Horace Greeley.

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

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309



2,457. The Rebels lost quite as
heavily in killed and wounded, some
2,000 prisoners, 15 or 20 gnns, with
thousands of small arms, &c. Among
their killed was Gen. Lloyd Tilgh-
man, of Maryland.

Next morning," the pursuit being
renewed, the enemy were found
strongly posted on the Black, with
a bold, wooded bluff directly at the
water's edge on the west side, while
on the east, an open, cultivated bot-
tom, nearly a mile broad, has a
bayou of stagnant water, ten to
twenty feet wide and two to three
feet deep, to the east of it. This had
been made to serve as a wet ditch,
with a line of rifle-pits behind it ; and
here Carr's division was stopped two
or three hours, until Lawler, com-
manding his right brigade, discover-
ed a way of approach whereby it
could be successfully assaulted, and
ordered a chaise, which was gallantly
made ; but the volley which was fired
by the enemy at close range as his
command rushed across the level,
open ground, down to the bayou,
taking our column in flank, swept
down 160 of our men. None faltered
nor turned back, however, nor even
stopped to fire tiU they were all
across the bayou ; when, pouring in
a deadly volley, without waiting to
reload, they swept on with fixed
bayonets, leaving the Rebels, who
had not yet found time to reload, no
choice but surrender. Gen. Oster-
haus, who with his division had come
up on our left, was here wounded by
a fragment of shelL

Beside the railroad bridge, Pember-
ton had constructed an army bridge
over the Black, composed mainly of
three steamboats; across which, all

. " Maj 17.



his men who could reach it fled,
leaving 18 guns, 1,500 prisoners, sev-
eral thousand stand of arms,- and
large quantities of commissary stores,
to fall into the hands of the victoi^
whose entire loss here was but 29
killed, and 242 wonnded. But the
bridges were of course burned by the
fugitives ; and the deep river, with its
forest-covered western bluff lined
with sharp-shooters, baffled our ad-
vance for hours. Our only pontoon
train was with Sherman, now on his
way to Bridgeport, several miles far-
ther up ; and our attempts to force
a passage, under cover of a fire of
artillery, were baffled nntil after
dark ; when the Rebels, aware that
they would be flanked if they at-
tempted to remain here, fell back to
the friendly shelter of the fortifica-
tions of Vicksburg.

Floating bridges having been con-
structed here and three miles above,
diiring the night, the passage of both
McClemand's and McPherson's corps
commenced at 8 a. m. ;" Gen. Sher-
man crossing simultaneously on his
pontoons at Bridgeport, and pressing
on to within 3| miles of Vicksburg ;
when, turning to the right, he took
possession, unopposed, of Walnut
Hills and the banks of the Yazoo
adjacent. McPherson, striking into
iSherman's road, followed it to the
point where the latter had obliqued
to the Walnut Hills, where he h^ted
for the night; while McClemand,
advancing on the direct highway
from Jackson nearly to Vicksburg,
swayed to the left, so as to cover the
roads leading into that city from the
south-east ; so thitt by next morning
the investment of the doomed city
was substantially complete; while



'May 13.



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810



THE AKSBIGAK CONFLICT.



Porter, who had returned to the
Tazoo on the 16th, now reopened
communication hence with Grant and
Sherman, sending them mudi needed
proyisions, and preparing to attack
the batteries on Haines's Bluff, which
the enemy had 'began''* to evacuate,
and which, on the appearance of our
gunboats, they ran away from, leav-
ing guns, forts, munitions, tents, and
equipage of all kinds, to fall into our
hands. It would hardly be credited
on other testimony than his own,"
that our Admiral proceeded to de-
stroy this inestimable material of
war, with fiill knowledge that Grant's
triumphant army, more especially
Sherman's corps, were at hand to
defend and utilize it.

The fell of Haines's Bluff com-
pletely uncovered Tazoo City, in
fact, the whole Tazoo Valley; and
Porter at once dispatchcKl Lt.
Walker, with five gunboats, up the
river. Walker readied Tazoo City
at 1 p. M. ;'• finding the Rebel Na^
Tard and vessels in fiames, and the
city ready to surrender. Among the
vessels on the stocks was the ram
Republic, 810 feet long by 75 wide ;
the Mobile, ready for plating, &c.,
&c. In the Navy Tard, were five
saw and planing mills, an extensive
machine-shop, beside carpenter and
blacksmith shops, &c., &c. All of
these that the Rebels had not already
fired were burned by Walker, who
found 1,500 Rebel sick and wounded
in hospital and paroled them. He



was ambushed " and fired on by 200
sharp^ooters at Liverpool Landing
on ]iis return; with a loss of 1 killed,
9 wounded ; but encountered no other
resistance.



