In an early Civil War example of “jointness,” Union Army and Navy commanders maneuvered their forces to capture the most formidable Confederate river strongpoint north of Vicksburg in a relatively bloodless fashion.
In early March 1862, while the Union blockade of the Confederacy solidified, the struggle for control of the Mississippi River began in earnest. The contest between the Confederate river fortification strategy and the Union joint—or what was then called combined—army-navy offensive strategy had commenced in February with U.S. victories at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland. On the last day of February, well before the fields and woods around Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee became blood soaked, Federal troops set out from Commerce, Missouri, for a quiet curve in the Mississippi known as New Madrid Bend. It was the initial move in what would become the first major struggle along the Mississippi. The fighting at Madrid Bend would continue for five weeks, finally ending on 8 April, the day after the Battle of Shiloh concluded.