Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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A Turner Bugler, 2004

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News of 150 Years Ago—March/April 1863


January/February 1863

The Vicksburg Campaign of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was not going well.  Grant’s initial plan of a two-pronged approach failed in December 1862 when Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest destroyed the Union supply depot at Holly Springs, halting one prong of the attack.  The other prong, under Union Gen. William T. Sherman, bloodied itself against Vicksburg’s defenses at Chickasaw Bayou.  The topography around Vicksburg favored an approach to the land side of the city, but this would have to be done from the south side of Vicksburg, which meant getting past the batteries covering the Mississippi River.  Several attempts to bypass Vicksburg with canals failed but kept the Confederates guessing about what Grant was actually up to.  The supporting brown water navy was having its own problems.  The ram Queen of the West was captured by the Confederates, who then used it to help sink the ironclad gunboat Indianola, which lay disabled in shallow water below Warrenton, Mississippi.  Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter, commander of the Union river fleet, devised an audacious plan to prevent the Indianola from being used against him.

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, March 16, 1863.


Admiral Porter’s Narrative of the Construction and Career of his “Dummy Monitor.”

[Wash. correspondence of the New York Herald.]

A private letter has been received here by a naval officer from Acting Rear Admiral Porter, which has created much amusement in Cabinet circles. It seems that Porter was much surprised to learn, on the 25th of February, that the ram Queen of the West was at Warrenton, seven miles below Vicksburg, with the rebel flag flying and steam up. The account Porter had received from Eilet led him to believe that the Queen was in such a condition that she could not be repaired for some time. “I knew,” says Admiral Porter in his letter, “that Brown could take care of the Webb by himself; but I have no idea that he will be a match for the Queen and Webb both amusing him at the same time. The Indianola is a weak vessel, and the only good thing about her is her battery.”…

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Grant’s attempts at bypassing Vicksburg having failed, his last option was the direct one. He would march his army down the west side of the river and cross back to the east on boats that would have to run past the batteries. On the night of April 16, Admiral Porter made his first attempt.

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, April 22, 1863.


Seven Steamers Pass the Rebel Batteries in Safety.

[Special Dispatch to the Missouri Democrat.]

MEMPHIS, April 20. – Thomas H. Yeatman, special agent treasury department, for Memphis, has received the appointment of agent for the collection of abandoned property in the district.

The Crescent City has arrived, bringing up the pilot John Taylor, of the transport Henry Clay. He reports that on Thursday evening seven gunboats, one ram – the one taken from the Confederates sometime since – and three transports left the vicinity of Vicksburg to run the blockade….

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