Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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fhe Miss&sippi at Perkins's, 12 miles
&rther, or 35 from his base at Milli-
ken's Bend. And now the lack of
transportation on the river below
Vicksburg, dictated a still farther
march down to Hard Times, opposite,
bnt rather below, Grand Gulf; ex-
tending the distance traversed from
Milliken's Bend to 70 miles.

Meantime, Commodore Porter, at
the suggestion of Gen. Grant, had
made preparation for running the
batteries of Vicksburg with his iron-
clads, followed by three transports;
and the experiment was made** v^th
£Edr success. The gunboats Benton,
Lafayette, Price, Louisville, Caron-
delet, Pittsburg, Tuscumbia, and
Mound City (all iron-clads but the
Price), floated silently down the cur-
rent, under cover of thick darkness,
for nearly an hour ; and their crews
were beginning to infer that the
Rebels had, for some reason, con-
cluded not to assail them ; when —
just as they were fairly opposite the
city — fire was opened on them from
the up-stream batteries, and in a
moment the whole bluif was ablaze
with the flashes, and quaking to the
roar, of heavy guns, rising tier above
tier along the entire water-front of
the city. The fleet promptly respond-
ed with grape and shrapnel, firing at
the city rather than the batteries,
and went by unharmed; opening
upon the Warrenton batteries, as it
neared them, so furious a cannonade
that they scarcely attempted a reply.
The passage of the gunboats was
thus triumphantly effected ; but of
the three transports^ — ^Forest Queen,
Henry Clay, and Silver Wave — which
attempted to follow, under cover of
the smoke, the first-named was hulled

by a shot, and received another
through h^r steam-drum, disabling
her; yet she floated out of range,
and, being taken in tow by a gun-
boat, went through without further
damage ; while the Silver Wave ran
the gauntlet entirely unscathed ; but
the Clay was struck by a shell which
set her protecting cotton-bales on fire,
just as she had been stopped to pre-
yent a collision with the crippled
Queen ; when her panic-stricken crew
laimched her yawl and made for the
shore, leaving their vessel to float
dovm the river in flames till she
burned to the water's edge and sunk —
a total loss. We had one man killed
and two wounded by a shell on board
the Benton, but lost none beside, on
either gunboats or transports.

Gen. Grant now ordered six more
transports to be sent down, towing
and partially shielded by twelve
barges laden with forage. Five of
the transports made** the venture in
safety ; but the Tigress received a shot
below her water-line which disabled
her,sothatshe drifted helplessly down
and sank near the Louisiana bank,
some distance below. Of the barges,
three, with five of the transports,
were soon made ready for ftirtber

The effective Rebel force in the
States bordering on the Mississippi
being now mainly engaged in the
defense of Vicksburg and the Yazoo
valley. Grant had determined to re-
taliate one of the destructive cavalry
raids of Morgan, Forrest, and Van
Dom. To this end. Col. B. H. Grier-
son, with a cavalry brigade, 1,700
strong, composed of the 6th and 7th
Illinois and 2d Iowa, starting ** from
Lagrange, Tennessee, swept rapidly

'ITightof Aprilie.

'Night of April 22.

» April 17.

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Bonthward, throngli Eipley, New
Albany, Pontotoc, Clear Spring,
Starkyille, Louisville, Decatur, and
Newton, Miss. — ^thus passing behind
an the Kebel forces confronting and
resisting Grant — ^until, having passed
Jackson, he turned sharply to the
right, and made his way W. S. W.
through Raleigh, Westville, Hazle-
hurst, and Gallatin, to Union 0. EL,
back of Natchez ; thence zigzagging
by Bogue Chito to Greensburg and
Qinton, La., and so to Baton Rouge ;"
having traversed more than 600 miles
of hostile territory in 16 days; cross-
ing several considerable rivers by
ferriage, burning great numbers of
railroad bridges, trestles, cars, and
d6p6ts of supplies, having several
smart engagements with Rel>el forces
hastily gathered to obstruct his prog-
ress, killing^r wounding about 100 of
them, beside capturing and paroling
over 500 prisoners, and destroying
3,000 stand of arms, at a total cost of
27 men, including Lt-CoL Blackburn,
7th Ulinois. Col. Qrierson sent back,
after he was fairly on his way, the
2d Iowa, as also 175 of the least ef-
fective men of his remaining r^-
ments ; so that this brilliant raid was
actually made with less than 1,000
men. It was a succession of forced
marches, sometimes without rest for
48 hours; often through drenching
rain, over long stretches of swamp,
so completely submerged that no
road could be discerned ; so that, in
crossing one swamp, eight miles wide,
on the Okanoxubee, near Louisville,
no less than twenty fine horses were
drowned. Grierson proved himself
eminently fitted for his- place, as did
Col. Prince, of the 6th, and Lt.-Col.
Loomis, 7th Illinois, and their sub-

