Title: Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg
Author: Andrea Warren
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Concepts: economics of conflict, scarcity, poverty, slavery, discrimination
Review: During the Civil War, Union gunboats bombarded Vicksburg from the Mississippi River on its western size, while Union soldiers and cannons surrounded the city on land from the other sides. Not only did they strike the city with seemingly endless rounds of cannonballs and minié balls, they also cut off all deliveries of supplies and food into the city. The siege lasted forty-seven days, during which many Vicksburg residents, including slaves, sought refuge in a series of caves and tunnels they had dug into the hills.
Not only does this interesting and informative book provide a wealth of information about the military campaign leading up to the siege and a detailed account of the siege and the Confederate surrender, it also focuses on the experiences and views of three children involved in the siege. On the Union side, Frederick Grant accompanied his father, General Ulysses S. Grant, through most of the Vicksburg campaign; and on the Confederate side, Lucy McRae and Willie Lord both endured the miserable conditions of the caves with members of their households.
The book’s maps, photographs, and carefully-researched text focus mostly on the military aspects of the siege, but the book also embraces important lessons in economics. Class boundaries among the white residents blurred as everyone suffered from hunger, disease, and injury in and around the caves. The role of slavery and the emancipation of slaves during the Civil War also feature prominently, as do discussions of how women’s work supported the war effort and post-war recovery. This powerful book will leave lasting lessons and impressions.
Review by: The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children