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Chickasaw Bayou, battle of

When Gen. W. T. Sherman came down from Memphis to engage in the siege of Vicksburg, late in 1862, with about 20,000 men and some heavy siege guns, he was joined by troops from Helena, Ark., and was met by a gunboat fleet, under Admiral Porter, [124] at the mouth of the Yazoo River, just above the city (Dec. 25). The two commanders arranged a plan for attacking Vicksburg in the rear. They went up the Yazoo to capture some batteries at Chickasaw Bayou and other points. The Yazoo sweeps round in a great bend within a few miles of Vicksburg. The range of hills on which Vicksburg stands extends to the Yazoo, about 12 miles above the city, where they terminate in Haines's Bluff.

There is a deep natural ditch extending from the Yazoo below Haines's Bluff to the Mississippi, called Chickasaw Bayou, passing near the bluffs, which were fortified, and along their bases were rifle-pits for sharp-shooters. This bayou lay in the path of Sherman's march up the bluffs, which must be carried to gain the rear of Vicksburg. His troops moved in four columns, commanded respectively by Generals Morgan, A. J. Smith, Morgan L. Smith, and F. Steele. They moved on Dec. 27, bivouacked without fire that night, and proceeded to the attack the next morning. The Nationals drove the Confederate pickets across the bayou, and everywhere the ground was so soft that causeways of logs had to be built for the passage of troops and artillery. The Nationals were seriously enfiladed by the Confederate batteries and sharp-shooters. The right of the Union troops was commanded by Gen. F. P. Blair, who led the way across the bayou over a bridge his men had built, captured two lines of rifle-pits, and fought desperately to gain the crest of the hill before him. Others followed, and a severe battle ensued. Pemberton, the Confederate chief, had arrived, and so active were the Confederates on the bluffs that the Nationals were repulsed with heavy loss. Blair lost one-third of his brigade. Darkness closed the struggle, when Sherman had lost about 2,000 men, and his antagonists only 207.

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