The siege and fall of Vicksburg.
The Southern papers publish some accounts, (the first from Southern sources.) received from Confederate officers who were paroled at Vicksburg
, of the suffering there before the surrender.
The Atlanta Intelligencer
publishes a highly interesting narrative from Col. Watkins
, who participated in the defence of the city, from which we make some extracts:
Night and day for forty-eight days, counting from the 17th of May, when Pemberton
's army commenced entering Vicksburg
, until the 4th day of July, when the place was surrendered, an incessant bombardment was kept up by the enemy, both from the gunboats in the river and the land batteries which Grant
had planted in the rear.
On several occasions the Colonel
counted the number of shells that fell in the space of fire minutes, and there were 65, or 13 a minute, constantly falling into the city from the 300 cannon that was pointed against it. During the whole of these forty eight days the men remained in the ditches with no other sheller, from the rain or the fierce rays of the sun, with the thermometer ranging at from 90 to 100, but such as a blanket afforded, and living the whole time on one fourth rations, or four ounces each of bacon, pea meal, and rice.
The severity of hunger led to the issue of the lies of the mules which had been left in the city, the most of the mules and horses having been driven out in order that the provisions of the garrison might last the longer.
The men, during this long period of suffering and anxiety, were not without hope of relief, but the hope was of that kind which being long deferred "maketh the heart sick." They well knew the importance of the place they were garrisoning and defending, and rumors would often arise which their own excited imaginations greatly magnified, that Johnston
was moving on with a large army to their relief.
At one time it would be generally current throughout the army that Johnston
had an army of 100,000 men, that Longstreet
was in that army, occupying the centre of it, as is the custom of that distinguished General, and even at times it would be imagined that the reports of friendly cannon were heard, and that Grant
and his whole army would soon be swept away as with a besom of destruction.
But no help could reach them.
To add to the horrors of the siege some of the enemy's gunners took special pains to level their pieces at the buildings which were marked by yellow flags as hospitals.
The shells, indeed spared no house in the devoted city.
Men on their knees at public workshop were killed by them, the sick were killed on their beds, and many who lay down at night to sleep, undisturbed by the report of the bursting missiles to which they had been accustomed, slept the sleep that knows no waking.
The women and children, who persisted in remaining in the city during the siege, acted in a herocia manner, never disturbing the officers with their fears and alarms, but shared in the hardships and dangers of the garrison.
A kind Providence
, however, threw his broad regis over them, and scarcely one of them perished.--One night the Colonist was wakened out of sleep by the sound of a coming shell, which, in his excited condition, he imagined was going to fall on him. He quickly hobbled out of histent, in his wounded condition, and saw pass about fifty feet over him a large two-hundred pound shell, which fell some ten feet into the ground, tearing out a hole in which a wagon might be buried, and shaking the earth for a considerable distance around.
As a general thing, however, the bursting of shells in the city did not interfere with ordinary business, and but little attention was paid to them.
Before the capitulation the miners and sappers of the enemy and those of our own army had got within ten paces of each other, and whilst they were working under ground the picks of each could be heard by the other, each striving to get his mine in readiness before the other's. The Colonel
says that when the enemy sprung his mine, which produced such disaster, in two hours more ours would have been in readiness, which would have been sprung to the great detriment of the enemy.
On the 3d of July Gen. Pemberton
determined to hold out no longer.
The food was nearly exhausted, and the soldiers had become worn out from excessive fatigue.
To cut their way out was impossible.
No help was at hand.
He therefore resolved to obtain the best terms in a capitulation, and accordingly sent a flag of truce for that purpose.
It is not necessary to publish the honorable terms which Gen. Pemberton
obtained from the enemy.
They form one of the relieving features of this otherwise wholly lamentable affair.
These terms being arranged, the men stacked their arms on the 4th.
had an opportunity after the Yankees
reached the city of conversing freely with the Federal
officers in Grant
's army.--From those he learned that the ditching and mining of the enemy had been performed exclusively by negroes, there being as many as 5,000 in that army.
, the General
who superintended the departure of our men from the city, was willing that all the negroes who chose might accompany their masters.
It was nothing but right, he said, that freemen, as he contended they were, should make their own election to go from or remain in the city; but in this determination he was overruled, and only the servants of the officers were allowed to go out, if they chose.
's negro man was offered every inducement by the Yankees
to remain with them.
Finally, on being promised, if he would remain, a plantation on the Mississippi
, after the war was over, should be given him, he replied, as any other negro would have done; "Of what use would a plantation here be to me without negroes to work it?" So he accompanied his master out of the city.
With another negro in the employ of the Yankees
conversed, and learned that, although he was in that service, his heart was not in it. He complained bitterly of the heartlessness of the Yankees
towards himself and his family, and expressed his determination to run away from them on the first opportunity that presented.
, in these conversations, had an opportunity of learning the falsity of a report that has been circulated to the effect that Grant
had sent in a flag of truce to bury the dead of the Federal
army that fell in the first assists on the city.
The flag of truce was sent out first by Gen. Pemberton
who offered the privilege to the enemy of burying his dead.
We came near overlooking a fact which the Colonel
corroborates by his testimony — that the men, much as they had suffered, were opposed to the surrender of Vicksburg
, in many cases denouncing it, or else complaining bitterly of it.