On April 16, while Grant's army marched south through Louisiana, part of the Union fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, prepared to run by the Vicksburg batteries. At 9:15 p.m., lines were cast off and the vessels moved away from their anchorage above the city with engines muffled and all lights extinguished to conceal their movement.
As the boats rounded De Soto Point, they were spotted by Confederate lookouts who spread the alarm. Bales of cotton soaked in turpentine and barrels of tar lining the shore, were set on fire by the Southerners to illuminate the river. Although each vessel was hit repeatedly, Porter's fleet successfully fought its way past the Confederate batteries losing only one transport, and headed downriver to the rendezvous with Grant on the Louisiana shore south of Vicksburg. Once successfully past the batteries, the Navy and Army approached Grand Gulf, where more guns awaited them.
Last updated: February 15, 2018