Chapter 29: siege of Vicksburg--continued.
- The Army marches from Bruensburg towards Vicksburg.
-- destruction of the last
-- works built by the Confederates on the Mississippi.
-- Admiral Porter opens communication with General Grant in the Rear of Vicksburg, and occupies Haines' Bluff.
-- midnight attack on Vicksburg by the Army and Navy.
-- attack on Yazoo City by the gun-boats and destruction of three iron-clad rams.
-- attack on the Vicksburg works, May 22, by the Army and Navy.
-- loss of the Cincinnati before Vicksburg.
-- her guns transferred to the Rear of the City.
-- destruction of nine Confederate steamers up the Yazoo, by Lieutenant-Commander Walker.
-- attack on Vicksburg, June 19, by the Army and Navy.
-- all the enemy's guns silenced.
-- General Price's Army repulsed by General Mower and the marine brigade.
-- energy shown by the Confederates in Vicksburg.
-- short summary of the work accomplished before Vicksburg by the Navy.
-- surrender of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863.
-- meeting of the officers of the Army and Navy on board the flag-ship Black Hawk.
-- letters from General Sherman to Admiral Porter.
-- generous terms granted the besieged after the capture of Vicksburg.
-- true history.
-- harmony in Army and Navy co-operation.
-- last words of Grant.
-- detailed report of Rear-Admiral Porter.
-- congratulatory letter of Secretary Welles.
As the Army had marched from Bruensburg, and was well on the way to Vicksburg
, Admiral Porter
changed his station from Grand Gulf
to the flag-ship Black Hawk
at the mouth of the Yazoo River
, ready to co-operate with the Army the moment it should make its appearance in the rear of Vicksburg
Two iron-clads were left at the mouth of the Red River
, blocking it up closely, which sealed the fate of Port Hudson
No more supplies would get to the Confederates
from that quarter.
One iron-clad was left at Carthage
, three at Warrenton
, (where the enemy aimed at building heavy works), and two or three in the Yazoo
Notwithstanding the Confederates
were so hardly pressed, they still clung to the idea that they would beat the Federal Army
back from its hard-won positions, and they were not even willing that the gun-boats should have the satisfaction of going to the landing opposite Warrenton
to obtain provisions and coal.
They proceeded to erect a heavy work there that would command the river both ways, and particularly the opposite landing.
The enemy had labored hard on these works, night and day, in hopes of having them ready by the time the vessels of the fleet returned.
It was intended to mount eight 10-inch guns and some 100-pound rifles.
The work was built of cotton-bales covered with logs — the logs to be covered with several layers of railroad iron
and the whole to be covered with bags of earth — a fort, in fact, impervious to shot or shells.
, in the Mound City
, appeared below Warrenton
about the 12th of May, and seeing these works and no persons about, sent a party on shore to reconnoitre.
These mounted the parapets and discovered a number of artillerists inside the fort, who, to make themselves secure from observation,were crouching under the parapets.
The Federal party emptied their revolvers into the enemy and then, jumping down, hailed the Mound City
and told those on
board to open fire on the works, which was done.
A stray shell found its way into a cotton-bale — in ten minutes this formidable work was in a blaze, and in less than an hour the whole fabric was consumed.
This was the last work built by the Confederates
on the Mississippi River
All the appliances of a fort and a quantity of stores were in the houses at Warrenton
which the Confederates
set fire to and destroyed.
And what houses were left in the town were destroyed by the Mound City
's men. Warrenton
had been a troublesome place and merited its fate.
On the 15th of May, the admiral joined the fleet in the Yazoo
, and on the 16th firing was heard in the rear of Vicksburg
— a sign that General Grant
's Army was not far off, and that he was driving Pemberton
The flag-ship pushed up the river as near as she could get to the combatants, and it was soon discovered by the aid of glasses that General Sherman
's division was coming in on the left of Snyder's Bluff, cutting off the enemy at that place from joining the troops in the city.
, Lieutenant-Commander Walker
, the Choctaw
, Lieutenant-Commander Ramsay
, the Linden
, and Forest Rose
, all under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Breese
, were now sent up the Yazoo
to open communication with the Army.
