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SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.
ceeded in planting their flags on the outer slopes of the enemy's bastions, and maintained them there until night. The assault was gallant in the extreme on the part of all the troops, but the enemy's ^position was too strong, both naturally and artificially, to be taken in that way. At every point assaulted( and at all of them at the same time, the enemy was able to show all the force his works could cover. The assault failed, I regret to say, with much loss on our side in killed and wounded; but without weakening the confidence of the troops in their ability to ultimately succeed."
It having become evident that Vicksburg was not to be taken by assault, Grant began a regular series of siege operations. They were commenced and carried on with vigor and perseverance, it being certain that, sooner or later, this r,ebel Gibralter must be surrendered to our arms. Day by day, during the month of June, the works were pushed closer to the enemy's fortifications. Batteries and rifle-pits were erected along the entire front. Mines were constructed at several points, especially in McPherson's front, with great secrecy and under careful watch; while from the peninsula opposite the doomed city, mortar batteries poured in, day and night, without cessation, thousands of shots and shells.*
• On the 6th of June, an attack was made by the rebels upon the garrison, under Oen. Dennis, at Milliken's Bend. After a severe contest, on the morning of the 7th, which was kept up until noon, the rebels were repulsed. A week later, they were routed out of Richmond by an expedition from Young's Point, consisting of Mo wry's command and the marine brigade under Gen. R. W. Ellet. The town itself was completely destroyed.
In addition to all this steadv working, Grant had taken care to secure, at an early day, large reinforcements, so that he was in a condition not only to push forward the siege with fixed determination, but also to keep a watch upon Johnston, and be "ready to repulse any effort he might venture to make for the relief of Vicksburg. The position of Grant's army, resting on the Yazoo and supported by the gun boats, was so strong that the rebels were soon aware of the hopelessness of attempting to raise the siege.
The state of things in Vicksburg, meanwhile, was far from cheering or encouraging. The women and children, in order to escape the terrible bombardment, sheltered themselves in caves excavated in the hill sides; houses and streets were ploughed by shot and shell; provisions were becoming more and more scarce; mule and dog meat, bean meal and corn coffee, were in demand; and unburied corpses and the stench of dead animals, in the streets and elsewhere, tried the nerve and patience of the garrison to the utmost. One only hope remained, and that was the hope that Johnston might yet bring relief; but all such hope failed, and the end drew nigh. Surrender, or starving to death, was the alternative.*
In carrying forward the siege opera
* Pollard denounces this as untrue: "The statement that the garrison of Vicksburg was surrendered on account of an inexorable distress, in which the soldiers had to feed on mules, with the occasional luxury of rats, is either to be taken as a designing falsehood or as the crudities of that foolish nowspaper romance so common in the war. In neither case does it merit refutation," etc.—" Third TearoftJie War," p. 68.
tions, when the first mine was all in readiness, Grant ordered its explosion, and also certain parties of troops to be prepared to storm the rebel line at the right moment. At three o'clock in the afternoon of June 25th, the match was applied, and speedily a terrific explosion took place. Our troops rushed bravely to the charge; a bloody contest ensued with the half-starved garrison, and the loss was heavy on both sides; but Vicksburg was not yet taken. On the 1st of July, a second mine was sprung on the right of the Jackson road, which resulted in the entire demolition of the redan, the destroying a number of men who were countermining, and wounding others in the works, and leaving an immense chasm where the redan had stood.
