dearly-bought success, though they were not able to break through the Union
lines, as they desired.
was returning from a conference with the disabled commodore when he was first informed of this desperate attack by the enemy, and its partial success.
Ordering General Smith
, who commanded the left, to hold himself in readiness, he hurried to the scene of conflict, and quickly ascertained the real condition of affairs.
The stubborn bravery of his troops encouraged him, and he saw that the enemy had not accomplished their purpose, although they had pressed back his lines.
From all the representations of his officers, he at once judged that the rebels had made a desperate assault for the purpose of cutting their way out and escaping.
He caused some prisoners to be brought up for examination.
They had on their knapsacks, and their haversacks were well filled.
“How many days' rations have you in your haversack?”
inquired the general of one of the prisoners.
“Six,” replied the prisoner.
“When were they served out?”
“Were all the troops served with the same rations?”
The prisoners were removed, and further inquiry among his own officers satisfied Grant
that the last statement was correct.
“Gentlemen,” said he to the higher officers about him, “troops do not have six days rations served out to them in a fort if they mean to stay there.
These rebels mean to cut their way out, and that is what they have been trying to do, but didn't quite succeed.”