In three hours, letters were received by the Admiral
from Generals Grant
, informing him of their complete success in driving General J. E. Johnston
away with his Army of 40,000 men, and forcing Pemberton
with about the same number of troops.
In the meantime the DeKalb
pushed on to Haines' Bluff, which had been the great obstacle to our advance in that direction, and which the enemy had commenced evacuating the day before.
A part of the garrison had remained behind in hopes of carrying off a quantity of stores, but they were driven away by the DeKalb
and were cut off by some of Sherman
's command who had marched in that direction.
The Confederates had been so completely surprised by the sudden appearance of our gun-boats and Army that they had not time to destroy anything — guns, tents, equipage and all kinds of stores were left in good order and fell into the hands of the Federals
As soon as the Army appeared, driving the Confederates
, all the gun-boats below the city were ordered up to attack the batteries, which fire was kept up for three hours. At midnight the fire was reopened and directed to all points where it might be possible to harass the enemy's troops, and it was continued all night.
The Confederates must have had an uncomfortable time of it, after marching and fighting all day with little hope of rest within their trenches.
Shot and shells were whistling about them and every now and then a fire broke out in the city, threatening destruction to their stores and munitions of war.
ordered up the army transports with stores and provisions, which the Union
forces were glad to get that day before sunset.
The works at Haines' Bluff were found to be very formidable — far too much so to have been taken by our Army; or from the water side; there were eighteen of the heaviest guns (8-inch and 10-inch columblads, and 7 1/2-inch rifles) with ammunition enough to last a long siege, and much of it suited for the guns of the naval vessels.
The works and encampment (which consisted of permanent houses), covered many acres of ground, and the fortifications and rifle-pits extended over one mile and a quarter.
Wide ditches, chevaux-de-frise, and net works (obstructions that would delight any military engineer,) formed part of their defenses; and these were but a counterpart of miles of the same kind of work, in and around Vicksburg
Most of these works were destroyed as not conducing in any way to the requirements of the Federal Army
, and to prevent their being used to check the advance of the gun-boats, in case the enemy by superior force caused the siege to be raised.
As soon as the Confederates
had evacuated Haines' Bluff, and all the rafts which blocked the river above had been removed,
, in the DeKalb
, was sent up the Yazoo River
with a sufficient force to destroy all the works at Yazoo City
, which had been used in the construction of their rams.
As this naval force approached Yazoo City
, the Confederate
property was set on fire by Lieutenant Brown
of the Arkansas
, and our men had only to add fuel to the flames which were well under way. Three powerful rams were burned: the Mobile
, a screw steamer ready for her plating; the Republic
, already plated with railroad iron
, and a monster steamer on the stocks (310 feet long and 70 beam), intended to be the most powerful vessel of the kind ever built.
She was to have had six engines, four side wheels and two propellers.
with a speed of sixteen knots.
The Confederates were unfortunate in their rams — they built them only to lose them.
But the amount of energy they exhibited in endeavoring to obtain vessels of this class was remarkable, and what they accomplished, in this line, was more astonishing still.
Every ram which they built was either destroyed by our Navy, or by themselves to prevent the Navy from capturing them.
Naval officers knew how much damage one of these vessels would commit, if she could ever get fairly afloat, and when one was heard of as building at any point, no effort was left untried to reach the place and destroy her.
fared badly for its misfortune in being selected as a site for a Navy Yard.
The expedition which had been directed to do its work with all dispatch and return as quickly as possible to headquarters, set fire to everything of a public character.
The Navy Yard
contained five saw-mills, besides planing-mills, machine shops, carpenter and blacksmith shops, in fact all the appliances for building a Navy.
above the city were also destroyed and the Federal
forces left nothing that could be used towards building a boat even.
never built another ram; the people were quite satisfied to have their houses left standing.
The expedition returned down the river, having fully accomplished all they went for.
They were attacked at Liverpool Landing at a very sharp bend in the narrow river, by three field-pieces and 200 rifle-men concealed in the bushes; but these were soon made to retreat.
