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 (1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)    
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Phil andrade
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 7:47:36 AM
One of the joys of a discussion like this is the way it re-awakens interest and persuades us to revisit our books.

I have done just that, and found a long neglected but extremely good monogram on the Port Hudson Campaign, written by Edward Cunningham in 1963, under the aegis of the University of Louisiana. This was obviously published to mark the centennial, but it was reissued in paperback in 1994, and I was wise enough to buy it.

The narrative is informative but, above all, interesting and is especially full of the anecdotal history that I find so compelling.


The Confederate garrison , under the command of Gardner, made a terrific account of itself, and in so doing made this overlooked operation a truly Pyrrhic victory for the Union.

Five thousand rebels held forty thousand Yankees at bay, inflicting casualties in proportion.

The defence was a masterpiece of improvisation : Gardner was a West Pointer and an engineer , and turned his skill to great account against the politically appointed Banks.

The greatest Southern weakness was lack of provisions, troops and firepower; yet, Gardner shrewdly offset these disadvantages by employing modern military tactics and devices of war. To increase his firepower and to supplement the scanty number of line troops, each Confederate soldier was equipped with one or more captured rifles and several smoothbore muskets or shotguns. By using home-made buckshot cartridges in their smoothbores ( flintlocks and percussions ) the Confederates were able to turn their inferior arms into weapons that were superior to the modern Yankee rifles at close range .

That intrigues me. For all the much vaunted superiority of the rifled Enfield and Springfields, there was still a role for the old smoothbores, and I note that in the early battles, when the older weapons predominated, there is evidence in casualty figures that they inflicted more lethal damage at close range than their rifled counterparts.

Cunningham goes on Another means of increasing firepower , at the Citadel and Priest Gap, was the bracing - up of the wrecked Confederate cannon on blocks. These guns were loaded with " bags of all sorts of scrap iron which were to be fired in the face of a storming party " .

The author expresses his view that Gardner made a superb defence, but failed to sally forth and counter attack when the enemy had been repulsed. We've heard that before, haven't we, in regard to Meade and Gettysburg ? Of course, when you're outnumbered seven to one, the situation is rather different !

The book is first rate on anecdotal detail, even down to the food and drink that the garrison had to subsist on.

There is also an allusion to the fate of the black contraband labourers that the Yankees coerced into digging trenches : apparently, numbers of them were killed by snipers , but they were not accounted for in the casualty lists.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 8:06:10 AM
Historian John D. Winters in The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), described Gardner's surrender at Port Hudson, accordingly:


Quote:
"Gardner had defended Port Hudson to the utmost of his ability. After more than forty days of merciless pounding from the Union fleet and land batteries, his men were exhausted and dispirited. Improperly clothed, sheltered, and fed, they sickened, and there was no medicine for them.

Hope that Johnston would send relief grew fainter as each day of the siege progressed. As Gardner's meagre supply of ammunition was nearly exhausted, many of his guns were wrecked, and his food stock was dangerously low, the news of the surrender of Vicksburg decided the fate of Port Hudson too."


Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 8:25:27 AM
Hi Phil,

Fascinating story, about the great defense of CSA Commander Gardener at Port Hudson. It makes you wonder of how many other heroic stands go relatively un-noticed in history?

Quite the underdog stand,
thanks for sharing,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 8:54:00 AM
Jim,

McClernand was never in the AOP and he was a friend and political ally of Lincoln and rather than being sacked by Lincoln, Lincoln was his patron. He was a Congressman from Ill before the war and raised a "brigade" at the start of the war being appointed Brig Gen. He served only in the West under Grant and Halleck. It was his division at Donaldson that was attacked and driven opening a escape route that wasn't used by the garrison. As for why Grant had no time for him he was a political general who wanted his job and had the political connection to maybe get it. He ignored the chain of command and communicated directly with Lincoln with his opinion on Grant and every other general officers and those opinions usually painted McClernand in a more flattering way. They throw in that he wasn't a very good general.

The reference you made about "waterborne action" was Porter's bombardment of the Vicksburg batteries as part of Grant's fist "Overland" attempt to take Vicksburg that was turned back by Van Dorn and Forrest. I was talking about the last attempt to take Vicksburg and the crossing of Grant's Army from the western side of the river to the eastern below Vicksburg. See that is my main point, there are six or seven failed campaigns before there is a successful campaign.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 10:17:38 AM
John -am I on the right horse this time???

