Part 6 out of 16

abandoned railroad and river were sent to the front.

On the 29th of January I arrived at Young's Point and assumed
command the following day. General McClernand took exception in
a most characteristic way--for him. His correspondence with me
on the subject was more in the nature of a reprimand than a
protest. It was highly insubordinate, but I overlooked it, as I
believed, for the good of the service. General McClernand was a
politician of very considerable prominence in his State; he was a
member of Congress when the secession war broke out; he belonged
to that political party which furnished all the opposition there
was to a vigorous prosecution of the war for saving the Union;
there was no delay in his declaring himself for the Union at all
hazards, and there was no uncertain sound in his declaration of
where he stood in the contest before the country. He also gave
up his seat in Congress to take the field in defence of the
principles he had proclaimed.

The real work of the campaign and siege of Vicksburg now
began. The problem was to secure a footing upon dry ground on
the east side of the river from which the troops could operate
against Vicksburg. The Mississippi River, from Cairo south,
runs through a rich alluvial valley of many miles in width,
bound on the east by land running from eighty up to two or more
hundred feet above the river. On the west side the highest
land, except in a few places, is but little above the highest
water. Through this valley the river meanders in the most
tortuous way, varying in direction to all points of the
compass. At places it runs to the very foot of the bluffs.
After leaving Memphis, there are no such highlands coming to the
water's edge on the east shore until Vicksburg is reached.

The intervening land is cut up by bayous filled from the river
in high water--many of them navigable for steamers. All of them
would be, except for overhanging trees, narrowness and tortuous
course, making it impossible to turn the bends with vessels of
any considerable length. Marching across this country in the
face of an enemy was impossible; navigating it proved equally
impracticable. The strategical way according to the rule,
therefore, would have been to go back to Memphis; establish that
as a base of supplies; fortify it so that the storehouses could
be held by a small garrison, and move from there along the line
of railroad, repairing as we advanced, to the Yallabusha, or to
Jackson, Mississippi. At this time the North had become very
much discouraged. Many strong Union men believed that the war
must prove a failure. The elections of 1862 had gone against
the party which was for the prosecution of the war to save the
Union if it took the last man and the last dollar. Voluntary
enlistments had ceased throughout the greater part of the North,
and the draft had been resorted to to fill up our ranks. It was
my judgment at the time that to make a backward movement as long
as that from Vicksburg to Memphis, would be interpreted, by many
of those yet full of hope for the preservation of the Union, as
a defeat, and that the draft would be resisted, desertions ensue
and the power to capture and punish deserters lost. There was
nothing left to be done but to go FORWARD TO A DECISIVE
VICTORY. This was in my mind from the moment I took command in
person at Young's Point.

The winter of 1862-3 was a noted one for continuous high water
in the Mississippi and for heavy rains along the lower river. To
get dry land, or rather land above the water, to encamp the
troops upon, took many miles of river front. We had to occupy
the levees and the ground immediately behind. This was so
limited that one corps, the 17th, under General McPherson, was
at Lake Providence, seventy miles above Vicksburg.

It was in January the troops took their position opposite
Vicksburg. The water was very high and the rains were
incessant. There seemed no possibility of a land movement
before the end of March or later, and it would not do to lie
idle all this time. The effect would be demoralizing to the
troops and injurious to their health. Friends in the North
would have grown more and more discouraged, and enemies in the
same section more and more insolent in their gibes and
denunciation of the cause and those engaged in it.

I always admired the South, as bad as I thought their cause, for
the boldness with which they silenced all opposition and all
croaking, by press or by individuals, within their control. War
at all times, whether a civil war between sections of a common
country or between nations, ought to be avoided, if possible
with honor. But, once entered into, it is too much for human
nature to tolerate an enemy within their ranks to give aid and
comfort to the armies of the opposing section or nation.

