbit;’ he has dined in Vicksburg, and he did bring his dinner with him. The ‘Citizen’ lives to see it… This is the last wall-paper edition, and is, excepting this note, from the types as we found them. It will be valuable hereafter as a curiosity.”
Grand Gulf, better known today as site of the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, “probably expected to play little part in the great conflict which had ripped the nation asunder”. However, with only eight (8) big guns, the Confederate forces at Grand Gulf ” stood off seven…gunboats mounting 81 guns – sending Grant further south where he was only able to “catch the rabbit” by crossing the Mississippi from Hard Times, Louisiana, opposite Bruinsburg, Mississippi, and marching a longer route to Vicksburg.
Today we celebrate Independence Day as a united nation with even Vicksburg participating . However, what little remains of the once thriving port city of Grand Gulf, including the Confederate Chapel pictured above, is found in the Grand Gulf Military Park.