Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Small Towns in a Big War

How many guns did the garrison have?

There were twenty smoothbore cannon and seventeen rifled cannon atop the heights at Vicksburg, more than enough to sink the entire Union flotilla. Knowing they needed to see their enemy better, the Confederates set fire to a number of houses near the turn, and as Admiral Porter and his vessels came on, things looked dire for the Northern flotilla. But Porter had laid his plans well, and just after making the turn, he surprised the Confederates by zigzagging from the Louisiana to the Mississippi side of the river. This actually brought his ships closer to the Confederate cannon, but it required the cannoneers to make sudden adjustments. Suddenly, the entire river bend was ablaze with the lights from cannon fire, with the Union ships giving as good as they got. The current favored the North that night: it carried the vessels quickly past, and an hour later the entire episode was over. Grant and his wife had observed the whole affair from the deck of a ship about a mile away.


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