Vicksburg, as stated before, is on the first high land coming to
the river's edge, below that on which Memphis stands. The bluff,
or high land, follows the left bank of the Yazoo for some
distance and continues in a southerly direction to the
Mississippi River, thence it runs along the Mississippi to
Warrenton, six miles below. The Yazoo River leaves the high
land a short distance below Haines' Bluff and empties into the
Mississippi nine miles above Vicksburg. Vicksburg is built on
this high land where the Mississippi washes the base of the
hill. Haines' Bluff, eleven miles from Vicksburg, on the Yazoo
River, was strongly fortified. The whole distance from there to
Vicksburg and thence to Warrenton was also intrenched, with
batteries at suitable distances and rifle-pits connecting them.

From Young's Point the Mississippi turns in a north-easterly
direction to a point just above the city, when it again turns
and runs south-westerly, leaving vessels, which might attempt to
run the blockade, exposed to the fire of batteries six miles
below the city before they were in range of the upper
batteries. Since then the river has made a cut-off, leaving
what was the peninsula in front of the city, an island. North
of the Yazoo was all a marsh, heavily timbered, cut up with
bayous, and much overflowed. A front attack was therefore
impossible, and was never contemplated; certainly not by me. The
problem then became, how to secure a landing on high ground east
of the Mississippi without an apparent retreat. Then commenced
a series of experiments to consume time, and to divert the
attention of the enemy, of my troops and of the public
generally. I, myself, never felt great confidence that any of
the experiments resorted to would prove successful. Nevertheless
I was always prepared to take advantage of them in case they did.

In 1862 General Thomas Williams had come up from New Orleans and
cut a ditch ten or twelve feet wide and about as deep, straight
across from Young's Point to the river below. The distance
across was a little over a mile. It was Williams' expectation
that when the river rose it would cut a navigable channel
through; but the canal started in an eddy from both ends, and,
of course, it only filled up with water on the rise without
doing any execution in the way of cutting. Mr. Lincoln had
navigated the Mississippi in his younger days and understood
well its tendency to change its channel, in places, from time to
time. He set much store accordingly by this canal. General
McClernand had been, therefore, directed before I went to
Young's Point to push the work of widening and deepening this
canal. After my arrival the work was diligently pushed with
about 4,000 men--as many as could be used to advantage--until
interrupted by a sudden rise in the river that broke a dam at
the upper end, which had been put there to keep the water out
until the excavation was completed. This was on the 8th of

Even if the canal had proven a success, so far as to be
navigable for steamers, it could not have been of much advantage
to us. It runs in a direction almost perpendicular to the line
of bluffs on the opposite side, or east bank, of the river. As
soon as the enemy discovered what we were doing he established a
battery commanding the canal throughout its length. This battery
soon drove out our dredges, two in number, which were doing the
work of thousands of men. Had the canal been completed it might
have proven of some use in running transports through, under the
cover of night, to use below; but they would yet have to run
batteries, though for a much shorter distance.

While this work was progressing we were busy in other
directions, trying to find an available landing on high ground
on the east bank of the river, or to make water-ways to get
below the city, avoiding the batteries.

On the 30th of January, the day after my arrival at the front, I
ordered General McPherson, stationed with his corps at Lake
Providence, to cut the levee at that point. If successful in
opening a channel for navigation by this route, it would carry
us to the Mississippi River through the mouth of the Red River,
just above Port Hudson and four hundred miles below Vicksburg by
the river.

Lake Providence is a part of the old bed of the Mississippi,
about a mile from the present channel. It is six miles long and
has its outlet through Bayou Baxter, Bayou Macon, and the Tensas,
Washita and Red Rivers. The last three are navigable streams at
all seasons. Bayous Baxter and Macon are narrow and tortuous,
and the banks are covered with dense forests overhanging the
channel. They were also filled with fallen timber, the
accumulation of years. The land along the Mississippi River,
from Memphis down, is in all instances highest next to the
river, except where the river washes the bluffs which form the
boundary of the valley through which it winds. Bayou Baxter, as
it reaches lower land, begins to spread out and disappears
entirely in a cypress swamp before it reaches the Macon. There
was about two feet of water in this swamp at the time. To get
through it, even with vessels of the lightest draft, it was
necessary to clear off a belt of heavy timber wide enough to
make a passage way. As the trees would have to be cut close to
the bottom--under water--it was an undertaking of great

On the 4th of February I visited General McPherson, and remained
with him several days. The work had not progressed so far as to
admit the water from the river into the lake, but the troops had
succeeded in drawing a small steamer, of probably not over thirty
tons' capacity, from the river into the lake. With this we were
able to explore the lake and bayou as far as cleared. I saw
then that there was scarcely a chance of this ever becoming a
practicable route for moving troops through an enemy's
country. The distance from Lake Providence to the point where
vessels going by that route would enter the Mississippi again,
is about four hundred and seventy miles by the main river. The
distance would probably be greater by the tortuous bayous
through which this new route would carry us. The enemy held
Port Hudson, below where the Red River debouches, and all the
Mississippi above to Vicksburg. The Red River, Washita and
Tensas were, as has been said, all navigable streams, on which
the enemy could throw small bodies of men to obstruct our
passage and pick off our troops with their sharpshooters. I let
the work go on, believing employment was better than idleness for
the men. Then, too, it served as a cover for other efforts which
gave a better prospect of success. This work was abandoned after
the canal proved a failure.

Lieutenant-Colonel Wilson of my staff was sent to Helena,
Arkansas, to examine and open a way through Moon Lake and the
Yazoo Pass if possible. Formerly there was a route by way of an
inlet from the Mississippi River into Moon Lake, a mile east of
the river, thence east through Yazoo Pass to Coldwater, along
the latter to the Tallahatchie, which joins the Yallabusha about
two hundred and fifty miles below Moon Lake and forms the Yazoo
River. These were formerly navigated by steamers trading with
the rich plantations along their banks; but the State of
Mississippi had built a strong levee across the inlet some years
before, leaving the only entrance for vessels into this rich
region the one by way of the mouth of the Yazoo several hundreds
of miles below.

On the 2d of February this dam, or levee, was cut. The river
being high the rush of water through the cut was so great that
in a very short time the entire obstruction was washed away. The
bayous were soon filled and much of the country was overflowed.
This pass leaves the Mississippi River but a few miles below
Helena. On the 24th General Ross, with his brigade of about
4,500 men on transports, moved into this new water-way. The
rebels had obstructed the navigation of Yazoo Pass and the
Coldwater by felling trees into them. Much of the timber in
this region being of greater specific gravity than water, and
being of great size, their removal was a matter of great labor;
but it was finally accomplished, and on the 11th of March Ross
found himself, accompanied by two gunboats under the command of
Lieutenant-Commander Watson Smith, confronting a fortification
at Greenwood, where the Tallahatchie and Yallabusha unite and
the Yazoo begins. The bends of the rivers are such at this
point as to almost form an island, scarcely above water at that
stage of the river. This island was fortified and manned. It
was named Fort Pemberton after the commander at Vicksburg. No
land approach was accessible. The troops, therefore, could
render no assistance towards an assault further than to
establish a battery on a little piece of ground which was
discovered above water. The gunboats, however, attacked on the
11th and again on the 13th of March. Both efforts were failures
and were not renewed. One gunboat was disabled and we lost six
men killed and twenty-five wounded. The loss of the enemy was

Fort Pemberton was so little above the water that it was thought
that a rise of two feet would drive the enemy out. In hope of
enlisting the elements on our side, which had been so much
against us up to this time, a second cut was made in the
Mississippi levee, this time directly opposite Helena, or six
miles above the former cut. It did not accomplish the desired
result, and Ross, with his fleet, started back. On the 22d he
met Quinby with a brigade at Yazoo Pass. Quinby was the senior
of Ross, and assumed command. He was not satisfied with
returning to his former position without seeing for himself
whether anything could be accomplished. Accordingly Fort
Pemberton was revisited by our troops; but an inspection was
sufficient this time without an attack. Quinby, with his
command, returned with but little delay. In the meantime I was
much exercised for the safety of Ross, not knowing that Quinby
had been able to join him. Reinforcements were of no use in a
country covered with water, as they would have to remain on
board of their transports. Relief had to come from another
quarter. So I determined to get into the Yazoo below Fort

Steel's Bayou empties into the Yazoo River between Haines' Bluff
and its mouth. It is narrow, very tortuous, and fringed with a
very heavy growth of timber, but it is deep. It approaches to
within one mile of the Mississippi at Eagle Bend, thirty miles
above Young's Point. Steel's Bayou connects with Black Bayou,
Black Bayou with Deer Creek, Deer Creek with Rolling Fork,
Rolling Fork with the Big Sunflower River, and the Big Sunflower
with the Yazoo River about ten miles above Haines' Bluff in a
right line but probably twenty or twenty-five miles by the
winding of the river. All these waterways are of about the same
nature so far as navigation is concerned, until the Sunflower is
reached; this affords free navigation.

Admiral Porter explored this waterway as far as Deer Creek on
the 14th of March, and reported it navigable. On the next day
he started with five gunboats and four mortar-boats. I went
with him for some distance. The heavy overhanging timber
retarded progress very much, as did also the short turns in so
narrow a stream. The gunboats, however, ploughed their way
through without other damage than to their appearance. The
transports did not fare so well although they followed behind.
The road was somewhat cleared for them by the gunboats. In the
evening I returned to headquarters to hurry up reinforcements.
Sherman went in person on the 16th, taking with him Stuart's
division of the 15th corps. They took large river transports to
Eagle Bend on the Mississippi, where they debarked and marched
across to Steel's Bayou, where they re-embarked on the
transports. The river steamers, with their tall smokestacks and
light guards extending out, were so much impeded that the
gunboats got far ahead. Porter, with his fleet, got within a
few hundred yards of where the sailing would have been clear and
free from the obstructions caused by felling trees into the
water, when he encountered rebel sharp-shooters, and his
progress was delayed by obstructions in his front. He could do
nothing with gunboats against sharpshooters. The rebels,
learning his route, had sent in about 4,000 men--many more than
there were sailors in the fleet.

Sherman went back, at the request of the admiral, to clear out
Black Bayou and to hurry up reinforcements, which were far
behind. On the night of the 19th he received notice from the
admiral that he had been attacked by sharp-shooters and was in
imminent peril. Sherman at once returned through Black Bayou in
a canoe, and passed on until he met a steamer, with the last of
the reinforcements he had, coming up. They tried to force their
way through Black Bayou with their steamer, but, finding it slow
and tedious work, debarked and pushed forward on foot. It was
night when they landed, and intensely dark. There was but a
narrow strip of land above water, and that was grown up with
underbrush or cane. The troops lighted their way through this
with candles carried in their hands for a mile and a half, when
they came to an open plantation. Here the troops rested until
morning. They made twenty-one miles from this resting-place by
noon the next day, and were in time to rescue the fleet. Porter
had fully made up his mind to blow up the gunboats rather than
have them fall into the hands of the enemy. More welcome
visitors he probably never met than the "boys in blue" on this
occasion. The vessels were backed out and returned to their
rendezvous on the Mississippi; and thus ended in failure the
fourth attempt to get in rear of Vicksburg.



The original canal scheme was also abandoned on the 27th of
March. The effort to make a waterway through Lake Providence
and the connecting bayous was abandoned as wholly impracticable
about the same time.

At Milliken's Bend, and also at Young's Point, bayous or
channels start, which connecting with other bayous passing
Richmond, Louisiana, enter the Mississippi at Carthage
twenty-five or thirty miles above Grand Gulf. The Mississippi
levee cuts the supply of water off from these bayous or
channels, but all the rainfall behind the levee, at these
points, is carried through these same channels to the river
below. In case of a crevasse in this vicinity, the water
escaping would find its outlet through the same channels. The
dredges and laborers from the canal having been driven out by
overflow and the enemy's batteries, I determined to open these
other channels, if possible. If successful the effort would
afford a route, away from the enemy's batteries, for our
transports. There was a good road back of the levees, along
these bayous, to carry the troops, artillery and wagon trains
over whenever the water receded a little, and after a few days
of dry weather. Accordingly, with the abandonment of all the
other plans for reaching a base heretofore described, this new
one was undertaken.

As early as the 4th of February I had written to Halleck about
this route, stating that I thought it much more practicable than
the other undertaking (the Lake Providence route), and that it
would have been accomplished with much less labor if commenced
before the water had got all over the country.

