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Vicksburg: Strategic Setting, Forces, and Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts PowerPoint Presentation
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Vicksburg: Strategic Setting, Forces, and Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts

Vicksburg: Strategic Setting, Forces, and Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts

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Vicksburg: Strategic Setting, Forces, and Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts

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  1. Vicksburg: Strategic Setting, Forces, and Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts Lsn 16

  2. Vicksburg Strategic Setting

  3. Strategic Situation

  4. Importance of Mississippi River and Vicksburg • At  the time of the Civil War, the Mississippi River was the single most important economic feature of the continent • Confederate forces closed the river to navigation, which threatened to strangle northern commercial interests

  5. Lincoln’s Assessment • “See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key! The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.... We can take all the northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can defy us from Vicksburg…. I am acquainted with that region and know what I am talking about, and as valuable as New Orleans will be to us, Vicksburg will be more so.”

  6. Trans Mississippi Confederacy as a Supply Source • Texas led the nation in cattle, with an estimated three and a half million head • Virginia and Georgia, the next largest Confederate cattle-producing states, counted slightly more than one million each. • Texas ranked behind only Tennessee in the number of horses and mules, fourth in the number of sheep, and seventh in the production of swine. • Texas was a significant source of livestock for armies in the west, but that could only remain the case so long as those animals could cross the river safely. • Federal success at Vicksburg would deny the eastern Confederacy access to these and other supplies

  7. Key Railroad from Monroe, LA through Vicksburg to Jackson and points east

  8. Splitting the South in Two • Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas (as well as the Indian Territory) accounted for almost half of the Confederacy’s total land mass • Federal control of the Mississippi River would isolate the western and eastern halves of the Confederacy • So Grant’s mission was to seize Vicksburg in order to control the Mississippi River and separate the Confederacy in two

  9. Terrain • Vicksburg was part of a line of bluffs that extended from Columbus, KY to Baton Rouge, LA • Formed an escarpment that greatly favored the defense both on land and on water

  10. Vicksburg Bluff Line

  11. N 0 200 Miles Fortifications on the Mississippi KY MO Columbus New Madrid Is. No. 10 TN Ft. Pillow Memphis AR MS AL LA Vicksburg Grand Gulf Port Hudson New Orleans Ft. St. Philip Ft. Jackson

  12. Terrain • What was going to make things difficult for Grant is the terrain • Northeast of Vicksburg was the Delta • Flat, periodically flooded area coursed by streams of various navigability • Steele’s Bayou, Tallahatchie River, Yazoo River, etc • Steep banked creeks, uncleared swamplands • West of Vicksburg was Louisiana • Even flatter and swampier • Would require much corduroying of roads

  13. Vicksburg and the Mississippi • As Union forces moved south toward Vicksburg in late 1862, the winter and the wet season began. • This ended all possibilities of moving forces by land. • Grant was forced to find an alternative route to reach Vicksburg. • Made several failed attempts from December 1862 through April 1863

  14. Vicksburg Federal Forces

  15. Federal Forces: Army • Ulysses Grant’s Army of the Tennessee • Hurlbut- XVI Corps (headquartered in Memphis, largely performing rear area missions) • Sherman- XV Corps • McPherson- XVII Corps • McClernand- XIII Corps • Maneuver force of ten divisions (44,000 effectives)

  16. Federal Forces: Navy • Navy • Mississippi River Squadron commanded by Flag Officer David Porter • About 60 combat vessels of which 20 to 25 would support the Vicksburg operation at any one time • 13 ironclads

  17. Ironclads • In 1822 naval theorists began proposing wooden ships be replaced with iron ones • On March 9, 1862, the U.S.S. Monitor and the C.S.S. Virginia fought the first battle between two ironclads off Hampton Roads, VA • Chief role of the ironclads in the Vicksburg Campaign was to defeat the Confederate fortified batteries

  18. Ironclads • Usually attacked the fort head-on to take advantage of the protection of the ironclad’s thickest armor • Ideally attacked from the downstream side to improve maneuverability and to allow the ironclad to drift safely away if disabled • Many engagements were within 100 yards of the fortification • Ironclad would blast the position with grape and exploding shell in an attempt to break down the earthen parapet of the fort and disable its guns

  19. Rams • Converted riverboats by reinforcing their hulls and filling their bows with timber so that they could survive deliberate collisions with enemy boats • Existed strictly for combat against other boats • Since they carried little or no armament other than their rams, they were of limited utility once the Confederate fleet had ceased to be an immediate threat

  20. Mortar boats • Unpowered scows or rafts, each carrying one squat, kettle-shaped 13-inch siege mortar which weighed 17,120 pounds. • With a full 20-pound charge, the mortar could lob a 200-pound shell a distance of over two miles • During the siege, thirteen mortar boats anchored on the western side of De Soto point and maintained a steady barrage

