Gary Yee on “Port Hudson and Why It Matters”
With Vicksburg’s fall, Lincoln declared the Father of Waters was unvexed to these sea. Lincoln was only partially right. One hundred ten miles further south along the Mississippi River in Louisiana stood Port Hudson. So long as it remained in Confederate hands, Union mercantile traffic could never reach New Orleans and from there, to foreign ports.
Initially overlooked by both sides, its defenses were built slowly by the Confederates and the Union neglected its strategic importance until after the Confederates began occupying it. Realizing that something must be done to capture Port Hudson, a change in command for Union land forces was necessary and Nathaniel Banks replaced the relatively inactive Benjamin Butler. Along with a change in command, new regiments were raised to ensure its success.
Like Vicksburg, Port Hudson was a joint Army and Naval effort led by Farragut and Banks. While the Confederate garrison under Maj. Gen. Franklin Gardner was cut off, it defied the larger host and established the record for the longest siege in the Civil War. Its defense would have lasting implications affecting the outcome of the war and like a Shakespearean play, it had its heroes, villains and buffoons.
Gary Yee is no stranger to the South Bay Civil War Round Table. He used to regularly attend with his uncle, Bill Yee and Helen Trimpi (dec.) and has given several talks there. Additionally, he was a member of the SFCWRT, Peninsula CWRT and the Friends of Civil War Alcatraz. With the cooperation of all the Bay Area CWRTs, Gary helped to organize the 2010 Annual West Coast Civil War Conference which, conveniently enough for him, was at his workplace at the SF War Memorial.
After retiring, Gary Yee relocated to Colorado where he attended the nation’s oldest gunsmithing school at Trinidad State. Besides earning an Associate Science degree, he became an adjunct instructor there and has led school field trips to a private gun museum near Sante Fe as well as the Civil War battlefield in Glorietta, New Mexico. Naturally, this forced him to learn about the battle and campaign; something which was he was well up to. He still enrolls in classes at TSJC and has taken engraving, relief carving, silver wire inlay to add some artistic element to his flintlocks. Most of his time though is spent researching and writing. This year he had a title on sharpshooting that was published by Osprey. Currently he is working on a short book on the Port Hudson Campaign and a book on WW II sniping.