The upper end of these bayous being cut off from a water supply,
further than the rainfall back of the levees, was grown up with
dense timber for a distance of several miles from their
source. It was necessary, therefore, to clear this out before
letting in the water from the river. This work was continued
until the waters of the river began to recede and the road to
Richmond, Louisiana, emerged from the water. One small steamer
and some barges were got through this channel, but no further
use could be made of it because of the fall in the river. Beyond
this it was no more successful than the other experiments with
which the winter was whiled away. All these failures would have
been very discouraging if I had expected much from the efforts;
but I had not. From the first the most I hoped to accomplish
was the passage of transports, to be used below Vicksburg,
without exposure to the long line of batteries defending that

This long, dreary and, for heavy and continuous rains and high
water, unprecedented winter was one of great hardship to all
engaged about Vicksburg. The river was higher than its natural
banks from December, 1862, to the following April. The war had
suspended peaceful pursuits in the South, further than the
production of army supplies, and in consequence the levees were
neglected and broken in many places and the whole country was
covered with water. Troops could scarcely find dry ground on
which to pitch their tents. Malarial fevers broke out among the
men. Measles and small-pox also attacked them. The hospital
arrangements and medical attendance were so perfect, however,
that the loss of life was much less than might have been
expected. Visitors to the camps went home with dismal stories
to relate; Northern papers came back to the soldiers with these
stories exaggerated. Because I would not divulge my ultimate
plans to visitors, they pronounced me idle, incompetent and
unfit to command men in an emergency, and clamored for my
removal. They were not to be satisfied, many of them, with my
simple removal, but named who my successor should be.
McClernand, Fremont, Hunter and McClellan were all mentioned in
this connection. I took no steps to answer these complaints,
but continued to do my duty, as I understood it, to the best of
my ability. Every one has his superstitions. One of mine is
that in positions of great responsibility every one should do
his duty to the best of his ability where assigned by competent
authority, without application or the use of influence to change
his position. While at Cairo I had watched with very great
interest the operations of the Army of the Potomac, looking upon
that as the main field of the war. I had no idea, myself, of
ever having any large command, nor did I suppose that I was
equal to one; but I had the vanity to think that as a cavalry
officer I might succeed very well in the command of a brigade.
On one occasion, in talking about this to my staff officers, all
of whom were civilians without any military education whatever, I
said that I would give anything if I were commanding a brigade of
cavalry in the Army of the Potomac and I believed I could do some
good. Captain Hillyer spoke up and suggested that I make
application to be transferred there to command the cavalry. I
then told him that I would cut my right arm off first, and
mentioned this superstition.

In time of war the President, being by the Constitution
Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, is responsible for the
selection of commanders. He should not be embarrassed in making
his selections. I having been selected, my responsibility ended
with my doing the best I knew how. If I had sought the place,
or obtained it through personal or political influence, my
belief is that I would have feared to undertake any plan of my
own conception, and would probably have awaited direct orders
from my distant superiors. Persons obtaining important commands
by application or political influence are apt to keep a written
record of complaints and predictions of defeat, which are shown
in case of disaster. Somebody must be responsible for their

With all the pressure brought to bear upon them, both President
Lincoln and General Halleck stood by me to the end of the
campaign. I had never met Mr. Lincoln, but his support was

At last the waters began to recede; the roads crossing the
peninsula behind the levees of the bayous, were emerging from
the waters; the troops were all concentrated from distant points
at Milliken's Bend preparatory to a final move which was to crown
the long, tedious and discouraging labors with success.