The vessels only lost one man killed and eight wounded--but the amount of destruction which they caused can hardly be realized.
The Confederates now lost all hope of being able to build rams or any other vessels on the tributaries of the Mississippi
, and though Yazoo City
was for some time after the rendevous of the cowardly guerillas, yet it no longer formed a source of anxiety to the Union
On the evening of the 21st of May, Admiral Porter
received a communication from General Grant
to the effect that he intended to make a general attack upon the Confederate
works at Vicksburg
at 10 A. M. the next day. He had closely invested the enemy's works and was so near that he thought he could get inside.
was requested to attack on the water side, and shell all the batteries from 9.30 to 10.30 A. M., to annoy the garrison and draw off as many as possible from the trenches.
In the meantime the Admiral
with the Benton
and Mound City
opened on the hill batteries and silenced them one after another, and the Mound City
had the honor of disabling the heaviest gun the enemy had mounted, called Whistling Dick
, a gun that had hitherto defied the best marksmen.
The Confederates did not stand to their guns this day as they had been accustomed to do. They were receiving a heavy fire in the rear as well as in front, and the shriek of the shells from the army field-pieces, as they fell by the hundred in the Confederate
works, could be heard down on the water amid the roar of the heavy cannon.
The batteries one after another were silenced, as the gunboats, boats, firing bow and broadside guns, moved upon them until they came to the 13-gun battery in front of the city.
This battery was commanded by Colonel Higgins
(formerly a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy), who had so gallantly defended Fort Jackson
He felt called upon to show his old naval friends that he would not flinch from his post no matter what force was brought against him. But the water was high (nearly level with the banks), and the gunboats were above
the enemy's water batteries; the first time they had ever enjoyed this advantage.
They had nothing but this one battery to engage their attention, as all the
others had been silenced.
This was the hottest fire the gun-boats had yet been under, as Col. Higgins
clung to his works with the greatest tenacity and placed a number of shot (fortunately they were not shells) below the water-line.
This went on for two hours and a quarter when it was quite time, according to rule, that the enemy should abandon his post, but he still held on.
was brought up with her 11-inch guns, but Higgins
soon made her turret untenable, and she was finally completely disabled and had to drop out of action.
The gun-boats had started down the river with a large amount of ammunition, but they had been under fire a good deal and up to this time had had no opportunity of replenishing their supply.
Reports came up from below that the ammunition was running short and would be out in a few minutes.
This was provoking.
' fire had begun to slacken and in half an hour more he would have been silenced; but no; one after another the gunboats got out of ammunition, and were obliged to drop down, and finally the last one was obliged to retire and Colonel Higgins
was left master of the field.
It is not likely that he enjoyed the sport however, as he afterwards confessed to losing a great many of his men.
The gun-boats had done what was required of them by General Grant
, and more.
He asked an hour's attack to annoy the garrison, while his Army assaulted in the rear; they fought the batteries for two hours and a half, more than twice as long as was required, and with what success will be seen from the following letter of General McArthur
Had Gen. McArthur
been let alone, and not been prevented from occupying the works from which the Navy had driven the Confederates
, he would have kept possession of every fort on the ridge of hills which overlooked Vicksburg
, and decided the fate of the city.
To show that these attacks of the gunboats were not child's play, the reports of some of the injuries received by them are herewith mentioned:
Half the number of these shots striking a wooden vessel would have destroyed her.
was struck in her hull thirteen times; four times at the water line, etc.
While this was going on, the Army assaulted in the rear of Vicksburg
, but did not succeed in getting in. Pemberton
had at this time 42,000 men to man his ramparts.
The gun-boats kept up their attack until the 27th when there was a lull for a time.
On the 29th, General W. T. Sherman
signalled to the flag-ship, requesting that two gun-boats be sent down to clear out a battery of two guns that prevented him from extending his right flank.
It being a rule with the Navy never to refuse a request from the Army, the Cincinnati
was prepared for the adventure.
was under the impression that the enemy had moved a battery of eleven
heavy guns from a bluff commanding the Mississippi
to the land side, but the guns had only been lowered from their carriages to avoid the naval fire, and Colonel Higgins
(who had made out all the signals passing between our Army and Navy), quickly remounted them under cover of the night and screened them with bushes.