The case was now hopeless.* Pemberton concluded that it was better to surrender than to continue the desperate defence, especially as, in any event, he could not hold out more than a few days. On the 3d of July, early in the morning, a flag of truce was displayed upon the works in front of Gen. A. J. Smith. Two rebel officers, Gen. Bo wen and Col. Montgomery, were brought in under it blindfold, bearing with them a letter from Pemberton proposing an armistice, appointment of commissioners to arrange for capitulation
* There was no hope of relief from Johnston. It was all delusion. He had advised Pemberton (see note, p. 313) not to try a siege, for ho would certainly be compelled to surrender; and Johnston at no time felt himself strong enough to venture an attack upon Grant. Some 8,000 rebel troops on the west of the Mississippi were expected to bo of service; but on June 27th, Johnston sent Pemberton word that these troops "had boen mismanaged, and had fallen back to Delhi."
of the city, etc. Grant's reply was brevity itself: "unconditional surrender." It seemed very hard to the rebel commander, and though he solicited a personal interview, which was granted, yet the result was substantially the same as at first named.* Grant was willing to allow something to assuage the wounded feelings of a defeated foe; he permitted them to march out and stack their arms in front of their lines, and then returning to the city, he required them to remain as prisoners until properly paroled. This course, as Grant said, "saved us the transportation of the rebel prisoners North, which, at that time, would have been very difficult, owing to the limited amount of transportation on hand and the expense of subsisting them. It left our army free to operate against Johnston, who was threatening us from the direction of Jackson, and our river transportation to be used for the movement of troops to any point the exi gency of the service might require."
Pemberton very gladly accepted the terms finally settled upon by Grant, and at ten o'clock on the moraine: of the 4th of July, the surrender was fully consummated, f A week later, the par
* For the correspondence, and the interview between Grant and Pemberton, see Coppee's " Grant and his Campaigns," pp. 186—190.
f Pemberton's reasons for selecting the Fourth of July as tho day of his surrender, though censured by Pollard as "a singular humiliation of the Con foderacy, are nevertheless not wanting in shrewdness. "If it should be asked," ho said, "why the Fourth of JuJy was selected as tho day for the surrender, the answer is obvious; I "believed that, upon that day, I should obtain better terms. Well aware of the vanity of our foes, I knew they would attach vast importance to the entrance on tho Fourth of July into tho stronghold of the great river, and that, to gratify their national van
VALUE OF THIS GREAT CAPTURE.
oled officers and men marched out of Yicksburg to the Big Black River, whence they were distributed to different parts of the South. Vicksburg itself was immediately occupied by the divisions of Logan, J. E. Smith, and Herron; and, much to the disgust of Pollard and men of his stamp, a large portion of the citizens signified their cheerful acceptance of the change in the state of affairs, which brought "the key of the Mississippi" again under the protection of the stars and stripes.
Gen. Grant, in his report sent to Washington a few days after the surrender, summed up the result of his operations as follows: "The result of this campaign has been the defeat of the enemy in five battles outside of Vicksburg, the occupation of Jackson, the capital of the state of Mississippi, and the capture of Yicksburg and its garrison and munitions of war; a loss to the enemy of 37,000 prisoners, among whom were fifteen general officers; at least 10,000 killed and wounded, and among the hilled Generals Tracy, Tilghman and Green; and hundreds and perhaps thousands of stragglers, who can never be collected and reorganized. Arms and munitions of war for an army of 60,000 men have fallen into our hands, besides a large amount of other public property, consisting of railroads, locomotives, cars, steamboats, cotton, etc., and much was destroyed to prevent our capturing it.
"Our loss in the series of battles may be summed up as follows: "1,293 killed, 7,095 wounded, and 537 miss
ity, they would yield then what could not be extortsd from them at any other time."
total, 8,925. Of the wounded, many were but slightly wounded, and continued on duty; many more required but a few days or weeks for their recovery. Not more than one-half of the wounded were permanently disabled."*
The part taken by the navy in the capture of Vicksburg was of course less conspicuous than that of the army; yet the operations of Porter formed an essential element in reaching the desir ed end. As we have had occasion to note, he was always ready to do his share; and in the active employment of his fleet, for forty-two days, bombarding the city with their heavy guns, in mortar vessels, on scows, in guarding the river, and in a detachment of his force on shore, he reports an expenditure of ammunition from the mortars of 7,000 shells and from the gun boats 4,500.f Truly, as Porter said in his dispatch, "history has seldom had an opportunity of recording so desperate a defence on one side, with so much courage, ability, perseverance, and endurance on the other; and if ever an army was entitled to the gratitude of a
* On this same 4th of July, 1863, the works of Gen Prentiss, at Helena, Arkansas, were attacked by a body of rebels, some 9,000 in number, gathered by Holmes Price, Marmaduke and others, at Little Rock. Gen Prentiss sustained the attack from daylight till three o'clock in the afternoon, when the rebels were repulsed at all points, leaving 1,200 prisoners, and about 500 in killed and wounded.
