Eating Rats and Dogs in Defense of Port Hudson

We eat all the meat and bread in the fort...eat all the beef--all the mules--all the Dogs--and all the Rats around us.

So wrote a soldier who had been inside the Confederate defenses at Port Hudson, Louisiana, during one of the longest sieges in American military history. For 48 days in 1863, he and his fellow troops defended a fort that stood on top of a bluff above the Mississippi River; for all of those 48 days, Federal soldiers pummeled the Southerners with cannon shot and rifle fire.
Finally, just five days after the Confederates were defeated at Vicksburg, Port Hudson surrendered to the Union. With these two victories, the North could finally claim undisputed control of the Mississippi River. Though the Civil War would rage on for almost two more years, the siege at Port Hudson, and the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg--which all occurred the same week--together struck a blow from which the South never recovered.

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