Among the more remarkable stories of escape from slavery during the Civil War was that of Abraham, who was quite literally "blown to freedom." After failed attempts by the Union army to take the southern stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the early months of 1863, General Ulysses Grant initiated a siege of the city that lasted from May 22 to July 4. During the final days of that siege, Union soldiers tunneled beneath earthen fortifications erected by Confederate forces and twice detonated powerful explosives. During the second blast, on July 1, seven enslaved workers used by the Confederates to dig countershafts were buried by debris. But one man—identified only as Abraham—was blown clear and fell to earth behind the Union lines. Though badly bruised, Abraham eventually recovered from his injuries. He remained with Union troops and later served as a cook on General James McPherson’s staff.