Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Small Towns in a Big War

What did Admiral Porter report? What did the Confederates tell their superiors?

Porter had the pleasure, and satisfaction, to report that he lost only one vessel, the Henry Clay, in making the passage of Vicksburg. Two other ships were damaged, but came safely through. Porter brought almost fifteen vessels past Vicksburg, making a mockery of the city’s vaunted defenses.

The Confederates could scarcely believe it. For the past year they had taunted their Northern opponents with the knowledge that Vicksburg’s guns commanded the river. Now that was revealed as an imaginary position. To be sure, the garrison could make mincemeat of almost any vessels passing upstream, but a daring commander could bring his ironclad or tinclad vessels past the town, employing both the current and his own cannon. In one stroke, Admiral Porter had altered the course of the Vicksburg campaign.


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