I had had in contemplation the whole winter the movement by land
to a point below Vicksburg from which to operate, subject only to
the possible but not expected success of some one of the
expedients resorted to for the purpose of giving us a different
base. This could not be undertaken until the waters receded. I
did not therefore communicate this plan, even to an officer of my
staff, until it was necessary to make preparations for the
start. My recollection is that Admiral Porter was the first one
to whom I mentioned it. The co-operation of the navy was
absolutely essential to the success (even to the contemplation)
of such an enterprise. I had no more authority to command
Porter than he had to command me. It was necessary to have part
of his fleet below Vicksburg if the troops went there. Steamers
to use as ferries were also essential. The navy was the only
escort and protection for these steamers, all of which in
getting below had to run about fourteen miles of batteries.
Porter fell into the plan at once, and suggested that he had
better superintend the preparation of the steamers selected to
run the batteries, as sailors would probably understand the work
better than soldiers. I was glad to accept his proposition, not
only because I admitted his argument, but because it would
enable me to keep from the enemy a little longer our designs.
Porter's fleet was on the east side of the river above the mouth
of the Yazoo, entirely concealed from the enemy by the dense
forests that intervened. Even spies could not get near him, on
account of the undergrowth and overflowed lands. Suspicions of
some mysterious movements were aroused. Our river guards
discovered one day a small skiff moving quietly and mysteriously
up the river near the east shore, from the direction of
Vicksburg, towards the fleet. On overhauling the boat they
found a small white flag, not much larger than a handkerchief,
set up in the stern, no doubt intended as a flag of truce in
case of discovery. The boat, crew and passengers were brought
ashore to me. The chief personage aboard proved to be Jacob
Thompson, Secretary of the Interior under the administration of
President Buchanan. After a pleasant conversation of half an
hour or more I allowed the boat and crew, passengers and all, to
return to Vicksburg, without creating a suspicion that there was
a doubt in my mind as to the good faith of Mr. Thompson and his

Admiral Porter proceeded with the preparation of the steamers
for their hazardous passage of the enemy's batteries. The great
essential was to protect the boilers from the enemy's shot, and
to conceal the fires under the boilers from view. This he
accomplished by loading the steamers, between the guards and
boilers on the boiler deck up to the deck above, with bales of
hay and cotton, and the deck in front of the boilers in the same
way, adding sacks of grain. The hay and grain would be wanted
below, and could not be transported in sufficient quantity by
the muddy roads over which we expected to march.

Before this I had been collecting, from St. Louis and Chicago,
yawls and barges to be used as ferries when we got below. By
the 16th of April Porter was ready to start on his perilous
trip. The advance, flagship Benton, Porter commanding, started
at ten o'clock at night, followed at intervals of a few minutes
by the Lafayette with a captured steamer, the Price, lashed to
her side, the Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburgh and
Carondelet--all of these being naval vessels. Next came the
transports--Forest Queen, Silver Wave and Henry Clay, each
towing barges loaded with coal to be used as fuel by the naval
and transport steamers when below the batteries. The gunboat
Tuscumbia brought up the rear. Soon after the start a battery
between Vicksburg and Warrenton opened fire across the
intervening peninsula, followed by the upper batteries, and then
by batteries all along the line. The gunboats ran up close under
the bluffs, delivering their fire in return at short distances,
probably without much effect. They were under fire for more
than two hours and every vessel was struck many times, but with
little damage to the gunboats. The transports did not fare so
well. The Henry Clay was disabled and deserted by her crew.
Soon after a shell burst in the cotton packed about the boilers,
set the vessel on fire and burned her to the water's edge. The
burning mass, however, floated down to Carthage before
grounding, as did also one of the barges in tow.

The enemy were evidently expecting our fleet, for they were
ready to light up the river by means of bonfires on the east
side and by firing houses on the point of land opposite the city
on the Louisiana side. The sight was magnificent, but
terrible. I witnessed it from the deck of a river transport,
run out into the middle of the river and as low down as it was
prudent to go. My mind was much relieved when I learned that no
one on the transports had been killed and but few, if any,
wounded. During the running of the batteries men were stationed
in the holds of the transports to partially stop with cotton
shot-holes that might be made in the hulls. All damage was
afterwards soon repaired under the direction of Admiral Porter.

The experiment of passing batteries had been tried before this,
however, during the war. Admiral Farragut had run the batteries
at Port Hudson with the flagship Hartford and one iron-clad and
visited me from below Vicksburg. The 13th of February Admiral
Porter had sent the gunboat Indianola, Lieutenant-Commander
George Brown commanding, below. She met Colonel Ellet of the
Marine brigade below Natchez on a captured steamer. Two of the
Colonel's fleet had previously run the batteries, producing the
greatest consternation among the people along the Mississippi
from Vicksburg (*10) to the Red River.

