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[102] Sherman reconnoitered the ground ‘as well as possible,’ he says, ‘and found it as difficult as could possibly be from nature and art. Immediately in our front was a lake passable only at two points—on a narrow levee and on a sand-bar which was perfectly commanded by the enemy's sharpshooters that line the levee or parapet on its opposite bank. Behind this was an irregular strip of bench or table land, on which was constructed a series of rifle-pits and batteries; and behind that a high, abrupt range of hills whose scarred sides were marked all the way up with rifle-trenches, and the crowns of the principal hills presented heavy batteries. The country road leading from Vicksburg to Yazoo City was along the foot of these hills, and answered an admirable purpose to the enemy as a covered way along which he moved his artillery and infantry promptly to meet us at any point at which we attempted to cross this difficult bayou. Nevertheless, that lake, with its levee parapet, backed by the lines of rifle-pits, batteries and frowning hills, had to be passed before we could reach terra firma and meet our enemy on anything like fair terms.’

Steele, on his line of advance beyond the bayou, found the difficulties confronting him just as great, Sherman. reported. He followed substantially an old levee (Blake's) back from the Yazoo to the foot of the hills, but found that in order to reach the hard land he would have to cross a long corduroy causeway with a battery enfilading it, others cross-firing it, with a similar line of rifle-pits and trenches before described.

The Confederate forces in Vicksburg at this time were still under the command of Maj.-Gen. Martin L. Smith, who was reinforced from Bragg's army by the Georgia brigade of Seth M. Barton, the Tennessee brigades of John C. Vaughn and John Gregg, and the Alabama brigade of E. D. Tracy. Brig.-Gen. Stephen D. Lee, a distinguished soldier who had been conspicuous in the operations of the army of Northern Virginia as a colonel

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