south and west.’
This half of the army was under Sherman
was relieved, and its duty was to watch Johnston
On June 25th the first mine explosion occurred under the salient of the Third Louisiana redan on the Jackson
road, which the Federals
considered the most formidable on the line.
The time of explosion of a ton of powder under this work was set for 3 p. m., and as that hour approached the incessant fire from the Federal
lines dropped off and there was a strange quiet, followed soon by the dull, earth-shaking explosion of the mine.
Instantly a terrible outburst of cannon and musketry opened from the Federal
lines, and a charging column entered the crater.
But they got no farther, for the Confederates
were ready and opened such a withering fire that it was instant death for one of the enemy to show his head.
Not only that, but shells were lighted and thrown over the parapet to explode among the Federals
, causing a terrible loss of life.
The Federals held the crater, however, built a shed to keep off the shells, and then the mining was resumed on both sides.
Six men of the Forty-third Mississippi, engaged in countermining at the time of the explosion, were buried alive.
On June 22d Pemberton
sent a message to Johnston
, saying: ‘If I cut my way out, this important position is lost and many of my men too. Can we afford that?
If I cannot cut my way out, both position and all my men are lost.
This we cannot afford.’
He then proceeded to suggest that Johnston
propose to Grant
to pass the army out with arms and equipage and surrender the town.
‘This proposal would come with greater prospects of success from you, while it necessarily could not come at all from me.’
‘While I make this suggestion, I still renew my hope of your being, by force of arms, enabled to act with me in saving this vital point.
I will strain every nerve to hold out, if there is hope of our ultimate relief, for fifteen days longer.’
To this Johnston