Question of the Week: 9/26-10/2/16

Question-HeaderWould you consider Vicksburg a combined campaign? How dependent was General Grant on the naval forces of Admiral David D. Porter?

11 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/26-10/2/16

  1. The Vicksburg Camaign was a combined operation because Grant was able to coordinate the vast resources West & plan a campaign, not just a one day battle. The depots of Cincinnati, Grierson’s raid, deployment of the gunboat fleet, the rail & river transportation networks & even Mrs. Livermore’s trip to Chicago that stopped the scurvy epidemic that threatened the siege of Vicksburg were the warp & weave of a single tapestry in his mind. It was Grant’s ability to think on a continental scale that set him apart from his adversaries. His operations were not merely combined, they were seamlessly integrated into a whole far greater than the parts.

    1. Grant’s previous attempts prior to the flotilla bypassing Vicksburg … says otherwise.

      I have often questioned whether it was Porter’s or Grant’s idea.
      I consider, generally, Grant’s abilities to be immense, however, he was lacking in reasonable imagination concerning Vicksburgs eventual defeat.
      Who’s idea was it ?
      Was Grant responsible for turning the tide of the War, or, was it David Porter, who was possibly the UNSUNG author of Vicksburg ?

      I would wager that BEDFORD FORREST knew.

      1. The man in command was Grant. Every order that was issued for the movement came from Grant’s headquarters. One of Grant’s great strengths as a commander was how open he was to talent. Porter, Thomas, Sherman & a host of others were encouraged to bring him their best ideas. In the end, however, it was Grant who had the final responsibility.

        Maybe ole’ B.F. knew what was happening, using a chrystal ball I suppose. If so, he didn’t bother to tell anybody then or later.

  2. A combined naval and army operation was necessary to grasp Vicksburg. Porter supplied the means to sail past Vicksburg and Grant supplied the necessary personal to strangle the enemy and force a surrender.

  3. Absolutely a combined operation. Porter’s gunboats gave Grant’s army an amphibious capability that the Confederates did not have the means to counter. Would Vicksburg have eventually been taken without the Navy? Maybe. However, the campaign could not play out the way it did without the Navy.

  4. A Vicksburg Campaign without the U. S. Navy? I have a hard time imagining that the Federals would attempt two western overland campaigns in the summer of 1863. Even if Rosecrans’ was stripped of much of his dedicated railway support, I cannot see how Grant could sustain his communications lines through western Tennessee into central Mississippi without significant reinforcement from The Army of the Cumberland, permitting Bragg to substantially reinforce Pemberton or to undertake his own thrust into Tennessee and derail the Federal plans. No…the combined Army-Navy operation led by Grant and Porter was the only winning combination for that campaigning season.

  5. The success of Vicksburg depended upon the cooperation of the respective service commanders–Grant and Porter–on the battlefield. There was no joint command of United States armed forces as developed in the 20th century. Any disputes between the services had to be decided by President Lincoln. The Vicksburg campaign shows what can be accomplished when the local Army and Navy commanders cooperated. An example of a disaster where cooperation was lacking was the Red River campaign of 1864 and lack of cooperation between General Banks and Admiral Porter.

  6. I read this question early this morning, but did not answer because I was at work. By the time I got home, it had all been covered–so thumbs up to the above comments!

  7. How else would the Army of the Tennessee have gotten to the Vicksburg side of the Mississippi on April 30, 1863?

    1. Army transports. Grant had many army boats that were directly under his control for supplies, transport, etc. Porter’s navy gunboats provided fire power but it was army boats that carried he men across the river.

  8. Long before Vicksburg, Grant had a history of close cooperation with the Navy.

    In his first major CW military move, Grant used riverboats to ferry his troops in September 1861 to occupy Paducah, Ky. Two months later, he used gunboats and riverboats to ferry troops to Belmont Mo. Those transports also came in handy when he was forced into a hasty retreat from Belmont.

    Flagg Officer Foote’s gunboats greatly assisted Grant in taking Fort Henry in Feburary 1862 and were later less successful in helping him capture about 15,000 Rebel troops in nearby Fort Donelson. The capture of these two river bastions resulted in Confederates being forced to abandon western and middle Tennessee.

    After moving to the Eastern theater, Grant proposed using the Navy to ferry Union troops to North Carolina for a massive raid on that state’s logistics, which were seen as vital in keeping Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia clothed, fed and armed. Unfortunately, the Lincoln administration nixed this innovative strategy, insisting instead that Grant launch his costly Overland campaign.

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