ordinates. Detachments necessarily
made to the right and left to destroy
Rebel supplies or mislead pursuers —
of whom thousands were sent after
him from Jackson, Yicksburg, and
other points — ^were fi:^uently com-
pelled to ride 60 miles per day of
these horrible roads in order to regain
the main body — ^which, during the
28 hours preceding its arrival at
Baton Rouge, had marched 76 mQes,
enjoyed four fights, and forded the
Comite river where it was necessary
to swim many of the horses. Grier-
son's conclusion that the Confederacy
was a m^re shell, which needed but
to be fairly pierced to demonstrate
its rottenness^ was justified by his
experience; but a leader less able,
alert, wary, untiring, and courageous,
would have found that shell far easier
to enter than to emerge from.

All being at length ready," Gen.
Grant directed a naval attack on the
batteries of Grand Gulf; which was
gallantly made by Admiral Porter,
with his gunboat fieet. But five
hours of mutual cannonade, during
which our larger boats were often
within pistol-shot of the Rebel bat-
teries, brought no decisive advantage
to our arms. The enemy's fortifica-
tions were strong ; many of their
guns planted on Uie bluffs at too
great an elevation to be effectively
assailed from the water; the hill-
sides were lined with rifle-pits;
beside which, they had field-guns
which could be moved from point to
point, and so concentrated wherever
they could be most effective to pre-
vent a landing or defeat an assault
After watching the cannonade from a
tugboat from 8 a. ic. to 1 p. h.,


■ April 29.

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Grant decided against its Jbrther
prosecution; having determined to
debark his troops now on shipboard,
and march still farther down the
Louisiana bank, to a point opposite
Bodnej; while the gunboats and
transports should run the Grand
Gulf batteries, as thOT had run those
of Vicksburg and Warrenton, and
be ready to cross his army at a point
where little resistance was antici-
pated. Accordingly, at dark, our gun-
boats again engaged the batteries,
while our transports ran by them;
receiving but two or three shots,
which did them no essential harm.

Finally, having learned from a
negro that there was a good road
from the little hamlet of Bruinsburg,
half way down to Bodney, running
back to Port Gibson, in the rear of
Grand Gulf, the General decided to
cross at this point ; and, by daylight
next morning,^ both gunboats and
transports were ferrying over the
13th corps ; our soldiers, so fast as
landed, td^ing three days' rations in
their haversacks, and pushing out on
the road to Port Gibson, followed by
the 17th corps.

Meantime, Gen. Sherman, with
the 15th corps, had been left above
Vicksburg, expecting to follow on
the track of the 18th and 17tb, until
he received'* a letter from Gen.
Gfrant, near Carthage, depicting the
badness of the roads, and directing
him to remain where he was for the
present Two days later, Grant
wrote him that he proposed to
attack Grand Gulf next day, and
suggesting a simultaneous feint on
the Bebel batteries near Haines's
Bluff. Sherman accordingly em-
barked Blair's division on ten steam-

boats, and proceeded ** to the moutibi
of the Yazoo, where he found Capt*
Breese, with the iron-dads Black
Hawk, Choctaw, and De Kalb, and
several wooden boats, all ready, with
steam up ; and they at once ascend-
ed the Yazoo, stopping for the night
at the mouth of the Chickasaw
bayou, and moving up next morning
to within range of the Haines's Bluff
batteries, which were engaged for
four hours by our iron-dads and the
Tyler — ^the enemy replying with
spirit; but, though the Tyler was
hit once, and the Choctaw re-
peatedly, none of our men ware
seriously hurt. Toward evening,
Blair's division was debarked in full
view of the enemy, and seemingly
prepared to assault; our gunboats
thereupon renewing their fire and
provoldng the enemy .to reply.
Thus the menace of an assault was
maintained till after dark ; when our
troops were quietly reembarked.
Next day, equally threatening de-
monstrations were made, acoom-
panied by reconnoissances on all
sides; meanwhile, orders were re-
ceived from Grant to desist from the
feint and hurry the whole corps forth-
with to Grand Gul£

Sending orders to the divisions of
Steele and Tuttle to march south-
ward at once, Sherman kept up the
feint till afker nightfall ; then quietly
dropped down the Yazoo to Young's
Point; and next morning'* Blair's
division moved up to Milliken's
Bend, to remain there as a garrison
till relieved by fi-esh troops from
above; while Steele's and Tuttle's
hurried down the west bank of the
Mississippi to Hard Times, where
they were ferried across,*' and wer*



^ April 2S-10 ▲. K.