An immediate assault on the land-
ward defenses of Vicksburg was de-
termined on by Grant, who appre-
hended an attack on his rear by
Johnston, strongly reenforced from
Bragg's army, and who counted much
on the demoralization of Pember-
ton's forces by their succession of
defeats and disasters. Accordingly,
after some reciprocal cannonading
and sharp-shooting, a general assault
was ordered at 2 p. m. ;^* which only
resulted in an advance of the front
of our several corps to a close prox-
imity to the Rebel defenses. Blair's
division of Sherman's corps alone
planted its colors on their works ; the
13th regulars, of Giles Smith's brig-
ade, doing so at a cost of 77 out of
250 men ; its leader, Capt. Washing-
ton, being among the mortally
wounded. The 83d Indiana, CoL
Spooner, and the 127th Illinois, Col.
Eldridge, likewise carried the outer
slope of the Rebel earthworks, and
held their ground till night, firing at
any head that appeared above the
parapet, but were unable to enter;
while the regiments on either side of
these, though they gained positions
close up to the works, were even less
successful Sherman, seeing that
they were here exposed to hourly



'♦ On the 17th.

'• He says, in his dispatch of May 20th to the
Secretary of the Navy :

"The works at Haines's Bluff were very for-
midable. There are 14 of the heaviest kind of
mounted 8- and lO-inch and 7^inch rifled guns,
with ammuniHon enough to last a Umg siege. As
the gun-carriages might again fall into the hands
of the enemy, Ihad£em Immed, blew up (he magotf



wine^ and deHroyed fhe works generally. I also
burned up the encampments, which were pei^
manently and remarkably well constructed, looi^
ing as though the Rebels intended to stay some
time. Their works and encampments covered
many acres of ground ; and the fortifications and
rifle-pita proper of Haines's Bluff extend about
a mQe and a quarter. Such a net- work of forta
I never saw.'*
^« May 20. '' May 23. ^ May 19.



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THE GEAND ASSAULT OK VICKSBUBG.



Sll



decimation to no purpose, ordered
them, after dark, to fall back a short
distance to a point wher^ the irregu-
larities of the ground afforded them
comparative shelter and safety.

The two following days were de-
voted to bringing up and distribu-
ting provisions — ^the campaign in
Mississippi having thus far been
prosecuted on our part with scarcely
a day's rations for three days' ser-
vice: the country traversed being
drawn upon for whatever it could
afford : while roads were made, can-
non planted, &c. ; the enemy like-
wise improving the time to the
utmost. And now Gen. Grant
ordered a second and more deter-
mined assault at all points, to be
made simultaneously at 10 A. m."

At the moment named, our sol-
diers darted from under cover and
rushed upon the Sebel works before
them — their men all shielded by their
breastworks, while ours wero neces-
sarily exposed to a close and deadly
fire.

Sherman's attack was made by
Frank Blair's division, led by the
brigade of Gen. Hugh S. Ewing,
30th Ohio, with Giles Smith's and
T. Kilby Smith's closely following ;
sharp-shooters skirmishing in the
advance, and a storming party car-
rying boards and poles wherewith to
bridge the ditch — ^five batteries con-
centrating their fire on the enemy's
bastion constructed to command the
approach.

in vain. The storming party had
reached the salient of the bastion
unassailed, and passed toward the
gaily-port, when there shot up be-
hind the parapet, a double rank of
the eneriay, who poured on the head



of the column a fire that swept it
down in an instant. No troops
could or should persist in braving
such utter, useless destruction. The
rear of the column attempted to rush
on; but it was madness; and soon
all had sought cover from that deadly
fire.

Still, the assault was not aban-
doned; but, swerving to the left,
Ewing's men, in the advance, crossed
the ditch on the left face of the bas-
tion, and, climbing up its exterior
slope, planted their colors near the
top, and burrowed in the earth for
shelter from the flanking fire of the
enemy; while Giles Smith's brig-
ade, turning down a ravine, found
cover, formed line, and threatened the
parapet still farther to the left ; Kil-
by Smith deploying his men on the
off slope of a spur of hill, and keep-
ing up, with Ewing's, a fire on any
head that appeared above the para-
pet. Our artillery and infantiy be-
ing still at work, our stormers easily
held their ground ; and, at length,
Giles Smith's and Bansom's brigades
attempted to carry the parapet by
assault ; but were repelled with loss.
Meantime, Steele's division, which
had advanced half a mile farther to
the right, was fighting desperately to
little profit ; yet, on the receipt of a
dispatch from McClemand to Grant,
announcing that his corps had oa»-
ried three Eebel forts, Sherman or-
dered Tuttle to renew the assault on
his left; and Mower's brigade was
sent up where Ewing's had been re-
pulsed. Mower did his best ; and the
colors of his leading regiment (11th
Missouri) were planted beside those
of Blair's storming party, and there
remained till withdrawn after night-



^ Maj 22.



