land force then encamped on the west bank of the Mississippi River. But new and unforeseen difficulties continually baffled the enterprise, and seemed to render it impossible. General Grant, who was at the head of the department and of the army of the Tennessee, at length assumed the active command of the troops investing the stronghold, and these were adequately reenforced. The naval squadron on the Mississippi, under command of Rear-Admiral Porter, was also steadily increased until more than one hundred armed vessels were employed upon the river, including many iron-clad gunboats of great power. Part of the Gulf Squadron, under Admiral Farragut, gallantly running the batteries of Port Hudson, under a fierce fight, cooperated with the river fleets. Laborious and persevering attempts were made to open an artificial channel for the river opposite Vicksburgh, as had been done with such signal success at Island No.10. But the various canals, projected and executed, failed, and only a few small steamers, of no considerable power, were thus enabled to pass the city. Combined land and naval expeditions were also sent forth, which, with infinite pains and endurance, attempted to turn the enemy's works by navigating the various bayous and sluggish rivers, whose intricate network forms so singular a feature of the military topography of the banks of the Mississippi. All these attempts having failed from physical obstacles found to be insurmountable, General Grant and Admiral Porter at last put afloat armed steamers and steamtransports, which ran through the fires of the long line of shore batteries which the insurgents had crected at Vicksburgh, and its chief supports, Warrenton and Grand Gulf. At the same time the land forces moved down the right bank of the river to a point below Grand Gulf, where they crossed in the steamers which had effected so dangerous a passage. The batteries of Grand Gulf for several hours resisted a bombardment by the gunboats at short-range, but they fell into the hands of the Admiral as soon as General Grant's forces appeared behind them. General Grant, through a series of brilliant manoeuvres, with marches interrupted by desperate battles day by day, succeeded in dividing and separating the insurgent forces. He then attacked the chief auxiliary column under Johnston, and drove it out of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. Having destroyed the railroad bridges and military stores there, General Grant turned at once to the west. Numerous combats ensued, in all of which the loyal arms were successful. Loring, with a considerable insurgent force, was driven off toward the south-east, while Pemberton, after a loss of sixty pieces of artillery and many prisoners, regained his shelter within the fortified lines of Vicksburgh, with an army now reduced to between thirty thousand and forty thousand men. During these movements the heavy batteries of the insurgents which were established near the mouth of the Yazoo River, and which constituted an important part of the defensive system of Vicksburgh, were taken and raised by Rear-Admiral Porter, who thereupon sent a detachment of his fleet up that important tributary of the Mississippi, and effectually destroyed the numerous vessels and stores which were found within and upon its banks. General Grant, during these brilliant operations, had necessarily operated by a movable column. He now reestablished his communications with the river fleets above as well as below Vicksburgh, invested the town, and, ignorant of the numbers inclosed within its defences, attempted an assault. Though bravely and vigorously made, it was nevertheless unsuccessful. He thereupon sat down before the fortifications, to reduce them by the less bloody but sure methods of siege. Pemberton made a gallant defence, hoping for relief from Johnston. Strenuous efforts were made by the chiefs at Richmond to enable Johnston to render that assistance. They detached and sent to him troops from Bragg's army on the frontier of Alabama, and from Beauregard's command in South-Carolina, and in doing this they endangered both those armies. All the capable free men of Mississippi were called to the rescue of the capital of their State, and to save the stronghold of the treasonable Confederacy which was besieged within their limits. Moreover, the besieged post was in the very centre of the slave population of that Confederacy, and the President's proclamation of freedom would be sounded in their hearing if the stronghold should fall. But the effort required was too great for the demoralized and exhausted condition of the insurgents. Johnston did not arrive to raise the siege, nor did success attend any of the attempts from within to break the skilfully drawn lines of General Grant. On the fourth of July, General Pemberton laid down his arms and surrendered the post, with thirty thousand men, two hundred pieces of artillery, seventy thousand small arms, and ammunition sufficient for a six years defence. This capture was as remarkable as the famous one made by Napoleon at Ulm. On the same day an insurgent attack upon General Prentiss, at Helena, situated on the west bank of the Mississippi, in the State of Arkansas, was repulsed with the loss of many prisoners on the part of the assailants. As if the anniversary so identified with the nation's hopes was appointed to be peculiarly eventful, Lee, who had again entered Maryland, and, passing through that State, had approached the Susquehanna, threatening Harrisburgh, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, fell back, after pitched battles continued for three days at Gettysburgh, and resumed his retreat, with an army even worse shattered than before, to his accustomed position on the Rappahannock. On the eighth of July, the insurgent garrison at Port Hudson, six thousand strong, after enduring a long siege with the utmost courage, surrendered unconditionally to General Banks; and thus the United States recovered from the insurgents the last of the numerous posts by which, for more than two years, they had effectually destroyed the navigation of the Mississippi.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.