Next morning the Cincinnati
, Lieutenant George M. Bache
, started down the river to attack the small battery mentioned by Sherman
, but as the vessel rounded to and opened her broadside, the battery on the bluff opened on her stern with its heaviest guns.
The first shot from the enemy passed through the magazine and then through the bottom, causing the Cincinnati
to fill rapidly.
Then the starboard tiller was shot away, the enemy firing rapidly and with great accuracy; 8-inch and 10-inch shot went clear through the bulwarks of hay and logs,and plunging shots from the heights went through the deck and did much damage.
The vessel could not return this fire and putting on steam crept along the shore, up river, making against the current not more than three miles an hour.
was soon in a sinking condition, and her gallant commander ran her into the bank and got out a plank to save his crew before the vessel went down.
A hawser was taken on shore and made fast to a tree, but. unfortunately, it was not properly secured, and giving way allowed the vessel to slide off into deep water.
All this time the enemy continued to pour in a destructive fire.
would not haul down his flag, but nailed it to the stump of his flag-pole which had been shot away.
As the vessel was now sinking the order was given for all who could to swim to the shore, which was not far off; the boats had all been shot to pieces and were of no use. There were but three fathoms of water where the Cincinnati
went down, and her colors and smoke-pipes remained in sight.
Fifteen men were drowned in attempting to reach the bank and twenty more were killed or wounded.
This was an unfortunate affair, but the calamity was somewhat deprived of its sting by the cool and courageous conduct of the commander, officers and crew, who withstood the Confederate
fire unflinchingly and preferred to sink rather than haul down their colors.
The Confederates kept up their fire on the flag, and many of the plunging shot found their way through the vessel's hull.
As soon as General Sherman
saw what had happened he sent a company of the 76th Ohio to the relief of our officers and men.
wrote to the Admiral
, deploring the loss of the vessel, but said: “the importance of the object desired to be accomplished fully warranted the attempt.
It has proved successful and will stimulate us to further efforts to break the line which terminates on the Mississippi
in such formidable batteries.”
In a few days the water in the river fell sufficiently for the guns to be removed from the Cincinnati
This was done by the Army at night when the enemy could not see what was going on. Some of the guns were mounted in front of Sherman
's division, and were under the command of Lieutenant-Commander T. O. Selfridge
, with blue-jackets to work them; and this battery finally accomplished what the Cincinnati
had not time to do; viz., clear out the batteries which threatened Sherman
's right flank.
These guns were also employed in firing upon such points as Sherman
pointed out, where he thought it advantageous to clear a way for the Army in case of another assault.
's 9-inch guns were temporarily mounted in the rear of the city, and worked by a party of blue-jackets under Lieut.-Commander Walker
Both of these batteries did good service during the siege.
The Secretary of the Navy
wrote a handsome letter to Lieutenant Bache
, concluding as follows:
Amid an incessant fire of shot and shells, even when the fate of the vessel had been sealed, and destruction both from the elements and the enemy was threatened, the officers and men appear to have stood bravely at their posts, and it is a proud record of the Cincinnati that when her last moments came, she went down with her colors nailed to the mast.
It is with no ordinary pleasure that I express to you and the surviving officers and crew of the Cincinnati the department's appreciation of your brave conduct.
There was still work for the Navy to do in the Yazoo
,while General Grant
was starving the Confederates
out in Vicksburg
There was no use in wasting life in assaulting a place with such defences, and the Army continued to make their approaches and mount their batteries until they were within fifty feet of the enemy's works.
The surrender was but a matter of time, and a short time at that.
Every opening was stopped up, no one inside could get out, nor those outside get in. The enemy now had to subsist on what provisions they had on hand, which was not much, and unless relieved by a superior force a month more or less would bring about a surrender It was not likely that the siege would be raised, for if the Federal Army
, with all the disadvantages under which it labored, could manage to dispose of an enemy 80,000 strong in a country where the latter occupied all the strong positions, it could prevent the escape of that portion of them which had been driven into the city.
