Re: The Value of Vicksburg
Very good points. During my college days at Nebraska a professor of
mine tole me that one of the worse losses that the Confederates
suppered with the closing of the Mississippi River was its access to
horses and mules from the west. By 1863 horseflesh in the South was
gone and in order to re-mount its forces the CSA had to increasingly
look towards the vast herds of wild horses in the west (as did the
Federals). One of the biggest problems was crossing thse herds from
west to east across the Mississippi. Since the river could not be
swum a series of barges had to be used and once the Federal navy
controlled the river it became almost impossible to hide the loading
and unloading operations. When the CSA lost the Mississippi it was
the equivalent of the US Army losing control over Detroit today. We
often think in the terms of horses to re-mount the cavalry, but
forget that it took at least 6 horses to move every artillery piece,
and 4/6/8 for every wagon, ambulance, and wheeled conveyance used
during the war. One of Johnston's complaints above Atlanta was that
he didn't have enough horse-shoes to properly care for his draft
animals. (Think about it, 4 shoes per animal replaced up to every
three weeks during heavy use at what? 2-3 pounds per shoe?, and one
wagon could carry approximately 2,000 pounds = 1 wagon of shoes for
Another critical element that Dr. Clark used to discuss was the loss
of Mercury from Mexico and Texas and points west to the CSA. Mercury
was another bear to haul because of its weight and mercury was
critical to the cause because it was needed to make percussion caps.
After the loss of the Mississippi the CSA had to turn more and more
to Europe to re-supply percussion caps. The South never ran out of
ammunition as far as shot/shell and powder was concerned but towards
the end they had nothing to set the powder off with as they ran low
on percussion caps and fuses for cannons.
Since both of these items requred substantial barges to haul them the
loss of the Mississippi was a disaster to the Confederate logistical
systems. IT was a loss the Confederacy could not afford, and it is
why the Union victory at Vicksburg was perhaps far more important to
the overall success of the Union forces than was ll the messing
around that was going on in the east.
- In a message dated 7/16/02 7:39:01 PM Central Daylight Time,
<< I agree. Sometimes it's the back of the scene contributions from
willing men like Hurlbut that make all the difference in a campaign.
To the best of my knowledge, Hurlbut didn't squawk a bit when Grant
called on him for reinforcements.
>>Seems to me the only time Grant and Hurlbut disagreed was in how Dodge was
handling payment to his operatives. IIRC the situation was handled quickly
and with no obviously hard feelings. Working in tandem was the optimum
situation, but too often egos or personal agendas muddied the water to the
detriment of the objective. Grant's talent was to somehow arrange it so that
his subordinates were his men.