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the bend and were able to command the river above and below the fort. When the investing line was thus made complete, Steele's divison occupied the right, and those of Stuart, Smith, and Osterhaus extended toward the left in in the order mentioned.
Admiral Porter with three iron clads and a fleet of light draft gunboats had accompanied the expedition to co-operate with the land forces. While the latter was making the necessary detour to surround the fort, Porter pushed forward the fleet to ascertain the range and strength of the enemy's guns. Opening within 400 yards of the works he soon demonstrated the superiority of his fire by partially silencing the hostile batteries. During the engagement the Ratler, one of the light draft boats, ran by the fort and commenced an enfilading fire, but becoining entangled among snags was compelled to return. The attack was made late in the afternoon of Saturday, and night soon coming on ended the contest. Sunday morning, the 11th of January 1863, the enemy, finding himself greatly outnumbered, had retired' to his inner defenses, where, owing to their great strength he hoped to make a successful resistance. All the federal batteries having been placed in position at 1 o'clock, a simiultaneous assault commenced by both navy and army. The fire was terrific, the rebel batteries sweeping the plain in front of the works with cannister while they hurled at the gunboats their own shot recently taken from the Blue Wing. Twice charges were made by different commands, but so destructive was the fire they were compelled to return without reaching the coveted goal. Meanwhile a tremendous concentrated fire from the surrounding federal batteries on land and water was rapidly silencing those of the fort. Their huge shells, after continual pounding at the great casemates at length affected an entrance, and, exploding within, tore the rebel artillerists into fragments. As the afternoon wore away the fire was increased till the bomb-proofs were battered to pieces and all the heavy guns were either broken or dismounted. The infantry had, in the meantime, fought its way foward and just as it was about to charge into the fort a white flag was run up and the battle ceased. At 41 o'clock the national troops took possession of the works. Seven stand of colors, 17 cannon, 5,000 prisoners, besides large numbers of other inunitions fell into the hands of the conquerors. The loss of the latter was 129 killed, 831 wounded, and 17 missing.
This signal triumph.coming after the reverses of Grant and Sherman, greatly encouraged the army and thus prepared for the arduous labors yet to be performed in the reduction of Vicksburg, the primary object of the campaign. The government became more hopeful, and its chief magistrate returned thanks to Gen. McClernand and his brave army for the important services which they had rendered the country. One fourth of the troops who fought in the battle and shared in the glory of victory were from Illinois. The commanding general, John Alexander McClernand, was born in Kentucky of Scotch parents, who while he was young, removed to Shawneetown, Illinois. Here he studied law and soon rose to distinction in the practice of his profession. His first military experience was acquired in the Black Hawk war, during which in the performance of a number of gallant actions, he evinced superior address and daring. In 1836 he was elected a member of the legislature, in which he was made commissioner and treas. urer of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. In 1838 he was tendered the office of lieutenant-governor, which he declined, not having attained the constitutional age of 30 years. He served two additional terms in the legislature, and while still a member in 1843, was elected a representative to the 28th congress. During the session, as one of the committee on public lands, he brought forward a bill donating land to aid in the completion of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. He was four times re-elected to congress. During the summer of 1850 he prepared and introduced the first draft of the famous compromise measures and the same year drafted a bill, granting land to aid in the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad. While still a member of congress, in 1861, at the instance of Gov. Yates, he took command of a volunteer force at Cairo and assisted in suppressing the contraband trade then carried on by means of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. We have already spoken of his operations at Donaldson and Shiloh. As a soldier he was vigilaut, sagacious and brave.
As a memorial of Illinois valor, one of the broken guns of the fort was sent to Gov. Yates, and is still preserved as a State relic.*
!". The following correspondence occurred in connection with its presentation : "His Ercellency Richard Yates, Governor of Ilinois :
"I have the bonor to send you a broken Parrott piece, captured by the force under my command at Arkansas Post. The piece was broken by a shot from one of the guns of my batteries. Please accept it on behalf of the noble State you so worthily represent, as an humble testimonial of the esteem and admiration of the brave men whose valor wrested it as a trophy from the enemy.
J. A. McCLERNAND, “Major-General Commanding."
“ Maj. Gen. J. A. McClernand, Vicksburg, Miss.
