The Vicksburg Campaign series – Grant’s experiments and expeditions


In 1879, over a decade after the end of the American Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant wrote about William S. Rosecrans’s so-called “victory” at Murfreesboro during the Civil War and said, “The North needed a victory… I felt that the Union depended upon the administration, and the administration upon victory.”

In this article, we will continue our look at the Vicksburg Campaign and Grant’s attempts to find a way to capture the bastion that sat on the Mississippi River. In part one of the series, we looked at the background to the Vicksburg Campaign and saw an overview of the war in the west. This overview went from the outbreak of secession through the Union “victory” at Murfreesboro. We also saw how important control of the river was to both the North and the South during the Civil War. The Mississippi gave the Union access to the major port city of New Orleans. This made the Mississippi and New Orleans vital during the war. In part two of this series, we will analyze Ulysses S. Grant’s various “experiments,” as Edwin Bearss puts it, and how he attempts to capture the city of Vicksburg.

Union Operations around Vicksburg during the Vicksburg Campaign

Grant Travels Down the Mississippi River

The Union forces under William S. Rosecrans had concluded their fighting at Stones River on January 2, 1863. On January 17, General Grant left his headquarters in Memphis and traveled to see General John McClernand, General William T. Sherman, and Admiral David D. Porter. They were further south down the Mississippi River. McClernand had taken command of the Army of the Mississippi that had previously been under William T. Sherman. This was because he had seniority over Sherman and made arrangements with President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Upon taking command of Sherman’s forces, McClernand had taken the Federal troops north up the Mississippi River and to the Arkansas River. From here, McClernand and his force had attacked and captured Arkansas Post on January 11. This force did so with the support of David Porter’s gunboats. This Union victory saw the capture of 4,800 Confederate defenders of the post.

Grant Heads Back North

Two days after this meeting with the team of generals, Grant headed north up the Mississippi River to Memphis. When Grant arrived in Memphis, he sent a telegraph to Henry Halleck, who had previously been in command of the west but had been brought east by President Lincoln. He told him that the army and the navy were not confident in McClernand. As a result of this lack of confidence, Grant himself planned to move south down the Mississippi River to Milliken’s Bend to take command of the force.

Grant Takes Control and the Army of the Tennessee Grows

Grant boarded the Magnolia steamer and headed south down the Mississippi River. Ulysses reached Young’s Point on January 28 at 9 p.m. When Grant arrived at Young’s Point, he started to give orders to the Union force there. On the 30th, McClernand challenged Grant as McClernand continued to issue orders in defiance of Grant. McClernand was displeased that Grant gave orders to corps commanders and usurped McClernand himself. He stated, “two generals cannot command this army.”

McClernand Puts up a Fight

In response to McClernand’s fussing, Ulysses S. Grant issued General Orders Number 13. These orders stated that Grant himself would take direct command of the Army of the Mississippi. Grant was already in command of the Army of the Tennessee. McClernand obeyed the orders but not without a fight that would take itself to President Abraham Lincoln. However, Grant came out victorious in this bout. The Army of the Mississippi then became the XIII Corps in Grant’s Army of the Tennessee. The new XIII Corps encamped at Milliken’s Bend while Sherman’s XV Corps landed 8 miles south of Young’s Point, 18 miles north of Vicksburg. While McClernand and Sherman’s forces were in Louisiana, the XVII Corps, under the command of General James B. McPherson, stayed in Memphis until they could find transportation. At that point, the corps under McPherson headed south around Lake Providence, Louisiana. The XVI Corps under General Stephen A. Hurlbut remained in Memphis to protect the city and Corinth. Protection of Memphis and Corinth was vital, and they were ordered to preserve the north Mississippi and west Tennessee railroads.

Grant’s Plans for the Vicksburg Campaign

Grant wanted to move all his corps in the Army of the Tennessee back to Memphis and wait until the spring to go back south down the Mississippi River with his Union army and attempt to capture Vicksburg. However, if he took his Union army back north to Memphis, this would, in all likelihood, be viewed as a defeat. A defeat that the Union could ill afford. In his memoirs written after the Civil War, Grant wrote, “At this time, the North had become very much discouraged. Many strong men in the Union army believed that the war must prove a failure. The elections of 1862 had gone against the party, which was for the prosecution of the war to save the Union if it took the last man and the last dollar… It was my judgment at the time that to make a backward movement as long as that from Vicksburg to Memphis, would be interpreted, by many of those yet full of hope for the preservation of the Union, as a defeat, and that the draft would be resisted, desertions ensue and the power to capture and punish deserters lost. There was nothing left to be done but to go forward to a decisive victory. This was in my mind from the moment I took command in person at Young’s Point.”

