Early Civil War opening shots near Vicksburg, Mississippi on January 13th 1861 were fired at the steamboat, the A O Tyler which was thought to be carrying Union related supplies.
On the evening of January 13th 1861 the steamboat the A O Tyler was making a regular run down the Mississippi River between Cincinnati, Ohio and New Orleans, Louisiana with general cargo. As the Tyler rounded a bend near Vicksburg and came opposite of Fort Hill, the Captain John Collier was surprised when he was fired on. Collier didn’t understand that the shots fired into the water near his ship where an order to stop.
Shortly after this the A O Tyler made a routine stop at the port in Vicksburg. It was here that Collier was given orders to turn his ship around and return up river to Fort Hill, to report to the officers in charge of the battery which had fired on his ship. Collier tied the A O Tyler up at a small dock at Fort Hill, where he was met by uniformed Mississippi militia. The militia stated that they were going to search the A O Tyler for weapons and armed soldiers. None were found and Collier was allowed to proceed on his way.
The firing on the A O Tyler turned out to be the response to a rumor that a steamboat with 500 armed men, known as “Wideawakes” was on its way down the river with plans to attack Vicksburg. The A O Tyler would just seven month latter become a Union gunboat when she was purchased and commissioned at the USS Tyler.