Book II:—--the Mississippi.
N the preceding volume we described the fruitless attempt made by Sherman
Since that time the capture/of this citadel has become the main object of all the efforts made by the Federal
armies of the West
Every one feels that in losing the Mississippi
and its communications with the States of the extreme West
will be deprived of the conditions indispensable to its existence.
, on visiting his native State, talks loudly of the necessity of defending Vicksburg
at any cost, and the Union
generals freely accept the challenge which he hurls at them.
Since the 17th of January, the day when Grant
joined the army of McClernand
on his return from Arkansas
, until the capture of Vicksburg
, the military and naval operations were so closely connected that we have not deemed it practicable to divide their recital.
We shall continue it here as far as the memorable July 4, 1863; after which we will resume the narrative of the struggle between Lee
and the Army of the Potomac, which was interrupted after the battle of Chancellorsville
The four chapters composing this portion of the volume will comprise, first, all the efforts made by Grant
in the course of three months and a half along the left and right banks of the Mississippi
for the purpose of surmounting the obstacles which prevented him from approaching Vicksburg
; then the operation which enabled the Union
general to overcome these obstacles by crossing the Mississippi
below the enemy's defences; afterward the aggressive campaign which terminated in the investment of the place; finally, the siege and the capitulation.
We shall be obliged to interrupt this recital from time to time
in order to speak of the operations of Banks
along the Lower Mississippi
: we will show the efforts they made to assist Grant
, so as to bring about that junction of the two fleets which was the crowning glory of their triumphant achievement.
We shall also have to give a rapid sketch of the minor operations which marked the first six months of the year 1863 both east and west of the Mississippi
Blunt and Holmes
on the one hand, Rosecrans
on the other, after the bloody encounters of Prairie Grove
which have signalized the close of the year 1862, appear to be resting and calmly waiting for the result of the great conflict of which Vicksburg
is the prize; consequently, in the States in which they are contending for supremacy, in Missouri
, as well as in Kentucky
, we have nothing to record during this period but trifling feats of arms utterly unconnected with each other.
The opportunity offered to the Federals
for destroying the unfinished works, mounting but a few guns, which alone commanded the Mississippi
during the summer of 1862, had passed.
's campaigns at Chickasaw Bayou
and those of Grant
along the Yallabusha
had just taught them, through hard experience, that henceforth it would be as difficult to turn Vicksburg
as to approach it from the front.
These obstacles only afforded them a fresh stimulus.
Public opinion, which was in perfect accord with the sentiments of army men, demanded that there should be no drawing back before any sacrifice in order to accomplish the object in view.
Thanks to the reinforcements he had received, Grant
found himself at the end of January with one hundred and thirty thousand men under his command.1
In order to be able to bring as many as possible before Vicksburg
, he limited the occupation of the reconquered districts which he left behind him to such places as Iuka
, and the stations located along the railroad connecting them.
The village of Mound City
, almost in front of Memphis
, which served as a rendezvous for Southern partisans, was destroyed; General Dodge
, with a division of infantry and the cavalry brigade of Colonel Cornyn
, stationed himself at Corinth
; Colonel Grierson
and his mounted men had charge of guarding the railway-line.
caused all the garrisons stationed above Memphis
to occupy the eastern shore of the Mississippi
, being well aware that the Confederates
would not be able to obtain a footing in that section of country, and that small detachments could not protect it against any new raid on the part of Forrest
Henceforth, all his supplies followed the course of the river, the guarding of which was exclusively entrusted to the gunboats.
, who occupied Helena
, and had led a successful expedition in the direction of Lagrange
on the 3d of January in order to free its approaches, was charged with the defence of this important point, which occupied a portion of the territory of the State of Arkansas
, and he kept an advance post at Clarendon
on the White River
, who still occupied Holly Springs
, and whose cavalry kept watch over the banks of the Tallahatchie
, started again by the Memphis
road on the 21st, and everything was ready for transporting a considerable portion of the army by water as far as Vicksburg
reserved for himself the right of directing this great expedition in person.
By this arrangement McClernand
was reduced to the command of his single army corps, as Sherman
, under him, had been a few weeks previously.
He remonstrated, stating that the President
had granted him the exclusive right of leading any expedition along the Mississippi
; but in vain.
More fortunate than McClellan
was sustained by the government at Washington
; his relations with his subordinate, however, were always of a very delicate nature.
The two other corps, the Sixteenth and the Seventeenth, which constituted the bulk of his army, were, as we have above stated, commanded by Hurlbut
The hills extending from Haines' Bluff to Vicksburg
stretch out beyond the city, following close the course of the Mississippi
as far as Warrenton
; then, standing apart in order to leave a passage for the Big Black River
, and returning to hug the shore a short distance beyond this point, terminate at last in an acclivity upon which stands the village of Grand Gulf
The Yazoo first, then the Mississippi
(which waters the base of these hills), form a natural moat which no army could cross without the aid of a numerous
and powerful fleet.
This moat is not separated from the heights except in the lower part of the Yazoo
: the Federals
, having control of the pass at this point, had learned to their cost that the obstacle of Chickasaw Bayou
and the neighboring swamps rendered this control useless to them.
It was impossible to make an attack from the front, between Haines' Bluff and Warrenton
, upon this range of cliffs bristling with redoubts and cannon: it was therefore necessary to turn it at either extremity; but this operation, which was to be initiated by the crossing of the Yazoo
above Haines' Bluff, or the Mississippi
, could only be accomplished by the aid of naval vessels, and the latter were not in a condition to penetrate into those parts of these two rivers where their co-operation would have been necessary.
On one side rafts of timber and torpedoes obstructed the navigation of the Yazoo
in the vicinity of Haines' Bluff even more effectively than at the end of December, and on the other Pemberton
was completing the armament of the earthworks, which threatened any vessel attempting to force the passage of Vicksburg
with almost certain destruction.
Instead of erecting batteries at the water's edge, which would have been exposed to the converging fire of the men-of-war, he had placed his guns on the summit of the cliff, so as to give them a plunging fire and protect them from the naval guns, which could not attain sufficient elevation to reach them.
In short, he had spaced and isolated them in such a manner that they scarcely presented a mark in case of bombardment.
It is true that this arrangement had been strongly condemned by