  21. Tinclads • Most versatile vessel in the fleet • Constructed by modifying riverboats by covering them with 1/2-inch to 3/4 -inch thick iron plating that protected the power plant and pilot house from small-arms fire • Could double as troop transports in joint operations, each one carrying up to 200 infantry

  22. Tinclads • Provided the naval presence that kept waterways under Union control, even when the riverbanks belonged to the Confederates. • Typical tinclad had six 24-pounder howitzers mounted facing the sides to drive off “bushwackers” • Shallow draft enabled them to prowl waterways inaccessible to heavier war vessels. • Some tinclads could float on as little as eighteen inches of water when lightly loaded

  23. U.S.S. Cairo • Sailed up the Yazoo on December 12, 1862 to destroy Confederate batteries and clear the channel of torpedoes (underwater mines) • Came under fire seven miles north of Vicksburg and two explosions tore gaping holes in the ship's hull. • Within twelve minutes the ironclad sank • First ship in history to be sunk by an electrically detonated torpedo. • The wreck was located in 1956 and raised in 1965

  24. Joint Operations • Operations carried on by two or more of the armed forces • At Vicksburg, this was the Army and the Navy

  25. Unity of Command All forces operate under one responsible commander who possesses requisite authority to direct forces in pursuit of a common unified purpose Unity of Effort Coordination and cooperation among all forces, not necessarily part of the same command structure toward a commonly recognized objective Unity of Command vs. Unity of Effort

  26. Vicksburg Would Require Unity of Effort • “Although unity of command was not formalized by regulation, Grant worked hard to ensure that good relations, constant communication, and division of labor fostered unity of effort.” • Joint Military Operations Historical Collection, Chapter1, “Vicksburg” • Grant involved Porter early on in the planning • “I had had in contemplation the whole winter the movement by land to a point below Vicksburg from which to operate– my recollection was that Admiral Porter was the first one to whom I mentioned it. The cooperation of the Navy was absolutely essential to the success (even to the contemplation) of such an enterprise.”

  27. Joint Operations in the Vicksburg Campaign • Running the Gauntlet • Grand Gulf • Bruinsburg • Siege • Logistics “Running the Gauntlet At Vicksburg” by Don Stivers.Admiral Porter's fleet steams past the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg.

  28. Vicksburg Confederate Forces

  29. The Confederate Departmental System • The Confederacy had a vast amount of territory that needed to be somehow organized militarily • But the South’s strong adherence to the principle of states’ rights impeded efforts of form an efficient, centralized command system • The result was a departmental organization of regional commands • Divided the Confederacy up based on geography • Most operational decisions were left to the departmental commanders, theoretically allowing the Confederate government to focus on only the most important strategic decisions • The reality was that departmental commanders tended to operate in isolation from each other with only limited unity of effort

  30. Confederate Forces: Army • John Pemberton • Five divisions totaling 43,000 effectives • Pemberton fell under Joe Johnston’s Department of the West • But Pemberton was allowed to report directly to Richmond, bypassing Johnston • The Trans-Mississippi Department was commanded by Edmund Kirby Smith • The geographically based Confederate departmental system would often inhibit unity of effort among commands

  31. John Pemberton • Honest and dedicated, but ill-suited for the leadership demands of Vicksburg • Inflexible and bureaucratic in his leadership style; very hands-off approach to command • Lacked a trusted subordinate like Grant has in Sherman • Originally from Pennsylvania • Previous Civil War service had focused on fortifications and batteries to defend against naval attack • Virtually no experience in leading an army in the field • An example of the “Peter Principle”

  32. Trans-Mississippi Department • Edmund Kirby Smith commanded the Trans-Mississippi Department from Mar 1863 to Apr 1865 • Pemberton told him, “You can contribute materially to the defense of Vicksburg and the navigation of the Mississippi River by a movement upon the line of communications of the enemy on the western side of the river....To break this would render a most important service.” • The Confederate departmental system would hamstring any such cooperation. • The loss of Vicksburg would isolate Smith’s command and the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy would become known as “Kirby Smithdom”

  33. Unity of Effort • Pemberton was responsible for one side of the Federal high-speed avenue of approach (the Mississippi) and Smith was responsible for the other • Violated unity of effort • “Each enemy avenue of approach is assigned to only one subordinate unit.” • FM 3-21.21

  34. Joseph Johnston • One of the Confederacy’s senior generals • Preceded Lee as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia • Became commander of the Department of the West in Nov 1862 • Considered the department too large for coordinated movements • Upset that his two immediate subordinates (Pemberton and Bragg) had direct access to Richmond • Didn’t get along well with Davis • Personality conflict as well as strategic disagreement over the significance of the western theater • Had a propensity for defensive warfare • “Joe Johnston was not in a positive frame of mind as the Vicksburg campaign developed.” • Michael Ballard, Vicksburg, NPS, p. 13

