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.

6 Responses

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  1. Penelope Anne Cole
    Penelope Anne Cole July 4, 2013 at 11:07 am |

    Hi Margo, Because I knew from the title of the book (and U.S. History), that it was a difficult subject, I was mostly prepared, but there were shocks and surprises. You can never be sure until you read a book what will happen in the story and how the author and reader will deal with it. You treated the subject honestly, gave the Northerners a different perspective, and it did have a realistic (and mostly satisfying) ending. Sometimes authors must write books that are true, especially historical fiction; you can’t change history. Not every story will be frothy, neatly tied up, or happily ever after. I applaud your courage.

  2. Joyce
    Joyce July 5, 2013 at 11:24 am |

    As an adult I still like happy endings. I can’t stand it when books end in a bad way.

    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous July 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

    Margo, I enjoyed the book and learned a lot (I’m terrible when it comes to history). You told the story in an interesting way. I thought about it a lot when visiting the new Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks.

  4. Lynn Obermoeller
    Lynn Obermoeller July 7, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

    Ooops – that last comment was from me – forgot to put in my info!

  5. Margo Dill
    Margo Dill July 8, 2013 at 5:07 am |

    Lynn:
    Thank you so much for thinking about me. I need to get to the Civil War museum and as I told you in my email, get myself in gear to market my book more in this area. :)

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