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I have compared writing Under Siege! Three Children at the Civil War Battle for Vicksburg to creating a quilt: all the parts had to fit perfectly to produce the whole. My goal was to write about the 47-day siege of Vicksburg the summer of 1863 from the perspective of a boy and a girl whose families endured that that terrible time, living in caves to stay safe from the shelling, with little food to sustain them. When I learned that Ulysses Grant’s son was with the sieging army, I began telling the story from both sides. To complement the testimonies of Lucy McRae, 10, Willie Lord, 11, and Frederick,12, I combed through rich source material from the archives of Vicksburg’s Old Courthouse Museum to include anecdotes and details from townspeople and soldiers defending the city. Also valuable were issues of the local newspaper, published daily during the siege even when this meant printing it on the back of wallpaper for lack of regular paper. I interviewed the town’s leading historian and other experts and dug through the archives of the Ulysses S. Grant Association to find informative interviews with Frederick. Especially valuable were the memoirs of both Ulysses and Julia Grant, and of William T. Sherman, who was with Grant, and the writing of leading Vicksburg historians. I visited Vicksburg at the height of the summer heat and humidity so I could write accurately about it. I toured the Vicksburg Military Park with a knowledgeable guide, learning all I could about the standoff between the two armies at Vicksburg. Weaving it all together was daunting but rewarding: my young readers are there as the drama unfolds, seeing and experiencing it through the eyes of three brave young people who were eyewitnesses to a seminal event in American history.

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