It is not the province of the writer to give an account of the military operations of the siege of Vicksburg
; this book is mostly confined to the naval operations, and he is not sufficiently informed on the subject to do full justice to the movements of the Army.
He knows enough, however, to be satisfied that everything was done by the generals of our Army in a masterly manner, and that they had posted themselves so securely around Vicksburg
that all the power of the Confederacy
could not affect them in any way, and that while our soldiers were fed by a commissariat that had no equal in any part of the world, Pemberton
and his troops inside the city were living on short rations.
The Confederates were now acknowledging one to another that Pemberton
(clever as he was) had more than met his match in the leader of the Federal Army
, and that the Union
soldiers,when well commanded,could meet a larger number of the enemy and defeat them with ease.
There were still a number of steamers on the Yazoo
that might in some way be serviceable to the enemy and an expedition under Lieutenant-Commander Walker
of the DeKalb
was sent up that river to capture or destroy them.
The Forest Rose
(vessels whose names have appeared frequently in this history) accompanied the expedition.
knocked down her chimney among the trees the first night, and had to return.
pushed on with the smaller vessels (leaving the DeKalb
to follow after) to within fifteen miles of Fort Pemberton
, where the steamers “John Walsh
, “Golden age” and Scotland
were found sunk on a bar, completely blocking the way. Failing in his efforts to make a passage through the boats, he set fire to them and they were all destroyed.
The expedition was attacked at this point by artillery and sharp-shooters in force, but they were driven off with loss.
were burned, the corn on which an enemy could subsist was destroyed, and at Yazoo City
the crews landed and brought away all the bar, round and flat iron intended to be used in the building of their ironclads.
Armed boats were sent through the Rolling Fork
and into bayous which were inaccessible at that moment to the gun-boats.
Four other steamers were found hidden away in snug retreats and burned — almost rivalling the mischief done by the Alabama
, who had taught us how to retaliate upon an enemy.
This was a terrible raid and involved a loss to the enemy of more than two millions of dollars.
The performance showed how easily the Delta
expedition could have obtained possession of the Yazoo River
and district as far as the rear of Vicksburg
but for the
delay at Helena
It also assured the success of the Steele's Bayou
expedition, which was undertaken soon after the expedition to Yazoo Pass
On the 19th of June, Admiral Porter
received a notification from General Grant
that he intended to open a general bombardment on the city at 4 A. M. and continue it until 10 o'clock. At the appointed time the bombardment commenced all along the army line and was joined on the water side by every gun-boat, the guns on scows and the mortars, until the earth fairly shook with the thundering noise.
The gun-boats spread themselves all along in front of the city — cross firing on everything in the shape of a battery — but there was no response whatever — the works were all deserted; even the indefatigable Colonel Higgins
, who loved to give his old shipmates a reminder of his gallantry, failed to fire a shot from his spiteful water-battery which had so often defied them.
After the fire was all over on the Union
side, the city of Vicksburg
was as quiet as the grave — not a soul could be seen.
The women had all taken refuge in the shelters built in the hillsides, and every man that could hold a musket or point a bayonet was in the trenches.
There they would stay for days and nights, lying in the mud and having what food they could get served out to them there.
The trials and privations which the Confederates
suffered at this time can only be described by those who took part in the defence.
The day on which they surrendered was a day of jubilee to them, for the Federal
commanders served out full rations to everybody, which were eaten with an enjoyment that can only be realized by people who have been on quarter rations for a month.
Every effort was made to bring relief to the Confederates
. General Price
had been moving about some twelve miles from Young's Point
among the swamps and bayous, and it was reported that he intended to seize Young's Point
with some ten thousand men and try to provision Vicksburg
by the front.
There was only a small force of Federal troops at Young's Point
and Milliken's Bend
at this time, and Price
might have gained a partial success, but nothing substantial.
