صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]
[merged small][graphic]

The situation of the forces at this time was as follows: Gen. Morgan was in position on the south side of the Chickasaw; near its angle, at the base of the bluffs, and on his immediate right, was Gen. Blair's brigade; Gen. M. L. Smith's division, under Gen. Stuart, was on the right centre, and Gen. A. J. Smith was moving up to the extreme right. Gen. Steele was coming up on the left to act as a reserve to Gen. Morgan.

At daylight on the 29th, the Confederate batteries began to (ire upon Gen. Morgan's position, and continued it for an hour, although with little effect. With several cessations the cannonade was kept up during the forenoon. Occasionally engagements of infantry, as the opposing regiments came in reach of each other, took place. Several detachments were throwing bridges across the bayou, for the purpose of making an assault on the bluffs. The brigade of Gen. Blair had crossed the bayou before it turned along the bluffs, and was in position at the front of the hill, with a small abatis and a deep ditch between it and the point it designed to assail. On his right, at the point where the bayou makes its angle, was Gen. Morgan. Next to him was Gen. Stuart, and on the extreme right was Gen. A.J. Smith, preparing to throw a bridge across.

No order had been issued by Gen. Sherman appointing an hour for the assault. But by order of Gen. Morgan, Gen. Blair advanced, and Gen. Thayer, of Gen. Steele's brigade, came up for his support. The difficulties of crossing the ditch, and passing the abatis, were such, that the line of Gen. Blair was thrown into some disorder, which, however, it soon recovered, and moved forward upon the Confederate works. The first movement was over a sloping plateau, raked by a direct and enfilading fire from heavy artillery, and swept by a storm

of bullets from the rifle pits. Undauntedly the brigade passed on, and in a few moments drove the enemy from their first range of rifle pits, and took full possession of them. Halting for a moment, the brigade pushed forward and took possession of the second line of rifle pits about two hundred yards distant. The batteries were above this line, and their fire still continued. A prompt and powerful support was necessary 10 make the attempt to capture them.

Simultaneously with the advance of Gen. Blair, an order was given to Gen. Thayer, of Gen. Steele's division, to go forward with his brigade. He crossed the bayou by the same bridge as Gen. Blair, and, entered the abalis at the same point, and deflecting to the right, came out upon the sloping plateau, about two hundred yards to the right of Gen. Blair, and at the same time. As he reached tho rifle pits, with a heavy loss, he perceived that only one regiment, the Fourth Iowa, Col. 'Williamson, had followed him. After his movement commenced, the second regiment of his brigade had been sent to the right of Gen. Morgan as a support. The other regiments had followed this one. Notice of this change of the march of the second regiment, although sent, had failed to reach Gen. Thayer. With little hope of success, he bravely pushed forward into the second line of rifle pits of the enemy on the right of Gen. Blair. Here, leaving the regiment to hold the position, he hurried back for reinforcements. Meanwhile, Gen. Blair, vahily waiting for support, descended in person to persuade the advance of more troops. Be, and Gen. Thayer, both failed in their efforts, and were obliged to order their commands to retire.

While Gen. Blair was urging the advance of moro troops, his brigade fought with desperation to win the way to the top of the crest. Some fifty yards above the second lino of rifle pits was a cluster of small willows. Thither many of the enemy, driven from the rifle pits, had fled. They were promptly' pursued by tho Thirteenth Illinois, and driven out by a handto-hand contest. They were supported at once by the other regiments of tho brigade, but the position was exposed to a hot fire of the enemy's batteries. Meantime, a Confederate infantry force was concentrated to attack them, and after a sharp struggle the latter were forced back to the second line of rifle pits, when Gen. Pdair's order to retire Wes received. The division of Gen. Morgan was not brought over tho bayou in time to engage in the assault. Tho division of Gen. Stuart encountered so much difficulty in constructing their bridges over the bayou, under a hot fire of tho enemy, that only one regiment finally crossed over. Tho bridge was then commanded by a flanking firo of the enemy, which prevented others from crossing. The regiment which had crossed returned after dark. A notice of the intended movement on the left had not been given to tho division commanders on the right of Gen. Morgan. The division of Gen. Smiih was so near to Vicksburg, and the streng;h of the enemy before him so great, that an assault would have been fruitless. Several sharp encounters, however, took place.

