Mississippi River campaigns in the American Civil War
The Mississippi campaign was an economic problem created by the Union during the American Civil War in which Union Army troops, helped by gunboats and river ironclads took control over the Mississippi River, therefore virtually splitting the Confederate territory in two while also controlling the South's main artery of transport.
The campaign was planned from the outset of the war as an integral part of the Anaconda Plan for economic 'strangulation' of the South. It started in February 1862 with Union forces pushing down from Cairo, Illinois into Confederate territory and ended with the surrender of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. Although an important role in the Mississippi campaign was played by armored paddle steamers, the campaign was a pure US Army undertaking, as the ships used were under Army command and were used as army transports and floating gun stations rather than independent battleships. The only exception was the siege of Vicksburg where the army, marching downstream met up with the US Navy under admiral Farragut sailing upstream and the two combined their forces for an all-out land-and-sea shelling of the town.
The Army expedition was commanded by Henry W. Halleck, Ulysses S. Grant, and Nathaniel P. Banks, while Andrew H. Foote and David D. Porter commanded the Mississippi River Squadron. Foote and Porter were Navy admirals, but were under direct command of the US army and most of their boats were either converted paddle steamers or purpose-built gunboats that had never seen the sea. Because of this, the Mississippi River Squadron quickly became known as the Brown-water navy. (A reference to the hashbrown, muddy water of the Mississippi, as compared to the deep blue commonly associated with the sea).
The campaign saw the first practical use of river gunboats and river ironclads, in particular the Cairo class ironclad paddle steamers built by James B. Eads in St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois. It also saw the use of sea mines (At that time called torpedoes, the term being applied to the self-propelled warheads only later), torpedo rams and a brief Confederate experiment in deploying a casemate ironclad, the Arkansas, in a river defense role.