Grant prepares attack
Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had for months sought in the winter of 1862-63 to find a way to clear Confederate forces defending Vicksburg, Miss., on the seemingly indomitable bluffs lining the Mississippi River there.
Clearing Vicksburg would be a key prize for the Union if it could seize control of that city and gain supremacy over the inland waterway, splitting the Confederacy in half.
On the night of April 16, 1863, Union gunboats ran downriver past the batteries at Vicksburg, outwitting artillery fire from the heights as they moved below the city. Grant planned to have his armada meet up with thousands of troops marching overland. His audacious plan: to send his troops trekking down the rivers west bank where they could be ferried by fleet across to the Vicksburg side to mount an eventual attack.
In the coming month, Grant, would open a 47-day siege of Vicksburg that would gain the Union a much-needed victory and further burnish Grants star as a general who fights to win – and one Lincoln would tap to lead the overall war effort.