The real assault on the left was inado by about three thousand men, and the loss was about eight hundred.

As soon as the assault on tho left was concluded, Gen. Sherman determined to make another. A brigade, under tho command of Gen. Ilovey, was advanced to Gen. Blair's position at tho mouth of tho bayou, which was to assault the hill, supported by Gen. Morgan and the brigades of Gen*. Blair and Thayer. The attack, however, was not made during the remainder of the day; and tho next morning developed two new batteries of the enemy in position, and a portion of a new line of ritlo pits. Firing was, however, kept up by both sides during that day; and on Wednesday, tho 31st, a flag of truce was sent in by Gen. Sherman, and the dead were buried.

Afterward, on the 31st, arrangements wero made to attack Haines's Bluff, which was supposed to be defended by a small force. Tho design, as formed between Admiral Porter and Gen. Sherman, was for a combined naval and land assault on the extreme Confederate right, with a view.of getting a position on tho bluffs, in the expectation that by so doing they would secure the key to tho Confederate position, and compel tho enemy to withdraw from tho entire range of bluffs and form' a new lino at Vicksburg. It was planned to land tho division of Gen. Stoelo out of range of the guns of tho bluffs, and that they should immediately storm and carry tho position. At the samo time, the gunboats were to make an attack. Tho troops were made ready to embark at 2 o'clock A. M. of tho next day, but a dense fog having settled on the river prevented their departure. The purposo evidently having become known to the enemy, it was finally given up.

The unexpected strength of the position of the enemy being manifest, and the failure of tho forces under Gen. Grant to attack in the rear while Gen. Sherman made tho attack in front, entirely disconcerted the original plan upon which tho movement of Gen. Sherman was mado. Tire los3 of his communications by Gen. Grant, and the necessity for him to fall back, prevented this simultaneous attack on the front and rear of Vicksburg, and probably its capture at this time. It was supposed that the first assault under Gen. Sherman might have been successful if properly supported, so far as related to gaining the crest of the bluffs, although it was not thought that his force could have hold it. Gen. Sherman, therefore, resolved to withdraw, and on Thursday night and Friday morning, January 2d, the troops wore embarked and moved down to the mouth of the Yazoo river. The cnliro loss suffered in this expedition was 101 killed, 082 wounded, and 7Jti missing. Among tho former was Lieut. Erwin, in command of a gunboat. Gen.

McClernand, who had been ordered to proceed from Cairo, was at the mouth of tho Yazoo on the arrival of Gen. Sherman. Tho former officer then took the command, and ordered the forces to Milliken's Bend, about twelve miles up the river.

On the 4th of January, Gen. Sherman issued the following order:

Iieadqcautecs Right Wino Army or Tennessee, 1

Steamer I-'okest Queen. Milliken's Bend, >

January 4l/t, ls&J. \

Pursuant to the terms of General Order >"o. 1, made this day by General McClernand, the title of our army ceases to exist, and constitutes in the future the Army of the Mississippi, composed of two "army corps; " one to be commanded by General G. W. Morgan, and the other by myself. In relinquishing the command of the Army of the Tennessee, and restricting my authority to my own corps, I desire to express to all cummanders, to soldiers and officers recently operating before Vicksburg, my hearty thanks for "the zeal, alacrity, and courage manifested by theui ou all occasions. A\"u failed in accomplishing one great purpose of our movement—the capture oi1 Vicksburg; but we were part of a whole. Ours was but part of a combined movement in which others were .to assist. We were on time; unforeseen contingencies must have delayed the others. We have destroyed the Shreveport road, we have attacked the defences of Vicksburg, and pushed the attack as far as prudence would justify, and having found it too strong for our single column, we have drawn olf in good order and good spirits, ready for any new move. A new commander is now here to lead you. lie is chosen by the President of tho United States, who is charged by the Constitution to maintain and defend it, and he has the undoubted right to select his own agents. I know that all good officers and soldiers will give him the same hearty support and cheerful obedience thev have hitherto given me. There are honors enough in reserve for all, and work enough too. Let each do his appropriate part, and our nation must in the end emerge from the dire conflict purified and ennobled by the fires which now test its strength aud purity. AH officers of the general staff not attached to my person will hereafter report in person and by letter to Major-General McClernand, commanding the Army of the Mississippi, on board the steamer Tigress at our rendezvous at Haines's Landing and at Montgomery Point. By order of

Major-Gcncral W. T. SHERMAN. J. II. Hammond, Assistant Adjutant-Geucral.

Subsequently, on tho 8th, Gen. Peniberton, who had fallen back from beforo Gen. Grant, and had taken command at Vicksburg, issued the following address to his troops:

Keadquap.ters Department Of Mississippi And I Louisiana, VicK'jBUua, January Sth. \ The Lieut.-General commanding this department of the army desires to express to its troops his hi^h appreciation of their gallant demeanor in the defence of this important position. All praise is due them, not alone for so bravely repulsing the renewed assaults of an enemy vastly superior in numbcis, but especially for the cheerful and patient endurance with which they have submitted to the hardships and exposures incident to ten successive days and nights of watchfulness in trenches, rendered imperatively necessary by the close proximity of the opposing armies, while ail have performed their duties with benefit to their country and honor to themselves. Still, as must ever be the case in war, fortune has favored unequally those who by her favor held the posts of honor, and by their own resolute courage availed themselves of their opportunity; to thenf special thanks are due. It will be a proud and agreeable duty of the Lieutcuaut-Gcnoral

[ocr errors]

commanding to claim for them from their country the distinction and honor thev so justly deserve. (Signed) J. C. PEMBERTON,

Lieutenant-General Commanding.

At tho time of tho arrival of Gen. McClernand. a plan had been agreed upon between Gen. Sherman and Rear-Admiral Porter to attack Arkansas Post. The reasons for making this attack were that there was time to do it while* Gen. Grant was moving his army to Memphis; the blow would be entirely unexpected by the enemy; the Federal forces wero amply sufficient to make a victory certain, ■which would be valuable in restoring tho spirit of the troops disheartened by their recent failure, which was not understood in its true light. On the other baud, the Confederate force up the Arkansas river bad shown considerable activity by sallies in which they had captured two steamers bearing supplies to the army below.

Gen. McClernand approving of the enterprise, the forces moved up the "Mississippi to Montgomery Point, opposite tho mouth of White river.

"White river, one of the principal streams in Arkansas, rises a few miles cast of F:iyctteville, and flows in a northeasterly direction into Missouri about one hundred miles. It then returns into Arkansas, and pursues a southeasterly course, and enters the Mississippi about fifteen miles above tho mouth of the Arkansas. It is navigable by steamboats three hundred and fifty miles.

On Friday, Jan. 9th, the ironclads Louisville, Do Kalb, and Cincinnati, with all the light-draft gunboats, moved up the White river, followed by the fleet of transports. After'ascending the White river about fifteen miles, the fleet passed through a cut-off to the left, eiglit miles in length, into the Arkansas river. Thus the White river empties by one channel into the Mississippi, and by another into the Arkansas, when it has a higher stago of water than the Arkansas. When the Arkansas is higher than the White river, one of the Arkansas currents comes through tho cutoff and out by the White river into tho Mississippi.