That winter other attempts to bypass Vicksburg’s guns via the water routes were attempted and failed. By late March 1863, Grant had made seven attempts to get at Vicksburg and experienced seven failures.

In early spring, having found that the defenses northwest of the city were too strong to assault and the means of bypassing the city to the south and west too difficult to achieve due to the terrain, Grant developed a new strategy.

He proposed to cross the Mississippi north of Vicksburg, march his troops past the city on the western side of the river, re-cross south of the city, and attack Vicksburg from the south and east. To accomplish this goal he reorganized the Army of the Tennessee, absorbing McClernand’s Army of the Mississippi and assigning McClernand to the command of the XV Corps. This unit was tasked with building a log corduroy road suitable for the Union troops to traverse the swamps to the river.

To get back across the Mississippi River once south of Vicksburg, Grant would need ships to transport his men. He asked Admiral Porter to run downriver with a fleet of ships, passing the gauntlet of Confederate artillery at Vicksburg. It could be a one way trip for Porter; the Mississippi’s strong current would make it impossible to return upstream in the face of the Confederate guns.

Grant began his move south on March 31, 1863, from Milliken’s Bend, a spot twenty miles northwest of Vicksburg. He had by now approximately 45,000 men under his command. McClelland’s troops had completed the seventy-plus mile road by the middle of April, and on the night of April 16th, Porter sent seven ironclad gunboats with attached coal barges and three troop transports floating silently down the Mississippi.

However, the Confederates spotted them and opened fire from the bluffs at Vicksburg. One transport was disabled and left behind, but the rest made it past unscathed. So far everything was going as planned.

Regards

Jim
---------------
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John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 10:49:07 AM
Jim,

Very close but two points. First Grant had about 45,000 men divided in 3 Corps in the assault force that crossed the Miss below Vicksburg. That was only about half the total number of troops. Second Port's feet took a hell of a pounding passing the guns of Vicksburg and while only 1 transport was "destroyed" most took some damage and some very heavy damage. I'd have to find my source but I believe they took a number of days repairing the damage on the west side of the river before loading and heading for Grand Gulf.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 11:17:00 AM
'b]From April 30 to May 1 Grant hurled his army across the mighty river and onto Mississippi soil at Bruinsburg. A band aboard the flagship Benton struck up The Red, White, and Blue as Grant's infantrymen came ashore. In one of the largest amphibious operations in American history up to that time, Grant landed 22,000 men and began the inland campaign to capture Vicksburg.

Once ashore, Grant's forces pushed rapidly inland and marched through the night. In the early morning hours of May 1, they encountered Confederate resistance west of Port Gibson. In a furious battle which raged throughout the day, Union soldiers fought with grim determination to secure their beachhead on Mississippi soil while Confederate soldiers fought with equal determination to drive the invaders into the river. By day's end, the Confederate forces, outnumbered and hard-pressed, retired from the field.

Rather than march north on Vicksburg, Grant directed his army in a northeasterly direction in order to cut the rail line that connected the Hill City with Jackson and cut the Confederate garrison off from supplies and reinforcements. In a seventeen-day period, which is often referred to as the blitzkrieg of the Vicksburg Campaign, Grant's army marched more than 200 miles, and overcame Confederate resistance in five battles.

The first battle occurred at Port Gibson on May 1, the second at Raymond on May 12, and the third on May 14 when the Union army captured the capital of Mississippi. Not wishing to waste combat troops on occupation, Grant neutralized Jackson with the torch then turned west toward his objective — Vicksburg.

En route from Jackson to Vicksburg, his force inflicted devastating casualties on the Confederate army commanded by Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton at the Battle of Champion Hill on May 16. On the following day, May 17, Grant soundly defeated Confederate forces in a battle at the Big Black River Bridge, hurling Pemberton's army into the defenses of Vicksburg.

Having witnessed the debacle at the Big Black River and the wild flight of his troops, Pemberton dejectedly stated, "Just thirty years ago I began my military career by receiving my appointment to a cadetship at the U.S. Military Academy, and to-day — that same date — that career is ended in disaster and disgrace." For all practical purpose it was, but it was a disaster that would affect an entire nation.

