In the spring of 1862, Union forces were poised to move down the strategically critical Mississippi River. Standing in the way of this Union advance, however, were the formidable fortifications at Island Number 10, pivotally positioned at the beginning of a double-bend in the great river. Bristling with more than 50 guns and supported by a Confederate riverboat squadron, this was an obstacle that Flag Officer Andrew Hull Foote believed too substantial for a naval frontal assault. Downstream, a Union Army force on the west bank of the river could cut Island Number 10’s supply lines and force a surrender if it could safely cross the river. But the needed naval escort was unavailable because all of the Navy’s ships were on the wrong (upstream) side of Island Number 10.
Lest We Forget: Running the Gauntlet at Island Number 10
By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)