By Pedro Garcia Not long after Union Flag Officer David Farragut of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron received the surrender of New Orleans on April 29, 1862, he began pondering his next move. He faced a dilemma. His orders, as framed by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, did not resolve the question. Should Farragut attack Mobile, Alabama, his secondary objective, or press up the Mississippi River, clearing out the secessionists and ultimately joining forces with the ironclad gunboats of the Western Gunboat Flotilla under Flag Officer Charles H. Davis? Farragut’s blue-water navy was not suited for brown-water work, and he would have much preferred to leave it to Davis. But control of the river was a priority of the Lincoln administration as a means of splitting the Confederacy economically, militarily, and politically. Union control of the Mississippi would sever Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas from the rest of the Confederate states. Farragut resolved the dilemma by splitting his forces, sending his mortar flotilla to the barrier islands off Mobile Bay while also sending several small gunboats upriver to Vicksburg. As Farragut’s gunboats proceeded upstream, receiving the surrender of Baton Rouge and Natchez, Davis’s hard-driving Federal ironclads had captured New Madrid, Island No. 10, and Fort Pillow and were working their way downstream toward Memphis. On May 18, Farragut’s fleet arrived before the bluffs of Vicksburg. However, the guns of Farragut’s ships h


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