With death and destruction raining daily from the skies, the civilian populace dug caves and tunnels into the soil of the bluffs, sometimes excavating large, spacious groups of rooms, lit with lamps and torches and decked out with furniture brought from the houses. While still vulnerable to a direct hit, the caves offered the occupants relative safety compared to their homes.
The end, of course, was inevitable. Lieutenant General Pemberton and Major General Grant met to discuss surrender terms on July 3, 1863. Grant softened his earlier demand for unconditional surrender as the only acceptable terms, and gave Pemberton another offer:
As soon as rolls can be made out, and paroles signed by officers and men, you will be allowed to march out of our lines, the officers taking with them their side-arms and clothing, and the field, staff, and cavalry officers one horse each. The rank and file will be allowed all their clothing, but no other property.Pemberton accepted the terms, and Vicksburg had fallen. Grant deliberately delayed taking possession until the following day, taking advantage of the symbolic gesture of entering the city on the Fourth of July. On that same Fourth of July General Robert E. Lee led what was left of his broken Army of Northern Virginia south out of Pennsylvania, after its disastrous defeat at Gettysburg.
The Fourth of July was not celebrated again as a holiday in Mississippi until the 1930s.
We are fortunate that the actual parole (originally French for “word”) signed by Thomas A. Burgin at the surrender of Vicksburg has survived on microfilm as part of his official Confederate military record. I quote the entire oath, using italics to show the blanks in the printed form filled in by Thomas in his own hand:
Vicksburg, Mississippi, July 9, 1863
TO ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN, KNOW YE THAT:
I Thos A Burgin a Lt. Col of 3 Bat M S Troops in Service C. S. A., being a prisoner of War, in the hands of the United States, in virtue of the capitulation of the City of Vicksburg and its Garrison, by Lieut. Gen. John C. Pemberton, C. S. A., Commanding, on the 4th day of July, 1863, do in pursuance of the terms of said capitulation, give this my solemn parole under oath —
That I will not take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military police or constabulary force in any Fort, garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, against the United States of America, nor as guard of prisons, depots or stores, nor discharge any duties usually performed by officers or soldiers, against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities.
Thos A Burgin Lt Col 3rd Batn.
M S Troops.
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