Wall Paper Edition of The Daily Citizen, Vicksburg, Mississippi
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“General Grant Has ‘Caught the Rabbit’ ”
This is the famous last issue of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen, the most celebrated Civil War wallpaper newspaper. Vicksburg, under siege from May 22, 1863, faced a daily barrage of gunfire from Ulysses S. Grant’s Union Army. As supplies became scarce, publisher J. M. Swords ran out of paper. He began to print the Daily Citizen on the back of unused wallpaper rolls. When Union forces finally entered the city July 4th, they found the type still standing, and proceeded to issue the paper again with the addition of a bit of braggadocio. [SIEGE OF VICKSBURG].
Last edition of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen. Printed on flowered white and green wallpaper pattern. Published by J. M. Swords, July 2–4, 1863.
Vicksburg was under siege from May 22 until July 4, 1863, and faced a daily barrage of gunfire from Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant. J. M. Swords, editor of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen attempted to boost morale among soldiers and citizens through his editorials during the siege. After a mortar destroyed the Daily Whig, Swords’ paper became Vicksburg’s only remaining periodical. Keeping the paper in business was throughout the siege proved difficult. On June 16, a mortar hit his office causing a huge mess. As supplies became scarce, Swords’ ran out of newsprint. He was forced to use the backside of wallpaper rolls to print the Citizen.
When issued on July 2nd, the editor included the following note: “On Dit.--That the great Ulysses--the Yankee Generalissimo, surnamed Grant--has expressed his intention of dining in Vicksburg on Saturday next, and celebrating the 4th of July by a grand dinner and so forth. When asked if he would invite Gen. Jo. Johnston to join he said ‘No! for fear there will be a row at the table’ Ulysses must get into the city before he dines in it. The way to cook a rabbit is ‘first catch the rabbit’ &c.”
When Union forces finally entered the city July 4th, they found the type still standing, and proceeded to issue the paper again with the addition of the following note: “Two days bring about great changes, The banner of the Union floats over Vicksburg, Gen Grant has ‘caught the rabbit;’ he has dined in Vicksburg, and he did bring his dinner with him. The ‘Citizen’ lives to see it. For the last time it appears on ‘Wall-paper.’ No more will it eulogize the luxury of mule-meat and fricasseed kitten--urge Southern warriors to such diet never more, This is the last wall-paper edition, and is, excepting this note, from the types as we found them. It will be valuable hereafter as a curiosity.”
Martin, David. The Vicksburg Campaign. Vicksburg, MS: Da Capo Press, 2002.
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