previous next

[475] siege of Vicksburgh. My communication with the rear can best be preserved by operating north of railroad. Inform me as soon as possible what points will suit you best. Your despatches of the twelfth received. General Taylor, with eight thousand men, will endeavor to open communications with you from Richmond.

To this communication General Pemberton replied, June twenty-first, recommending me to move north of the railroad toward Vicksburgh, to keep the enemy attracted to that side, and stating that he would himself move at the proper time, by the Warrenton road, crossing the Big Black at Hankinson's Ferry; that “the other roads are too strongly intrenched, and the enemy in too heavy force, for a reasonable prospect of success,” unless I could compel him to abandon his communications by Snyder's.

On the fifteenth I expressed to the department the opinion that, without some great blunder of the enemy, we could not hold both, (Mississippi and Tennessee,) and that I considered saving Vicksburgh hopeless.

On the eighteenth I said Grant's position, naturally very strong, is intrenched and protected by powerful artillery, and the roads obstructed. His reinforcements have been at least equal to my whole force. The Big Black covers him from attack, and would cut of our retreat if defeated.

On June twenty-second, in reply to a despatch from General Pemberton of the fifteenth, in which he said that, though living on greatly reduced rations, he had sufficient for twenty days, I informed him that General Taylor had been sent by General E. K. Smith to cooperate with him from the west bank of the Mississippi, and that in a day or two I would try to make a diversion in his favor, and if possible open communications, adding:

Though I fear my force is too small to effect the latter. I have only two thirds of the force you told messenger Saunders to state to me as the least with which I ought to make an attempt. Scouts report the enemy fortifying toward us, and the roads blocked.

A day or two after this a despatch was brought me from General Pemberton, dated June twenty-second, suggesting that I should make to Grant “propositions to pass this army out, with all its arms and equipages ;” renewing his hope of my being able, by force of arms, to act with him, and expressing the opinion that he could hold out for fifteen days longer. To this despatch I replied, June twenty-seventh, informing him that General E. K. Smith's troops had fallen back to Delhi, and that I had urged him to assume the direct command, and continued:

The determined spirit you manifest, and his expected cooperation, encourage me to hope that something may yet be done to save Vicksburgh, and to postpone both of the modes suggested of merely extricating the garrison. Negotiations with Grant for the relief of the garrison, should they become necessary, must be made by you. It would be a confession of weakness on my part, which I ought not to make, to propose them. When it becomes necessary to make terms, they may be considered as made under my authority.

On the twenty-ninth of June, field transportation and other supplies having been obtained, the army marched toward the Big Black, and on the evening of July first encamped between Brownsville and the river.

Reconnoissances, which occupied the second and third, convinced me that the attack north of the railroad was impracticable. I determined, therefore, to make the examinations necessary for the attempt south of the railroad-thinking, from what was already known, that the chance for success was much better there, although the consequences of defeat might be more disastrous.

On the night of the third a messenger was sent to General Pemberton with information that an attempt to create a diversion would be made to enable him to cut his way out, and that I hoped to attack the enemy about the seventh.

On the fifth, however, we learned the fall of Vicksburgh, and therefore fell back to Jackson.

The army reached Jackson the evening of the seventh, and on the morning of the ninth the enemy appeared in heavy force in front of the works thrown up for the defence of the place. These, consisting of a line of rifle-pits, prepared at intervals for artillery, extended from a point north of the town, a little east of the Canton road, to a point south of the town, within a short distance of Pearl River, and covered most of the approaches west of the river, but were badly located and constructed, presenting but a slight obstacle to a vigorous assault.

The troops promptly took their positions in the intrenchments on the appearance of the enemy, in expectation of an immediate assault. Major-General Loring occupying the right, Major-General Walker the right of the centre, Major-General French the left of the centre, and Major-General Breckinridge the left. The cavalry, under Brigadier-General Jackson, was ordered to observe and guard the fords of Pearl River above and below the town.

The reports that had at various times been made to me by the commanding officers of the troops encamped near Jackson of the scarcity of water, led me to believe that Sherman, who advanced in heavy order of battle from Clinton, could not besiege, but would be compelled to make an immediate assault. His force was represented to consist of his own and Ord's army corps, and three divisions in addition. The spirit and confidence manifested by the whole army under my command were such that, notwithstanding this vast superiority of numbers, I felt assured, with the advantage given by the intrenchments, weak as they were, an assault by him would result in his discomfiture.

Instead of attacking, the enemy, as soon as they arrived, commenced intrenching and constructing batteries. On the tenth there was

Creative Commons License
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.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 22nd (2)
July 1st (1)
June 29th (1)
June 27th (1)
June 21st (1)
18th (1)
15th (1)
10th (1)
7th (1)
5th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: