Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April 16, 1863

April 16, 1863

---Vicksburg Campaign – Gen. Grant wants Admiral David D. Porter, commander of the Union squadron on the Mississippi River, to try to rush past the guns of Vicksburg again with three transports, so that the Federal army can march down the west bank of the river, and the transports can ship the troops to the east bank of the river, on dry ground, so they can approach the fortifications at last. Grant suggests sending two gunboats as escort, but Porter changes that to eight gunboats to ensure that the Queen of the West and the Indianola debacles are not repeated. Lashing the more vulnerable transports on the sheltered side of the ironclad gunboats, the flotilla heads downstream from the mouth of the Yazoo on a moonless night. At first, due to a ball being held in Vicksburg that night, many of the Confederate guns are not manned.

Running the Guns of Vicksburg - Porter's route

But as the shooting started, the ball empties, and officers report to their batteries. Soon, all 37 heavy guns on the bluffs were in action. Porter’s ships answered with 79 guns, as they steered for the eastern shore, hoping that the Rebel guns could not shoot low enough to hit the Yankee gunboats so close to the bluffs. In the confusion, several coal barges have to be cut loose, and the USS Henry Clay is hit and hammered into uselessness. The crew abandons ship. 

After another gunboat running aground and getting loose again, all but the Henry Clay and two other vessels manage to get past the fortress. As Porter docks at New Carthage, he discovers that he has only 12 men wounded. Now, Grant has the ships he needs to cross his army over to the same side as Vicksburg, on dry ground.

---A party of Dakota Indians attack a platoon of Union soldiers near Medalia, Minnesota, killing one and wounding two.

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