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Originally published May 24, 2013 at 6:02 AM | Page modified May 24, 2013 at 6:03 AM

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This Week in the Civil War

This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 26: Fighting for control of the lower Mississippi River.

The Associated Press

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, May 26: Fighting for control of the lower Mississippi River.

Union forces acted this week in 1863 in a coordinated onslaught against Confederates holding Port Hudson, La., bidding to dislodge them while Ulysses S. Grant ratcheted up his offensive against the heavily fortified city of Vicksburg, further up the Mississippi River. The Union on May 27, 1863, unleashed assaults on Confederate fortifications at Port Hudson, only to be pushed back. Federal fighters then lapsed into a siege at Port Hudson that would last for several weeks before Union fighters would again try - and fail - with another assault in mid-June. It wouldn't be until early July 1863 when Grant's Union fighters had forced the surrender of the Confederate garrison at Vicksburg, Miss., before Port Hudson would capitulate. The fighting in Louisiana and Mississippi marked a new chapter in the war as Grant sought would assert Union control over the entire Mississippi River through the Deep South to federally held New Orleans.

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, June 2: Union offensive continues on the Mississippi River.

Union forces 150 weeks ago during the Civil War continued raining cannon shot and rifle fire down Confederates ensconced behind defensive works at Port Hudson, La. For 48 days the siege of the enemy garrison at Port Hudson would go on even as Union forces sought to dislodge Confederates defending Vicksburg, Miss. In May and June of 1863, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant mounted the prolonged siege of Vicksburg, a city on bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Grant knew that taking control of the Mississippi River's entire lower stretch was a major key to splitting the Confederacy and turning the momentum of war to the Union side. Ultimately Grant would succeed in that operation, eventually forcing the capitulation of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, and inducing the surrender of Port Hudson days later. His military achievements along the Mississippi also would serve to catapult Grant to the post of general-in-chief of the Union armies.

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, June 9: Battle of Brandy Station, Va.

While Union forces were besieging points along the lower Mississippi River, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was beginning to look for an opening to strike at the North. On June 9, 1863, Union cavalry corps unleashed a surprise attack on Je.B. Stuart's Confederate cavalry forces at Brandy Station near the Rappahannock River in Virginia. The fighting rage for an entire day and marked the largest battle of the war predominantly pitting cavalry against each other. Though the momentum swung repeatedly from one side to the other, Union fighters failed to detect a major infantry camp of Lee's nearby in Culpeper, Va. The fighting at Brandy Station would mark the prelude to Lee's push northward into Pennsylvania that would culminate in the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.

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This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, June 16: Fighting in the Shenandoah Valley.

More fighting rages in Virginia 150 years ago during the Civil War. after the major cavalry battle at Brandy Station, Va., Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee dispatches a sizable column of soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia to scatter Union rivals from the Shenandoah Valley. The valley that slants northeastward in the shadow of the Appalachian mountains will in coming weeks become a corridor for Lee to march his army into Pennsylvania, where the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg will be fought in July 1863. Thousands of his troops massed at Winchester, Va., and fighting raged from June 13 to June 15, 1863. All told, hundreds of federal troops eventually surrendered and were captured in what was an important Confederate victory. For Lee, the importance of victory meant the Shenandoah Valley would now be largely clear of Union troops, opening a door for his second invasion of the North and the eventual showdown at Gettysburg.

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