One attempt was made on Milliken's Bend
, and quite a number of the garrison killed, but the gun-boats Choctaw
went immediately to the relief of our troops and the Confederates
were driven off with loss
The Marine Brigade under Brigadier-General Alfred Ellet
had joined the squadron and reported to Admiral Porter
This organization consisted of about two thousand men, well equipped and fairly disciplined.
, a very brave officer, had about 8,000 men at Young's Point
, and uniting the marine brigade with his troops he marched out to hunt up General Price
's army,--found it and scattered it after a short and decisive battle.
's army now left this district and troubled it no more.
This was the last hope of the besieged, if they had ever hoped anything from so forlorn a scheme, and they sat in their trenches waiting for the time when the last ration should be served out.
On the 26th of June, this was the condition of affairs in the city.
The gun-boats were by turns throwing shells day and night; the mortars kept up an incessant bombardment.
which if it damaged no works demoralized the enemy's troops; a constant fire from the Army and Navy guns in the rear was kept up, day and night, and a 6-inch rifle battery taken from the gun-boats was served with great skill by General McArthur
on the left flank.
had blown up what was called the citadel of the Confederate
works, and mounted on the debris
four 9-inch guns from the squadron, and some rifled 30-pounders.
These guns now commanded a large portion of the enemy's works, and when they opened fire the requiem of Vicksburg
was sung by the shrieking shell, as they flew through the air carrying death and destruction all over the city.
On the 4th of July, 1863, that historic day was rendered more memorable by the surrender of Vicksburg
to the Federal
forces after a desperate but vain resistance, in which the Confederates
had won the respect of their conquerors by the bravery and endurance displayed during a siege of seven months.
Southern historians have eulogized them for their faithful adherence to a cause which received its death-blow when they surrendered.
but as this history is more particularly connected with the boys in blue than with the boys in gray we must leave the latter to the future
military historian, who, when the excitements and prejudices of the time have worn away, will no doubt do them justice.
It was from no want of ability on the part of our military leaders that this surrender was not brought about sooner, but owing to the magnitude of the Confederate
defences, which were intended to keep at bay any force the Federal Government
could bring against them, and calculating that even were the city to be enveloped by troops the Confederacy
could always send a sufficient number from the South
to raise the siege.
No doubt the will and energy were with the
Confederates to do as they thought could be done, but the great oak that has been torn and twisted by the winds for centuries must succumb at last to a tornado: the Confederacy
had now received many telling blows, and its strength had begun to fail.
Many could see the end of the rebellion, and no one knew how near it was, better than the Confederates
If doubts still remained with any of them, the fall of Vicksburg
, the opening of the Mississippi
from the Northern States
to the sea, and the complete severance of the three most important States (as regarded supplies from others) would have removed their delusion.
But they still fought on, though it was only with the spirit of the game-cock which strikes at random while the life-blood is flowing from its veins
History has seldom had an opportunity of recording so desperate a defence on one side, with so much ability, courage, perseverance and endurance on the other.
The Army of the Tennessee covered itself with honor of which no one can ever deprive it.
Though the Navy performed naturally a less conspicuous part than the Army, yet it did its duty in a manner which not even the most exacting could find fault with.
Less zeal on the part of its officers and men would doubtless have extended the siege to some indefinite time.
A short summary of the work done by the Navy during the last forty days of the siege, may not be amiss.
It will assure those who served at this critical period in the Navy, that they are not forgotten, and that their names will go down to history, honored as they deserve to be.
The mortar boats were kept at work for forty days, night and day, throwing shells into every part of Vicksburg
and its works, some of them even reaching the trenches in the rear of the city.
Three heavy guns placed on scows, one 9-inch, one 10-inch, and a 100-pounder rifle were placed in position a mile from the town, and commanded all the important water batteries.
They kept up an incessant and accurate fire for fourteen days, while the path of the missiles was filled with destruction.
Five 8-inch, four 9-inch, two 42-pounder rifled guns and four 32-pounder shell guns were landed from the gun-boats at different points during the siege at the request of the officers commanding divisions, or of General Grant
, and whenever officers and men could be spared from the fleet they were sent on shore to work the guns.
As no dissatisfaction was expressed by the officers in command, it was presumed that the sailors performed their duty well.
