Vicksburg and the Fourth of July: A Sordid History

by akasped on flickr.com

by akasped on flickr.com

Why a Confederate flag so close to our nation’s birthday? Well, I wrote about Vicksburg, MS and their role in the Civil War in my middle-grade novel, Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, and I wanted to share with you all a fact about Vicksburg that comes out in my novel, concerning the 4th of July.

First, I wanted to state, for the record, that when writing a book for children, most authors hope they can write a somewhat happy ending. Children love happy endings–nobody wants to see Lightning McQueen wind up in the junk yard or Cinderella not live happily ever after. But when writing my book, I struggled with this. The setting is the Siege of Vicksburg during the U.S. Civil War in 1863. This does not have a happy ending for the South, the townspeople of Vicksburg, or the Confederate Army. The army surrenders to Grant and his northern soldiers on none other than July 4, 1863! That’s right, on Independence Day, the Southerners waved their white flag in Vicksburg, and the Yankees took over.

But one thing I learned about the Southern spirit while doing research for my book is that NOTHING gets a Southerner down. This includes surrendering in war. This includes the Confederate flag being replaced by the United States flag on the Vicksburg courthouse. The people surrendered, but their spirit didn’t. Vicksburg DID NOT CELEBRATE the 4th of July for 80 years after this date! I love that–not that people missed out on summer fun and celebration, but that they took a stand and stuck to it–for 80 years!

Now, you can visit Vicksburg and celebrate with fireworks on the river! For more info, please see: http://www.visitvicksburg.com/events/default.aspx?month=7&year=2012

In honor of the 150th anniversary, buy my book! :) It is currently on sale on Amazon, which you can check out here:

I should also probably add that I took a chance by writing a Civil War book from the Southern point of view and with a 13-year-old GIRL, CITIZEN narrator. But I think it’s important for children to read about both sides of the war. And of course, in my book, I am not promoting the awful things that the South stood for, such as slavery. I do talk about the economics of it (as much as a 13-year-old girl can understand since the story is told from her point of view). If you are a writer, you can understand these issues I faced while writing and the sometimes difficult choices I had to make.

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