Real Life Zombie Outbreak (Vicksburg, Mississippi 1863)
George Armstrong Custer achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel during the Civil War. In 1863 he was leading a Union force at the siege of Vicksburg, Mississipi. But in one assault after another, the Union army could not capture the city. They surrounded Vicksburg to blockade the Confederate stronghold. Colonel Custer devised a brilliant scheme to shorten the siege, with help from a real life zombie outbreak.
Until his big failure against the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, at the battle of the Little Bighorn, George Custer had an outstanding military career. He earned the loyalty of his men by personally leading every attack. These attacks were always a success, because he planned each one meticulously, in advance.
In this era, medical treatment was primitive. Military surgeons did not wash their hands before performing operations. Bacteria was unknown. There was a viral pandemic during the war, which was overshadowed by the casualties of the war itself. From descriptions in Army hospital records, the CDC has identified the contagion as the "Z" virus.
Both sides of the war between the states, shared a mutual hatred of zombies. The cursed souls were eliminated on sight, even if they were seen heading towards the enemy. This was an unspoken agreement between the North and the South. Abide not an abomination of the lord.
Colonel Custer himself first met the zombie foe, on the day before the battle of Bull Run. After eliminating one of the reanimated bodies, he took a scarlet neckerchief from the creature, and made it part of his uniform. Initially his men had made fun of the fancy uniform he preferred. Now they began to copy it, especially the crimson scarf.
The Mississippi river was a major supply line for the Confederacy. In the summer of 1863, Vicksburg was the last location on the river to be controlled by the south. The north numbered seventy-five thousand men, versus only thirty-five thousand Confederate defenders, but the city of Vicksburg was built like a fortress, and its forces easily defeated two assaults, inflicting heavy casualties on the north. After the commander of the Union troops, Ulysses S. Grant, ordered that the city be surrounded, no food or military supplies could get in. He would wait until the adversary surrendured.
Custer's cavalry was grounded. His men were camped on Chickasaw Bluffs, just outside the city perimeter. But sitting still was not Custer's favorite activity.
His superiors in the 15th corps knew nothing in advance of the military action taken by Colonel Custer on June 14. First he ordered the capture of six zombies. Breaking the unspoken rule that the infected were not to be used against the enemy, he told his men to provide target practice for the rebels, by ordering the staggered release of the infected, one every hour. They were funneled into Vicksburg through a small gap in the defensive line.
Once inside the city, five zombies turned into fifty, before the end of the week. Before the end of the next day, they numbered five hundred. Faced with this threat from within, and cut off from all means of re-supply, the southern army ran out of ammunition. It was overrun, forcing the surrender of Confederate General John Pemberton, on July 4th.
Now it was the responsibility of the northern army to reclaim the city. The adversary still wore gray uniforms, but the zombie soldiers would never surrender. The tally of the infected which were purged from the city, came to 6475, nearly doubling the total number of officially recorded casualties of the Vicksburg Campaign.
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