|Copyright 2007 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Grand Gulf Military Monument - Fort Wade
Fort Wade at Grand Gulf Military Monument
|Fort Wade - Grand Gulf Military Monument
One of the two primary fortifications at Grand Gulf,
Fort Wade was severely bombarded in 1863.
Just uphill from the main entrance and museum at Grand Gulf
Military Monument can be found the remains of Fort Wade. This
earthwork fort was constructed by Confederate troops during the
early days of the Vicksburg Campaign and was designed to rain
heavy artillery fire on Union ships attempting to move up or down the
The fort was held by Southern troops under Brig. Gen. J. S. Bowen
on April 29, 1863, when the Union river flotilla under Admiral David
D. Porter steamed into view and opened fire. The Confederates in
Fort Wade returned fire, joined by the gunners upstream at Fort
Cobun and in other secondary batteries as well.
It was one of the most severe bombardments ever to take place
during the Civil War. The gunners aboard the Union ships battled it
out with the Confederates at Grand Gulf, filling the air with smoke
and fire. The sounds of the fighting could be heard up and down the
river for miles.
While Porter tried to bombard the Confederate forts into submission,
Union General Ulysses S. Grant stayed just out of range about his
transports with thousands of troops. Once the Southern guns were
silenced, he planned to land his men, take Grand Gulf and begin his
march on Vicksburg.
Porter, however, was not able to silence the hastily constructed
Confederate forts. Although their defenses were severely battered in
the Battle of Grand Gulf, the defenders of Fort Wade clung to their
position. In the end, Admiral Porter was forced to admit that he
would not be able to subdue the earthen citadel.
The Union vessels finally withdrew out of range, as cheers rippled
up and down the Confederate earthworks.
The jubilation was short-lived. Just days later, after having marched
his men overland down the Louisiana side of the Mississippi River,
Grant brought them across and flanked the Confederates at Grand
Gulf from their position. Vicksburg fell just two months later.
The battered earthworks of Fort Wade can still be seen today,
although time has taken its toll on the old fort. Archaeologists have
uncovered the remains of the old powder magazine and visitors can
step down into the excavation for a closer look. Also displayed at the
site is a massive Union mortar recovered from a nearby riverbank.
The mortar is thought to have once been used aboard a Union
warship and may have been fired during the siege of Vicksburg.
|Mortar at Fort Wade
This massive mortar is believed to have been used
aboard a U.S. Navy warship and may have been
fired during the siege of Vicksburg.
|Powder Magazine of Fort Wade
Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of the
powder magazine at Fort Wade. The Confederates
destroyed the structure prior to their evacuation of
Grand Gulf during the Vicksburg Campaign.