In April, 1863 the American Civil War was in its 25th month. The winter had been a hard one, with excessive snow and rain and cold. For the soldiers of both sides, conditions were miserable. Encamped in often inadequate shelter, lacking proper shoes and clothing, enduring poor pay and poor rations, for the soldiers, the spring warmth and improved travel conditions could not come soon enough.
In the Mississippi Valley, Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant was determined to get his men into position to capture the key port of Vicksburg, “the Gibraltar of the South”, from the well-fortified rebels, 60,000 strong under the command of General John Pemberton. Grant had made seven attempts to get into Vicksburg through the cold, wet winter months, and all had failed. The warming days of April meant troops could soon be on the move overland. It was time to pull out all stops and take the city.
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