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XIV.

OPERATIONS AGAINST VICKSBURG.

almost djoining trichest and America, see having sissippi,

VICKSBURG, on the lower Missis- 1 Jefferson Davis, in a speech at Jacksippi, about midway between Cairo son, having in 1862 pronounced it and its mouth, was the natural cen- indispensable to the Confederacy that ter and chief citadel of the Slave- the control of the Mississippi should holders' Confederacy. Located on an not be surrendered to Federal power almost unique ridge of high, rolling fresh preparations to “rëpossess” land adjoining the great river, sur- it were early set on foot among the rounded by the richest and best cul- Union commanders above. Gen. tivated Cotton region in America, Grant's department of West Tenneswhereof the slave population con- see having been so enlarged as to siderably outnumbered the free, it include Mississippi, he at once comhad early devoted itself, heart and menced preparations for an advance; soul, to the Rebel cause. Its natural transferring, soon after, his headstrength and importance, as com- quarters from Jackson to Lagrange; manding the navigation of the great whence he pushed out* Gen. Mcartery of the South-west, were early Pherson, with 10,000 infantry, and appreciated; and it was so fortified 1,500 cavalry, under Col. Lee, to and garrisoned as to repel-as we Lamar, driving back the Rebel cavhave seen?—the efforts of our fleets alry. At length, all things being and expeditions, which, after the fall ready, Grant impelled a movement of New Orleans and that of Mem- of his army down the great Southphis, assailed it from below and from ern Railroad from Grand Junction above respectively and conjointly. through Holly Springs to Oxford; Being the chief outlet for the surplus our cavalry advance, 2,000 strong, products of the State of Mississippi, being pushed forward to Coffeeville, connected with Jackson, its capital, where it was suddenly confronted and 44 miles east, by a railroad, and thus attacked by Van Dorn, with a supewith all the railroads which traverse rior infantry force, by whom it was the State, as also with the Washita beaten back three miles, with a loss Valley, in northern Louisiana, by a of 100 men.. railroad to Monroe, while the Yazoo Grant was, with his main body, brought to its doors the commerce of still at Oxford, preparing to move on another rich and capacious valley, to Jackson and Vicksburg, when Vicksburg, with 4,591 inhabitants in | Van Dorn struck' a damaging blow 1860, was flourishing signally and at his communications. The railroad growing rapidly until plunged head- having by this time been repaired long into the vortex of Rebellion and and operated to Holly Springs, that Civil War.

village had been made our temporary Both parties to the struggle hav- dépôt of arms, provisions, and muniing early recognized its importance tions, which had here been accumu

See pages 57 and 101. ? Oct. 16, 1862. 3 Nov. 4. Nov. 8. o Nov. 28. Dec. 5. ? Dec. 20.

VAN DORN CAPTURES HOLLY SPRINGS.

287

lated, while the railroad farther south and paroled 1,800 men and 150 offiwas being repaired, to such an extent cers; but this must include the sick that they were estimated by the ene- and wounded whom they found in my as worth at least $4,000,000. The the hospital. Two locomotives and post was in charge of Col. R. C. Mur- 40 or 50 cars were among the propphy, 8th Wisconsin, who had over erty destroyed; the Rebels coming 1,000 men under his command; while prepared with cans of spirits of turbales of cotton and barrels of flour pentine to hasten the conflagration: by thousands proffered the readiest the burning arsenal blowing up, at 3 means of barricading its streets and P. M., with a concussion which shatkeeping out ten times his force, until tered several buildings, while 20 men it could be reduced by heavy guns were wounded by flying balls and and regular approaches, or at least shell. The Rebels left at 5, after a consumed by volleys of shells. stay of ten hours, which they had

Grant had warned Murphy of his improved to the utmost: thence prodanger the night before, and did not ceeding to assail, in rapid succesimagine his capture a possibility; but sion, Coldwater, Davis's Mill, Midno preparation had been made for dleburg, and Bolivar, farther north; resistance, no street barricaded; not but, though the defenders of each even our men posted to resist an as- were fewer than Murphy might have sault; when, at daybreak, Van Dorn rallied to his aid at Holly Springs, burst into the town with his wild each was firmly held, and the raiders cavalry, captured the imbecile or easily driven off. Murphy, it need traitorous wretch who should have hardly be added, was dismissed from defended it, and burned all but the the service in a stinging order by little plunder his men were able to Gen. Grant-said order to take efcarry off, including a large hospital fect from Dec, 20th, the date of his full of our sick and wounded soldiers, cowardly and disgraceful conduct." which his Adjutant had promised to Grant had seasonably dispatched spare. Our cavalry (2d Illinois) re- 4,000 men by rail to the relief of fused to surrender, and cut their way Holly Springs--or rather, to guard out by a resolute charge, in which against the possibility of its capture, they lost but 7 men, disabling 30 so vital was its importance; but they Rebels. Murphy filled up the meas- were stopped midway by some obure of his infamy by accepting pa-struction on the track, and only arroles, with his men; so as to prevent rived two hours after the enemy had their recapture and relieve the ene-| departed. my of the trouble of guarding them. Thus, by the baseness of one misThe Rebels claim to have captured creant, were not only 2,000 men and 8 Richmond Dispatch, Jan. 15, 1863.

