Question of the Week: 6/15-6/21/2020

Last week’s question featured the Gettysburg Campaign, and we’re also in the Vicksburg Campaign/Siege season, so…

In your opinion, what’s the key event of the Vicksburg campaign before July 4th?

15 Responses to Question of the Week: 6/15-6/21/2020

  1. On the night of April 16, 1863, seven gunboats and three transports of Admiral David D. Porter’s Mississippi River Squadron ran massive Confederate batteries on the Vicksburg bluffs from north to south. It was not at all certain that they would survive. Six more boats loaded with supplies made the run on April 22. Two transports were lost, thirteen men wounded, and none killed. After six months of failed attempts at Vicksburg from the north and east, this was U. S. Grant’s last option. He marched his army through the swamps down the west bank of the Mississippi, crossed south of, surrounded, and laid siege to the city. The navy transported the army, closed the river, and provided heavy shore bombardment. It was arguably the greatest joint campaign of the war.

  2. I would go with the successful crossing at Bruinsburg. After all the previous failed attempts, finally getting troops on the same side of the river and able to move towards Vicksburg really opened the campaign. On the crossing Grant wrote “When this was accomplished I felt a degree of relief scarcely ever equaled since. Vicksburg was not yet taken it is true…but, I was on dry ground on the same side of the river with the enemy.”

    1. I;’ll go with this but add Grierson’s Raid. According to Grant and confirmed by Ed Bearss and Tim Smith, the raid distracted Pemberton for five crucial days while Grant decided to cross at Bruinsburg and met literally no opposition.

      1. Sherman’s feint at the Battle of Snyder’s Bluff, NE of Vicksburg, also contributed to the lack of opposition at Bruinsburg.

  3. About 24 May 1862 Farragut’s Fleet of ocean-going warships arrived off Vicksburg. Farragut had detached the Mortar Boats of David Dixon Porter to bombard Fort Gaines near Mobile Alabama before proceeding up the River; and Major General Ben Butler and his 10,000 troops were left behind to garrison New Orleans. The guns of Farragut’s Fleet could not be elevated to reach the top of the 200-foot high bluffs, occupied by fewer than 1000 men and a single battery. In June, Farragut departed to steam north and join with Davis’s Western River Fleet south of Union-occupied Memphis. And the opportunity to take Vicksburg while it was yet relatively easy to do so went begging…
    With occupation of Vicksburg in June 1862, there would have been no 1863 Vicksburg Campaign.

  4. Agree with the successful crossing of the Mississippi, putting his Army on the same of the river , as Vicksburg.\

  5. I don’t know if an individual can be considered as an event, but to me, Grant, Grant and Grant is the key “event” of the Vicksburg campaign.

    1. I agree. If an event is needed, then it is the formulation of a masterful plan in Grant’s mind.

  6. I don’t know if a personal attribute can be labeled an ‘event’, but because so many things transpired to get the Union forces in position to hazard Vicksburg, I’ll go with Grant’s tenacity. So many efforts failed to achieve what he wanted and needed, and that was getting his troops TO Vicksburg. He tried several canal digs, he tried blowing up levees to raise water levels, he cut roads through swamps, and still, his objectives were not met, and STILL, he did not get discouraged and quit. He was quite the optimist throughout, looking at those tasks as being good for his troops in keeping them busy and fit for the fighting that was definitely going to come as far as Grant was concerned.

  7. I have two to suggest. The appointment of Joseph Johnston as Western Event Coordinator for the Confederacy. What little imagination Pemberton had withered away in the presence of Johnston’s overwhelming pessimism. In addition, both Van Dorn and Forrest were elsewhere occupied, leaving Pemberton blind as Grant was offloading.

  8. All of the above posts are well thought out. But my favorite turning-point moment occurred shortly after Grant got his army across the Mississippi to the eastern side. Lincoln and Halleck wanted him to march south and join Butler in capturing Port Hudson before turning his attention to Vicksburg. Grant wisely disregarded their advice, and the rest – as they say – is history.

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