My Vicksburg

My Vicksburg

by Ann Rinaldi


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Claire Louise Corbett and her Confederate family flee their home as Union soldiers shell their town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. They venture out from the safety of a cave only three times a day, when the Union army takes their meals at eight in the morning, noon, and eight at night. Although many of the townspeople suffer from a lack of food, the Corbetts receive extra rations from Claire Louise's brother, Landon, a doctor with the Union army. When Claire Louise discovers her brother tending to a Confederate soldier who is responsible for Robert E. Lee's "lost order" (causing the South to lose the Battle of Antietam), she is forced to make a difficult choice between family and friends.

Award-winning historical novelist Ann Rinaldi paints a story of family, courage, and secrets during the forty-seven-day siege of Vicksburg, a battle that has sometimes been ignored in history because it ended the same day as the Battle of Gettysburg.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547550008
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/01/2011
Pages: 162
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

ANN RINALDI is an award-winning author best known for bringing history vividly to life. She lives in central New Jersey.

Read an Excerpt


May 1863 Vicksburg, Mississippi

The only reason we came back to town, and stayed during that terrible nightmare of a time, those forty-seven days of confusion and heartbreak that made up the siege of Vicksburg, was because of Sammy the cat.

Oh, other people stayed, for other reasons, mostly because they couldn’t believe it was all happening. "It will go away," they told themselves. "The Yankees will soon understand that they made a mistake coming here. What’s here for them, anyway?

"And until that realization comes to those Blue Coats, we’ll just build ourselves some caves to live in, to protect ourselves from the cannon fire, the rifled artillery, the exploding missiles, and the general pandemonium all around us.

"And we’ll eat beans and rice and bacon and cornmeal. And maybe, when all that runs out, maybe rats and mule meat." That’s what the people said.

When we heard the first firing, on Sunday, May 17, we were just outside a small town called Bolton’s Depot, at Fruitvale, Pa’s parents’ plantation. We’d been there for a little over two weeks, ever since General Grant and his army crossed the Mississippi and landed at a Confederate stronghold below the mouth of the Big Black River.

Here at Fruitvale we had commodious rooms, the best horses to ride, servants galore. And Mama had brought along all Pa’s medical books and her home remedy books, for her home remedies worked side by side with Pa’s modern doctor ways. She also brought her good dresses and jewelry, and mine and James’s going-to-church clothes.

My little brother, James, who was only five, said he could hear the artillery shells from way down at Big Black River where the Yankees were fighting and getting closer to Vicksburg.

James was afraid for Sammy, who was back home in Vicksburg.

"What you’re hearing is the mortar bombs from Porter’s fleet on the river below the bluffs," Pa explained to him. "We’re safe here."

"But Sammy isn’t. He’s home alone in our house."

"Clothilda and Andy are with him."

"That’s worse," James said. "They won’t let him cuddle next to them at night and he needs somebody." He was trying not to cry. At five it isn’t easy.

I know. I’m thirteen and it isn’t easy.

"He’ll be all right," Mama soothed James. He was her "little man." She called him that, and for the most part he lived up to it. But I envied him for still being able to break into tears when the occasion warranted it. I, myself, was too old. Anyway, Pa would be put out with me if I cried. And the last thing in the world I wanted was for Pa to be put out with me.

He expected me to be a young lady, a comfort to Mama and him, what with my older brother Landon off to war for six months now, home only once, in April.

It would be all nice and fit and proper and we would be the typical Southern family and I would be knitting socks and sending them to Landon, except for one thing.

Landon had gone and joined up with the wrong side.

Landon was with the Yankees, with Grant. Oh, he wasn’t out there this minute fighting his way to destroy our town. He was with Grant, all right. But, like Pa, Landon was a doctor. His was the first class to study under the president of Harvard, Charles Eliot. He had completed written exams, clinical sciences, and a three-year degree program.

"Should have never sent you there," Pa had scolded him when he came home in his blue Yankee uniform with the double row of buttons down the front. "You learned more than medicine. You learned their sentiments, their ideals, their beliefs. Did you get extra credit for all that?"

Pa was as mad as a wet porcupine. I think I even saw tears crowding his eyes when he looked across the supper table at his pride and joy in that blue uniform. He’d been so proud of Landon up until now. He’d had plans for after the war, of Landon working with him in his surgery.

"I’m not going to be shooting Confederates, Pa," Landon said. "I will likely be treating them if they come my way. You know how I feel about killing. The same as you."

Pa had had nothing to say about that. He knew Landon spoke the truth.

"If I embarrass you in this uniform, sir," Landon said quietly, "well, I won’t come home anymore. I don’t want to hurt your standing in this town."

"Yes, and that kind of talk is what will get you run out of the house, as far as your mother and I are concerned,"

Pa said. "You’re a doctor. You do us proud. You just haven’t got the brains to know which side to serve. Now the conversation is over." Pa worried about him. I know he did. Sometimes I caught him sitting there staring into the middle distance, a book in his hands, and I knew he was thinking of Landon, though he never spoke of him.

Mama did. She called him "my boy." She kept his boyhood room as he’d left it. She waited for his letters and read them to us at the supper table. Pa said nothing when she read them.

Now in the parlor at Fruitvale, James ran to Pa and hugged his leg. "I want to go hoooome."

Mama’s eyes were tearing up now, too. "Please, can we, Hugh? I miss home. I miss my things."

"You’ve brought many of them with you," he reminded her.

In the last two weeks we’d heard the news from neighbors who’d left town and passed Fruitvale. Forts were springing up on the bluffs of Vicksburg, above the Mississippi. An 18-pound cannon the army had set up on the bluff was named "Whistling Dick."

And finally the words we never thought we’d hear: "The Yankees are coming!"

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My Vicksburg 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
hockey22 More than 1 year ago
This book did NOT take place during the Soviet Union!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know where you got that information. FYI it took place during the Civil War. Anyway I rated this book 5 stars because its a really good book that kept my interest the whole time. I can't believe people lived in caves during the Civil War! That would be creepy in my opinion but what else would they do when the war was going on in town. I loved this book and I'm going to read more books by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anymous you obviously didnt read the book! The Soviet Union??/?
Alina104 More than 1 year ago
very good book, as usual. Ann Rinaldi seems to be shifting her focus from young adults to preteens though, which is disappointing for her older readers.
AMCAC More than 1 year ago
Claire Louise Corbet is a young teen caught between several worlds--war, growing up, and dealing with family. She lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi just as the siege of the city begins in 1863. Her father and older brother are both doctors; one serves with the Confederate Army and the other with the Union Army. Like most families in Vicksburg, the Corbets are forced to live in a cave on the outskirts of the city proper, and the author gives a clear idea of what it was like living under those circumstances. One day, her brother shows up with a patient/prisoner named Robert, who has a brooding secret. The reader is led to believe that he could be deceptive, and the character is never truly developed enough to know. Perhaps, this is the author's way of getting the reader to develop their own perspective on the story. The author develops the conditions of life in Vicksburg during the Civil War for the reader very well. The reader sees the conditions of living in caves, like residents did during the seige, as well as how the town newspaper was printed on wallpaper. The scenes in the make-shift hospital are well done, and the author puts Claire Louise as a volunteer there. Readers see that conditions were not well, and that soldiers' first thoughts were on their family, and the need to let them know that they were fine. Readers will also be drawn to why the characters make certain decisions and the relationship between the central character and her father. The author leaves it up to the reader to figure out the relationships on their own. Overall, the book is great for those interested in the Civil War or historical fiction.
rebecca191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thirteen-year-old Claire Louise Corbet, living in Vicksburg, Mississippi in the spring of 1863, struggles with the many changes the Civil War has brought to her family and her life. Her beloved older brother Landon, has joined the Union Army as a doctor, leaving the Corbet family with divided loyalties - they still love him, but support the Confederate cause. Her father, also a doctor, has joined the Confederate Army. And when Vicksburg comes under siege by the Union Army, Claire Louise, her little brother James, their mother, and their household servants must leave their comfortable house to live in a cave. Soon after, Claire Louise finds her loyalties further divided. Her brother, whom she hasn't seen in many months, has returned to Vicksburg to care for wounded soldiers. He brings with him Robert, a wounded Confederate soldier. Landon confides in Claire Louise that Robert is a Confederate officer that was responsible for an order from General Lee that fell into Union hands, leading to a terrible Confederate defeat. Though Robert insists the order was lost accidentally, Landon feels compelled to turn him in. Now Claire Louise is forced to choose between her brother and helping Robert, which she feels is right in her heart. I have loved most of the books I've read by Ann Rinaldi, so I really wanted to like this one as well. But in the end, I thought it was just okay, and nothing more. For starters, it was really at least a bit too short, and was missing a lot of backstory and explanation - why did Landon join the Union Army? Why was he so readily accepted back in Vicksburg after betraying his Confederate neighbors to help the enemy? The character of Claire Louise herself was inconsistent at times as well, sometimes acting very immature for her age and other times making adult decisions. My Vicksburg isn't a terrible book - it's a quick, pleasant enough read. Readers who already love Ann Rinaldi's books will likely find it an enjoyable enough way to spend a couple of hours. But for those readers looking for a really good novel about the Civil War, or who are new to this author's books, there are much better books out there, including several others about the Civil War by Ann Rinaldi herself that I thought were much better than this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Ann Rinald! She puts a lot of research into her books, and you can learn a lot. Her book are very well written and quite enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
yellowCB More than 1 year ago
My Vicksburg is a book about a 13 year old girl named Claire Corbett and her journey through the Soviet Union. Her family hides in nearby caves for protection. This journey is 47 days long.My Vicksburg is a book about a 13 year old girl named Claire Corbett and her journey through the Soviet Union. Her family hides in nearby caves for protection. This journey is 47 days long.In my opinion this book achieved its goals. It was very depressing in some parts and very active in other parts. I think the goal of this book was to tell readers how the life during the Soviet Union era. It told where they would hide for shelter and what they would eat. The book was very descriptive.Finally after 47 days the South surrenders. The south lost to the Antietam because of the letter that Robert was supposed to have given to General Lee.