Source Civil War Trust

NB.Despite heavy trawling ofthe www- I am vexed that I cannot come up with a reasonably accurate figure for total losses sustained by both sides in this massive campaign.I do not have anywhere near enough books on the subject-but my eyesight is so poor- that buying would not solve the problem

Regards

Jim[
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Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/6/2017 2:14:44 PM

Quote:
Hi Phil,

Fascinating story, about the great defense of CSA Commander Gardener at Port Hudson. It makes you wonder of how many other heroic stands go relatively un-noticed in history?

Quite the underdog stand,
thanks for sharing,
MD
--Michigan Dave


Dave,

Was there ever such a big and bloody sideshow more undeservedly consigned to a footnote?

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 12:58:39 AM
Phil,

Hope you don't mind but I'm going to nominate Champion Hill as being undeservedly consigned to a footnote.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 4:43:26 AM
Battle of Champion Hill-16 May 1863

"Grant's crown of immortality was won, and the jewel that shone most brightly in it was set
there by the blood of the men of Champion Hills ...... Six thousand blue and gray-coated men were lying there in the woods, dead or wounded, when the last gun of Champion Hills was fired.

Major S. H. M. Byers, Fifth Iowa Infantry

[Read More]

PS.Champion Hill was a bloody and decisive Union victory. In his Personal Memoirs, Grant observed, "While a battle is raging, one can see his enemy mowed down by the thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure; but after the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally disposed to alleviate the sufferings of an enemy as a friend."

Grant criticized the lack of fighting spirit of McClernand, a rival for Union Army leadership, because he had not killed or captured Pemberton's entire force.

McClernand's casualties were low on the Union left flank (south); McPherson's on the right constituted the bulk of the Union losses, about 2,500.

The Confederates suffered about 3,800 casualties. Their effective loss included most of Loring's division, which had marched off on its own to join Joseph E. Johnston in Jackson.

PPS. Wiki gives the following:-
Union 32,000 committed,Total Losses=2451 ie.410K,1844 W and 187 MIA. Confederates committed 22,000,Total Losses=3840 ie.381 K,1018 W and 2441 MIA/POW.
One hell of a different picture IF the figures are correct

Regards

Jim
---------------
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Phil Andrade
London, UK
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 7:59:11 AM
Jim,

In terms of killed and wounded, I believe that the yankees took greater punishment than the rebels.

The overall Confederate casualty figures- which are estimated in the citation you provided- are inflated by a large number of missing.

John is right to insist that this fierce battle has been underrated.

It's worth a closer look: I'm in my Dorset bivouac right now.

No books to hand....but will try to do justice to any discussion!

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 8:30:19 AM
A closer look Phil

Battle of Champion Hill-16 May 1863

Around 7 am on May 16, Union forces engaged the Confederates and the Battle of Champion Hill began. Pemberton's force formed into a three-mile (5 km)-long defensive line that ran southwest to northeast along a crest of a ridge overlooking Jackson Creek. Grant wrote in his Personal Memoirs, "... where Pemberton had chosen his position to receive us, whether taken by accident ordesign, was well selected. It is one of the highest points in that section, and commanded all the ground in the range."

However Pemberton was unaware that one of the three Union columns was moving along the Jackson Road against his unprotected left flank on Champion Hill. Pemberton posted Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Lee's Alabama brigade on Champion Hill where they could watch for a Union column reported moving on the crossroads. Lee soon spotted the Union troops and they in turn saw him. If enemy force was not stopped, it would cut the Confederates off from their Vicksburg base. Pemberton was warned of Union movement and sent troops to defend his left flank. Union forces at the Champion House moved into action and their artillery began firing.

When Grant arrived at Champion Hill at about 10:00 a.m., he ordered an attack to begin. John A. McClernand's corps attacked on the left and James B. McPherson's on the right. William T. Sherman's corps was well behind the others, departing from Jackson. By 11:30 a.m., the Union forces had reached the Confederate's main line. At 1:00 p.m., they took the crest, the troops from Carter L. Stevenson's division retiring in disorder.

