On the fifth, however, we learned the fall of Vicksburg, and, therefore, fell back to Jackson. The army reached Jackson the evening of the seventh, and on the morning of the ninth, the enemy appeared in heavy force in front of the works thrown up for the defence of the place. These, consisting of a line of rifle-pits, prepared at intervals for artillery, extended from a point north of the town, a little east of the Canton road, to a point south of the town, within a short distance of Pearl River, and covered most of the approaches west of the river; but were badly located and constructed, presenting but a slight obstacle to a vigorous assault. The troops promptly took their assigned positions in the intrenchments on the appearance of the enemy, in expectation of an immediate assault. Major-General Loring occupying the right; Major-General Walker, the right of the centre; Major-General French, the left of the centre, and Major-General Breckinridge the left. The cavalry, under Brigadier-General Jackson, was ordered to observe and guard the fords of Pearl River above and below the town. The reports that had at various times been made to me by the commanding officers of troops encamped near Jackson, of the scarcity of water, led me to believe that Sherman, who advanced in heavy order of battle from Clinton, could not besiege, but would be compelled to make an assault. His force was represented to consist of his own and Ord's army corps and three divisions in addition. The spirit and confidence manifested by the whole army under my command were such that, notwithstanding this vast superiority of numbers, I felt assured, with the advantages given by the intrenchments, weak as they were, an assault by him would result in his discomfiture. Instead of attacking, the enemy, as soon as they arrived, commenced intrenching, and constructing batteries. On the tenth, there was spirited skirmishing, with slight cannonading, continuing throughout the day. This was kept up with varying intensity and but little interruption until the period of our evacuation. Hills commanding and encircling the town, within easy cannon range, offered favorable sites for batteries. A cross-fire of shot and shell reached all parts of the town, showing the position to be entirely untenable against a powerful artillery. On the eleventh, I telegraphed the President: “If the position and works were not bad, want of stores, which could not be collected, would make it impossible to stand a siege. If the enemy will not attack, we must, or, at the last moment, withdraw. We cannot attack seriously without risking the army.” On the twelfth, besides the shirmishing, there was a heavy cannonade from the batteries near the Canton and South Clinton roads. The missiles reached all parts of the town. An assault, though not a vigorous one, was also made upon Major-General Breckinridge's line. It was quickly repelled, however — principally by the direct fire of Cobb's and Slocomb's batteries, and flank attack of the skirmishers of the First, Third, and Fourth Florida, and Forty-seventh Georgia regiments. The enemy's loss was two hundred prisoners, nearly the same number killed, many wounded, and the colors of the Twenty-eighth, Forty-first, and Fifty-third Illinois regiments. By the thirteenth the enemy had extended his lines until both his flanks rested on Pearl River. I telegraphed the President, on the fourteenth, that a large force lately left Vicksburg “to turn us on the north. This will compel us to abandon Jackson. The troops before us have been intrenching and constructing batteries since their arrival.” On the fifteenth I telegraphed the President: “The enemy is evidently making a siege, which we cannot resist. It would be madness to attack him. The remainder of the army under Grant at Vicksburg, is, beyond doubt, on its way to this place.” On the sixteenth of July information was received that a large train from Vicksburg, loaded with ammunition, was near the enemy's camp. This, and the condition of their batteries, made it probable that Sherman would, on the next day, concentrate upon us the fire of near two hundred guns. It was also reported that the enemy had crossed Pearl River in the rear of their left flank. The evacuation of Jackson that night was, therefore, determined on. Our withdrawal was effected on the night of the sixteenth. All public property and the sick and wounded, except a few not in a condition to be moved, had been previously carried to the rear. The right wing retired towards Brandon by the new Brandon road, and the left wing by the old Brandon road. The cavalry remained to destroy the bridges over Pearl River and observe the enemy. The evacuation was not discovered by the enemy until the next day. Our loss during the siege was estimated at seventy-one killed, five hundred and four wounded, and about twenty-five missing. The army retired, by easy marches, to Morton, distant about thirty-five miles from Jackson. Desertions during the siege and on the march were, I regret to say, frequent. Two divisions of the enemy, with cavalry, drove our cavalry through Brandon on the nineteenth, returning to Jackson the next day. Their object seemed to be to destroy the railroad bridges and depots. Colonel J. L. Logan, commanding a mounted force around Port Hudson, reported three successful engagements with detachments of the enemy. On the twelfth of July I received information, from Colonel Logan, of the surrender of Port Hudson on the ninth; subsequently the report of Major Jackson, A. A. G., was received, informing me of the surrender. That officer stated that provision was exhausted, and that the position of the enemy rendered it impossible
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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.