Problems for Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy

While Grant decided to press forward with his Army of the Tennessee and his plans for the Mississippi River, Jefferson Davis was forced to deal with two problems: Joseph Johnston and Braxton Bragg. Johnston was not pleased to be in command of the Department of the West. He was dissatisfied because he was being usurped by Richmond and bypassed in communications. He felt he was a staff officer and not a commander. Braxton Bragg was the other issue. Bragg had left Murfreesboro in January, and in response, the generals under Bragg were no longer confident in their leader. Even with all this discontent in the western Confederate army, Davis did not change anything.

Grant Conducted Experiments

While this debate in the Confederate army was brewing, Grant decided that he would remain north of Vicksburg. While situated here, Grant schemed to find a way to “secure a foothold on dry ground on the east side of the river.” To do so, Grant conducted a series of “experiments” called the bayou expeditions. Four of these expeditions included Grant’s canal, the Lake Providence Expedition, the Yazoo Pass Expedition, and the Steele’s Bayou Expedition.

Grant’s Canal

The first “experiment” in the Vicksburg Campaign we will look at is Grant’s canal. While Grant was at Young’s Point, he saw what seemed to be the remains of a canal. This “canal” could more accurately be dubbed a ditch dug by General Thomas Williams men in 1862. This occurred during Flag officer David G. Farragut’s attempt to capture Vicksburg. The plan in ‘62 was to dig a canal “through the neck of De Soto Point.” De Soto Point is where the river “makes a hairpin curve in front of Vicksburg.” The hope was that this canal would change the flow of the Mississippi River and divert the waters to the south of Vicksburg. Grant was not a major proponent of the canal plan. However, Henry Halleck was. Halleck told Grant to “Direct your attention, particularly to the canal proposed across the point. The president attaches much importance to this.” With the prodding of Halleck, Ulysses decided to renew operations on the canal.

Map of Grant’s Canal (Union)

The hope this time was to bring steamboats downriver from Vicksburg and land on the eastern shore while simultaneously bypassing the Vicksburg batteries. On January 23, Sherman and his XV Corps reached Young’s Point and were tasked with turning the “plantation ditch” into a 6-6 ½ foot deep, 60 foot wide, and 1 1/2 miles long canal. The leading engineer on the project is Captain Fredrick Prime. Prime analyzes the channel and tweaks the design, citing that “the canal entrance does not take advantage of the washing of the river.” Thus, the entrance point for the canal was changed to use the current to their advantage.

African-American manpower was used, as well as Federal soldiers. The conditions for digging this canal were less than ideal. It was cold and rainy in January, and the river began to flood. This led to many becoming sick and others dying. On January 26, the river swelled, and the levees were overrun. The tools used initially were less than ideal as well. Soldiers used shovels, picks, and wheelbarrows. However, by February 19, the Union soldiers started using new technology: steam pumps. These pumps were used to draw water out. The water levels also began to go back down.

However, by late February, heavy rains began and lasted most of the week. This stopped work on the canal. Even the steam pumps were out of commission in the rainfall. Steam dredges were sent down from the Ohio River to solve this problem. Sampson arrived and began work on March 2. Another dredge named Hercules got there on the sixth. The arrival of these dredges buoyed the spirits of Grant, and he told Washington that the “canal is near completion.”

While Grant believed the canal was nearly done, problems soon arose. The next day a large crevasse occurred around Young’s Point. Water began to flood the area, and soldiers abandon the campgrounds. The crevasse was widened to 150 feet. The Federal troops worked to control the flood waters; however, it was too late. Confederate forces became aware of the plan and, in response, moved guns to the south, opposite the canal. This meant that any Union boats to enter the canal would become cannon fodder. In response, General Grant halted operations on the canal on the twenty-seventh. Grant’s Canal came to a close.