It was about 11 o'clock A. M. when the fleet passed into the Arkansas. This is, next to the Missouri, the longest affluent of the Mississippi river. It rises near the Rocky mountains, and flows through nearly tho centre of the State of Arkansas, exceeding two thousand miles in length, and navigable, during nine months of the year, about eight hundred miles from its month.

About half past four in the afternoon, the fleet moved to the shore, and preparations were made to land three miles below tho fort. The artillery and wagons wero brought on shore during the evening and night, and in the morning tho troops were landed and pi.irshalled in the fields bordering on tho north lank. The attack, however, was begun by tho gunboats.

The Arkansas river, in its descent toward the Mississippi, makes here a sharp elbow by flowing north, theft turning abruptly to the east, and after a short distance turning again as abruptly to tho south. On the left bank, at. the point where the river turns to tho cast, the fort of Arkansas Post was located. Its guns commanded the river as it stretched to tho cast, and even after the turn to the south.

The advance of the troops was along tho outside bank of this curve of the river, and it was expected tho attack on the fort would bo made during the day, but at sundown they were not iit position. The division of Gen. Stuart, by order of Gen. Sherman, had moved along the bank, passing two rows of rifle pits which had been abandoned, and reached tho point for an attack, but the corps of Gen. Morgan had not then deployed on the left. Orders wero then issued by Gen. McClernand for tho troops to get into position during the night, so as to make an attack in the morning. Tho force of Gen. Sherman worked its way through the forest and marsh round to the right, so as to invest the fort, while a brigado was thrown across the river to prevent the arrival down cf reinforcements to the rebels.

The fort, which was called " Fort Ilindman," was a regular square bastioncd work, one hundred yards each exterior side, with a deep ditch about fifteen feet wide, and a parapet eighteen feet high. It was armed with twelve guns, two of which were eight inch and one nino inch. The number of troops which it contained was about five thousand, under tho command of Brig.-Gcn. Churchill.

During the evening of tho 10th, tho fort was bombarded by tho ironclads Cincinnati, Lient.-Commander Geo. L. Bache; Do Kalb, Lieut.-Com. John II. Walker, Louisville. LieutCom. R. L. Owen, all under the orders of Rear-Admiral Porter. The bombardment continued over a half hour, and the firing was active on both sides. Tho distance of the boats from the fort was about four hundred yards.

About noon on the 11th, the fleet was notified, by order of Gen. McClernand, that the army was ready, and a joint attack was made. The gunboats took a position within about three hundred yards of the fort and opened fire. The fort had opened upon them as soon as they came in sight. At the same time a battery of Gen. Sherman's began to fire, and tho troops wrerc advanced to attack. It was not long before the heavy guns of the fort were silenced by the gunboats, but tho action on the part of tho military grew more severe until four o'clock, when the enemy were so far overcome as to raise the white flag. A rush was immediately made, both by the land troops and naval force, to occupy the works, and the surrender was made complete. The lesi of Gen. McClernand was about six hundred, of whom one hundred and twenty were killed. The Confederate loss was less, owing to tho shelter of their troops. About sixty-five were

[graphic]

killed and eighty-three wounded. The ironclads were struck by many balls. A shot passed through a porthole of the Do Jialb and exploded, killing two and wounding fifteen. Two shells entered portholes of the Louisville and exploded, killing one and wounding ten, two mortally. The other boats which were engaged 'escaped without serious injury. Seven thousand prisoners, eight thousand stand of arms, twenty cannon, and a large amount of ordnance and commissary stores were captured.

On tho 15th, an expedition in light-draft steamers, under the command of Gen. Gorman and Lieut.-Oom. J. G. Walker, proceeded up the White river and captured the towns of Des Arc and Duval's Bluff. Tho former is situated in Prairie county, Arkansas, and was once a thriving commercial town. It is situated on the White river, and is about fifty miles north east of Little Rock, the capital of the State. Duval's Bluff, a little below Des Arc on the White river, was the station of a Confederate camp, and an earthwork fort. It is an elevated position. The expedition returned to Napoleon on the 19th. Some prisoners and a few guns were captured by the expedition. St. Charles, a village on tho Arkansas river, a short distance above Arkansas Post, was also captured by a force sent by Gen. McClernand.

The next two days after the engagement at Fort Hindman were devoted to the care of the wounded and the burial of the dead. On Thursday, the 15th, the corps of Gen. Slierman, which had embarked during tho previous night, proceeded down the Arkansas river to Xapoleon, at its mouth. The riflo pits were levelled, the fort completely blown up and destroyed, and a hundred wagons which had been captured were burned. On the 18th, Gen. McClernand embarked with the remainder of tho troops and arrived at Napoleon.

Meanwhile Gen. Grant, leaving Memphis in a swift steamer, met Admiral Porter at the cutoff up the White river, on tho 18th, and thence proceeded to Napoleon, where future movements were arranged in consultations with Gens. McClernand, Sherman, and others. On the same day he returned to Memphis.

Orders were immediately issued by Gen. McClernand to move down the river, and at eight o'clock on the next morning, the 19th, the sigual for departure was given. Shortly afterward all the transports were on the way. A severe storm prevailed, and the fleet camo to at the foot of Ozark Island until it had partially subsided. It then moved to Chicot's Bend, where the principal portion were moored for the night. On the next day, the fleet moved down to Milesia, and by two o'clock of tho following day, the 21st, it arrived at Young's Point, its place of destination. A small force was immediately landed, to reconnoitre the country. Young's Point is on tho western side of tho

Mississippi river, about nine miles above Vicksbnrg, and nearly opposite tho mouth of the Yazoo river.

On the 22d, the troops were landed and posted a little farther down the river, so as to defend the line of a canal which had been commenced a year previous, across the peninsula formed by a curve of the river, first to tho north and then to the south. The purpose of this canal had been to afford a passago for the transports up or down the river, beyond the reach of the batteries at Vicksburg. A little below tho extreme point of the peninsula, and on the opposite side of the Mississippi, is Vicksburg.

Meantime the army of Gen. Grant was moved to Memphis, thence to be transported to Young's Point. On the 20th, Gen. McArthur left Memphis, on fourteen transports, with his corps. He had been preceded by other bodies of troops, making at that time one hundred and twenty-five transports with troops and stores which had left. The forces of Gen. Grant consisted of the veteran soldiers of the West. The naval force was also greatly increased by the addition of several ironclads, as the Chillicothe, Indianola, Lafayette, Eastport, and a number of other gunboats.

On tho 2d of February, Gen. Grant arrived at Young's Point and assumed the command. The divisions of the Army of Tennessee had also reached there, excepting the ono commanded by Gen. Logan, and excepting tho troops occupying tho posts in Tennessee.

The attack on Vicksburg, from up the river, had demonstrated tho strength of its defensive works on tho north, and convinced Gen. Grant that they were too strong to bo carried without a very heavy loss. Tho first step for him to accomplish, therefore, was tho transportation of his army below the city, in order to make an attack from tho south. The passago by the river was too hazardous to be attempted. The formidable batteries on tho river front at Vicksburg were capable of destroying all tho transports. Work was therefore recommenced on the canal across the peninsula, on tho western side of the river, which had been located by Brig.-Gen. Williams at the first attempt to capture the city. This canal had been improperly located, its upper terminus being in an eddy, and the lower terminus being exposed to the enemy's guns; nevertheless it was thought that it would bo completed sooner than a new one could be constructed. While this work was in progress, the river continued to rise rapidly, and great labor was required to keep tho water out of the canal, and also out of tho camps of the laborers and soldiers. In addition, tho rain was incessant, and the magnitude of the work was, from these causes, grealy increased. The earth taken out of the excavation was placed on the west side, and thus formed an embankment or lovco, which it was supposed would prevent the water from flooding tho country on that

« السابقةمتابعة »