Doc. 204.-siege of Vicksburgh, Mississippi.
Congratulatory order of Gen. McClernand.
headquarters Thirteenth army corps, battle-field in rear of Vicksburgh, May 31, 1863.General orders, No. 72. comrades: As your commander, I am proud to congratulate you upon your constancy, valor, and success. History affords no more brilliant example of soldierly qualities. Your victories have followed in such rapid succession that their echoes have not yet reached the country. They will challenge its grateful and enthusiastic applause. Yourselves striking out a new path, your comrades of the army of Tennessee followed, and a way was thus opened for them to redeem previous disappointments. Your march through Louisiana, from Milliken's Bend to New-Carthage and Perkins's plantation, on the Mississippi River, is one of the most remarkable on record. Bayous and miry roads, threatened with momentary inundations, obstructed your progress. All these were over-come by unceasing labor and unflagging energy. The two thousand feet of bridging which was hastily improvised out of materials created on the spot, and over which you passed, must long be remembered as a marvel. Descending the Mississippi still lower, you were the first to cross the river at Bruin's Landing, and to plant our colors in the State of Mississippi below Warrenton. Resuming the advance the same day, you pushed on until Pyou came up to the enemy near Port Gibson. Only restrained by the darkness of the night, you hastened to attack him on the morning of the first of May, and by vigorously pressing him at all points, drove him from his position, taking a large number of prisoners and small arms, and five pieces of cannon. General Logan's division came up in time to gallantly share in consummating the most valuable victory won since the capture of Fort Donelson. Taking the lead on the morning of the second, you were the first to enter Port Gibson, and to hasten the retreat of the enemy from the vicinity of that place. During the ensuing night, as a consequence of the victory at Port Gibson, the enemy spiked his guns at Grand Gulf, and evacuated that place, retiring upon Vicksburgh and Edwards's Station. The fall of Grand Gulf was solely the result of the victory achieved by the land forces at Port Gibson. The armament and public stores captured there, are but just trophies of that victory. Hastening to bridge the south branch of the Bayou Pierre, at Port Gibson, you crossed on the morning of the third, and pushed on to Willow Springs, Big Sandy, and the main crossing of Fourteen Mile Creek,four miles from Edwards's Station. A detachment of the enemy was immediately driven away from the crossing, and you advanced, passed over, and rested during the night of the twelfth within threat miles of the enemy, in large force at the Station. On the morning of the thirteenth, the objective point of the army's movements having been changed from Edwards's Station to Jackson, in pursuance of an order from the commander of the department, you moved on the north side of Fourteen Mile Creek toward Raymond. This delicate and hazardous movement was executed by a portion of your number, under cover of Hovey's division, which made a feint of attack in line of battle upon Edwards's Station. Too late to harm you, the enemy attacked the rear of that division, but was promptly and decisively repulsed. Resting near Raymond that night, on the morning of the fourteenth, you entered that place, one division moving on to Mississippi Springs, near Jackson, in support of General Sherman, another to Clinton, in support of General McPherson, a third remaining at Raymond, and a fourth at Old Auburn, to bring up the army trains. On the fifteenth you again led the advance toward Edwards's Station, which once more became the objective point. Expelling the enemy's picket from Bolton the same day, you seized and held that important position. On the sixteenth you led the advance, in three columns, upon three roads against Edwards's Station. Meeting the enemy on the way in strong force, you heavily engaged him near Champion Hill, and after a sanguinary and obstinate battle, with the assistance of General McPherson's corps, beat and routed him, taking many prisoners and small arms, and several pieces of cannon. Continuing to lead the advance, you rapidly pursued the enemy to Edwards's Station, capturing that place, a large quantity of public stores, and many prisoners and small arms. Night only stopped you. At day-dawn, on the seventeenth, you resumed the advance, and early coming upon the enemy strongly intrenched in elaborate works, both before and behind Big Black River, immediately opened with artillery upon him, followed by a daring and heroic charge at the point of the bayonet, which put him to rout, leaving eighteen pieces of cannon and more than a thousand prisoners in your hands. By an early hour on the morning of the eighteenth, you had constructed a bridge across the Big Black, and had commenced the attack upon Vicksburgh. On the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first, you continued to reconnoitre and skirmish, until you had gained a near approach to the enemy's works. On the twenty-second, in pursuance of an order from the commander of the department, you assaulted the enemy's defences in front at ten o'clock A. M., and within thirty minutes had made a lodgment and planted your colors on two of his bastions. This partial success called into exercise the highest heroism, and was only gained  by a bloody and protracted struggle. Yet it was gained, and was the first and largest success gained anywhere along the whole line of our army. For nearly eight hours, under a scorching sun and destructive fire, you firmly held your footing, and only withdrew when the enemy had largely massed their forces and concentrated their attack upon you. How and why the general assault failed, it would be useless now to explain. The Thirteenth army corps, acknowledging the good intentions of all, would scorn indulgence in weak regrets and idle criminations. According justice to all, it would only defend itself. If while the enemy was massing to crush it, assistance was asked for by a diversion at other points, or by reenforcement, it only asked what, in one case, Major-General Grant had specifically and peremptorily ordered-namely, simultaneous and persistent attack all along our lines, until the enemy's outer works should be carried; and what, in the other, by massing a strong force in time upon a weakened point, would have probably insured success. Comrades: You have done much, yet something more remains to be done. The enemy's odious defences still block your access to Vicksburgh. Treason still rules that rebellious city, and closes the Mississippi River against rightful use by the millions who inhabit its sources and the great North-West. Shall not the flag float over Vicksburgh? Shall not the great Father of Waters be opened to lawful commerce? Methinks the emphatic response of one and all of you is: “It shall be so!” Then let us rise to the level of a crowning trial! Let our common sufferings and glories, while uniting as a band of brothers, rouse us to new and surpassing efforts! Let us resolve upon success, God helping us. I join with you, comrades, in your sympathy for the wounded and sorrow for the dead. May we not trust — nay, is it not so, that history will associate the martyrs of this sacred struggle for law and order, liberty and justice, with the honored martyrs of Monmouth and Bunker Hill?
John A. McClernand, Major-General Commanding.