having performed their full duty, all reference to the first long but indecisive bombardment of Vicksburg
may be dropped here.
Stirring events were preparing to culminate in July, 1863, when a leader, less fortunate than Gen. M. L. Smith
, commanded troops not less heroic than those who stood victoriously behind the batteries of June, 1862.
On June 28, 1862, Maj-Gen. Earl Van Dorn
, having relieved Major-General Lovell
from the command of the department, assumed command of the forces at Vicksburg
To keep up his thin line, General Smith
had hailed the arrival of the advance of Major-General Breckinridge
's Second corps.
Within a month Breckinridge
was to be attacking the Federals
at Baton Rouge
On July 15th the Arkansas
made her first and only appearance, as a ram, to the terror of the enemy's fleet.
Her coming out of the Yazoo river
was a signal for mingled joy and anxiety on the part of our troops.
She bravely stood alone against a fleet ribbed with iron and bristling with guns. .For a space, she remained motionless, inviting attack, but the fleet declined the invitation.
still delayed, as if planning to ram. Then, on a signal, quickly her guns began their work, delivering broadside for broadside.
The fleet still did not approach too near.
Then the Arkansas
rushed upon the enemy ahead of her, ran the gantlet of the upper fleet of twelve vessels, destroying one of the enemy's vessels in the path and forcing two of his boats to strike their colors.
Satisfied with this formidable exhibition of power, such as the great river had not before seen, the Arkansas
, after running the ordeal, found herself, still a menace, in safety under the Vicksburg
It was in August, 1862, that the lesson of Confederate reprisals was to be enforced at Baton Rouge
The city was about 130 miles above New Orleans.
In the early part of the war it occupied a position of importance at once strategic and political.
As the capital of Louisiana