Lake Providence Expeditions

However, Grant’s Canal was not the only plan that Grant and his army were working on. While the De Soto Point canal was being engineered, Grant also looked for a way to create a 200-mile-long route from the Mississippi River, which Vicksburg sat on, to the Red River. This was the next experiment in the Vicksburg Campaign. The Red River was located near Port Hudson. Port Hudson was 240 river miles south of Vicksburg. Grant wanted to use this route, if it could be opened, to send troops to General Nathaniel Banks, who was moving against Port Hudson. The task of finding a way through many “riverlike bayous” to get to the Red River was given to General McPherson.

Port Hudson was another Mississippi River bastion. These two positions stopped the Union from gaining control of the Mississippi from Vicksburg to Baton Rouge. They also prevented the Federals from taking control of the mouth of the Red River. If this Lake Providence Expedition were successful, General Grant would also gain high ground below Vicksburg while bypassing the fort’s batteries. At the beginning of March, McPherson explored Lake Providence and the land north of the lake along the state line of Louisiana and Arkansas. McPherson advised that the levee at Ashton, Arkansas, be breached since the Mississippi River was eight feet higher than the ground behind the levee. This would allow the land to Bayou Macon to flood. This would be significant because Bayou Macon flows to the Tensas River, the Tensas to the Black River, the Black River to the Red River, and the Red River to the Mississippi.

In response to McPherson’s suggestion, the levee was breached on March 4. This breach flooded the land beyond the levee that was naturally there. By the middle of the month, the land from Ashton to Lake Providence and Bayou Macon was flooded. This allowed boats to go across the land. Another levee at Lake Providence was breached on the seventeenth. The Lake Providence Expeditions were looking very hopeful, and McPherson concurred. He wrote, “any steamboat that runs on the river can be taken in.”

However, the optimism would be short-lived. The following week after being so hopeful, McPherson sent word to Grant and alerted him of an issue. The problem was a cypress swamp. This swamp was west of Lake Providence “along the last portion of Bayou Baxter, a waterway which flows out of Lake Providence into Bayou Macon.” The swamp was 250-300 yards wide. The shallowest point was 3 ½ feet deep. McPherson believed he could drudge the area, but to do so, he had to cut 12-15 cypress trees. The real problem was that the cuts had to be made underwater. McPherson wanted a sawing machine that could be used underwater that should have made its way from Memphis. However, Grant does not still have faith in the Lake Providence expedition. Grant believed that the Yazoo Pass Expedition gave a better chance of reaching Vicksburg.

While the Lake Providence Expeditions were abandoned, it was not all for not. The flooded region would help protect the right flank of Grant’s supply column while he attempted to take Viksburg. It also helped prevent attacks and raids on Federal supply depots during the Vicksburg Campaign.

Yazoo Pass

The Yazoo Pass was Grant’s next hope to take Vicksburg. The pass was located 320 river miles above Vicksburg. It was also situated six miles to the south of Helena, Arkansas. This pass went from the Mississippi and passed through Lake Moon before heading east to the Coldwater River. This river went to the Tallahatchie River, Greenwood, Mississippi. From Greenwood, the pass continued to the Mississippi River again while bypassing the heights north of Vicksburg.

Map of the Pass

The pass had been used in the past. It had been the best route to travel if you were going from Yazoo City to Memphis. However, the pass was shut down when the Mississippi River levee was constructed in 1856. Lt. Col. James H. Wilson was sent and tasked with reopening the pass to give the Union access to Vicksburg. On the second of February, Wilson made it to the levee that obscured the entrance to the pass from the Mississippi. On the third, Wilson had his men place 50 pounds of powder beneath the dike to beech the levee. The breach was successful, much to the elation of General Grant.

For this to be a success, Grant required that David Porter assist. To receive this help from the navy, Grant sent Porter a message asking for his help. Porter agreed to help Grant, and he sent Lt. Cmdr. Watson Smith up the Mississippi River along with tinclad gunboats. Those boats were Rattler, Romeo, and Signal. These were sent to support Forest Rose, already at the pass. Porter also sent Chillicothe, which was an ironclad, to help if there were any artillery.

On February 13, Union Admiral David Porter had orders sent to “Lt. Cmdr. John Walker of Baron de Kalb at the fleet anchorage near Young’s Point to steam upriver and join Smith’s fleet.” The Baron de Kalb was an ironclad that Eads had created in 1861. While Porter ordered his ships to help Grant, Grant also received news from Harry Wilson that the expedition was going well. Grant then called, on February 15, 4,000 men under General Leonard Ross to Greenwood and then up the Yalobusha River. Their goal was to destroy the railroad bridges that were at Grenada. Grant targeted these railroad bridges because they provided Pemberton with communication lines. After these bridges were destroyed, Grant wanted the gunboats to return down the Yalobusha River to the Yazoo River. From here to the high ground north of Vicksburg. This would flank the city and sever its communication lines.

Fort Pemberton

On February 28, “the head of the Federal fleet enters the Coldwater and waits for the rest of the fleet to exit the pass.” Smith wanted to keep the whole fleet together even though this slowed down operations. By March 10, the flotilla stopped on the banks of the Tallahatchie River. Here the Federal troops learned about Fort Pemberton from African-Americans. This fortress was located 20 miles downstream. The Union soldiers also understood that Fort Pemberton contains three guns, a parapet of cotton and sand, a ditch fronting the works, and a raft of gum logs that would be swung to block the stream. The Federals also learned that the Star of the West was situated below the raft to block the river if necessary.

The next day, Chillicothe was taken by Smith, Ross, and Wilson and was used to scout the area. By 10:15 a.m., they reached Fort Pemberton. By this point, the Confederates had been able to establish defenses and had been able to prepare. Confederate General William W. Loring had two heavy guns he received and had placed one on each end of the dirt and cotton bale fort. At 10:15 a.m., the Confederate gunners opened fire on the Chillicothe and hit the boat twice. A conical 68-pound bolt hit the turret on the Chillicothe. Then an 18-pound Whitworth bolt hit the boat’s bow. Captain Foster took the ship back the way it had come and hid behind the river bend. One Union soldier was killed in the fighting.

However, this would not be the end of it. At 4:15, the Chillicothe again came around the bend. Again the Confederates fired on the ship. The Chillicothe fired four shells at Fort Pemberton. However, the ship was hit four times by rebel shells. After seven minutes, the Chillicothe retired once again. One of the Confederate shells was from a rifled 32-pounder. The shell “penetrates a three-inch-thick iron-plated gun port slide, weighing 1,600 pounds, covering the firing port of the 11-inch gun on the port side. Entering the casemate, or armored gun compartment, of the boat, the steel-tipped conical shell then slams into the tulip, or muzzle swell, of the 11-inch gun just as the crew is reloading. The incoming 32-pounder and the 11-inch shell in the barrel explode, and the concussion blows off both gun port slides.” Three men were killed instantly, and one man was mortally wounded. Ten more soldiers were injured and five soldiers had gunpowder in their eyes.

Even with this damage and loss of life, the Chillicothe was not done. On March 13, at 11 a.m., the Chillicothe and the Baron de Kalb again attempted to get past the fort. Behind these two ships is a large, flat-bottomed boat with a 13-inch mortar. Watson Smith prepared for the worst by having the ironclads tied to the tinclads in case they needed to be towed to safety. When the ships sailed in front of Fort Pemberton, the firing resumed. The firing continued for two hours, with the Chillicothe being hit 38 times. Six more men were wounded aboard the Chillicothe. Even though the Chillicothe left the fight, the Baron de Kalb continued to lob shots back and forth with the fortress. However, the rifled 32-pounder in the fort begins to run short on ammunition and has to stop firing. This shortage would not last for long.

With no Federal boats on the Yazoo River between Greenwood and Snyder’s Bluff, a rebel boat traveled up the river and brought ammunition for the guns at the fort. Once darkness fell, the Baron de Kalb headed back, having been hit six times. There were three killed and three wounded on the ship. There was no more fighting for two days. Wilson was unhappy with this and “writes to Grant’s chief of staff, John Rawlins, on March 15 that they are no nearer to Greenwood because the navy decided to honor the Sabbath.”

On the 16th of March, the fighting began again. Running low on ammunition, the two gunboats decided to use grapeshot against the fortress. As the Chillicothe neared the fort, it took several hits from the rifled 32-pounder and the 8-inch smoothbore. The guns aboard the ship became inoperable. Both boats decided to return around the bend. On March 21, General Ross received reinforcements from General Isacc Quinby’s XVII Corps. Quinby then took command but the next day tells McPherson that the expedition is to close due to the amount of time it has taken. This was valuable time because it allowed the Confederates to prepare. On April 4, the withdrawal began, and by the next day, the Yazoo Pass Expedition was officially over.

Steele’s Bayou Expeditions

While this fighting over Fort Pemberton took place, Grant learned that the rebel forces were building up defenses at Greenwood. This alarmed Grant as he was concerned about the vulnerable communication lines of General Ross and the Federal supply lines. This threatened the entire expeditionary force. While Ulysses was trying to help General Ross protect their lines, Admiral Porter was looking for a route to Vicksburg. This was the next experiment in the Vicksburg Campaign. The admiral was pouring over maps and was gaining local intelligence. Porter discovered a river pilot and, on March 13, headed north up the Yazoo River to explore this newly discovered Steele’s Bayou route.

Steele’s Bayou Map

To successfully use Steele’s Bayou, the Federals would have to enter the Yazoo River, where it met the Mississippi River, found to the west of Vicksburg. From there, they would head to the mouth of Steele’s Bayou and eventually reach Black Bayou, then east to the confluence of Black Bayou and Deer Creek, which was at Hill’s Plantation. From this point, the Union force would have to travel 32 miles north to where Deer Creek met Rolling Fork Creek. Then go east for four miles until they reached the Big Sunflower River. They would have to travel southeast from the Big Sunflower River until they were back at the Yazoo River. This would put the Federals below Fort Pemberton but North of Vicksburg. From this location, the Federals could have attacked Fort Pemberton or gone to Satartia, Mississippi, where high ground and roads traveled south to Vicksburg.

Porter decided to travel up the Yazoo River to the mouth of Steele’s Bayou. Here he learned that the north side of the river was overgrown with vegetation. Porter had his men get out and create a clearing that would be wide enough for three ships. Porter then traveled up Steele’s Bayou to the confluence of the Steele’s and Black Bayou. His men began to measure the depth of the water, and Porter believed that the bayous are deep enough for the ironclads to pass through. There was one issue that Porter sees, and that is that Black Bayou was narrow. Porter believed that the boats could be kedged if needed (tugged by lines attached to trees) through the sharp turns to get around this.

Porter alerted Grant of the possibility of getting to Greenwood and behind Fort Pemberton, and Grant was very interested in the opportunity. On March 14, Porter and his “task force” move forward. This force included Louisville, Cincinnati, Carondelet, Mound City, and Pittsburgh. There were also four tugboats with a mortar scow in tow. On March 16, Grant had General William Sherman send troops to support Porter and his ships, and they found their way through the river. Sherman boarded a tugboat named Fern, and when they reached Hill’s plantation, he had Porter join his tugboat. They traveled together up Deer Creek, scouting the area. On the first, Sherman wrote Grant and informed the general that he did not feel it was a feasible route due to a low amount of dry ground to send soldiers along and the narrowness of the rivers and bayous.

However, while Sherman was not convinced, Admiral Porter still believed in the plan. On the 17th, Porter and his flotilla set off once again. The next day though, his hopes would be dashed as Porter found that Deer Creek was far narrower than he had hoped. He also learned that willows choked it. The willows slowed the fleet down to around a mile an hour. Problems began to compound as the Confederates learned of Porter’s expedition. The Confederates had African-Americans fell trees to make the passing even more complex, and as the willows got thicker and thicker, the fleet slowed to just a half-mile every hour. In the entire day, Porter’s force could only travel ten miles.

On the 19th, Porter and his force got within three miles of Rolling Fork. Here Porter learned that rebel soldiers were arriving where the Big Sunflower River and the Little Sunflower River met. In response to this news, Porter had the commander of the Carondelet, Lt. John M. Murphy, create a force of 300 men to go ahead of the fleet and ensure the confluence of Deer Creek and Rolling Creek were held until the rest of the fleet could catch up. Murphy was successful in his mission, and when he arrived, he placed two 12-pound howitzers on Indian mounds.

While Murphy was moving to secure the confluence of the rivers, Porter continued to have his men moved forward at a painstaking pace. When Porter neared the Deer and Rolling Creek meet, he wrote to Sherman and asked for soldiers to support the expedition. He was desperate for land support.