McPherson's corps swept forward, capturing the crossroads and closing the Jackson Road escape route. The division of John S. Bowen counterattacked in support of Stevenson, pushing the Federals back beyond the Champion Hill crest before their surge was halted. However, they were too few to hold the position. Pemberton directed William W. Loring to send forces from the southern area of the line, where they were only lightly engaged with McClernand's ineffective attack, to reinforce the Hill. However, Loring refused to budge, citing a strong Union presence to his front.

Grant now counterattacked, committing his forces that had just arrived from Clinton by way of Bolton. Pemberton's men could not resist this assault, and he ordered his men to use the one escape route still open, the Raymond Road crossing of Bakers Creek. By now, Loring had decided to obey Pemberton's order and was marching toward the fighting but by a circuitous route that kept them out of action.

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman's brigade formed the rearguard and held at all costs, including the death of Tilghman, killed by artillery fire. Late in the afternoon, Grant's troops seized the Bakers Creek Bridge, and by midnight they had occupied Edwards. The Confederates fell back to a defensive position at the Big Black River in front of Vicksburg.

NB.Loring's dereliction of duty is most noticeable and could be viewed as cowardice when facing the enemy; and deserving at least- in loss of rank by that officer.

The losses for the day are shown as:- Union =2500 and Confederate=3800

The Battle of Big Black River Bridge the next day would be the final chance for Pemberton to escape.

Source -Wikipedia

Regards

Jim

---------------
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John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 3:20:33 PM
Jim,

That's isn't really right breaking it into left and right because the terrain really breaks it into left, right and center. There were three roads and Grant divided the two Corps, Sherman was basically covering the rear and none of his troops reached the battlefield to make a significant contribution, to use each of the 3 roads. There was no continuous front and neither of the three "groups" could see what the other was doing from their initial positions. Grant was with the center and that attacked first and drove Stevenson's Division up and over the crest of the hill. They then stopped to regroup and replenish ammo and in the process Bowen hit and drove them to the brink of disaster. They were driven back to their ammunition train and at that point there was only the regiment designated as train guard left on that part of the field still organized and supplied with ammunition. That regiment, a recently recruited Iowa reg if memory serves, checked Cockrell's Mizzo Brigade as they to were running out of ammo. Also at that point the force on the River Road attacked and Green's Ark Brigave veered off to try and check them. Grant then rallied the center and got them resupplied with ammo and attacked the Mizzo Brigade.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
DONCASTER S. YORKS, UK
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 3:44:13 PM
I can see what you are saying John; but it is difficult for me to grasp where the account that I served up could be so different-is it the wording/language or is it the context/setting.

I do realise that you have enormous knowledge of your subject and you know how each manoeuvre panned out; but IF you could point out the salient points that you see as being "not right"I would beg your indulgence on this issue.

It is time for me to go off line now but will return in the morning.

Best regards

Jim
---------------
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Phil Andrade
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 4:29:39 PM
For the benefit of us Limeys, John, may I assume that " Mizzo" = Missouri ?

Missouri must have been very torn in allegiance.

Was there more border state participation in the Western theatre battles ?

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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Posts: 523

Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 6:11:23 PM
Jim,

Both flanks, McClernand and McPherson, were very tardy in their attacks. Grant was physically with the center force and pushed them to engage long before either flank but McPerson doesn't get any criticism because he is one of Grant's favorites.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
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E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 523

Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 6:15:05 PM
Phil,

Yes Mizzo = Missouri.

Yes there were Mizzo, Ark, Kentucky and Tenn regiments on both sides in the Western Armies. The Union also raised "militia's" in occupied territory but they are a different story.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


Mike Johnson
Stafford, VA, USA
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Posts: 495

Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 7:52:48 PM

Quote:
For not only would the capture of Vicksburg benefit the commercial interests and military operations of the Union, but Vicksburg was also a vital logistical link to the resource-rich Trans-Mississippi.
--anemone


The only other rail crossings of the Mississippi in confederate states were at Memphis and New Orleans, which were in union hands. So, one might think the rail crossing at Vicksburg were critical.

However, the only railroad connection between Vicksburg and the eastern part of the Confederacy was via the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, much of which was in union hands. The primary means of transportation were by sea but they were blocked. The confederates were attempting to connect the railroad from Pensacola to the railroad to Montgomery from Mobile, but that was never completed. The confederates were also attempting to connect railroad systems in Mississippi at Meridian to Alabama at Selma, but that was also never completed and it would have only connected Vicksburg to central Alabama.

