Battle of Vicksburg


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The Siege of Vicksburg

Vicksburg, SIEGE OF, a noteworthy military operation that began at the close of 1862 and ended early in July following. The Confederates had blockaded the Mississippi River by planting heavy batteries on bluffs at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. These formed connections between the Confederates on each side of that stream, and it was important to break those connections. To this end General Grant concentrated his forces near the Tallahatchee River, in northern Mississippi, where Generals Hovey and

Vicksburg Civil War


Washburne had been operating with troops which they had led from Helena, Ark. Grant had gathered a large quantity of supplies at Holley Springs, which, through carelessness or treachery, had fallen (Dec. 20, 1862) into the hands of Gen. Earl Van Dorn, and he was compelled to fall back to Grand Junction to save his army. Taking advantage of this movement, a large Confederate force under Lieut. Gen, J. C. Pemberton had been gathered at Vicksburg for the protection of that post. On the day when Grant's supplies were seized Gen. W. T. Sherman left Memphis with transports bearing guns to besiege Vicksburg. At Friar's Point they were joined by troops from Hatteras, and were met by Commodore Porter, whose fleet of gunboats was at the mouth of the Yazoo River, just above Vicksburg. The two commanders arranged a plan for attacking the city in the rear, and proceeded to attempt to execute it. The troops and boats went up the Yazoo to capture some batteries that blockaded the way, but were unsuccessful, and abandoned the project. Early in January Gen. J. A. McClernand arrived and, ranking Sherman, took the chief command, and went up the Arkansas River to attack Confederate posts. Meanwhile General Grant had arranged his army into four corps, and with it descended the river from Memphis to prosecute the siege of Vicksburg with vigor. He was soon convinced that it could not be taken by direct assault. He tried to perfect the canal begun by Williams, but failed. Then he sent a land and naval force up the Yazoo to gain the rear of Vicksburg, but was repulsed. Finally Grant sent a strong land force down the west side of the Mississippi, and Porter ran by the batteries at Vicksburg in the night (April 16, 1863) with nearly his whole fleet.

 Battle of Vicksburg


Then Grant prepared for vigorous operations in the rear of Vicksburg, on the line of the Black River. On April 27 Porter ran by the Confederate batteries at Grand Gulf, when Grant's army crossed a little below, gained a victory at Port Gibson, and calling Sherman down the west side of the Mississippi and across it to join him (May 8), the whole force pushed forward and captured Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. Then the victorious army turned westward towards Vicksburg, and, after two successful battles, swept on and closely invested the strongly fortified city in the rear (May 19), receiving their supplies from a base on the Yazoo established by Porter. For a fortnight the army had subsisted off the country through which it passed. After a brief rest Grant began the siege of Vicksburg. Sherman had taken possession of the Walnut Hills, near Chickasaw Bayou, cutting off a Confederate force at Haines's Bluff; while McClernand, advancing to the left, took position at Mount Albans, so as to cover the roads leading out of that city. Porter, with his fleet of gunboats, was lying in the Mississippi, above Vicksburg, and was preparing the way for a successful siege, which Grant began with Sherman on the right, McPherson in the centre, and McClernand on the left. Grant was holding a line about 20 miles in extent—from the Yazoo to the Mississippi at Warrenton. He prepared to storm the batteries on the day after the arrival of his troops before them. It was begun by Sherman's corps in the afternoon of May 19, Blair's division taking the lead. There had been artillery firing all the morning; now there was close work. The Nationals, after a severe struggle, were repulsed. Grant engaged Commodore Porter to assist in another assault on the 22d. All night of the 21st and 22d Porter kept six mortars playing upon the city and the works, and sent three gunboats to shell the water batteries. It was a fearful night for Vicksburg, but the next day was more fearful still. At 10 A.M. on the 22d Grant's whole line moved to the attack. As before, Blair led the van, and very soon there was a general battle. At two different points the right was repulsed. Finally McClernand, on the left, sent word that he held two captured forts. Then another charge upon the works by a part of Sherman's troops occurred, but without success. The centre, under McPherson, met with no better success, and, with heavy losses, McClernand could not hold all that he had won. Porter had joined in the fray; but this second assault was unsuccessful. The Nationals had lost about 3,000 men.

Siege at Vicksburg


Then Grant determined on a regular siege. His effective force then did not exceed 20,000 men. The beleaguered garrison had only about 15,000 effective men out of 30,000 within the lines, with short rations for only a month. Grant was soon reinforced by troops of Generals Lanman, A. J. Smith, and Kimball, which were assigned to the command of General Battle Map of the Siege of VicksburgWashburne. Then came General Herron from Missouri (June 11) with his division, and then a part of the 9th Corps, under General Parke. With these troops, his force numbered nearly 70,000 men, and, with Porter's fleet, Vicksburg was completely enclosed. Porter kept up a continual bombardment and cannonade for forty days, during which time he fired 7,000 mortar shells, and the gunboats 4,500 shells. Grant drew his lines closer and closer. He kept up a bombardment day and night. The inhabitants had taken shelter in eaves dug in the clay hills on which the city stands. In these families lived day and night, and in these children were born. Famine attacked the inhabitants, and mule meat made a savory dish. The only hope of the was in the arrival of Johnston from Jackson with a force competent to drive the Nationals away. As June wore on, Grant pressed the siege with vigor. Johnston tried to help Pemberton, but could not. Grant proceeded to mine under some of the Confederate works to blow them up. One of these, known as Fort Hill Bastion, was in front of McPherson, and on the afternoon of June 25 it was exploded with terrible effect, making a great breach, at which a fierce struggle ensued. Three days later there was another explosion, when another struggle took place.

Other mines were ready to be fired, and Grant prepared for a general assault.

Pemberton lost hope. For forty-five days he had been engaged in a brave struggle. and saw nothing but submission in the end, and on the morning of July 3 he raised a white flag. That afternoon Grant and Pemberton met and arranged terms of surrender, and at 10 A.M. the next day the vanquished brigades of the Confederates began to march out of the lines at Vicksburg as prisoners of war.

Vicksburg Civil War


At the same time there was a great National victory at GETTYSBURG ; and July 4, 1863, was the turning point in the Civil War. In the battles from Port Gibson to Vicksburg Grant lost 9,855 men, of whom 1,223 were killed. In these engagements he had made 37,000 prisoners; and the Confederates had lost, besides, 10,000 killed and wounded, with a vast number of stragglers. Two days before the surrender a Vicksburg newspaper, printed on wallpaper, ridiculed a reported assurance of Grant that he should dine in that city on July 4, saying, " Ulysses must first get into the city before he dines in it." The same paper eulogized the " luxury of mule-meat and fricasseed kitten.

Vicksburg: Fort Hill Bastion




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