>Ka7 2.

' Ma7 6 and 7.

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pushed forward 18 miles next day, to
Hankinson's Feny.

Grant's advance, nnder McCler-
nand/ first encountered the enemy *'
when eight miles out from Bruins-
burg; but the Eebels were not in
force, and feU back unpursued till
morning; when McClemand ad-
vanced, and, when approaching Post
Gibson, was resisted with spirit by a
Rebel force from Vicksburg, imder
Maj.-Gten. Bowen ; the country being
broken into narrow ridges, separated
by deep ravines, which j^orded
great advantage to the defensive.
Our superiority in numbers being
decisive, however, they were steadily
driven ; Grant finally sending up J.
E. Smith's brigade of McPherson's
corps to the support of our left, under
Osterhaus ; when, late in the after-
noon, the enemy was defeated with
heavy loss, and pursued toward Port
Gibson. Our loss was 130 killed,
718 wounded. We captured 3 guns,
4 fiags, and 580 prisoners. Night
soon closed in, and our troops slept
on their arms till morning ; when it
was found that the enemy had re-
treated across Bayou Pierre, burning
the bridge behind them, abandoning
Port Gibson, and evacuating Grand
Gu]f, as our army advanced ** in its
rear to Hankinson's Ferry on the
Big Black, skirmishing and taking
some prisoners, mainly stragglers,
but not seriously resisted.

Gen. Grant now rode across to
Grand Gulf, with a small escort of
cavalry, to make arrangements for
changing his base of supplies from
Bruinsburg to this point, while his
army awaited the arrival of wagons,
provisions, and Sherman's corps;
meantime, scouts were busy and re-

connoissances employed in obtaining
information of the enemy.

Grant had expected to remain
some time at Grand Gulf, accumula-
ting provisions and munitions, while
he sent a corps down the river to co-
operate with Gen. Banks in the re-
duction of Port Hudson; but the
information here obtained dictated a
change in his plans — Banks not hav-
ing yet invested Port Hudson. Ac-
cordingly, his army was pushed for-
ward'* on two parallel roads up the
left bank of the Big Black: Mc-
Pherson on that nearest the river;
McClemand on the higher, or ridge
road; while Sherman's corps, divi-
ded, followed on each ; all the ferries
on the Big Black being watched to
guard against a surprise from the
enemy, who had taken care to bum
the few bridges.

Thus advancing, our army encoun-
tered no serious resistance until its
van, under McPherson, then moving
on Clinton and Jackson, was encoun-
tered," near Baymond, by two Bebel
brigades, under Gen. Gregg, who had
taken a good position, with two bat-
teries, commanding the road in our
front, having his infantry posted on
a range of hills to the right of the
road, and in the timber and ravines
just in front. The fight here was
a short one. The Bebels opened it
with great fury, attempting to charge
and capture De Golyer's battery,
which was in position on our front ,
but, being repulsed by a terrific fire
of grape and canister, they broke and
fied precipitately, so that McPherson
had scarcely begun the %ht when it
was ended ; the Bebels fieeing at full
speed through Baymond, which our
troops occupied at 6 p. m. Only Lo-

' Ma/ 1-2 ▲. M.




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TunBBVown Anp Ticnnrr.

gan'8 division, now numbering less
than 6,000, was seriously engaged on
onr side ; but Crocker's division came
up just after the battle was won by
the advance of Stevenson's brigade,
and a splendid charge with fixed
bayonets by the 8tli Illinois, Lt-CoL
Sturgis. The enemy had previously
been strongest in ^e numbers en-
gaged, and had fought stubbornly ;
charging to turn the left flank of
VOL. n. — 20

Dennis's brigade, which was in ad-
vance, and of which the 20th Ohio,
23d Indiana, and 20th Illinois fought
desperately and suffered severely.
Our loss in this affair was 69 killed
(including Col. Richards, 20th Illi-
nois, who fell at the head of his regi-
ment, and Maj. Kaga, 20th Ohio),
341 wounded, and 32 missing: total
442. The Bebels lost 103 killed,
with 720 wounded and prisoners.

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"We took prisoners from ten different,
regiments ; and Jolmston reports that
Gregg's force numbered 6,000. Here
McPherson and Logan were con-
stantly imder fire ; the latter having
his horse shot twice. McPherson's
generalship and dash elicited the ad-
miration of our soldiers.

