previous next


[160] chance shot, and now and then a mortar-shell at long-range. The health and spirits of the men improved. Our camps were right on the hills around the city. The advantage of shade was with us, though the fighting and digging was almost all done in the sun.

On the twenty-fifth ultimo we blew up the first mine, under one of the enemy's principal forts, in the centre. A struggle ensued for the possession of the fort, in which we were only partially successful, after the loss of several brave men. Three days afterward the other side of the work was blown up, and the enemy had been obliged to fall back a few feet. The mines were already being put under other forts, and it was evident that if this process should continue long enough, the place would be blown to pieces.

The enemy, in their turn, kept running countersaps, so as to meet and cross ours, so that in two or three instances a thin wall of earth only separated the combatants. The object of these mining operations was to break into and seize upon the prominent points of the enemy's line of fortifications, and thereby force them back by degrees to the river. Many days ago it was evident that the Vicksburgh garrison was short of provisions, and that it must in the end surrender of famine. The work upon the mines was then relaxed, a sufficient demonstration upon the lines being kept up with rifle and cannon to annoy the inmates.

Besides the investing line at the land side of the town, stretching from Haines's Bluff to Warrenton, we had a line of infantry stretched across the base of the. peninsula, which Vicksburgh overlooks. The gunboat Choctaw and the flagship Black Hawk lay far out of range above the town; the Benton, Mound City, and Switzerland below. The Cincinnati was sunk by the upper batteries, having descended the bend to assist General Steele's advance. The principal weapons of offence in use on the river front were the mortars, (thirteen-inch.) Six of these, mounted on rafts built for the purpose, lay moored in front of the city, on the upper side of the peninsula, so sheltered by the high bank that the hostile shells passed harmlessly over. These mortars, which proved to be of such signal service in the reduction of Forts Jackson and St. Philip, have proved far less effective at Vicksburgh, as also at Island Number10.

Besides the mortars were two one hundred pounder Parrott guns, also mounted on rafts. These guns having an extreme range of three and a half miles, were enabled to direct shells with tolerable accuracy to any building within sight.

On the lower side of the peninsula, that is, immediately in front of the city, a battery was erected on the levee, consisting of one twenty-pounder, one ten-pounder Parrott, and one twelve-pounder brass rifled piece. This battery, manned by a portion of the Marine brigade under Lieutenant-Colonel Curry, was successful in harassing the rebel troops, and in destroying the foundry in which they were casting shot and shells.

The number of mortar-shells thrown into the city from the front is enormous. Many of them never exploded, and in general they were comparatively harmless. If they burst in the air there was but little danger from them, and still less if they exploded when buried twenty feet in the soil.

The particulars of the siege you already know up to within three days of the surrender. On the first instant the firing was mainly confined to the firing of heavy guns for an hour or two in the morning, a lull during the heat of the day, and as night set in a random fire from the batteries in front.

On Friday it was quieter than ever. Our men were busily engaged in getting up full supplies of ammunition. Every thing was being prepared for a battle of some kind, most likely an attack. There was a suspicion that the captured despatch (already published) saying that “the garrison could hold out for ten days from the twenty-fourth, and that unless sooner relieved they would be obliged to surrender,” was true. All the indications proved it, although in every attempt to seize any advantage of position they steadily resisted. There was on the left some skirmishing between the pickets, but otherwise all was usually quiet up to the morning of the third.

The disposition of our forces at the time of the surrender was as follows: The three corps of the army of the Tennessee rested on the investing line, the right under Major-General W. T. Sherman, the centre under Major-General J. B. Me-Pherson, and the left under Major-General E. O. C. Ord. The position of the divisions was as follows: On the extreme right, the post of honor, the division of Major-General Frederick Steele; next him General Thayer's division, and on his left that of Major-General Frank P. Blair, Junior. On the right of centre was the division of Major-General John A. Logan; to his left again was that of General John E. Smith; further to the left were General A. J. Smith's and General Carr's divisions. On the left wing were General Hovey's division, General Lanman's, and lastly that of Major-General F. Herron.

General Osterhaus, with a division of the reserve, was posted at Big Black Bridge. General Washburne, with another division was at Haines' s Bluff, and part of the Ninth army corps, under Major-General Banks, stretching between Haines's Bluff and Osterhaus's position.

As there was some anticipation that Johnston might make a dash into the rear for moral effect, General Sherman was therefore despatched to the reserve to meet him. General Steele, in his absence commanded the right wing.

Perhaps the. only noticeable feature of the last day of siege was the fact that along the lines of intrenchment flags were hoisted, and the rebels and our men were chatting together on the parapet of their works in a friendly way. Admiral porter, perhaps scenting what was in the wind, commenced a more furious bombardment by the mortars. The rebels in the trenches minded it not, and it was not until four in the afternoon


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.
25th (1)
1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: