On Thursday, April 16, 1863 just before midnight, Union Admiral David Porter’s fleet of twelve vessels attempted to run past the bluffs of Confederate held Vicksburg.
Many observers doubted whether any ship could effectively survive traversing the city’s defenses which were strategically located on elevated bluffs both to the north and south of the city. Moving downstream to assist Ulysses Grant’s Union land forces, all but one of the Union vessels got through, although hit often by Confederate artillery which lit up the sky with explosives against the intruding warships.
Porter’s battered fleet then concentrated near Hard Times on the west side of the Mississippi River. The Union fleet’s daring passage of city’s river defenses was one additional step in the build-up for Grant’s forthcoming, successful land campaign against Vicksburg.