The Indianola remained about the mouth of the Red River some
days, and then started up the Mississippi. The Confederates
soon raised the Queen of the West, (*11) and repaired her. With
this vessel and the ram Webb, which they had had for some time in
the Red River, and two other steamers, they followed the
Indianola. The latter was encumbered with barges of coal in tow,
and consequently could make but little speed against the rapid
current of the Mississippi. The Confederate fleet overtook her
just above Grand Gulf, and attacked her after dark on the 24th
of February. The Indianola was superior to all the others in
armament, and probably would have destroyed them or driven them
away, but for her encumbrance. As it was she fought them for an
hour and a half, but, in the dark, was struck seven or eight
times by the ram and other vessels, and was finally disabled and
reduced to a sinking condition. The armament was thrown
overboard and the vessel run ashore. Officers and crew then

I had started McClernand with his corps of four divisions on the
29th of March, by way of Richmond, Louisiana, to New Carthage,
hoping that he might capture Grand Gulf before the balance of
the troops could get there; but the roads were very bad,
scarcely above water yet. Some miles from New Carthage the
levee to Bayou Vidal was broken in several places, overflowing
the roads for the distance of two miles. Boats were collected
from the surrounding bayous, and some constructed on the spot
from such material as could be collected, to transport the
troops across the overflowed interval. By the 6th of April
McClernand had reached New Carthage with one division and its
artillery, the latter ferried through the woods by these
boats. On the 17th I visited New Carthage in person, and saw
that the process of getting troops through in the way we were
doing was so tedious that a better method must be devised. The
water was falling, and in a few days there would not be depth
enough to use boats; nor would the land be dry enough to march
over. McClernand had already found a new route from Smith's
plantation where the crevasse occurred, to Perkins' plantation,
eight to twelve miles below New Carthage. This increased the
march from Milliken's Bend from twenty-seven to nearly forty
miles. Four bridges had to be built across bayous, two of them
each over six hundred feet long, making about two thousand feet
of bridging in all. The river falling made the current in these
bayous very rapid, increasing the difficulty of building and
permanently fastening these bridges; but the ingenuity of the
"Yankee soldier" was equal to any emergency. The bridges were
soon built of such material as could be found near by, and so
substantial were they that not a single mishap occurred in
crossing all the army with artillery, cavalry and wagon trains,
except the loss of one siege gun (a thirty-two pounder). This,
if my memory serves me correctly, broke through the only pontoon
bridge we had in all our march across the peninsula. These
bridges were all built by McClernand's command, under the
supervision of Lieutenant Hains of the Engineer Corps.

I returned to Milliken's Bend on the 18th or 19th, and on the
20th issued the following final order for the movement of troops:

April 20, 1863.

Special Orders, No. 110.
* * * * *
* * VIII. The following orders are published for the
information and guidance of the "Army in the Field," in its
present movement to obtain a foothold on the east bank of the
Mississippi River, from which Vicksburg can be approached by
practicable roads.

First.--The Thirteenth army corps, Major-General John A.
McClernand commanding, will constitute the right wing.

Second.--The Fifteenth army corps, Major-General W. T. Sherman
commanding, will constitute the left wing.

Third.--The Seventeenth army corps, Major-General James B.
McPherson commanding, will constitute the centre.

Fourth.--The order of march to New Carthage will be from right
to left.

Fifth.--Reserves will be formed by divisions from each army
corps; or, an entire army corps will be held as a reserve, as
necessity may require. When the reserve is formed by divisions,
each division will remain under the immediate command of its
respective corps commander, unless otherwise specially ordered
for a particular emergency.

Sixth.--Troops will be required to bivouac, until proper
facilities can be afforded for the transportation of camp

Seventh.--In the present movement, one tent will be allowed to
each company for the protection of rations from rain; one wall
tent for each regimental headquarters; one wall tent for each
brigade headquarters; and one wall tent for each division
headquarters; corps commanders having the books and blanks of
their respective commands to provide for, are authorized to take
such tents as are absolutely necessary, but not to exceed the
number allowed by General Orders No. 160, A. G. O., series of

Eighth.--All the teams of the three army corps, under the
immediate charge of the quartermasters bearing them on their
returns, will constitute a train for carrying supplies and
ordnance and the authorized camp equipage of the army.

