After meeting for the first time in early December 1862, Major General Ulysses S. Grant and Acting Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter quickly formed a partnership that eventually led to the greatest Union victory of the war, the capture of Vicksburg. For Army and Navy commanders to work together smoothly and effectively was no easy feat in an era when there was no doctrine for combined operations—what are now called joint operations—and unity of command between service branches was virtually unheard of.
Grant and Porter’s partnership was largely built on mutual trust and respect. But back in Washington, the relationship between their superiors—Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, along with Army General-in-Chief Henry Halleck—was often less than harmonious. Excerpts from Welles’ private diary and his official dispatches during the first half of 1863 reveal the blunt and judgmental SecNav’s low opinion of Stanton and Halleck, as well as his frequent frustration with Porter and the pace of the Vicksburg campaign.1 News of it usually took a week or more to reach the nation’s capital.