150 years ago on this date of April 30, 1863, Ulysses Grant was accomplishing the largest American military amphibious operation prior to Normandy. The location desired for the crossing at Grand Gulf was pounded by the navy for five hours on the 29th – to no avail, as the bombardment fleet suffered more than it inflicted. Admiral Porter declared, “Grand Gulf is the strongest place on the Mississippi.”
Instead, Grant and his army crossed farther south at Bruinsburg where there was a decent road ascending the cliffs. They crossed the river from Louisiana to Mississippi beginning in the early hours of April 30th. The first troops to come ashore were the 24th and 4th Indiana Regiments. The cliffs were secured, and by the end of the day 17,000 had crossed.
A quick march to Port Gibson was ordered in hopes of surprising the Confederates there. Taking the less obvious of roads (the Rodney Road), a forced march through the night brought them upon Confederate outposts and into a skirmish in the wee hours of the morning. A hotly contested battle ensued throughout the day on May 1st. The Southern forces performed as best they could with the numbers at hand (about 8,000), but the weight of Grant’s roughly 23,000 infantry would carry the day. The Union victory at Port Gibson forced the Confederate evacuation of Grand Gulf, and beyond that contributed significantly toward the ultimate fall of Vicksburg. The win established Grant’s position in Mississippi and his base of operation for a successful campaign.