Vicksburg's best known contribution to American history is probably the part she played in the epic known as the Civil War.
In 1859, the Mississippi state convention adopted an official resolution calling for immediate secession from the Union if an abolitionist was elected president. Following Abraham Lincoln's election, the state seceded by a vote of 8415 on January 9, 1861. With this vote, Mississippi followed South Carolina into the Confederate States of America.
By February, seven states had seceded. On February 9, 1861, representatives of these states met in Montgomery, Alabama and the provisional Confederate Congress elected Jefferson Davis as President of the CSA. Two days later, in Vicksburg, President Davis gave his first address as the first President of the Confederate States of America. In this address, he stated that he struggled "earnestly" to maintain the Union and the constitutional equality of all states but "our safety and honor required us to dissolve our connection with the United States. I hope that our separation may be peaceful. But whether it be so or not, I am ready, as I have always been, to redeem my pledges to you and the South by shedding every drop of blood in your cause...".
Both the Confederacy and the Union expected a war, if fought, to be over after the first battle. After the first meeting near Manassas Junction, Virginia in July 1861, both factions were to realize the war would be long and hard.
Throughout the war, no matter the outcome of the battles, the South remained intact as long as the river remained open. As the North's attention narrowed to the 150 mile area between Port Hudson and Vicksburg, the South's economy was disrupted . The fall of New Orleans and the surrounding strongholds resulted in major evacuation procedures along the Lower Mississippi Valley region. Cotton was removed or prepared for destruction. Storekeepers loaded their goods and headed inland. Families left to visit relatives and acquaintances elsewhere in the state, and those left behind waited for the arrival of the Union fleet.
Vicksburg maintained rail access to the heart of the Confederacy at this time but most of the other towns along the river could not. They soon found their situation untenable.