Good article, Lee, but you left out one important detail that helps give
perspective and understanding as to why July 4 has only recently been a day of
celebration in Vicksburg. General Pemberton and the rest of the Confederate
troops were ready to surrender and wanted to do so formally on July 3rd but
General Grant, in an extra measure of insult, refused to accept their formal
surrender until July 4. Because of this perceived disrespect, for many decades
locals did not venture out of doors on July 4 and when they did, they wore black
armbands. Thankfully the past has finally become the past and the
City of Vicksburg has an official celebration with fireworks over the water,
parades, picnics and all the trappings of any American city - but that
didn't come about until the 1990's - about the time I moved to
Vicksburg. I don't agree with their response, but it helps to understand
that the locals here were reacting to the spite with which they were treated by
Gen. Grant and that lasted for many generations.
CaryT, I understand that education is not a priority in Mississippi and that may
have led to the perpetuation of the fallacy of Grant insulting Vicksburg by
refusing surrender on the 3rd. Perhaps the words of General Pemberton from his
own report can shed a little light on the subject."If it should
be asked why the Fourth of July was selected as the day for the surrender, the
answer is obvious. I believed that upon that day I should obtain better terms.
Well aware of the vanity of our foes, I knew they would attach vast importance
to entrance on the Fourth of July into the stronghold of the great river, and
that, to gratify their national vanity, they would yield then what could not be
extorted from them at any other time." Pemberton chose the 4th
in an effort to exact the most favorable terms possible for his men and the
city.The fact that Vicksburgh appears to have held a roughly 130
temper tantrum based upon a slight that never occurred makes me truly sad.
Perhaps the money saved on fireworks displays and bunting would have been well
spent on education instead of black arm bands.