mass of excited, frantic, frightened human beThe enraptured writer elsewhere says:

ings--presented an indescribable picture, adapt"The scene was wild, exciting, tumultuous.

ed to the pencil of Hogarth." .. Yankees running; tents burning; torches flam

And again : ing; Confederates shouting; guns popping; sa

“The ladies rushed out from the houses, wild bers clanking; Abolitionists begging for mercy ; | with joy, crying out: "There's some at the "Rebels' shouting exultingly: women, en disħa. Fair Grounds: chase them! kill them! for God's bille, clapping their hands, frantic with joy, cry- | sake! ing, 'Kill them! kill them!'-a heterogeneous ! Dated Holly Springs, Jan. 8.

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this was led to sist him.man's army, The West, the

several millions' worth of property | defenses had been transformed into sacrificed, but the fair promise of an abatis, covering rifle-pits. Unknown important expedition utterly blight- to Sherman, Grant's recoil from Oxed. By the loss of his stores and ford had liberated the Rebel army trains, Grant was completely para- previously confronting him; which lyzed, and compelled to fall back to had forthwith been apprised" of the Grand Junction: thence moving cloud gathering on the Mississippi. westward to Memphis, so as to de- Gen. Pemberton, who was in chief scend by the river to Vicksburg. command at Grenada, had at once

faced about; and, three days later, Gens. A. P. Hovey and C. C. Wash- having definite advices that Sherburne, with some 3,000 men, had man's gunboats had reached the crossed the Mississippi from Helena mouth of the Yazoo, he began to simultaneously with Grant's advance; send his men southward by rail; foltaking post near the head of Yazoo lowing himself next day. Thus, exPass, capturing a Rebel camp, and peditious as were Sherman's movemoving down the Coldwater and ments, most of the Rebel forces in Tallahatchie rivers, with intent to all that region, except Van Dorn rëenforce Grant; but this was now and his cavalry, were on hand to refrustrated, and their force recalled to sist him. the Mississippi.

| Sherman's army was uniquely The day after the Holly Springs Western; and, with the West, the disaster, Gen. W. T. Sherman had rëopening of the Mississippi was an left Mernphis with the Right Wing absorbing passion. It was brave, of the “Army of the Tennessee”- well officered, and ably commanded ; some 30,000 strong-on boats which while Com. Porter's gunboats were passed down the Mississippi and. 12 ready to render it every assistance miles. up the Yazoo to Johnston's that gunboats could ; it encountered Landing, where the troops were de- none of those unforeseen, fortuitous barked," and a general assault was mischances, against which even Gemade next day on the well-manned nius is impotent, and Valor fruitless; fortifications and batteries which de- it fought superbly, and piled the fended Vicksburg on the north. The earth with its dead and wounded ; ground between the Yazoo and the yet it failed, simply because such precipitous bluffs whereon the Rebels defenses as it was required to assail were fortified, is agreeably (to al- are, when fairly armed and manned, ligators) diversified by “swamps,' absolutely impregnable to simple as

sloughs,' 'lagoons,' and 'bayous;" sault. They may be overcome by and is in the main a profound mire, regular approaches; they may be resting on quicksand. "Chickasaw mastered by the surprise of some un· Bayou,' connecting the two rivers, is guarded but vital point; they must its most salient feature; but much yield at last to famine, if closely and of it had been a cedar swamp, or persistently invested; but to hurl boggy thicket, whereof so much as column after column of infantry upon lay directly in front of the Rebel them is simple, useless slaughter. 10 Nov. 20. Il Dec. 26.

22 Dec. 21.

SHERMAN APPROACHES THE YAZOO BLUFFS.

289

Yet this nowise impeaches the gen- reconnoitered, and found even more eralship of Sherman, who could not difficult than rumor had made them. tell what they were, nor who were Chickasaw bayou was conclusively behind them, until he had given ascertained to be passable but at two them a trial.