  35. Confederate Forces: Navy • By 1863 the Confederate “River Defense Fleet” had been virtually destroyed in fighting below New Orleans and above Memphis • Only five of twenty-five gunboats survived into 1863, mostly by hiding upstream in such tributaries as the Red, Arkansas, White, and Yazoo Rivers • The last ironclad, The Arkansas, was scuttled by own crew in August 1862 after her steam engines failed • Thus, at the time of the Vicksburg campaign, there were no Confederate ironclads and only a handful of gunboats on the western rivers

  36. Confederate Forces: Navy • The greatest potential threat to the U.S. Navy during the Vicksburg campaign was from its own vessels falling into Confederate hands • In February 1863, the ram Queen of the West and the ironclad Indianola ran downstream past the Vicksburg batteries • Confederates captured the Queen of the West when she ran aground and then used her to disable the Indianola • The Queen of the West was later destroyed in action on the Atchafalaya River

  37. Confederate Forces: Navy • The Confederates scuttled the Indianola in February when a Union “monitor” ran the Vicksburg batteries, as if on its way to recapture the Indianola • This “monitor” was in fact an unmanned, unpowered barge rigged out to resemble an ironclad

  38. Confederate Forces: Counter-riverine • In the absence of a navy of their own, the Confederates made skillful use of mine torpedoes and shore-based snipers to harass the Federal Navy • Some 40 Federal vessels were hit by mines

  39. Vicksburg Dec 1862 to Apr 1863 Attempts Cutting the Levees at Providence

  40. Agenda • Terrain • Chickasaw Bayou • Grant’s Canal • Lake Providence • Yazoo Pass • Steele’s Bayou • Results

  41. Vicksburg and the Mississippi • The last Confederate post on the river • Key to New Orleans • Control of the Mississippi River would provide a safe route for the transportation of troops and supplies. • Impassable batteries • Vicksburg was situated on high bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. A five mile stretch of artillery batteries protected the city from invaders.

  42. Vicksburg and the Mississippi • Surrounding terrain • The Delta to the north and the Louisiana lowlands to the east • Swampy land covered with thick forests and dense undergrowth containing numerous rivers, lakes and bayous subject to constant floods. • Swamps south of Vicksburg • Flooded swamplands prevented ground movement.

  43. Vicksburg and the Mississippi • As Union forces moved south towards Vicksburg, the winter and the wet season began. • This ended all possibilities of moving forces by land. • Grant was forced to find an alternative route to reach Vicksburg. • Made several failed attempts from Dec 1862 to April 1863

  44. Grant’s First Attempt:Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • Grant envisioned an advance of 40,000 troops due south along the Mississippi Central Railroad combined with a movement by water of 32,000 men under Sherman against Chickasaw Bluffs, just a few miles north of Vicksburg

  45. Grant’s First Attempt: Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • Overland advance stopped because of the vulnerability of Grant’s supply lines • 3,500 cavalry under Van Dorn struck Grant’s rear between Dec 20-25 and captured Grant’s advanced base at Holly Springs • At the same time Forrest’s cavalry broke up 60 miles of railroad north of Jackson, Tennessee • We’ll talk more about these raids and their impact when we talk about logistics

  46. Grant’s First Attempt: Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • The Federals landed Dec 26-27 and moved inland meeting small resistance • The fighting escalated Dec 27-28 as the Federals probed the Confederate defenses View from the Federal landing site toward the Chickasaw Bluffs (2005)

  47. Grant’s First Attempt: Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • The 9th was the bloodiest day of fighting as Sherman struck the Confederate center • “… we will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg and we may as well lose them here as anywhere else.” • William Sherman • “My poor brigade!” • Colonel John DeCourcy

  48. Grant’s First Attempt: Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • The Confederate defense centered on an Indian Mound occupied by Mississippi artillery supported by infantry from Louisiana and Georgia Indian Mound and area to the west (2005)

  49. Grant’s First Attempt: Chickasaw Bayou Dec 1862 • Sherman failed to take Chickasaw Bluffs saying, “I reached Vicksburg at the time appointed, landed, assaulted, and failed.” • 1, 176 Federal casualties; 208 of whom were killed • 187 Confederate casualties; 57 of whom were killed Colonel James Williamson won the Medal of Honor at Chickasaw Bayou because he, “Led his regiment against a superior force, strongly entrenched, and held his ground when all support had been withdrawn.”

  50. Grant’s CanalJan-Mar 1863 • After the repulse at Chickasaw Bayou, Sherman briefly considered an attack against Snyder’s Bluff, but cancelled it due to fog • In Jan, Grant moved his army into camps at Milliken’s Bend and Young’s Point on the Mississippi • His objective was to reach the high ground east of the Mississippi floodplain Milliken’s Bend