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313



THE AMERICAN CONFLICT.



fall ; but no substantial sucoess was
achieved to balance the heavy loss.

Steele had like ill success in his
attack ; his men advancing across ra-
vines and gullies to a point between
the bastion and the Mississippi;
whence they made their way, under
a heavy fire, up to the parapet, which
they failed to carry, but held posses-
sion of the hill-side beneath it till
night ; when they were withdrawn,
like the rest.

The assault by McPherson's corps,
in the center, was equally spirited
and equally fruitless, save in carnage :
our losses being probably tenfold
those of the strongly fortified and
thoroughly sheltered Bebels. Some
ground was here gained in the as-
sault ; but it was mainly abandoned
after dark.

On our left, McOlemand's attack
seemed for a time more effective, or,
at least, was believed by him to be
so. Bushing forward to the assault
precisely at 10 a. m., Lawler's and
Landrum's brigades had, within 15
minutes, carried the ditch, slope, and
bastion, of the fort they confronted,
which was entered by Sergeant Grif-
fith and 11 privates of the 22d Iowa ;
all of whom fell in it but the Ser-
geant, who brought away 13 Eiebels
as prisoners. The colors of the 48th
Ohio and 77th Illinois were planted
on the bastion ; and, within the next
quarter of an hour, Benton's and
Burbridge's brigades, fired by this
example, had carried the ditch and
slope of another strong earthwork,
planting their colors on the slope;
while Capt. White, of the Chicago
Mercantile Battery, carried forward
one of his guns by hand to the ditch,
double-shotted it, and fired it into an
embrasure, disabling a Bebel gun



ready to be fired, and doubtless do-
ing execution among its gunners.

McClemahd supposed his assault
successful, and reported to Grant that
he had carried two of the Rebel forts ;
and again: '^We have gained the
enemy's intrenchments at several
points, but are brought to a stand ;"
at the same time asking for reen-
foroements. Grant, when he received
the first dispi^tch, inmiediately or-
dered the assault on Sherman's front
(where he then was) to be renewed ;
whilQ he started back to his original
position with McPherson in the cen-
ter ; which he had not reached when
he received from McClemand the fur-
ther message above cited; whereupon,
though distrusting its accuracy, he
"ordered Quinby's division of McPher-
son's corps to report to McClemand ;
whose dispatches he showed to Mc-
Pherson as an incitement to press the
enemy in his front, so as to prevent
a concentration against our left.

Nothing came of all this but ag-
gravated losses — ^mainly on our side.
McClemand's taking of the forts was
after the well-known similitude of the
captured Tartar : his men could get
into them at the cost of not coming
out again. Two hours later, he wrote
again that : " I have lost no ground.
My inen are in two of the enemy's
forts [which was partially true of his
dead] ; but they are conmianded by
rifie-pits in the rear. Several prison-
ers have been taken, who intimate
that the rear is strong. At this mo-
ment, I am hard pressed." And that
was the sum totsd of our progress in
this quarter: the assault of Oster-
haus's and Hovey's divisions, farther '
to our left, having been promptly
repulsed by a deadly enfilading fire,
which drove them to take shelter



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FAILURE OP THE GRAND ASSAULT.



513



behind a friendly ridge and remain i
there; while McArthur's division,
which had been ordered by Grant to
reenforce McClemand, proved to be
Bome miles distant, so that it did not
arrive till next morning ; and Quin-
by's two brigades came lip, fully
observed by the enemy, who corre-
spondingly shifted their own forces.
When these brigades came to hand,
it was nearly dark ; and Col. Boom-
er, commanding one of them, was
killed as he led his men into action.
Finally, at 8 p. m., our men were re-
called fi*om the more advanced and
imperiled positions they had taken,
leaving pickets to hold the ground
solidly gained, wherever that was
practicable; and our army sank to
rest, having lost nearly 8,000 men in
this wasteful assault — a third of them,
Grant estimates, by reason of McCler-
nand's mistake in supposing and re-
porting that he' had carried two forts
by his initial eifort.**

Grant, in his report, gives the fol-
lowing excellent reasons for ordering
this assault:

** I believed an assault from the position
gained by this time could be made snccess-
fully. It was known that Johnston was at
Canton with the force taken by him ft*om
Jackson, r^nforoed by other troops from
the east, and that more were daily reaching
him. With the force I had, a short time



mnst have enabled him to attack me in the
rear, and possibly to succeed in raising the
siege. Possession of Yicksburg at that
time would have enabled me to have turned
upon Johnston and driven him from the
State, and possess myself of all the railroads
and practical military highways: thus effec-
tually securing to ourselves all territory
west of the Tombigbee ; and this before the
season was too far advanced for campaign-
ing in this latitude. It would have saved
Grovemment sending large rdenforoements,
much needed elsewhere; and, finally, the
troops themselves were impatient to possess
Yicksburg, and would not have toorked in
the trencher with the Bame ual^ believing it
unneceesQ/ry^ that they did after their fail-
ure to carry the enemy'' e iijorw."

He afterward adds :

"The assault of this day proved 'th«
quality of the soldiers of this army. With-
out entire success, and with a heavy lose,
there was no murmuring or complaining,
no falling back, nor other evidence of de-
moralization.

" After the failure of the 22d, I deter-
mined upon a regular siege. The troops
now, being fully awake to the necessity of
ttiis, worked diligently and cheerfully. The
work progressed rapidly and satisfactorily
until the 8d of July, when all was about
ready for a final assault."

Yicksburg was now completely
invested; for Porter's gunboats
watched the river above and below
to prevent any escape to or succor
from the Louisiana side; with 13-
inch mortars and 100-pounder rifled
Parrotts mounted on rafts, anchored
under the high bank, whence, en-
tirely out of harm's way, they could



* The diary of a citizeu of Vicksburg, who
was a resident during the siege, gives the fol-
lowing account of this day's experiences within
the city among civilians, who had only to con-
sult their own safety:

'* The morning of this day opened in the same
manner as the previous one had dosed. There
had been no luU in the shelling all night; and,
as daylight approached, it grew more rapid and
furious. Early in the morning, too, the batUe
began to rage in the rear. A terrible onalauffht
was made on the center first, and then extended
futher to the left, where a terrific struggle took
place, resulting in the repulse of the attacking
party. Four gunboats also came up to engage
the batteries. At this time, the scene presented
an awfully sublime and terrific spectado— >three
poiAs being attacked at once; to wit, the rifle-



pits by the enemy in the rear ; the city by the
mortars opposite; and the batteries by the gun-
boats. Such cannonading and sheUing has per-
haps scarcely ever been equaled ; and the d^
was entirely untenable, though women and chil-
dren were on the streets. It was not safe from
behind or before ; and every part of the dty was
alike within range of the Federal guns. The
gunboats withdrew, after a short engagement^
but the mortars kept up the shelling, and the
armies continued fighting all day. Several des-
perate charges were made in force against the
lines without accomplishing their object It
would require the pen of a poet to depict the
awfld sublimity of this day's work — ^tho inces-
sant booming of cannon and the banging of
small arms. Intermingled with the howling of
shells, and the whistling of Mini^-balls, made
the day truly most hideous."



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8U



THE AMERICAN CONFLICT.



throw shell into the city — some of
them having a range of 3^ niiles.
We still held military possession of
the peninsula opposite, which we
had vainly tried to c^ax the Missis-
sippi to cross ; and a S-gnn battery
on the levee annoyed the Rebel gar-
rison, finally bm-ning up their foun-
dery, wherein they were casting shot
and shell. The Cincinnati had been
sunk " by the Rebel batteries ; but
there were five large gunboats left —
two above and three below the town.
And so, keeping a sharp lookout for
an attack by Jo. Johnston on his
rear, Grant sat down to digging his
way into Vicksburg from the east,
with a force not very much superior
in numbers to that which he had so
badly beaten at Champion Hills and
the Big Black, and whose capture
was now but a question of time.
For Pemberton was notoriously short
of both provisions " and ammunition
— 42,000 percussion caps having
been smuggled in to him after the
investment; yet he was ultimately
reduced to ten per man. Of his
80,000 men, 6,000 were in hospital,
sick or wounded, leaving probably
not more than 15,000 thoroughly fit
for duty. His hopes of relief were
slender; for the Big Black in our
rear, with the sharp, wooded ridges
among which our besiegers were
encamped, afforded strong defensive
positions, which were carefully im-
proved. The sheltering woods ren-
dered our camps much cooler than
the naked, dusty city; while the



deep ravines gave birth to many
welcome springs of cool, sparkling
water. Thus our soldiers actually
improved in health as they dug their
way into Vicksburg ; so that, while
Grant could hardly have put 20,000
men into line of battle the day after
the unlucky assault, ho had many
more effectives a month later ; beside
which, he had been rq/enforced by
Lauman's division, and by two others
from Memphis, under Gen. C. C.
Washbume, one drawn from Mis-
souri, under Gen. F. J. Herron, and
two divisions of the 9th corps, un-
der Maj.-Gen. J. G. Parke.