"DEAR SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the broken Parrot gun captured by the army under your command at Arkansas Post, and to express my acknowledgement in the name of the people therefor. It also gives me great pride and satisfaction to do so, from the fact that I regard the victory at Arkansas Post, guined under able and energetic generalship of a distinguished officer and citizen of Illinois, as second in importance and consequence only to Fort Donelson, in which that officer also prominently participated. Fort Donelson and Arkansas Post, dear general, I regard as the two great and positive victories of the war in the West. May your participation in the third be equally prominent and attended by as substantial advantages and glorious results. “With sentiments of respect and esteem, I am your most obedient servant.
RICHARD YATES, Governor."
CHAPTER LXI. 1863—ILLINOIS IN THE VICKSBURG CAMPAIGNS.
Battles of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hills and
Black River, Grierson's Raid-Siege and Capture of Vicksburg
McClernand next proposed to strike a blow at Little Rock, but Gen. Grant arriving at the fort a few days after the battle, ordered the army to Young's Point opposite the mouth of the Yazoo whither he arrived on the 29th of January, 1863. His forces, greatly strengthened by the addition of McPherson's corps from the river above, and the fleet under Commodore Porter, he was ready to resume more immediate operations for the reduction of Vicksburg. For this purpose it was necessary to get his army on the east side of the Mississippi and in the rear of the city, a feat which he found extremely difficult to perform. Five different expedients were tried, three of which were to get around the batteries on the Mississippi at Vicksburg, and two round those of the Yazoo at Haines' Bluff. The first was an attempt to complete the canal commenced by Gen. Williams, but unfortunately when nearly finished a flood in the Mississippi rendered it impracticable. The second was a canal from Millikin's Bend through a number of bayous communicating with the Tensas river, and thence to the Mississippi at New Carthage. The third was an inland passage by way of Lake Providence, the Tensas, Washita, Black and Red rivers. The 4th and most promising plan was to get from the Mississippi into the Yazoo above the batteries at Haines' Bluff through Moon Lake and the Coldwater and Tallahatchie rivers. The 5th was to effect a circuit of the Haines' Bluff batteries by way of Steels bayou, connecting with the Yazoo 7 miles above its mouth thence by Black bayou, Dear Creek and Sunflower river to the Yazoo, some 60 miles above its mouth.
Such is the remarkable hydrographical character of the region in which the army was operating, that by cutting the levees of the Mississippi, and removing obstructions from the channels of bayous, passages could be opened for the advance of the gunboats and transports along the several routes mentioned. Vast labors were expended and the whole of February and March consumed in attempts to avoid the hostile batteries by these routes, and when in two or three instances success was almost attained, some unexpected or unavoidable obstacle intervened and they were all finally abandoned. A man of less determined fibre than Grant would have been overwhelmed by the repeated failures. Defeat, however, only nerved bim for renewed exertions. When one expedient failed another was quickly substituted, and at length the city which had so long detied the approach of his army was laid under seige aud compelled to surrender. 811
The number of probable operations for its reduction was now reduced to one, that of moving the army on the west side of the river, crossing below the rebel fortifications and ascending on the Vicksburg side. The conception of this plan was easy, but its execution appalling. As a requisit gunboats and transports must descend the Mississippi in opposition to the hostile batteries to furnish facilities for crossing, and the army, when on the eastern side of the river, must cut itself off from its base of supplies and depend upon the contingency of beating the enemy in the field before another could be established. The commanding general unmoved by these perils, determined to hazard a trial. Accordingly the 13th army corps, commanded by McClernand, consisting of 4 divisions in charge of Gens. Osterhaus, A. J. Smith, Carrand Hovey, and containing the 33d, 77th, 97th, 99th, 108th and 120th Illinois infantry, portions of the 2d and 3d Illinois cavalry and the Peoria and Chicago Mercantile batteries, on the 29th of March left Milliken's Bend above Vicksburg for New Carthage below. McPherson with the 17th corps, followed as fast as the imperfect roads would permit. Vast bogs intersected with bayous were encountered, and it became necessary to construct causeways over the one and bridges over the other. Arriving at New Carthage it was found to be an island, the rebels having flooded the entire region round by cutting the adjacent levees of the Mississippi. Under these circumstances the march was continued to Grand Gulf farther down the river, where the lowest of the Vicksburg works was located.
In the meantime Porter was making preparations to execute the fearless enterprise of descending the river with a portion of the fleet. It being deemed best not to compel the crews of the boats designated for this purpose to accompany them, volunteers to man them were called for. Soon more men offered their services than could be accepted. Logan's division of the 17th corps, alone furnishing the number required. Of the 65 men furnished by the Illinois troops for this daring feat the 81st furnished 16, the 8th 14, the 45th 13, the 31st 9, the 20th 8, the 30th 4, and the 11th 1. It was arranged that 8 gunboats should proceed in single file down the river and engage the batteries, while 3 accompanying transports should pass unnoticed near the western shore. A little before midnight the boats with their lights concealed, moved like huge phantoms down the stream. Despite the attempt at concealment they were discovered and suddenly a sheet of flame, keeping pace with the advancing boats, flashed along the 8 mile of rebel batteries which lined the bank of the river. Simultaneously the fleet replied, and for miles distant the tor. tuous windings of the Mississippi echoed with the thunders of artillery. It was hoped in the general commotion the frail transports might escape unobserved, but suddenly a huge bonfire threw a glare over the waters with such brilliancy that the most minute ob. jects could be seen, and they soon became targets for the enemy's guns. From the effects of shot one of them was set on fire and soon became a mass of flame, while another was rendered unmanagable, but fortunately a gunboat towed it beyond the range of the batteries without further injury. The rest of the fleet, although exposed for an hour to an incessant fire, passed through in safety, and with the exception of one killed and two wounded, the crews
were favored with like immunity. This unexpected success in. duced Grant to order 6 more transports and 12 barges to run the blockade, and from the list of eager applicants who at once volunteered to man them in the dangerous experiment, the requisite number was chosen by lot.* With the completion of the preparations the boats started down the river, and with strange good fortune most of them got below without injury. Having now a sufficient num. ber of transports and gunboats to afford the necessary protection it was determined to effect a passage of the river at Grand Gulf. The rebels in the meantime, had erected batteries on the adjacent heights and a combined land and naval attack was planned for their reduction, Porter commenced the assault but a bombard. ment of 5 hours failing to make any serious impression, and Grant being unwilling to expose his men in an attack by land, ordered a continuance of the march to Bruinsburg, farther down the river. When night came on the gunboats again opened on the batteries, and under cover of the fire the transports, safely passed below while the land forces passed unobserved through the forest to the place selected for crossing. The next day, without farther disturbance, the army was ferried to the opposite shore, and Grant as the reward of unparalled perseverance, at length had the satisfaction of seeing it in a situation where be could effectually operate against the enemy. This result was partly due to the vigor with which it had been executed, and partly to the success with which the attention of the enemy had been drawn in a different direction. Sherman, with Blair's division, had steamed up the Yazoo, and feigning an attack, successfully diverted the attention of the rebel commander from the real object which Grant sought to accomplish at Bruinsburg.
After the passage of the river, McClernand with the 13th corps pushed forward in the direction of Port Gibson, and on the 18th of May encountered the enemy four miles from the town. The force proved to be 11,000 men under Gen. Bowen who had marched from Grand Gulf, when it became known that Grant had succeeded in crossing the river. Carr's division in advance was met by a light fire of artillery and musketry which it soon silenced. The troops rested on their arms the short remainder of the night, where at dawn the enemy was found strongly posted on a narrow ridge with impassable ravines on either side. McClernand having made a reconnoisance of the situation at an early hour, a portion of the 35th Illinois was moved to the rear of the position signalized by the night attack with orders to hold it till relieved by Gen. Osterhaus. In a few minutes their skirmishers were at the outposts of the enemy and a sharp fire of artillery and musketry ensued. Osterhaus soon marched to their relief and in a fierce struggle of an hour's duration succeeded in driving the enemy from this position. While he was thus engaged on the right Gen. Carr made an assault on the left which, after several hours' furi. ous fighting, terminated in a magnificent charge by the division of Gen Hovey. As the result, the enemy was driven back several miles and lost one stand of colors, two guns and 400 prisoners.
• One incident will illustrate the spirit which animated the troops. A small boy whom the fates had favored with a successful number, was offered $100 for his privi. lege which he refused to accept and afterwards lived to tell of the part he performed in the dangerous feat.