Fighting Ensues

On March 17, rebel Lt. Col. Sam Ferguson and his force, including infantry, cavalry, and six guns, were just 30 miles north of Rolling Fork Creek. It was then that he learned of the Federal boats that were traveling north in an attempt to reach Rolling Fork Creek. In response, Ferguson sent his cavalry to Rolling Fork and also began to move his infantry, with the artillery, to Bogue Phalia River. This was a point at which the Federal force would get aborad the Sharp and head for Rolling Fork. The Confederate force headed down the Bogue Phalia until they reached the Big Sunflower River. They then traveled 38 miles to the mouth of Rolling Fork Creek, which they got to on March 19 at 4 p.m. This put the Confederates within 4 ½ miles of Murphy’s Federals.

On the following day, Ferguson had three 10-pounder Parrot rifles moved within a mile of Deer Creek and had them begin firing. The aim of this fire was the two howitzers. The Confederate fire was successful and pushed the Federals back to their boats. Murphy managed to stop the Confederate advance using the 13-inch mortars under his command.

Ferguson then received word that General Winfield Scott Featherston was nearby and was bringing Confederate reinforcements. With him, Featherston had two infantry regiments and two artillery pieces. The Confederates planned to occupy the Federal artillery with their artillery, while two Mississippi regiments would rush the boats and take command. When the firing began, Murphy’s men who had returned to the battery were again pushed back to their ships. Porter returned the Confederate fire, and this continued till it became dark. However, in the second phase of the Confederate attack, the Mississippi regiments did not attack. The fighting ceased for the day, and Porter then learned of three pieces of news.

First, Porter learned that the Confederates were attempting to block the route through which the Federals had come to trap the fleet. Second, he learned of a possible 5,000 Confederate reinforcements. Finally, he discovered his reinforcements from Sherman were struggling to reach Porter. In a dire situation, Porter wrote a message to Sherman on March 20 on tissue paper, had it rolled in a tobacco leaf, and sent to the general. He says, “Hurry up. For Heaven’s sake.” Porter then turned his attention back to the crisis at hand. He issued orders to his men during the night on how to defend the gunboats and destroy them if necessary. The situation got even worse when Louisville floated from the back of the fleet to the front and sank a coal barge. This virtually blocked the Federals’ escape route.

Near 3 p.m., to the Federals’ relief, reinforcements from Sherman had nearly arrived. In the lead was Col. Giles Smith and his men reach Porter at 4 p.m. Smith realized that the fleet was trapped due to the coal barge in the rear and felled trees to the front. The boats were also being pinned down by sniper fire. The Federals were able to stop the ships from being taken due to their big guns. Upon Smith’s arrival, Porter gave him 150 men and two boat howitzers. Their goal was to clear the sharpshooters from the area. The rest of Smith’s men go south on Deer Creek to ensure no more obstacles are placed.

The Expedition Comes to a close

During the night of the 21st, Smith also sent three companies south to establish an observation post on an Indian mound at what is today Cary, Mississippi. The coal barge was cleared by the next day, and the gunboats could then travel downstream to Egremont Plantation. Here, they reached a log barricade blocking Deer Creek. Then they heard gunfire from the south and were concerned that the outpost at Cary was being attacked. Louisville tried to run through the log barricade to help but failed to break through. Smith then ordered Maj. Dennis Kirby and four companies to fight through two Confederate regiments to help the outpost at Cary. While Kirby’s men began to move, Featherston’s Confederates became trapped with Kirby’s men in their front, Sherman’s column in their rear, and Deer Creek to their left. They decided to move to the right and into the woods. The flotilla was overwhelmed with joy at the sight of Sherman and his column. Porter was not convinced that the expedition needed to be abandoned. Carondelet, the last boat of the fleet, reached Hill’s plantation on March 24 after dark. Two days later, a ship sent from Grant came to the plantation and gave Sherman a message from Grant. The letter ordered Sherman to return with the fleet to Young’s Point. Yet another expedition to Vicksburg.

Conclusion and Place in the Civil War

These expeditions finally came to an end. While the trips were unsuccessful, Grant continuously attempted to make something happen, more than could be said about Union generals like William Rosecrans. Most Union generals throughout the Civil War failed to press forward. President Abraham Lincoln took note of Grant’s continued attempts to be offensive. Still, not everyone was in support of Grant. On March 28, General Cadwallader Washburn, a Union general under Grant, wrote, “All Grant’s schemes have failed. He is frittering away time and strength to no purpose. The truth must be told even if it hurts. You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

We will continue our analysis of the Vicksburg campaign in the next installment of our series.

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