John C. Pemberton, - The Defender of Vicksburg
Pemberton, a West Point graduate, was
cited twice for gallant actions in the Mexican War, married a Virginia
belle, resigned his U.S. Army commission and cast his lot with the
Confederacy. He had great engineering talent, was rapidly promoted and
was transferred to take command of the Dept. of Mississippi and
Eastern Louisiana, embracing the stronghold of Vicksburg, providing
access to the supplies and manpower of the Trans-Mississippi. Many are
contemptuous of Pemberton's military record, but it is a hard fact
that he and his generals repeatedly frustrated the efforts of Grant
and Sherman. On May 7 President Jefferson Davis sent Gen. Pemberton a
telegram emphasizing the importance of holding Vicksburg at all costs.
General Joe Johnston arriving in Jackson on May 13, ordered Pemberton
to save his army, abandon Vicksburg and join with him against Grant.
Pemberton was in a quandary: Should he obey President Davis, his
Commander-in-Chief, or his immediate field commander, General Joe
Johnston? His torment shows in his eyes in this painting. Pemberton
left enough troops at Vicksburg to hold the city against a Union
invasion, took most of his army and marched east trying to form a
juncture with Johnston. He collided with Grant east of the Edwards
Depot, fought and lost the key battle of the Vicksburg
Campaign, the Battle of Champion Hill,
one of the most important battles of the war. After that battle
Pemberton retired to the Vicksburg fortifications and after a 47-day
siege was forced to surrender the city. After being exchanged,
Pemberton resigned his commission as a lieutenant general and
faithfully fought the remainder of the war as a lieutenant colonel.
James West Thompson, Historian, Jackson, Mississippi.
This painting has been shown many
times on the History channel where he was called "the saddest
man in Vicksburg". The life-size painting of Pemberton hangs
in the Old Courthouse Museum in Vicksburg, Mississippi and illustrated
in the book Pemberton - A Biography by Michael B. Ballard.
Prints will soon be available in a
limited number. Please contact us.