This was the greatest feat ever known in the history of the world

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SWMODave

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uss hartfort.jpg

USS Hartford​

There is, or has been a narrow gage RR from the town of Port Gibson to the landing at Grand Gulf. The bluffs back of the village and landing were selected for our batteries, and three siege guns, and four ten pound parrot guns, were placed in position and were soon ready for any emergency.
Wade's battery of the four ten pound parrots, were first put in position, and were ready when Farragut's flag ship the Hartford and gunboat Albatross came, they had run by our batteries at Port Hudson and were on their way to Vicksburg. We were mounting siege guns, but they were not ready when he came up on Mar. 19th.

My Corporal, Peter Bush an Irish man, who had been a sailor on the Hartford, had many thrilling tales to tell us of the destructive power, of her many guns, her sweeping broadside, and unerring aim of her gunners, until we thought when the Hartfort passed up the river we would fight our last fight, and I can testify, when she hove in sight on the morning of the 19th, Peter Bush had a bad case of "Buckague," and as he did the sighting on our gun it is not likely that my gun at least did any damage, although some of our shots did execution as the Hartfort landed some two miles above us and buried two men. She then moved up to Vicksburg; it was said (although I cannot vouch for it), that Commodore Farragut, ran by the batteries of Vicksburg also and joined Com. Porter, and after remaining a few days, he ran back by the batteries at Vicksburg at night, and we were notified to look out for him, as he was on his return trip.

He passed us going down the next night. We had our three siege guns now ready had built a brick furnace and had quite a number of balls kept heated to a red heat, so as to fire red hot balls from one of the siege guns; several were fired at the Hartfort as she passed down the stream, but none took effect. This was the greatest feat ever known in the history of the world, where a wooden ship run by at close range heavy batteries with perfect impunity time and again, without receiving any material damage.

But on this night of Mar. 31st, while firing on the Hartfort, and Albatross, one of our ten pound parrot guns bursted and killed one man Thomas Dugan, a nice intelligent Irishman, and we had several wounded of Wade's battery. The wounded were sent to Port Gibson, where they received royal attention, and were soon able to report to duty……

Memoir of the Civil War by William L. Truman
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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It was conventional wisdom prior to the war that warships stood little chance against forts, and so both sides overestimated how effective Confederate river fortifications were going to be.

As it happened, merely running by a fort was considerably more possible than slugging it out and silencing or destroying the fort. The first few times it was attempted (Island No. 10 and New Orleans) there was an expectation on both sides that it was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be.

In addition, Confederate river batteries were seldom as effective as they could have been, often because of lack of time and/or logistics in setting them up and operating them. In particular, many could be easily enfiladed once a vessel had run by its main armament.

On smaller rivers, the effectiveness of the forts was significantly increased when the river could be adequately blocked, preventing the run-by tactic. This required the block to be well within gunnery range of the fort-- when the separation was too great (as at Fort DeRussy on the Red), this left the obstructions vulnerable to removal. The Mississippi itself, however, was never successfully artificially obstructed.
 

rebelatsea

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It was conventional wisdom prior to the war that warships stood little chance against forts, and so both sides overestimated how effective Confederate river fortifications were going to be.

As it happened, merely running by a fort was considerably more possible than slugging it out and silencing or destroying the fort. The first few times it was attempted (Island No. 10 and New Orleans) there was an expectation on both sides that it was going to be more difficult than it turned out to be.

In addition, Confederate river batteries were seldom as effective as they could have been, often because of lack of time and/or logistics in setting them up and operating them. In particular, many could be easily enfiladed once a vessel had run by its main armament.

On smaller rivers, the effectiveness of the forts was significantly increased when the river could be adequately blocked, preventing the run-by tactic. This required the block to be well within gunnery range of the fort-- when the separation was too great (as at Fort DeRussy on the Red), this left the obstructions vulnerable to removal. The Mississippi itself, however, was never successfully artificially obstructed.
That's because no one had ever done it under full steam power before, received wisdom of course referred to sailing fleets.
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Yes, steam made a big difference... the first notable example was Du Pont at Hilton Head/Port Royal, where he intended for his fleet to steam in an oval, alternately bombarding two forts. (In the event, not all of his ships followed orders, but the first two did...)
 
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