The banks of the Mississippi
were so watchfully guarded from Vicksburg
that the Army transports went through with troops and stores, for a distance of about 450 miles, without molestation.
The marine brigade, under Brigadier-General Ellet
, was constantly landing along the river to break up guerilla warfare.
Without a watchful eye on the Mississippi
, on the part of the Navy, the operations of the Army would have been often interrupted.
Only one Army steamer was disabled during the siege operations, and six or seven men killed on board of her.
When the whole of our Army was in the rear of Vicksburg
, with the exception of a small force at Young's Point
under General Mower
, and that place was attacked by Major-General Price
with 12,000 men, the marine brigade and the gun-boats united with General Mower
's force to put the Confederates
down, which was effectually done; and General Grant
was satisfied that Young
's Point would be taken care of by the Navy, while he was engaged in reducing the monster on the east bank of the Mississippi
When the Army and Navy started out to capture Vicksburg
was closed against the Federal
forces from Helena
to Port Hudson
This latter place fell shortly after the surrender of Vicksburg
and the river was thus open to the sea.
There was no longer a doubt that the rebellious states were divided, and that the uninterrupted navigation of the “father of waters” and its tributaries was soon to be restored to the Union
So satisfied were the Confederate
leaders that Vicksburg
was the key to this great network of water which enriched the vast domain through which it found its way to the sea, that they staked their cause upon its retention.
When they failed in this effort they were almost in their last throes, though their vitality enabled them to prolong the struggle (that was impoverishing and ruining their country,) for some time longer.
But there could be no hope of success for the Southern
cause, when the great slave power which had controlled so many miles of the banks of the Mississippi
no longer existed.
The chain which held slavery together was broken, and the commerce of the nation went rejoicing on its way to the great ocean, once more to barter with the people of the outside world.
That 4th of July was a happy day to all those who had joined in the herculean efforts to bring about the desired end. At a certain hour the American
flag was to be hoisted on the court-house where the Confederate
emblem had so long flaunted in the face of the Union
At the moment the flag went up every vessel in the river, gun-boats and transports, decked with flags,
started from above and below to reach the levee in front of the city, sounding their steam whistles and firing a national salute that seemed like a renewed attack.
The flagship Black Hawk
had scarcely reached the levee when General Grant
and many of his officers rode up, and dismounting, went on board, where they were received with that warmth of feeling and hospitality that delights the heart of a sailor.
The leader, who with his Army had achieved the greatest victory of the war, now received the congratulations of the officers of both Army and Navy, and although no one would judge from his manner that anything remarkable had happened yet he must have felt that this was the triumph of his life.
was one of those whose absence was regretted by all, but he was off with a division of the Army in pursuit of General Johnston
, who had been lingering in the vicinity of Jackson
in hopes of rendering aid to the besieged.
He was too formidable an enemy to be allowed to remain near the prize which had been so hardly won, and Sherman
had gone to show him that he must move his headquarters somewhere else.
But even while engaged on so important a duty, Sherman
did not forget those of the Navy with whom he had co-operated for so many months, and he wrote a letter to the Admiral
in which he expressed his satisfaction at the final result of the siege.
This letter is so like the warm-hearted and gallant soldier, that no one can help feeling pleasure when he reads it, and it is here inserted.
Army and Navy vied with each other in their efforts to alleviate the discomforts of those who had spent so many months under a merciless fire and suffered all the miseries attending a siege.
The commanding General set the example by giving all the provisions, visions, stores and transportation General Pemberton
required for the officers and men of his Army, who had been paroled and allowed to return to their homes.
The naval officers opened their stores for those officers who had families, and though they did not leave Vicksburg
in much style, they were comparatively comfortable after suffering so many evils.
It was curious to see, an hour after the surrender, the soldiers of the two armies fraternizing as if they belonged to the same party; there was not, in fact, much difference between them, only one party had gone off on the wrong track, and, owing to bad leaders, had drifted considerably out of their course.
Confederate officers on horseback would join naval officers, who, mounted on the sorry-looking steeds which had been loaned them, were riding about the city, and chat with them as pleasantly as if they were honored guests.
