On April 30, 1863, the the Confederates controlled Mississippi River traffic from Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Union could not transport goods from the upper Mississippi basin to the sea because they could not get past Vicksburg. It also connected the two halves of the South. The Citadel of Vickburg, sitting on a bluff overlooking the river, was called The Gibraltar of the West and considered impenetrable.
After several failed tries to take or get around the city, Grant marched south of Vicksburg on the far side of the river. Supported by Admiral Porter”s gunships and transports, he crossed back to the Vicksburg side at Bruinsburg on April 29 and April 30, 1863. They ferried more than thirty thousand men across the Mississippi, making it the largest military amphibious maneuver until World War II.
He was now deep in Confederate territory, out numbered and cut off from his supply lines. In his memoir Grant said that he felt a degree of relief scarcely ever equalled since…
on the evening of April 30th, 150 years ago, as the sun sank in the west, it sank on the other side of the Mississippi. Grant stood on dry ground on the same side of the river with the enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and exposures from the month of December previous to this time that had been made and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one object.
He was about to start one of the most dazzling military campaigns ever.