previous next

[730] Vicksburg. This change in his plans was a cause of serious embarrassment. There were three courses open to my command: first, to pursue the enemy to Shreveport, which would be without public advantage, as his army had been captured or completely routed; second, to join General Grant at Vicksburg; and third, to invest Port Hudson with such forces as I had at my command. It was impossible for me to move my forces to General Grant at Vicksburg, for want of sufficient water transportation. I had barely steamers enough to put my troops across Berwick's Bay and the Atchafalaya, and on the morning after the passage of the bay, when our forces had turned the enemy's position, and the troops under Emory and Weitzel had advanced directly upon his works, there was not a single boat of any kind left with which I could communicate with Brashear City across the bay. It seemed impossible for me, at that time, to transport any portion of my troops and artillery to General Grant, without leaving my trains, and six thousand fugitive negroes who had come within our lines, to the chances of capture by the enemy. Besides, it was perfectly clear that, in the event of the movement of my forces to Vicksburg, unless that post should immediately fall, the rebel garrison at Port Hudson, then sixteen to eighteen thousand strong, would prevent our communication with New Orleans, and, in the event of any disaster by which we should be detained at Vicksburg, would hold that city at its mercy. The force west of the Mississippi, which I had dispersed, would reorganize by reenforcements from Texas, and move directly upon the Lafourche, and Algiers, opposite New Orleans, both of which were nearly defenceless. This was so apparent to my mind, that I felt that a compliance with the request of General Grant would result in the loss of my trains, the recapture of the negroes who were following the army, and the probable loss of New Orleans. This conclusion was justified by the subsequent invasion and occupation of the west bank of the river, and a most desperate attack by the Louisiana and Texas forces, twelve thousand strong, on the works at Donaldsonville, the twenty-eighth of June. I therefore concluded to move immediately against Port Hudson, and to take my chances for the reduction of that post. To avoid mistake, I directed Brigadier-General William Dwight to report our condition to General Grant in person, and solicit his counsel. General Dwight returned with the advice that I attack Port Hudson without delay, and that he would send me five thousand men, but that I should not wait for them.

My command moved from Alexandria on the fourteenth and fifteenth of May, a portion going down the river, and the remainder marching by land to Simmsport, crossing the Atchafalaya at that point with great difficulty, by means of our transports and the steamers we had captured, and from thence moved down the right bank of the Mississippi to Bayou Sara, crossing the Mississippi at that point on the night of the twenty-third, and moving directly upon the enemy's works at Port Hudson — a distance of fifteen miles--on the twenty-fourth of May.

Major-General C. C. Augur, commanding the forces at Baton Rouge, about three thousand five hundred men, had been directed to effect a junction with our forces in the rear of Port Hudson. He encountered the enemy at Plain's store, about four miles from Port Hudson, repulsing him with a loss of one hundred and fifty killed, wounded, and prisoners, and effected a junction with the rest of our forces on the twenty-fifth. Our right wing, under Generals Weitzel, Grover, and Dwight, who had succeeded General Emory, encountered the enemy outside of his works on the afternoon of the twenty-fourth, and, after a very sharp fight, drove him to his outer line of intrenchments. On the twenty-fifth, the junction of all the forces having been completed, the works of the enemy were invested.

Preparations were immediately made for an assault. Rumors had been circulated, for several days previous, that the enemy had abandoned the position, and it was impossible to obtain definite information of his strength. It was generally supposed, however, that the force had been greatly diminished, and that an assault would result in its capture. A very thorough preparation was made on the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth; and on the twenty-seventh of May, a desperate attack upon the works was made--Generals Weitzel, Grover, and Dwight commanding our right, General Augur the centre, and General T. W. Sherman the left. The plan of attack contemplated simultaneous movements on the right and left of our lines. The attack upon the right commenced with vigor early in the morning. Had the movement upon the left been executed at the same time, it is possible the assault might have been successful. But the garrison was much stronger than had been represented, and the enemy was found able to defend his works at all points. The conduct of the troops was admirable, and most important advantages were gained, which contributed to the success of all subsequent movements. At one time our advance had reached the interior line of the enemy, but were unable to hold their position. Nothing but the assault would have satisfied the troops of the presence or strength of the enemy and his works. Our loss in this engagement was two hundred and ninety-three killed, and one thousand five hundred and forty-nine wounded. We were unable to estimate with accuracy the loss of the enemy, but it was very severe. In one regiment, the Fifteenth Arkansas, out of two hundred and ninety-two officers and men, the loss sustained during the siege, according to a history of the defence by a rebel officer, was one hundred and thirty-two, of whom seventy-six fell on the twenty-seventh of May. The force of the enemy within the fortifications numbered from seven to eight thousand, with two thousand five hundred cavalry in our rear at Clinton, and a small force on the west side of the river, commanding a point opposite the enemy's batteries; making, all together, between ten and eleven


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)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Robert Grant (5)
William Dwight (4)
Weitzel (3)
Cuvier Grover (2)
W. H. Emory (2)
C. C. Augur (2)
T. W. Sherman (1)
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.
May 27th (2)
25th (2)
June 28th (1)
May 24th (1)
May 15th (1)
May 14th (1)
24th (1)
23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: