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The Engineers at Vicksburg

By Terry Winschel
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Historian

Engineers in Union blue and Confederate gray played a prominent role in the Vicksburg campaigns of 1862-1863. Although their contributions have largely gone unnoticed in published works on the campaign, the stories of these men and the fatigue parties that toiled under their supervision are worthy of note and will be detailed in this series of articles.

Part 24: Blasted to Freedom

Part 24: Blasted to Freedom

As Capt. Andrew Hickenlooper, chief engineer of the Union XVII Corps, directed his miners in drifting another gallery under what remained of the Third Louisiana Redan... Article


Part 23: A Column of Dirt, Smoke and Flame

The sounds of pick and shovel coming from underground were maddening to the Confederate soldiers who manned in Third Louisiana Redan. For weeks the men had watched almost helplessly... Article

Part 22: Union Sappers close in

From late May, through June, and into July, Union sappers labored on the various approaches that slowly extended toward the Confederate defenses. “Every man in the investing line became an Army engineer...” Article

Part 21: Plotting Logan's Approach

The truce May 25 that enabled the Union dead and wounded to be removed from the field also provided engineers of both armies an opportunity to more closely examine the terrain in their fronts. Article

Part 20: Ax and saw, pick and shovel

The truce May 25 that enabled the Union dead and wounded to be removed from the field also provided engineers of both armies an opportunity to more closely examine the terrain in their fronts. Article

Part 19: From surge to siege

On the afternoon of May 18, 1863, as the setting sun cast lurid shadows over the fields, there was a flurry of activity to the front and the sound of musketry heralded the arrival of the Union army... Article

Part 18: Bridging the Big Black River

Dense columns of black smoke rose to the sky May 17, 1863, as flames engulfed the bridges across Big Black River. The forethought of Maj. Samuel Lockett, the army’s chief engineer, had saved... Article

Part 17: The Logistician and the Architect

As the rugged soldiers of the Union Army of the Tennessee battled their way from Port Gibson to Jackson, then westward over Champion Hill to the Big Black River Bridge, engineers in blue helped... Article


Part 16: The Blitzkrieg of the Vicksburg Campaign

Looking to cross his army at Rodney, Grant was informed that there was a good road ascending the bluffs east of Bruinsburg, midway between Grand Gulf and Rodney. Equally important... Article


Part 15: The Forts of the Grand Gulf

The Union gunboats of the Mississippi Squadron pulled away from Hard Times Landing and steamed into action at 7 a.m. April 29, 1863. These gunboats... Article


Part 14: Preparing for a Union crossing

The massive movement of men and material by Maj. Gen Ulysses S. Grant had been discovered by roving Confederate cavalry led by... Article


Part 13: A Vast Sheet of Water

Capt. William F. Patterson’s Kentucky Company of Engineers and Mechanics completed a bridge over Roundaway Bayou on the morning of April 2, 1863... Article


Part 12: Duckport Canal and march on Vicksburg

On March 29, 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand, commander of the XIII Corps of the Army of the Tennessee, to open a road... Article


Part 11: "I can't spare this man; he fights"

One final “experiment” was initiated by the Federals in March 1863 that was primarily a naval operation. Known as the Steele’s Bayou Expedition... Article


Part 10: Flotilla on the Delta

As Capt. Fred Prime directed work on Grant’s Canal, opposite Vicksburg, the Union commander investigated other routes... Article


Part 09: The Union's Dark Winter

Due to Sherman’s defeat at Chickasaw Bayou, as well as his own misfortune in north Mississippi, Grant boldly abandoned conventional lines... Article


Part 08: Sherman's assault at Chickasaw Bayou

News of Grant’s defeat spread as wildfire throughout Vicksburg and was greeted with greater excitement than was President Davis, who had arrived... Article


Part 07: Grant Advances South

As Vicksburg’s citizens held a day of “Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer to Almighty God that Vicksburg may be spared from the Hand of the Destroyer,”... Article


Part 06: Staying the Hand of the Destroyer

The soldiers of the Vicksburg garrison and thousands of slaves pressed into service from local plantations labored on the rear line of defense... Article


Part 05: The Line of Defense

The naval siege of Vicksburg ended in Union failure. It was then realized by both Union and Confederate authorities... Article


Part 04: Grant's Canal

During the summer of 1862, as the Union fleet maintained an intermittent and ineffective bombardment of the Confederate batteries at Vicksburg... Article


Part 03: Cannons over Vicksburg

The post commander at Vicksburg was Lt. Col. James L. Autry. Although a Tennessee native, he was raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and had practiced law... Article


Part 02: Gibraltar of the Confederacy

Early in 1862, Union land and naval forces moved with a vengeance from two directions in a massive converging attack to wrestle control of the lower Mississippi... Article


Part 01: The Spinal Column of America

...the river was then, as it remains to this date, the single most important economic feature of the continent—the very lifeblood of America... Article