Union forces based north of Vicksburg had cut off rail transport from the west into Victors.

The railroad at Vicksburg only went as far west as Monroe Louisiana.

So, there essentially were no reliable means of transport from west of the Mississippi to the east via Vicksburg.

The second problem with the idea that the Vicksburg campaigns were about dividing the confederacy in half is that west of the Mississippi resided only about 1/6 of the confederate population and even less of its production. It offered a lot less than is sometimes claimed. And what it did offer had to go long circuitous routes often by wagon.

No, the importance of taking Vicksburg (the second to last strong point on the Mississippi) was political and economic. Many of the western states (Illinois, Indiana, much of Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri absolutely needed a clear and secure Mississippi to sell their produce. The strategic importance was very clear to westerners--president, governors, generals, and businessmen alike. It was far less to hurt the confederacy than it was to relieve near economic disaster and keep support for the union.

John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/7/2017 8:05:41 PM
Mike,

Very good point! Sometimes I focus too much on the battles and forget about why they were being fought.

---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/8/2017 3:20:13 AM
Not only did Vicksburg place the line of the Mississippi under Union control,so that in Lincoln's words "the Father of the Waters goes unvexed in the sea"-it also cut the Confederacy in half,slicing off the western half,including the whole of Texas and the territories of Nebraska.New Mexico,Nevada,Utah,Colorado;and what would be Oklahoma from material and most other assistance from the Old South.Huge stocks of cattle,horses and mules were lost to the Confederacy by the capture of Vicksburg.

I am still unable to find the cost in human terms of this very extensive campaign ie KIA, DOW, Died of Disease,Wounded,MIA and POWs' but the numbers had to be in tens of thousands for both sides-the South most likely to be the highest loser-mainly due to the number of prisoners taken.

NB.My thanks to all who contributed to this thread; but a special mention must be made of John R Price for his enduring patience in helping me with the finer battle details.

I realise I may well be premature in this; but I wanted to say it nevertheless.Up to now no mention at all about the River War

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/8/2017 5:53:11 AM
Grant's second campaign, beginning in the spring of 1863, was successful and is considered Grant's greatest achievement of the war (and a classic campaign of military history).

He knew that he could not attack through Mississippi from the northwest because of the vulnerability of his supply line; river-born approaches had failed repeatedly. So after movement became possible on dirt roads that were finally drying from the winter rains, Grant moved the bulk of his army down the western bank of the Mississippi.

On April 16, U.S. Navy gunboats and troop transports managed at great risk to slip past the Vicksburg defensive guns; and were able to ferry Grant's army across the river to land south of Vicksburg at Bruinsburg. Grant employed two strategic diversions to mask his intentions: a feint by Sherman north of Vicksburg and a daring cavalry raid through central Mississippi by Colonel Benjamin Grierson, known as Grierson's Raid.

The former was inconclusive, but the latter was a success. Grierson was able to draw out significant Confederate forces, dispersing them around the state.

Source- Civil War Trust

[Read More]


Regards

Jim
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John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/8/2017 2:55:03 PM
Jim,

But the campaign launched in Spring of 1863 wasn't the 2nd campaign it was at least the 5th and at most the 8th depending if you count the related campaigns such as Ark Post and Island #10. Look I agree the "Lost Cause" took things too far in one direction but this new "Political Correctness" is doing exactly the same thing in the other direction. Off the top of my head you had the 1st Overland Campaign, the assults at Chickaswa(sp?), the attempt to dig a canal, the attempt of a upriver attack by the gunboats then the successful attempt. Now added to them are Island #10, Ark Post and the Yazo(sp?) River, the clearing of the west bank opposite first with the idea of emplace artillery to silence the batteries at Vicksburg and then so at to transport troops and supplies. The fact is the Union mainly under Grant's command was trying actively to take Vicksburg for well over a year.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/8/2017 3:27:32 PM
John- was it not Grant's second "attempt" of the campaign- to cross the Mississippi to take Vicksburg.????I am well aware of the lengthy campaign which commenced in early 1862; and it's many battles and actions which have to a large extent been covered.

