Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Grant had many shortcomings, but one trait of character outweighed them all: His stubbornness. In December 1862, Grant launched his first attempt to capture Vicksburg. The problem for Grant was how to "get at" the city. It sits on a high bluff abve a sharp bend in the Mississippi. Its guns commanded the sharp bend in the river at De Soto Point. A direct approach was decisively repulsed. Rather than return to Memphis for the winter and wait for the waters of the Mississippi to recede in the spring, Grant initiated a number of other attempts to "get at" Vicksburg. In attempting to reach the dry ground east of the Mississippi. In early 1863, Grant undertook two engineering projects to get south of the city. The first was the attempt to dig a canal to permit the passage of naval transports from the Mississippi above Vicksburg to points south without exposing them to the fire of the Confederate batteries. The second was an attempt to connect a network of rivers and bayous in the bottomlands of northeast Louisiana. Boths plans failed miserably. Now Grant attempted two timemes to get directly at Vicksburg from the north. Both operations failed. In late March, he moved his army down the west bank of the river. After several setbacks they reached in late April the east side of the river. From there he led his army far inland to Jackson before he turned back and laid siege on Vicksburg. I was now in the enemy’s country, he writes in his Memoirs, with a vast river and the stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies. But I was on dry ground on the same side of the river with the enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and exposures from the month of December previous to this time that had been made and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one objective. The Confederate defenders repulsed several direct assaults against Vicksburg’s lines, but, cut off all support, the city had to surrender on July 4, one day after Lee was defeated at Gettysburg. It had taken Grant 8 months and about 17 failures to succeed. During that time his superiors and the press in Washington lost all confidence in him and the campaign. But not for a moment Grant had considered giving up. Granted his strategic skill was admirable. But he wouldn't have taken Vicksburg without stubbornly ignoring all setbacks and sticking to his goal.
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