Ulysses Grant’s relentless march toward Confederate held Vicksburg continued into March of 1863. Since the end of January Union troops had been digging a canal at “Swampy Toe,” opposite Vicksburg in an effort to move boats and men around the fortified city.
By early March digging continued despite occasional artillery shells thrown in that direction by Confederate batteries from Vicksburg. A canal was needed since on Monday, March 9, 1863 a “Quaker” ironclad, made of logs with pork barrels for funnels, drifted down the Mississippi past Vicksburg and was subjected to withering fire from the Confederate batteries.
Albert Richardson in the New York Tribune later complained that “the people of the East….only knew that months dragged wearily by….that the soldiers were reported dying from disease….The country was heartsick for victory.”