It is a matter of semantics- whether one looks at Vicksburg as a single campaign, or as a series of campaigns spread over 17 months or so.It is easy to get "wires crossed" between two people looking at the same topic/theme and getting mixed up-especially as 1) yourself an ACW expert and 2) I a Brit learner "at your feet"as it were.But Hey- I do know where YOU are coming from.

PS -time for me to sign off -please continue as you see fit

Regards

Jim
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John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/8/2017 4:30:51 PM
Jim,

First let me explain that I'm going to be hit or miss with when I post my mother was admitted to the hospital last night and my posting here is more to try and get my mind distracted a little.

My point in the semantics is was there any other Union commander given 17 months and only limited success coupled with multiple outright failures to achieve a stated objective? In the AOP each failure basically got you fired. And yes it was Grant's second attempt to cross the river within days in that last "campaign" but really the objective had always been to get troops on the Eastern shore of the Miss within striking distance of Vicksburg and he had done it I believe once and maybe twice before but was defeated.
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anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 5:51:29 AM
John -genuinely sorry to see you news about your mother-I hope she comes out well.My forebears and sibling have all passed away; and I am the remaining member of my erstwhile family.

As you say Grant did well to stay in command but he was appointed by Lincoln who had complete faith in him. He never gave up; and just kept a going- gaining a momentous victory in the end- at Vicksburg.Here I am reminded of Robert the Bruce,King of Scotland -when he was out of favour- was living in a cave; and one day was watching a spider spinning its web and continually falling off it's thread; but carried on until the web was complete coined the folklore saying "If at first you don't succeed-Try,try again again until you do"

Later in 1863, Grant was called upon by Lincoln- to break the stalemate at Chattanooga, further cementing his reputation as a capable and effective leader.After taking charge of the Union’s western armies in October of 1863.

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant focused on lifting the Confederate Siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee, which had been in place since the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.


Regards

Jim
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John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 9:58:37 AM
Jim,

Thanks she is stable as of now. I'm the only child of a only child and my step=father died on active duty when I was a child so at some point I'm going to be in the same boat.

I agree Grant kept coming and that is a good trait but how do we know that any of the sacked commanders wouldn't have done the same with the same level of support? Plus for Overland only Grant had the opportunity because all those who came before and Halleck kept building the logistical capability to enable the quick shifts of base.

Chattanooga was a paper siege Bragg didn't have the troops or resources to make it secure and his battle victory at Missionary Ridge was a fluke. The plan was for Sherman's flank attack to be the main effort but the defensive line was incorrectly placed on the topographical crest instead of the military crest in the center and a holding action turned into victory. He sent Sherman against Tunnel Hill in the belief that it could be flank but it couldn't and didn't know the center defensive line was wrongly sited.
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"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 10:33:03 AM
Glad to hear about your Mum John-such important people in our lives-a link to one's past- as well as a guiding influence.My mother was 1901-1977- her family steeped in history

I was quite impressed with Lt. Gen. Pemberton ,BUT he was on the wrong side,however he appeared to be pretty competent;was badly let down and was utterly distraught with his ultimate defeat.

The trouble trying to pick a replacement for Grant is swathed in "his own likes and dislikes" which blunt one's judgement.General Thomas -the Hero of Chickamauga-replaced Rosencranz-was pretty solid; and Hooker reappeared on the scene-sent by Halleck. Truth to tell i do not know-Grant and Sherman made one heck of a team'

During the spring of 1863,Gen. Hooker established a reputation as an outstanding administrator and restored the morale of his soldiers, which had plummeted to a new low under Burnside.

Among his changes were fixes to the daily diet of the troops, camp sanitary changes, improvements and accountability of the quartermaster system, addition of and monitoring of company cooks, several hospital reforms, and an improved furlough system (one man per company by turn, 10 days each). He also implemented corps badges as a means of identifying units during battle or when marching and to instill unit pride in the men.

Other orders addressed the need to stem rising desertion (one from Lincoln combined with incoming mail review, the ability to shoot deserters, and better camp picket lines), more and better drills, stronger officer training, and for the first time, combining the federal cavalry into a single corps.

The Chattanooga Campaign was a series of manoeuvres and battles in October and November 1863. Following the defeat of Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans's Union Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Chickamauga in September, the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg besieged Rosecrans and his men by occupying key high terrain around Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was given command of Union forces in the West, now consolidated under the Division of the Mississippi. Significant reinforcements also began to arrive with him in Chattanooga from Mississippi and the Eastern Theatre.

