sloops of war and gunboats delivered broadsides of shot, shell or grape, according to their distance.
Our batteries opened as soon as they were within range and for the first time in full force.
The roar of the cannon was now continuous and deafening; loud explosions shook the city to its foundations; shot and shell went hissing and tearing through trees and walls, scattering fragments far and wide in their terrific flight; men, women and children rushed into the streets, and amid the crash of falling houses, commenced their hasty flight to the country for safety.
This continued for about an hour and a half, when the enemy left, the vessels that had passed the lower batteries continuing on up the river, apparently as the quickest means of getting out of range, those that had not passed rapidly dropping down.’
This encounter demonstrated the remarkable inefficiency of a naval attack upon the Vicksburg
batteries, as not a single gun had been disabled, and pointed out that, as General Smith
prophetically remarked, ‘the ultimate success of our resistance hinged upon a movement by land.’
The mortar shells would make holes in the firm clay seventeen feet deep, and it was a difficult matter to make bomb-proofs against such missiles.
Yet few citizens or soldiers were killed by the fire of the fleet, although the demoniac howling of the shells had a very demoralizing effect on those unaccustomed to them.
Chief Engineer S. H. Lockett
has told of a Frenchman, a gallant officer who served under him, who was almost unmanned when one of the bomb-shells passed near him. He was not ashamed to confess: ‘I no like ze bomb; I cannot fight him back.’
But while in the terrific encounter of the 28th it had been shown that Vicksburg
was impregnable to naval attack, it was also, on the other hand, shown that the Federal
vessels with some loss and damage could run the batteries, whose high position on the bluff made them less destructive as well as secure.
now took position behind