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Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg

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Overview

"Living in a cave under the ground for six weeks . . . I do not think a child could have passed through what I did and have forgotten it." —Lucy McRae, age 10, 1863

Meet Lucy McRae and two other young people, Willie Lord and Frederick Grant, all survivors of the Civil War’s Battle for Vicksburg. In 1863, Union troops intend to silence the cannons guarding the Mississippi River at Vicksburg—even if they have to take the city by siege. To hasten surrender, they are shelling ...

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Under Siege!: Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg

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Overview

"Living in a cave under the ground for six weeks . . . I do not think a child could have passed through what I did and have forgotten it." —Lucy McRae, age 10, 1863

Meet Lucy McRae and two other young people, Willie Lord and Frederick Grant, all survivors of the Civil War’s Battle for Vicksburg. In 1863, Union troops intend to silence the cannons guarding the Mississippi River at Vicksburg—even if they have to take the city by siege. To hasten surrender, they are shelling Vicksburg night and day. Terrified townspeople, including Lucy and Willie, take shelter in caves—enduring heat, snakes, and near suffocation. On the Union side, twelve-year-old Frederick Grant has come to visit his father, General Ulysses S. Grant, only to find himself in the midst of battle, experiencing firsthand the horrors of war.

Period photographs, engravings, and maps extend this dramatic story as award-winning author Andrea Warren re-creates one of the most important Civil War battles through the eyes of ordinary townspeople, officers and enlisted men from both sides, and, above all, three brave children who were there.

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Editorial Reviews

Abby McGanney Nolan
Warren doesn't skimp on the deprivation, disease and destruction felt all around, but neither does she ignore a child's excitement.
—The Washington Post
VOYA - Angela Carstensen
Warren creates a compelling account of the 1863 siege at Vicksburg that follows three young people from December 1862 through the aftermath of the surrender on July 4, 1863. Several elements make this effort stand out among Civil War books. Vicksburg was a unique city in a matchless position on the Mississippi River. The siege was extraordinary in its length and conditions. Warren tells the story from the point of view of three children: ten-year-old Lucy McRae, the daughter of a successful Vicksburg businessman; Willie Lord, the eleven-year-old son of a Vicksburg minister, originally from the North; and Fred Grant, the twelve-year-old son of Ulysses S. Grant. Fred is a particularly extraordinary subject. Fred joined his father for the entire campaign and was obviously thrilled to be part of the experience, even after he was shot in the leg and contracted dysentery and typhoid fever. The author uses primary sources throughout, including scores of quotes, many attributed to the children themselves, period photographs, maps, and paintings. The book only lacks a clear map of Mississippi and Louisiana, which would make the details of military strategy easier to follow. The back matter is extensive, including an annotated list of recommended Civil War books, a longer bibliography of sources, and extensive endnotes and illustration credits. Reviewer: Angela Carstensen
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

This detailed look at the Battle of Vicksburg takes the tack of viewing the siege through the eyes of three children who were eyewitnesses and left written records of their experiences. Lucy McRae, 10, was a young resident from an upper-crust family. Her experiences of living in the caves that the Vicksburg residents dug to keep themselves safe during the shelling certainly draw parallels with those of children in modern-day locations such as Sarajevo. Willie Lord, 11, shared a similar experience to Lucy's. His family was broken up when his fragile mother was evacuated with the children to the countryside, only to find that she could not manage without her husband, the local pastor. They, too, dealt with life in the caves. Frederick Grant, 12, the son of Union General Ulysses S. Grant, accompanied his father throughout the campaign. His narrative gives the Union perspective. Excellent use of primary-source documents, maps, diagrams, and period reproductions adds depth and interest to what is almost a day-by-day recounting of this crucial siege. This volume is not only an excellent source for reports but is riveting historical reading as well. Pair it with Jim Murphy's The Boys' War (Clarion, 1990) for a look at America's bloodiest conflict through the eyes of its youth.-Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

Kirkus Reviews
This engrossing account of the 1863 siege of Vicksburg chronicles the event through the experiences of three young people from December 1862 through the aftermath of the surrender on July 4, 1863. Warren creates a compelling narrative using the points of view of ten-year-old Lucy McRae, the daughter of a successful Vicksburg businessman, Willie Lord, the 11-year-old son of a Vicksburg minister, and Fred Grant, the 12-year-old son of Ulysses S. Grant. Fred is a particularly interesting subject, having accompanied his father for the entire campaign. Despite being shot in the leg and contracting dysentery and typhoid, Fred's enthusiasm for the experience never wanes. Primary sources, including quotes from the children, period photographs, maps and paintings are used throughout. The extensive backmatter includes an annotated list of recommended Civil War books, a longer bibliography of sources, endnotes and illustration credits. A unique perspective on a pivotal Civil War campaign. (Nonfiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
"Although her subtitle refers to three children, author Andrea Warren offers a wide-ranging account of the tactics, terrain and geography as well as the experience of Vicksburg’s residents—many women, children and slaves among them—who endured the 47-day siege." —The Washington Post

"This volume is not only an excellent source for reports but is riveting historical reading as well." —School Library Journal

"The constant bombardment of the town; the very real dangers and inconveniences of hiding in Mississippi River caves; and the alternately festive and morbidly curious citizens of Vicksburg, who would regularly view the battle—all combine to present readers with an 1863 seldom pictured in textbooks." —The Horn Book

* "The many quotes offer insights into the points of view of Vicksburg residents and soldiers on both sides of the conflict. . . . Vivid, informative history." —Booklist, starred review

"A unique perspective on a pivotal Civil War campaign." —Kirkus Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374312558
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 4/27/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 579,153
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 1110L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrea Warren’s noteworthy nonfiction has received the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award as well as a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book Award. Her book Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy was a Booklist Editors’ Choice and an NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, among other recommendations. She lives in the Kansas City area.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 8, 2009

    You-Are-There History

    Under Siege! Is another wonderful "you are there" history experience for young readers. How amazing to be able to read the words of three people who as children experienced, firsthand, the siege of Vicksburg.
    Not only does one get a sense of what it must to have been like to cower in the hastily dug caves while the Union army shelled the town, but one also gets a full accounting of the battle from the Union side, through the eyes of Frederick Grant, who stood beside his father, Ulysses Grant, one of the giants of the Civil War.
    With the maps and the accounts of the battles leading up to Vicksburg, readers can see just how important geography was in the war. They'll get a clear idea of the strategic importance of Vicksburg to the Union cause.
    Children also will be intrigued with the photographs and drawings - especially the newspaper printed on the back of wallpaper during the siege.
    I've bought two copies of this fascinating book for two 12-year-old grandsons, who are history buffs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2013

    history

    taken from diaries not very good reading civil war cronicles

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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