Our first mine was sprung under a
principal fort opposite our center, on
the 25th, throwing down a part of
its face : a bloody struggle following
for its possession, in which we but
partially succeeded. Three days
later, another face of the same fort
was blown off; and now the enemy
were obliged to recede a little, con-
structing or strengthening other de-
fenses behind it ; and thus the siege
went on — ^the rugged ^ound render-
ing tedious approaches unnecessary
— and fort afi^er fort being mined,
while counter-mines were run by the
enemy — the diggers of either army
oft;en hearing the sound of each other's
picks, which gave token that only a
thin screen of earth divided them.

Had it been essential to dig down
those serried heights, which consti-
tuted the Gibraltar of the Rebellion,
the work would doubtless have been
done ; but Famine mines more surely



" May 27.

" The diftiy of John W. Sattenwhite, 6th
Missouri (RebelX who fought throughout the
siege, notes, under date of May 26 : " We have
been on half rations of coarse corn-bread and
xpoor beef for ten days." June 1 : " We are
now eating bean-bread, and half-rations at that."



June 3 : " We are now eating half rations :
bread, rice, and corn-meal mixed.'' June 10 :
" Our beef gave out to-day. We are now draw-
ing one-quarter of a pound of bacon to the
man.** June 18: **Our rations changed: i
pound of flour, i pound of bacon to the
quite light" ^



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NBGOTIATIOKS FOB A SURBEKDEB.



315



and rapidly than any engineer. The
harassed, shattered garrison could
better fight on their ramparts than
starve behind them. At length, after
45 days of isolation, Pemberton,
hopeless of relief, and at the end of
his resources, hung out a white flag "
in front of Gen. A, J. Smith's divi-
sion ; and our men, sent forward to
inquire as to its purport, were in-
formed that Gen. Bowen and Col.
Montgomery, of Pemberton's staff,
bore a communication from their
chief to Gen. Grant. Duly blind-
folded, they were taken to Gen. Bur-
bridge's tent, whence their message
was communicated to our com-
mander, and proved to be an applica-
tion for an armistice, with a view to
arranging terms of capitulation.
Gen. Grant promptly responded,
requiring an unconditional surren-
der ; to which Bowen demurred, ex-
pressing a wish to converse with
Gen. Grant. This was declined ; but
a willingness avowed to confer with
Q^n. Pemberton, if he wished, at
such time as he should appoint.
Pemberton accordingly named 8
p. M. of that day; at which time,
the meeting took place : Pemberton
being attended by Bowen and Mont-
gomery ; Grant by McPherson, Ord,
Logan, and A. J. Smith, beside
his staff. Pemberton required that
his men should be paroled and
marched beyond our lines with eight
days' rations dravmfrom their own
stores [they applied to our commis-
sary for rations next day]; the
officers to retain their private pro-
perty and their body-servants. Grant
heard all that they proposed, then
broke up the conference, promising
to send his answer before night ;



hostilities to remain suspended mean-
time. Accordingly, after conferring
with his Major-Generals^ Grant sent
by Gen. Logan and Lt.-Col. Wilson
the following letter :

" HeADQU A.BTEB8, Dep't OF TENNESSEE, )

"Near Vioksbubg, July 8, 1868. \
"Lt-Gen. J. 0. Pbmbebton, commanding
Confederate forces, Yicksbarg, Miss. :
" General : In conformity with the agree-
ment of this afternoon, I will submit the fol-
lowing propositions for the surrender of the
city of Vicksbnrg, public stores, etc. On
your accepting the terms proposed, I will
march in one division as a guard, and take
possession at 8 a. m. to-morrow. As soon
as paroles can be made out and signed by
the officers and men, yon will be allowed to
march out of our lines : the officers taking
with them their regimental clothing, and
stafl^ field, and caviSry officers one horse
each. The rank and file will be allowed all
their clothing, but no other property. If
these conditions are accepted, any amount
of rations you may deem necessary can be
taken from the stores you now have, and
also the necessary cooking utensils for pre-
paring them, and thirty wagons also, count-
ing two two-horse or mole teams as one.
You will be allowed to transport such arti-
cles as can not be carried along. The same
conditions will be allowed to all sick and



Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 44 of 113)