f Grant's chief of artillery. Colonel Duff, gives a statement of the artillery shots fired during the siege. From the time of crossing the Mississippi River, May 1st, till the surrender, July 4th, 18,889 solid shot, 72,314 shell, 47,897 case, 2,723 canister, were expended, mak ing a total of 141,823. This would be .an average of 653 shots for each cannon used. II to these the musketry be added, the reader can form some idea of the vast amount of ammunition consumed.
nation, it is the Army of the Tennessee and its gallant leaders."
We may mention, in the present connection, that, just before the capture of Vicksburg, Grant had made all his arrangements to dispatch Sherman in pursuit of the rebel Gen. J. E. Johnston, who was making threatening demonstrations in the rear. Johnston, however, thought it best to retreat without venturing a battle, and Sherman, with a strong force, promptly set out in pursuit. Despite the fatigue the troops had undergone before Vicksburg, they pursued the enemy for fifty miles and left him in full retreat, destroying at the same time the great arteries of travel in the state, and exhausting the country. Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, was evacuated on the night of the 16th of July. Our army entered it again, and the city, beautifully situate on the Pearl River, and noted for evidences of taste and wealth, was doomed to entire destruction. The railroads in every direction for twenty-five and fifty miles were torn up, the bridges were effectually destroyed, and the ruin was complete. Sherman's loss was less than 1,000; that of the rebels was much greater, Sherman having taken over 1,000 prisoners during this brief campaign.*
Various other expeditions, of more
* A naval and military expedition, under Lieut. Walker and Gen. Herron, was sent, on the 13th of July, to Yazoo City. It was entirely successful. Four rebel steamers were burned, 300 prisoners taken, and 800 horses and mules captured. The gun boat De Kalb was destroyed by the explosion of a torpedo in the river.
or less moment, followed this of Sherman's; one, under Gen. Ransom, was sent to Natchez, about 100 miles below Vicksburg, on the river, and was particularly successful in securing 5,000 head of Texas cattle, and a large amount of ammunition, which had been crossed for the benefit of the rebels under Kirby Smith. The army was allowed some needed rest, and proper supplies were furnished; after which Grant sent troops, under Steele, to co-operate with Schofield against Little Rock, Arkansas, and also a force under Ord and Herron to New Orleans, to reinforce Gen. Banks.
Thus the labor and toil of our army and navy were at last crowned with success. Port Hudson, as we have narrated in the preceding chapter, followed the fate of Vicksburg, and the Great River of the West thenceforth flowed in its entire course without let or hindrance from rebel obstructions or disloyal interference. There was now good ground to hope and expect that, ere long, rebellion and its terrible evils would be stricken out of existence.*
* Secession writers can hardly find words to express "the surprise and consternation," and " the news falling like a thunder-clap from clear skies," consequent upon the fall of Vicksburg. "It compelled," says Pollard, " as its necessary consequence, the surrender of other posts on the Mississippi, and cut the Confederacy in twain. Its defence had involved exposure and weakness in other quarters. It had about stripped Charleston of troops; it had taken many thousand men from Bragg's army; and it had made such requisitions on his force for the newly organized lines in Mississippi, that that general was compelled or induced, wisely or unwisely, to fall back from Tullahoma, to give up the country on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and practically to abandon the defence of Middle Tennessee."—" Third Year of the War," p. 70.