The Papers of the Blue and Gray Education Society, Number 4
The Winter of 1863: Grant’s Louisiana Canals Expeditions
A Scholarly Monograph By Carolyn Pace Davis
24 February 1997
President Abraham Lincoln once remarked:
See what a lot of land these fellows hold, of which Vicksburg is the key. Here is the Red River, which will supply the Confederacy with cattle and corn to feed their armies. There are the Arkansas and White Rivers which can supply cattle and hogs by the thousand. From Vicksburg these supplies can be distributed by rail all over the Confederacy. Then there is that great depot of supplies on the Yazoo. Let us get Vicksburg and all that country is ours. The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pockets. I am acquainted with that region and know what I am talking about, and valuable as New Orleans will be to us, Vicksburg will be more so. We may take all northern ports of the Confederacy, and they can still defy us from Vicksburg. It means hog and hominy without limit, fresh troops from all the states of the far South and a cotton country where they can raise the staple without interference.
The War between the States began on April 12, 1861, at Charleston, South Carolina. By May 1862 the mighty Mississippi River had become the scene of major action between the Confederate and Union armies. Fifty-seven navigable bodies of water flowed into the Mississippi, and it bordered ten states. Recognizing the importance of the river, Lincoln urged the Union military leaders to control the navigation as soon as possible. New Orleans. Natchez, Baton Rouge, and other river ports fell in the spring of 1862. Thus, seizing the Mississippi River became a major goal of the North’s war strategy known as the Anaconda Plan.
This monograph is out-of-print, but the entire text can be downloaded and printed at no charge as a pdf: The Winter of 1863: Grant’s Louisiana Canals Expeditions.