June 24, 1862: The Snag at Vicksburg

Siege of Vicksburg

The New York Times points out that Vicksburg is the last rebel stronghold on the Mississippi. The defenses on the high bluff overlooking a sharp bend in the river make the point nearly impassable for river traffic. While the Times is predicting that the river fleet will soon take Vicksburg, they’re wrong on both counts. It’ll take over a year, and ground forces will have to take the lead.


THE SNAG IN THE MISSISSIPPI. The only
rebel snag interfering now with the free navigation of the Mississippi River is the town of Vicksburgh. Our boats struck against it very unexpectedly, when they were dashing up the Father of Waters in the most triumphant style. The invincible fleet of Commodore FARRAGUT, which had blown to pieces all the rebel gunboats, fireships and forts near the mouth of the stream, and captured all the towns on the river as far up as Vicksburgh, was stopped short, and turned tail and went down the river again, after taking a look at this Mississippi town. The gun and mortarboats of Commodores FOOTE and DAVIS, which did such brave work at Island No. 10, at Fort Pillow, and above Memphis, and which, we were given to understand after the capture of Memphis, were not to pause in their victorious course down stream until they hailed the up-coming fleet from New-Orleans — even they, it seems, have not thought it best to go to Vicksburgh.

And so, from the mouth of the Arkansas to Vicksburgh, a distance of two hundred miles, the Mississippi River, which we all thought weeks ago was entirely ours, is still controlled by the rebels. We do not think, however, that Vicksburgh will be a very difficult snag to root out or to break down, and we do not imagine that the country will need to wait very long now for its reduction, and the consequent opening of the river. Our New-Orleans fleet only turned back from Vicksburgh that it might return to it again in such force as to compel it to succumb without making any ado about the matter; and of our up-river fleet, we learn that ELLET’s rams have passed down to see if there is any butting needed near Vicksburgh. We suppose that some of FOOTE’s old mortarboats have also gone down; and as part of PORTER’s mortar fleet, lately at Mobile, has gone up, we shall doubtless soon see warm work at Vicksburgh, or else we shall behold, what the military commandant there said we never should behold, the surrender of another Mississippi town. Vicksburgh is the most important point in the State of Mississippi for us to hold. The possession of it will not only give us a clear sweep of the river, but will also put us within short railroad distance of Jackson, which is the Capital of the State, and the key to the very simple system of Mississippi railroads. It was wise not to attack it when the attack might cost us a good deal, if in a short time we could capture it at a cost probably of nothing.

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