On October 19th, Grant removed Rosecrans from command of the Army of the Cumberland and replaced him with Major General George Henry Thomas.

Source-Civil War Trust

Regards

Jim

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John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 11:49:04 AM
Jim,

Thanks I wish the news was better this AM as she didn't have a great night.

I'm not singing the praise of Pemberton and not trying to pick a replacement for Grant what I'm trying to do is put Grant's skills and accomplishments in a more realistic perspective. I think Grant did a good job I just don't think he was at least tactically a great general.
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anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 12:09:37 PM

Quote:
I think Grant did a good job I just don't think he was at least tactically a great general.


Now then John -who was the best tactician -dead or alive ???

Longstreet and Upton, as mentioned by Pete Belli, stand out as tacticians. Yet, in Upton's case his innovations were mostly ignored, which annoyed him. His letters from 1864 are very bitter on this point. Cleburne also stands out.

Another one, as of yet unmentioned, is George Thomas. He seems like the best candidate since he mostly led corps and army sized formations. He was almost always successful.

One who learned over time was Philip Sheridan. He started the war as another hard-fighting but unimaginative commander. After Trevilian Station he used cavalry for both shock attacks and dragoon work, resulting in victories that came close to be "Napoleonic" (or "Marlburian" if you prefer Albion).

He was of course aided by some imaginative and hard hitting subordinates, many having been proteges of Alfred Pleasanton (a fine officer undone by his love of army intrigue).

PS -Sad to hear about your Mum

Regards

Jim
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 1:06:14 PM
Jim,

Thanks

For the Civil War I think Lee was the best and I really like what Sherman did in the Atlanta Campaign at the Army level.

Sheridan I would have liked to see earlier when the Confederate Cavalry was better mounted. But then that in large part is my problem with rating many Union commanders as the best, they had all the advantages and odds on their side and at least in some cases their best work comes when the Confederacy is worn down and down for the count.
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"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 1:34:50 PM

Quote:
For the Civil War I think Lee was the best


Referring to the Overland Campaign here, it seems to me that Grant did exactly what he had to do to win. His series of flanking movements were excellent, as was Lee's response.

Had Grant's opponent been a lesser general than Lee, Grant might have beaten the ANV with fewer casualties. But against Lee, Grant's manoeuvering-he could not force the decisive battle.

Instead however, it forced Lee back, and it forced Lee to fight a battle of attrition. Pretty awesome strategy in my book. And it worked.

Regards

Jim
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 2:01:34 PM
Jim,

OK I agree good strategy but without the fall of Atlanta it very well might have cost Lincoln the election, it was only possible because of the logistical capability built during the previous years by other who weren't given the opportunity to fail as Grant was and the actual battle tactics employed by Grant once Lee beat him to the spot were basically frontal attacks. The Atlanta Campaign by Sherman is a close parallel with the exception that he doesn't throw most of his army into a frontal attack every time Johnston beats him to the spot.
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 2:26:29 PM
Hmmmm!! Good strategically; but not so good tactically.It is a tough one- I have to admit- but again I look at Gettysburg and scream poor tactics-Picketts Charge was absolute lunacy-here Lee should have listened to Longstreet for once.I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree or declare a draw.

Perhaps Sherman WAS the best tactician- not that I cared much for his strategy-shades of the Nazis.It is getting near to my quitting time-should we call a halt here and perhaps move on to another topic. Do let me know what you think please John. My best wishes for your mother.

Regards

Jim
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Phil Andrade
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 6:09:45 PM
Jim,

Please let me urge you to reconsider your suggestion that Sherman might have been the war's greatest tactician.

To my mind, he was better at winning a war than he was at winning a battle.

A strategist rather than a tactician.

Regards, Phil
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John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/9/2017 7:02:46 PM
Phil,

On the Union side its either him or Grant and in my mind Grant has way too many designed frontal attacks.

Jim,

how are Cold Harbor, Spotsylvania, the early attacks at Petersburg or the attack on the lines during the Siege of Vicksburg any different?
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/10/2017 4:04:13 AM
Hello John -hereunder my conclusions on the question you posed to me :-

Cold Harbor was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaignin 1864 during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles. c.13,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded in a hopeless frontal assault against the fortified positions of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army.

Hopeless frontal attack on a manned fortified position

Elements of Lee's army beat the Union army to the critical crossroads of Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia and began entrenching. Fighting occurred on and off from May 8 through May 21, 1864, Grant tried various schemes to break the Confederate line. In the end, the battle was tactically inconclusive, but with almost 32,000 (Union 18,300) casualties on both sides, it was the costliest battle of the campaign.

Much the same- Grant attacked Lee who already held the favoured ground

This campaign in 1865 consisted of nine months of siege trench warfare in which Union forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Petersburg unsuccessfully and then constructed trench lines that eventually extended over 30 miles (48 km) from the eastern outskirts of Richmond, Virginia, to around the eastern and southern outskirts of Petersburg.

Petersburg was crucial to the supply of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's army and the Confederate capital of Richmond. Numerous raids were conducted and battles fought in attempts to cut off the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad at a cost to the Union of 42000 casualties. Many of these battles caused the lengthening of the trench lines, overloading dwindling Confederate resources.

Another attritional campaign by Grant attacking a position already held by Lee.

Vicksburg was a 16 month campaign (1862-1863) to take Vicksburg which was vital to the Confederates.Grant made eight separate attacks to achieve this goal-probably costing c.20,000 Union casualties-this campaign was ultimately successful and was said to be his best effort.

Summing up the the first two were frontal assault battles on fortified positions; and the other two were long term sieges on vital positions- which ultimately- were given up by the Confederacy.

Grant was singularly aggressive and sought a result regardless of cost to his Forces

Regards

Jim

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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/10/2017 4:19:22 AM
John,

Didn't Sherman say I'm beginning to regard the loss of two thousand men as little more than a morning's dash ?

That's quite an odd thing to say for a general who tended to avoid the massive frontal assaults that so characterised the Overland fighting conducted by Grant.

Or, maybe, the comment demonstrates Sherman's dismay at the prospect of such fighting...and it must be acknowledged that the yankees did suffer severe repulse at New Hope Church and Kenesaw Mountain : not on the same scale as Cold Harbor, although Kenesaw wasn't that far behind.

I have to wonder, though : if Sherman lost two thousand men in a battle, while Grant lost ten thousand, did that reflect the difference between Johnston and Lee rather than that between Sherman and Grant ?

Regards, Phil
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anemone
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/10/2017 5:17:12 AM
Sherman's record as a tactician was "mixed" (my italics), but his military legacy rests primarily on his command of logistics and on his brilliance as a strategist.

The influential 20th-century British military historian and theorist B. H. Liddell Hart ranked Sherman as one of the most important strategists in the annals of war, along with Scipio Africanus, Belisarius, Napoleon Bonaparte, T. E. Lawrence, and Erwin Rommel.

Liddell Hart credited Sherman with mastery of manoeuvre warfare (also known as the "indirect approach"), as demonstrated by his series of turning movements against Johnston during the Atlanta Campaign as opposed to Grant's "seeming penchant"(again my italics) for frontal attacks.

Source -Sherman Biog.

Regards

Jim
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/10/2017 9:51:51 AM
At New Hope Church and Pickett's Mill, 25-27 May 1864, Sherman ordered his corps commanders Hooker and Howard to attack, in the mistaken belief that they were striking open flanks or weak spots.

The results were dire for the attacking yankees, who came up against concentrated shell and canister fire in one place and Pat Cleburne's well trained musketry in the other.

The Union report admitted to about 3,250 casualties in these two actions : the Confederate officers who repulsed them reported numbers of dead yankees in front of their positions that suggest that the true number was double that.

So Sherman did insist on some murderous frontal attacks....but he tended to cease when it became apparent that nothing was being achieved : in this, he is perceived as less profligate than Grant, who was more persistent.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

John R. Price
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Re: The Vicksburg Campaign 1863--A Turning Point for the Union ?
Posted on: 7/10/2017 10:06:26 AM
Phil,

The key phrase is "mistaken belief that they were striking open flanks or weak spots." Grant isn't even trying to hit a open flank and his reasoning before the attacks in many cases is that all its going to take is one more push for the enemy to fold from the Wilderness to Petersburg. Hell it wasn't Sherman's men writing their names in their uniforms so their bodies could be identified.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


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