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[161] that General Grant sent word over to Porter to request him to cease firing, as the rebels had sent out a flag of truce.

Iii.--the surrender.

Things were in this ominous stillness on Friday morning, the third instant, when at about eight o'clock a flag of truce was displayed by the rebels on their works in front of General A. J. Smith's division. A party was sent forward to learn their pleasure, when it turned out to be a communication from General Pemberton to General Grant, borne by Major-General Bowen and Colonel Montgomery, of Pemberton's staff, The two officers were then blindfolded and led to the quarters of General Burbridge, where they were entertained until the letter was despatched to General Grant. Correspondence on the subject continued during the day, and was not finally concluded until nine o'clock the next morning, the ever-memorable Fourth of July. General Pemberton afterward came out and had a personal interview with Grant in front of General Burbridge's line, where the two great captains sat for an hour and a half in close parley. Grant was silent, and smoking, while Pemberton, equally cool and careless in manner, was plucking straws and biting them as if in merest chitchat.

The communications kept passing as rapidly backward and forward during the night as the circumstances allowed. General Grant gave orders for our men not to fire as directed at daylight, and sent the last note to Pemberton, in which he said that if no other communication was received from them he should construe it into an acquiescence with his terms and proceed to occupy the town. Pemberton then sent his last note saying that he must accept those terms.1

It will be observed that the rebel General pleaded hard for some terms less galling than those of the famous “unconditional surrender.” He was first anxious to be allowed to march out with arms, flags, and property, which was refused; then he tried the ruse of inserting a proviso that they shoved be allowed to take out with them eight days rations. This, upon entering, we found to be mere deception, as they had no such store in hand. Then followed the negotiation about “property,” in which it is evident the rebels were anxious to save their negroes. General Grant resolutely set his face against any such assumption, and stated that they would be allowed to take their clothing, side-arms, one horse to each mounted officer, and thirty wagons of provisions.

General Grant was induced to grant these terms upon natural and justifiable motives. They were given as acts of magnanimity to a brave foe, not extorted as necessities to hasten the capitulation. It is asserted by the rebel officers that any thing less than this would not have been accepted by them, and the consequences would have been a desperate conflict to escape through our lines. The present adjustment has this advantage, that it rids us of a large and encumbering load of prisoners whom we should have to feed, clothe, and tend, and to transport them three thousand miles at enormous expense. Besides, it is very properly estimated that these men returning to their homes and to their camps will work more demoralization to the rebel cause than a confinement in Northern prisons. It has been mooted among us that many of these men will be found fighting against us in a few days in violation of their paroles. This may be to some extent. Yet we firmly believe that half of the number will never carry musket in behalf of the Confederacy more if they can help it. A fourth of the whole number would take the oath of allegiance if permitted.

The causes which have led to this stupendous result may be briefly summoned up as follows: the Vicksburgh garrison was in round numbers thirty thousand at the commencement of the siege. It was driven within the walls of the city after a hopeless attempt to protect their line of railroad communication with Jackson. Defeated, dispirited, and worn, they retired within their line of intrenchments, and at once set to work to repair their shattered organization and perfect their defences. In the two or three days which elapsed before our arrival they rallied. They had there provisions for thirty days left. Unless they could drive off the besiegers within that time they were inevitably doomed.

Johnston, who had arrived in Central Mississippi in season to find the fragments of a demoralized army, found a herculean task in restoring it to shape and spirit. He was short of artillery, transportation, and cavalry, and his supplies he had to draw from great distances.

The insuperable difficulty was the strength of our army, and the great advantage of our position. Once on the top of the Chickasaw Ridge, and we were almost impregnable, with our flanks defended by gunboats. The prime cause of the rebel defeat lies with the war department at Richmond, in draining the South to sustain the Virginia army. The second cause was a mistake in venturing beyond the Big Black River to give battle. This was Pemberton's blunder. The next fault is chargeable to Johnston. As a military man, he should have known the utmost limit of resistance which the garrison could reach, and should have relieved it without fail. Had ho attempted it, he would certainly have failed, and thus it proves that what General Grant remarked after the battle of Champion Hills was true. Vicksburgh was virtually won then, and the great battle decisive of the fate of the Mississippi Valley was then delivered and won by our Western troops.

The stock of provisions was getting short. Already they were reduced to the offal and dregs of their commissaries. Mule meat, while not eaten as a necessity, had become preferable to their pickled beef. Pork was all gone, flour used up. Corn, unground for the most part, was left in limited supply. But the worst difficulty was that of ammunition. Only ten percussion


1 See page 151 ants.

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