Chapter 12: Vicksburg.
January to July, 1863.
The campaign of 1863, resulting in the capture of Vicksburg
, was so important, that its history has been well studied and well described in all the books treating of the civil war, more especially by Dr. Draper
, in his “History of the civil War in America
,” and in Badeau
's “Military history of General Grant
In the latter it is more fully and accurately given than in any other, and is well illustrated by maps and original documents.
I now need only attempt to further illustrate Badeau
's account by some additional details.
When our expedition came out of the Arkansas River
, January 18, 1863, and rendezvoused at the river-bank, in front of the town of Napoleon, Arkansas
, we were visited by General Grant
in person, who had come down from Memphis
in a steamboat.
Although at this time Major-General J. A. McClernand
was in command of the Army of the Mississippi, by virtue of a confidential order of the War Department, dated October 21, 1862, which order bore the indorsement of President Lincoln
, General Grant
still exercised a command over him, by reason of his general command of the Department of the Tennessee.
By an order (No. 210) of December 18, 1862, from the War Department, received at Arkansas
Post, the Western
armies had been grouped into five corps d'armee
, viz.: the Thirteenth, Major-General McClernand
; the Fourteenth, Major-General George H. Thomas
, in Middle Tennessee
; the Fifteenth, Major-General W. T. Sherman
; the Sixteenth, Major-General Hurlbut
, then at or near Memphis
; and the Seventeenth, Major-General
, also at and back of Memphis
when at Napoleon
, on the 18th of January, ordered McClernand
with his own and my corps to return to Vicksburg
, to disembark on the west bank, and to resume work on a canal across the peninsula, which had been begun by General Thomas Williams
the summer before, the object being to turn the Mississippi River
at that point, or at least to make a passage for our fleet of gunboats and transports across the peninsula, opposite Vicksburg
then returned to Memphis
, ordered to Lake Providence
, about sixty miles above us, McPherson
's corps, the Seventeenth, and then came down again to give his personal supervison to the whole movement.
The Mississippi River
was very high and rising, and we began that system of canals on which we expended so much hard work fruitlessly: first, the canal at Young
's plantation, opposite Vicksburg
; second, that at Lake Providence
; and third, at the Yazoo
Pass, leading into the head-waters of the Yazoo River
Early in February the gunboats Indianola
and Queen of the West
ran the batteries of Vicksburg
The latter was afterward crippled in Red River
, and was captured by the rebels; and the Indianola
was butted and sunk about forty miles below Vicksburg
We heard the booming of the guns, but did not know of her loss till some days after.
During the months of January and February, we were digging the canal and fighting off the water of the Mississippi
, which continued to rise and threatened to drown us. We had no sure place of refuge except the narrow levee, and such steamboats as remained abreast of our camps.
My two divisions furnished alternately a detail of five hundred men a day, to work on the canal.
So high was the water in the beginning of March, that McClernand
's corps was moved to higher ground, at Milliken's Bend
, but I remained at Young
's plantation, laid off a due proportion of the levee for each subdivision of my command, and assigned other parts to such steamboats as lay at the levee.
My own headquarters were in Mrs. Grove
's house, which had the water all around it, and could only be reached by a plank-walk from the levee, built on posts.
General Frederick Steele
commanded the first division, and General D. Stuart
the second; this latter division had been reenforced by General Hugh Ewing
's brigade, which had arrived from West Virginia
At the time of its date I received the following note from General Grant
This letter was instantly (8 A. M.) sent to Colonel Giles A. Smith
, commanding the Eighth Missouri, with orders to prepare immediately.
He returned it at 9.15, with an answer that the regiment was all ready.
I went up to Milliken's Bend
in the tug, and had a conference with the general, resulting in these orders:
On returning to my camp at Young's Point
, I started these two boats up the Yazoo and Steele's Bayou
, with the Eighth Missouri and some pioneers, with axes, saws, and all the tools necessary.
I gave orders for a part of