Running Vicksburg….

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Today in History, April 16: 1863 – Navy. Littoral. Riverine. Inter-branch cooperation. Amphibious. Most of these terms are not recognized by most until World War II or Vietnam. But they became reality much earlier…in The Civil War. Union Generals Grant and Sherman had been trying to take Vicksburg, Mississippi for six months without success. Grant tried to move his troops past Vicksburg on the Louisiana side, but the swampy terrain made it slow going. So, thinking “outside the box”, he called upon the Navy…He and Navy Admiral David Dixon Porter designed to have Grant’s soldiers moved south past the batteries at Vicksburg via the Mississippi River, using numerous Ironclads, Riverboats, and barges. The idea was to sneak past the Confederate cannon..but the rebels spotted the passing ships and a battle ensued. One ship and two barges were lost, but the vast majority of Grant’s forces made it to their destination. They then lay siege to Vickburg, which they had now cut off from reinforcement or resupply. By July 4th, Vicksburg fell to Grant and Sherman’s forces. When we think of the US Navy, we think of Frigates, Ships of the Line, Battleships, or Aircraft Carriers, depending on the time in history, sailing the seas. But many of our Navy’s victories were won in shallow waters or on rivers. The Navy used “Littoral”, or shallow water ships, and “Riverine”, or river tactics in numerous conflicts. Vicksburg and other Mississippi Civil War battles displayed the use of Navy – Army cooperation.

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