bring from Texas
a force sufficient to capture New Orleans itself.
, with an overwhelming force, might swoop down from Jackson
at any moment; Alabama
might supply a fresh force adequate to the raising of the siege and the rout of the besiegers; add to which, Lee
— so recently victorious at Chancellorsville
— might dispatch a corps of veterans by rail for the relief of Gardner
and his important post.
The Rebel line of defense was three or four miles long; ours, encircling theirs, of course considerably longer; so that a stealthy concentration of the garrison on any point must render it immensely stronger there, for a time, than all who could be rallied to resist it. With Vicksburg
proudly defying Grant
's most strenuous efforts, and Lee
impelling his triumphant legions across the Potomac
, the chances were decidedly against the undisturbed prosecution of this siege to a successful issue.
After a fortnight's steady digging and firing, a fresh attempt was made,1
under a heavy fire of artillery, to establish our lines within attacking distance of the enemy's works, so as to avoid the heavy losses incurred in moving over the ground in their front.
Our men advanced at 3 A. M., working their way through the difficult abatis; but the movement was promptly detected by the enemy, and defeated, with the loss on our side of some scores as prisoners.
Four days later, a second general assault was made:2 Gen. Dwight
, on our left, attempting to push up unobserved through a ravine and rush over the enemy's works while his attention should be absorbed by the more palpable advance of Gens. Grover
on our right.
Neither attack fully succeeded; but our lines were permanently advanced, at some cost, from an average distance of 300 yards, to one of 50 to 200 yards from the enemy's works; and here our men intrenched themselves and commenced the erection of new batteries.
On our left, an eminence was carried and held which commanded a vital point of the defenses, known as “the Citadel” ; and which enabled Dwight
, some days later, to seize and hold a point on the same ridge with “ the Citadel,” and only ten yards from the enemy's lines.
professes to think the day's gains worth their price; but, as he had few men to spare, he did not choose to pay at that rate for any more ground, restricting his efforts thenceforth to digging and battering; Farragut
still cooperating to make the slumbers of the besieged as uneasy as might be.
That garrison was not beaten: it was worn out and starved out. A shell fired its mill, burning it, with over 2,000 bushels of corn.
Its guns were successively disabled by the remarkable accuracy of our fire, till but 15 remained effective on the landward defenses.
Its ammunition for small arms was gradually expended, until but twenty rounds per man remained; and but little more for the artillery.
Its meat at length gave out; when its mules were killed and their flesh served out; the men eating it without grumbling.
Rats stood a poor chance in their peopled trenches: being caught, cooked, eaten, and pronounced equal as food to squirrels.
And thus the tedious