Between March–June 1862 while Union general, Ulysses Grant, advanced up the Tennessee River, his commander-in-chief, General Halleck, instructed Brigadier General John Pope to clear Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi. Fortified by Flag Officer Andrew Foote’s gunboat flotilla (this included ironclads – steam-propelled warships) Union soldiers successfully lay siege to New Madrid and Island No. 10, forcing a surrender. Halleck’s army advanced on the fortified rail junction at Corinth, driving out its Confederate defenders. This was followed by a successful bombardment of Fort Pillow. However, the Union forces’ luck failed when, on 10 May, several gunboats and ironclads were sunk by the Confederate Fleet under the command of James E. Montgomery in a surprise attack at Plum Rum Bend. Montgomery returned his fleet to protect Memphis. On 6 June, the Federal fleet destroyed three Confederate ships close to Memphis and captured four Confederate rams (gunships), with only one ship escaping.
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