McPherson pushed on next morn-
ing" to Clinton, which he entered
unopposed at 2 p, m., and commenced
tearing up the railroad thence toward
Jackson; Gen. Sherman advancing
simultaneously on the direct road
from Raymond to Jackson. McPher-
son^ march was resumed at 5 a. m.
next day;" and, at 9 a. m., when
five miles from Jackson, the enemy's
pickets were driven in; and, pro-
ceeding 2^^ miles farther, their main
body was encountered in strong force,
under Gen. W. H. T. Walker, whose
command consisted partly of South
Carolina and Georgia troops, which
had only arrived the evening before.
A tremendous shower occurred while
McPherson was making hi& disposi-
tions, which delayed his attack for an
hour and a half. At 11 a. m., the
rain having nearly ceased, our sol-
diers advanced, preceded by a line of
skirmishers, who were soon exposed
to so heavy a fire that they were re-
called to their regiments, when an
order to charge was responded to
with hearty cheers. Our whole line
swept forward in perfect array, driv-
ing the enemy out of the ravine which
covered their front, and up the hill
whereon their batteries were posted;
when, without having checked our
momentun^ they broke and fled pre-
cipitately, eagerly followed for a mile
and a half^ till our infantry was with-
in range of the guns forming the de-

fenses of Jackson ; when McMurray's
and Dillon's batteries were brought
up and poured a deadly fire into the
routed masses of the foe. Here our
troops were halted and our lines
reformed, while skirmishers were
thrown out and oflScers sent forward
to reconnoiter: these soon repcwrted
the capital of Mississippi evacuated ;
and, at 4 p. m., the flag of the 59th
Indiana was waving over the dome
of the State House ; Sherman's com-
mand about this time entering the
city from the south-west

McPherson's loss in this collision
was 37 killed, 228 wounded and
missing; while that he inflicted
on the enemy amounted, in killed,
wounded, and prisoners, to 845.
Our captures in Jackson included 17
pieces of artillery; while railroads,
manufactories, and army stores, were
extensively destroyed.

Grant was in Jackson directly after
its capture ; and, after giving orders
to Sherman for the thorough de-
struction of its railroads, military
factories, and stores, directed Mc-
Pherson to retrace his steps next
morning" to Clinton, following him-
self in the afternoon ; impelling Mc-
Clemand's corps westward next morn-
ing" upon Edwards's Station ; while
Sherman, having finished his work at
Jackson, was ordered to evacuate that
city and rejoin him so soon as might
be; for Grant had learned in Jackson
that G^n. Jo. Johnston, who had just
arrived in our front and assumed •*
immediate command of the Bebel
forces in this quarter, had ordered
Pemberton to march out from Vicks-
burg and assail our rear : the Hebels
routed in Jackson having fled north-
ward from that city, as if intending

' Ubj 13.

•May 14.

' Maj 15.

' May 16.

» May 13.

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to form a junction with Pemberton
at some point on the Big Black,
above the railroad. It was, there-
fore, Grant^s business and purpose to
prevent this conjunction by meeting
and beating Pemberton before it could
be effected. At 5 a.m.,*' Grant learned
that Pemberton's force consisted of
80 regiments, with 10 batteries of
artillery, probably numbering in all
about 25,000 men,** now eagerly ad-
vancing with intent to fall unexpect-
edly on his rear ; and he resolved to
anticipate the delivery of this blow.
Pushing forward Blair's division to-
ward Edwards's Station, he directed
McClemand to follow, with that of
Osterhaus ; McPherson, with his en-
tire corps, following directly.

Pemberton was in position near
Edwards's Station, when he received *
a dispatch from Johnston suggesting
— he says not ordering — a combined
attack on McPherson, then at din-
ton, and called a council to consider
the proposition. After hearing its
advice, he decided to attack next
morning; but was delayed by the
swollen condition of a branch of Ba-
ker's creek till afternoon; when he
advanced four or five miles, and took
up a strong position on Champion
Hills, southward of the railroad, and
about midway between Jackson and
Vicksburg. Here he received, next
morning,'* a note from Johnston, di-
recting him to move northward, so
as to form a junction with his own
shattered forces, most of which had
so recently been driven out of Jack-
son. Pemberton thereupon ordered
his trains sent back toward the
Black, and would have followed with
his army, but it was too late ; Gen.
Hovey's division, of McClemand's

corps, being now dose upon him, and
the rest of McQemand's, followed by
McPherpon's corps, rapidly coming