Groups of officers in blue and gray mingled together in the most friendly manner.
Officers who visited houses where there were ladies, were received courteously if not warmly, and it was difficult to realize that the people of this battered city had been within a few days doing all they could to harm those with whom they now seemed to be on such pleasant terms.
The people of Vicksburg
were thoroughly subdued, they had gone through so much misery and endured so many privations that any change was acceptable.
Besides, their conquerors had been generous far beyond their expectations, and had
furnished them the means to depart and meet again their absent friends, with whom they had not communicated for many days.
The regret of being conquered was mitigated by the promised pleasure of seeing their loved homes, and getting away from scenes which continually reminded them of the horrors which they had undergone for so many months.
Over 5,000 had died in hospital or been killed in the trenches since the close siege had commenced, and many must have left there with deep regrets for the loss of loved ones, who were buried in the soldier's cemetery without a stone to mark their resting places.
As time moves on and the military and naval history of the war are being chronicled by impartial authors, the facts connected with the most important events are being brought to light.
The war has been mostly written up through the reporters, who accompanied the Armies of the Republic
, and although they have described the scenes in a most graphic manner, yet their accounts were given a coloring that detracted from, rather than embellished, the picture.
There was no scene of action during the war where more misrepresentations were made, or where less desire seemed to be manifested by the newspaper correspondents to do justice to both the naval and military movements, than at Vicksburg
, and to read the numberless accounts that were transmitted from these to the various newspapers, one would form an altogether erroneous opinion of what took place.
Some of these descriptions of events were written with only a desire to please the public, and they were of a sensational character — pleasant reading over a breakfast table, but far from being history.
Many of the correspondents wrote from hearsay.
and were not near the scene of action which they so graphically described, and the people at the North
, greedy to drink in the news from distant battlefields, were satisfied to believe the wanton mistakes which were sent abroad without revision.
and adopted them as the true version of affairs.
It was not, and is not now, generally understood, that the operations against Vicksburg
were a combination of Army and Navy, in which each commander acted on his own responsibility, neither having received any instructions from their several Departments.
The plans for the capture of Vicksburg
from the first to the last were arranged by General Grant
and Admiral Porter
and carried out to the end with that unanimity of purpose which always leads to success.
never undertook any movement without consulting the commander of the Mississippi Squadron, while the latter never did anything without consulting General Grant
, and thus a harmony of action prevailed which probably never was obtained in any other military and naval co-operation.
were of assimilated rank, and neither could give an order to the other; therefore it was only through that high courtesy bred in a purely military school, that so perfect an understanding could be arrived at, or that the wishes of either military or naval commander could be anticipated.
Some naval officers, after the reduction of Vicksburg
, were disposed to find fault with General Grant
for not being more demonstrative in his remarks concerning the work the Navy had performed; but Grant
was never a demonstrative man; he left it to the Commander-in-chief
of the Mississippi Squadron to mention the services of his own officers and vessels, and would, no doubt, have thought it peculiar if the naval commander had undertaken to go into an elaborate eulogy on the performances of the Army.
, in his last days, did not forget the great help he received from the naval part of the expedition to capture Vicksburg
In his reminiscences of the war, he says:
The Navy under Porter was all it could be during the entire campaign.
Without its assistance the campaign could not have been successfully made with twice the number of men engaged.
It could not have been made at all in the way it was, with any number of men without such assistance.
The most perfect harmony reigned between the two arms of the service.
There never was a request made, that I am aware of, either of the Flag-officer or any of his subordinates, that was not promptly complied with.
This should afford satisfaction to those naval officers who for a time doubted General Grant
Words of ordinary praise coming from him were of more import, than words from a man who was too lavish of his commendations.
Those last words of Grant
's were grains of gold, and will go down in history, never to be erased from the book of fame.
The commander of the Mississippi Squadron was contented with General Grant
's reticence in regard to naval movements before Vicksburg
He felt satisfied that he alone could do full justice to the brave officers and men who served under him, as will appear from the following letter written after the surrender of Vicksburg