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[227]

Vicksburg absorbed the troops from the Yazoo, as it did those from Big Black, Warrenton, and Champion Hills.

The dead body of the brave Tilghman, whose heart was shattered by the fragment of a shell, the troubled rank and file, whose faces showed the shame of defeat, betokened the result of the plans to save Vicksburg, inaugurated by the Commander-in-Chief. There was one man of sense—General Loring. He absolutely refused to go into Vicksburg, and declared to General Pemberton that he would not obey his orders, and he did, with about 10,000 men, cut his way out in spite of General Grant's cordon. That sturdy lion, General Johnston, pertinaciously urged Pemberton to join him, and not allow himself to be shut up in Vicksburg fortifications.

If the evidence of all the events transpiring at this time could be laid before an intelligent jury, the verdict would not be flattering to the General of the Army of the Mississippi. There are very few Vicksburg soldiers who do not believe that General Grant was permitted to cross the river nearly unmolested, while the Southern army was kept blinded by preparing forts at Big Black railroad bridge and other point d'appiu surrounding the city of the hills. It was a regular give away when General Bowen, with a few troops, a mere reconnoissance detail, inadequate to the duty of checking Grant, tried to keep the Federal army back. If common discretion had been exercised, the responsibility and the evils of the catastrophe that fell upon Pemberton afterward would have been averted. The whole series of fights from the time that Grant crossed the river until the surrender of Vicksburg was a fatal blunder, no matter who it was planned by or who sanctioned it.

Concentration at the point of Grant's crossing, and defeat to him there, or, if that was impossible, concentration in the interior, and a fight before he captured the Jackson and Vicksburg railroad, was the thing to have placed him at his worst advantage both with regard to his supplies and reinforcements.

The action of May 1st was only a skirmish instead of being a vital fight, and all subsequent management being based on the protection of Vicksburg partook of the same error of judgment that led to the battles of Edwards Station or Champion Hills, Big Black, and the sufferings of Vicksburg.


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