In the winter of 1862, the regional Union Commander, Ulysses S. Grant planned a two-pronged attack on Vicksburg, one of only two ports on the Mississippi river outside Union control. While Grant himself menaced Vicksburg from the west, across the Mississippi, General William T. Sherman landed with an army of 30,000 on the Yazoo River to the north. The prelude was inauspicious; during the preparations the USS Cairo became the first ship to be destroyed by a remote-controlled mine and, once ashore, the Union troops found themselves on a swampy headland, littered with booby-traps and split by the jungle-choked Chickasaw Bayou. Commanding bluffs at the neck of the headland, the 14,000 Confederate troops presented a daunting challenge. Sherman ordered a wave of assaults starting from his left flank, ending on the right; all were repulsed. Realizing further attacks would be futile, Sherman abandoned the battlefield the following day.
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