points-one a narrow levee; the Let us condense the painful de- other a sand-bar-each completely tails :

commanded by the enemy's sharpGen. Sherman was quite aware of shooters, who were thoroughly the natural strength of the Rebel line covered by their rifle-pits and other of defense, and that the labor of defenses; while batteries, trenches, thousands of slaves had for months and rifle-pits rose, tier above tier, up been devoted to its increase, by the the steep bluffs beyond, which were digging of trenches and rifle-pits, the crowned by still heavier batteries. planting of batteries, felling of trees And Gen. Steele, whose division, exfor abatis, &c., &c. But, he rea- cept Blair's brigade, had been desoned, that line is at least 15 miles barked above the junction of the long, from Vicksburg to Haines's bayou with the Yazoo and the Bluff; there are but about 15,000 cypress swamp and slough beyond, men behind it, which is but 1,000 to on advancing next day,found his the mile; and it must be that a se- progress barred by an impassable ries of vigorous attacks will develop swamp, traversed only by a long some point whereon an instant and corduroy causeway, so thoroughly overwhelming superiority of num- swept and enfiladed by Rebel batbers can be made to tell. And so it teries and rifle-pits that he could would, had not the bayous, lagoons, hardly hope to take across it half and swamps—but more especially the men who made the attempt; Chickasaw bayou-so protected the which he properly declined, and was entire Rebel front that there were justified by Sherman in so doing. but four points at which it could Meantime, Gen. Geo. W. Morgan's be reached from the Yazoo; and division had advanced, under cover these were so covered and enfi- of a dense fog and the fire of its laded by hostile batteries, rifle-pits, artillery, against the center of the &c., that approach was all but cer- Rebel defenses: reaching the bank of tain destruction. The knowledge of the bayou where it runs nearest to this impregnability was one of the the bluffs, whereby its progress was costly lessons of the war.

completely arrested; but it held its During the 26th and 27th, our men ground through the ensuing night. were debarked without resistance, Gen. Morgan L. Smith's division on the south bank of the Yazoo; simultaneously advanced over less and, being formed in four columns, favorable ground, considerably to the gradually pushed forward, driving right; its leader being disabled beback the enemy's pickets, toward the fore noon by a sharp-shooter's bullet frowning bluffs southward. During through his hip, while reconnoiterthe ensuing night, the ground and ing; when his command devolved obstacles in our front were carefully on Gen. David Stuart. A narrow

13 Dec. 28. VOL. II.-19

complet through the Smit

VAS

Why

AMERICAN CONFLICT. sand-spit crossed the bayou in front enemy_ordered a general advance of this division; but it was so swept and assault. and enfiladed by Rebel batteries and Morgan, being well forward, was rifle-pits, while a difficult abatis for- expected to cross the bayou first, and bade egress therefrom on the enemy's carry the batteries and heights diside, that to attempt its passage was rectly before him; but it was noon certain destruction. Nevertheless, before he was ready; and, by this Stuart made his dispositions, and was time, Frank Blair's and Thayer's ready to tempt the desperate hazard brigades of Steele's division were fully so soon as Morgan should do likewise. abreast of him and ready to go in;

Still farther to the right was A. J. Steele's remaining (Hovey's) brigade Smith's division, whereof Burbridge's being close behind them. brigade arrived about noon on the Blair's brigade had been debarked 27th; having been dispatched" from between Morgan's and M. L. Smith's Milliken's Bend by Sherman to divisions; but, in advancing, it had break up the (uncompleted) Vicks- obliqued to the left, crossing the burg and Shreveport Railroad at the track of Morgan's division, detachTensas river, burn several long ing, by order, two regiments to supbridges and trestles, and destroy the port his batteries; working its way cotton, corn, &c., there held for the to the extreme front of Morgan's left, Confederacy-an order which it had and crossing the Chickasaw bayou in thoroughly obeyed. It was now Steele's van, where both banks were pushed forward to the bayou, with covered by tangled abatis, and where instructions to cannonade the Rebel the bayou presents a quicksand bed defenses opposite, while its infantry 300 feet wide, containing water 15 should hastily construct rafts and feet wide by 3 deep. Through this, cross; A. J. Smith's 2d (Landrum's) Blair led his brigade fairly across, brigade holding a key position to the leaving his horse floundering in the right and rear, having its pickets quicksand, while he carried two lines pushed forward into the abatis in of rifle-pits beyond, under å deluge front, with Vicksburg in plain view of shot and shell from front and on its right.

flanks, which struck down a third of During the ensuing night, Steele's his command; among them Col. T. division was rëembarked and brought C. Fletcher, 16 31st Missouri, who, around to the right of the junction being wounded, fell into the hands of the bayou with the Yazoo, so as to of the enemy; while his Lt.-Col., connect closely with Morgan's left; Simpson, was also wounded, and his and, all being in readiness, Sherman Major, Jaensen, was killed. Lt. Col.

-having heard nothing as yet of the Dister, 58th Ohio, was also killed Holly Springs disaster, though disap- here. Col. J. B. Wyman, 13th pointed at the lack of cooperation, or Illinois, had fallen the day before. even of tidings, from Grant, being De Courcy's brigade of Morgan's aware that the Rebels in his front division charged on Blair's right; were being constantly strengthened, while Thayer, with the 4th Iowa and that time was on the side of his his other regiments having been 14 Dec, 21-22.

15 Since chosen Governor of Missouri.

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