We must now go back a little to relate the more clearly the sequel of these operations of General Grant
, which ensued only a few days after his Holly Springs
' disaster, terminated in Sherman
's defeat at Chickasaw Bluff, and was the last act of the Grant
campaign in Mississippi
In December, while Grant
was so leisurely moving down the Central railroad and bearing our little army back towards Grenada
was sent with a force, estimated at twenty thousand men, to seize Vicksburg
He would then move to Jackson
, and thus Van Dorn
would be placed with his little army of just sixteen thousand men between the armies of Grant
, and would have been forced to evacuate Mississippi
disembarked his army on the Yazoo river
, above Vicksburg
, about December 20th.
The place was then defended by an insufficient force, and must have fallen an easy prey to an energetic attack by such an army as General Sherman
now brought against it. But Sherman
delayed his attack several days, thus losing precious time and opportunity, and it was not until December 27th that he moved in battle array to fight the battle of Chickasaw Bluff, which, so far as we know, is the only battle General Sherman
ever did fight.
On that day General Stephen D. Lee
commanded five regiments of infantry and two light batteries, twenty-five hundred men and twelve guns, which confronted Sherman
's army on the Chickasaw
and Willow bayous
arrayed his little force along the road which leads under the Chickasaw Bluff
His centre fronted the opening between the bayous through which Sherman
would debouch to the attack.
An open cotton field six hundred yards across lay between the hostile lines.
The centre of Lee
's line, Louisiana
troops, lay in the road, with the bluff at their backs.
There was no ditch or embankment, or cover of any sort along this part of Lee
's line; nor was there any obstacle to the approach of the Federal
forces, except the steady rifles of the brave men who that day achieved the most signal victory of the war.
The troops of Lee
's wings were much better posted than his centre; they were on more elevated ground.
Their front was, in great part, securely covered by deep and impassable fissures or gullies, which the enemy could not discover until within point-blank range, and their fire could sweep the whole front of attack.