Gen. Grant now reached the front,
and found Hovey's skirmishers close
to the enemy's pickets, while his
troops were rapidly coming into line,
and might, had they been strong
enough, have opened the battle at
any moment. The enemy in their
front held a very strong position on
a narrow ridge, with his left resting
on a height, where the road toward
Vicksburg made a sharp turn to the
left, with the crest of the ridge and
his left flank covered by a dense
forest. McPherson's corps, except
Bansom's brigade, soon came up,
and was thrown to the right, so as to
threaten the enemy's rear. Still, our
numbers on the field were inade-
quate, and Grant forbade an attack
until he could hear from McCler-
nand, who was advancing with two
divisions, from Bolton Station on our
right, but on parallel roads which
converged two miles east of Ed-
wards's Station. But, while Grant
was thus impatiently listening for
the sound of McClemand's guns, and
sending him orders to push forward
rapidly, the firing between Hovey's
and the Rebel skirmishers gradually
grew, by 11 a. m., into a battle ; and —
since a single division could not long
resist two or three times its numbers
—one brigade and then another of
Crocker's division was sent in to Ho-
vey's support ; while McPherson's oth-
er division, under Logan, was working
effectively upon the enemy's left and
rear, essentially weakening his efforts
in front. McClemand's remaining
divisions failed to arrive at the front,


* A Bebel report says 17,500.

'May 14.

' May 16.

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however, until after the enemy had
been driven with heavy loss from the
field ; Logan's division having pene-
trated so nearly to the road leading
to Vicksburg as to cut off Loring's
division from Pemberton, and com-
pel it to retreat deviously southward,
evading our left, and narrowly escap-
ing capture, by the sacrifice of fdl
its guns ; thus reaching Jackson on
the 19th.

The credit of this victory devolves
mainly on Hovey and his heroic di-
vision, which was for hours closely en-
gaged with superior numbers strong-
ly posted and well covered by the
dense forest, who fought gallantly,
and repeatedly crowded back our
line by the sheer weight of that op-
posing it. When his infantry had
thus been crowded back from the
ridge they had carried by desperate
fighting, and compelled to abandon
11 Rebel guns they had taken, Hovey
massed his artillery, strengthened by
Dillon's Wisconsin battery, on eleva-
ted ground at his right, and opened
on the advancing foe an enfilading
fire that arrested and turned them
back, under a tempest of cheers from
our boys. The loss of this single di-
vision was 211 killed, 872 wounded,
and 119 missing : total, 1,202 — about
one-third of its force, and nearly half
our entire loss in ihe battle. But
McPherson's corps fought, so far as
it had opportxmity, with equal gal-
lantry, and was handled with equal
skill ; Stevenson's brigade making a
brilliant charge across ravines, up a
hill, and through an open field, cap-

turing seven guns and several hun-
dred prisoners, and thus gaining the
road in the Rebel rear, which cut off
Loring's retreat, and compelled him
to escape as he could.

Before the Rebel defeat was de-
cided, Hovey having repeated his call
for reenforcements, Grant ordered
McPherson to advance whatever of
his corps was still disposable by the
left to the enemy's front ; and, pro-
ceeding himself to observe this move-
ment, he discovered that the Rebels
were in full retreat. On reaching
the Raymond road, he saw Carr's and
then Osterhaus's division of McCler-
nand's corps, well advanced on the
left, and ordered them to pursue the
enemy with all speed to the Black,
and, if possible, across thi^t river.
This pursuit continued till after dark ;
resulting in the capture of a train of
cars loaded with provisions and mu-
nitions, but very little else ; " though
the Rebels lost considerably in muni-
tions and stores, which they were
obliged to abandon to the flames.

Sherman's corps had no part in
this engagement, being still on its
way from Jackson when it closed ;
and Ransom's brigade of McPher-
son's corps only arrived after the ene-
my had retreated. As but three divi-
sions of McClemand's corps were even
constructively present, it is morally
certain that this action was fought
by fewer men on our side than on
that of the Rebels.

Grant reports our loss in this des-
perate struggle at 426 killed, 1,842
wounded, and 189 missing: total,

^' Grant evidentlj blames MoClemand for lack
of energy in thia battle ; though he aajn:

** The delaj in the advance of the troops im-
mediatelj with McClemand was caused, no
doubt) bj the enemy presenting a front of artQ-
lery and infiuitrj where it was impossible, from

the nature of the ground and the density of the
forest, to discover his niunbers. As it was, the
battle of Champion Hills, or Baker's creek, was
fought mainly by Hovey*s division of McQer-
nand's corps and Logan's and Quinby*s dividons
rthe latter commanded by Brig-Oen. M. )L
Crocker) of McPherson's corps."

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Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 43 of 113)