Ninth.--As fast as the Thirteenth army corps advances, the
Seventeenth army corps will take its place; and it, in turn,
will be followed in like manner by the Fifteenth army corps.

Tenth.--Two regiments from each army corps will be detailed by
corps commanders, to guard the lines from Richmond to New

Eleventh.--General hospitals will be established by the medical
director between Duckport and Milliken's Bend. All sick and
disabled soldiers will be left in these hospitals. Surgeons in
charge of hospitals will report convalescents as fast as they
become fit for duty. Each corps commander will detail an
intelligent and good drill officer, to remain behind and take
charge of the convalescents of their respective corps; officers
so detailed will organize the men under their charge into squads
and companies, without regard to the regiments they belong to;
and in the absence of convalescent commissioned officers to
command them, will appoint non-commissioned officers or
privates. The force so organized will constitute the guard of
the line from Duckport to Milliken's Bend. They will furnish
all the guards and details required for general hospitals, and
with the contrabands that may be about the camps, will furnish
all the details for loading and unloading boats.

Twelfth.--The movement of troops from Milliken's Bend to New
Carthage will be so conducted as to allow the transportation of
ten days' supply of rations, and one-half the allowance of
ordnance, required by previous orders.

Thirteenth.--Commanders are authorized and enjoined to collect
all the beef cattle, corn and other necessary supplies on the
line of march; but wanton destruction of property, taking of
articles useless for military purposes, insulting citizens,
going into and searching houses without proper orders from
division commanders, are positively prohibited. All such
irregularities must be summarily punished.

Fourteenth.--Brigadier-General J. C. Sullivan is appointed to
the command of all the forces detailed for the protection of the
line from here to New Carthage. His particular attention is
called to General Orders, No. 69, from Adjutant-General's
Office, Washington, of date March 20, 1863.

By order of

McClernand was already below on the Mississippi. Two of
McPherson's divisions were put upon the march immediately. The
third had not yet arrived from Lake Providence; it was on its
way to Milliken's Bend and was to follow on arrival.

Sherman was to follow McPherson. Two of his divisions were at
Duckport and Young's Point, and the third under Steele was under
orders to return from Greenville, Mississippi, where it had been
sent to expel a rebel battery that had been annoying our

It had now become evident that the army could not be rationed by
a wagon train over the single narrow and almost impassable road
between Milliken's Bend and Perkins' plantation. Accordingly
six more steamers were protected as before, to run the
batteries, and were loaded with supplies. They took twelve
barges in tow, loaded also with rations. On the night of the
22d of April they ran the batteries, five getting through more
or less disabled while one was sunk. About half the barges got
through with their needed freight.

When it was first proposed to run the blockade at Vicksburg with
river steamers there were but two captains or masters who were
willing to accompany their vessels, and but one crew. Volunteers
were called for from the army, men who had had experience in any
capacity in navigating the western rivers. Captains, pilots,
mates, engineers and deck-hands enough presented themselves to
take five times the number of vessels we were moving through
this dangerous ordeal. Most of them were from Logan's division,
composed generally of men from the southern part of Illinois and
from Missouri. All but two of the steamers were commanded by
volunteers from the army, and all but one so manned. In this
instance, as in all others during the war, I found that
volunteers could be found in the ranks and among the
commissioned officers to meet every call for aid whether
mechanical or professional. Colonel W. S. Oliver was master of
transportation on this occasion by special detail.



On the 24th my headquarters were with the advance at Perkins'
plantation. Reconnoissances were made in boats to ascertain
whether there was high land on the east shore of the river where
we might land above Grand Gulf. There was none practicable.
Accordingly the troops were set in motion for Hard Times,
twenty-two miles farther down the river and nearly opposite
Grand Gulf. The loss of two steamers and six barges reduced our
transportation so that only 10,000 men could be moved by water.
Some of the steamers that had got below were injured in their
machinery, so that they were only useful as barges towed by
those less severely injured. All the troops, therefore, except
what could be transported in one trip, had to march. The road
lay west of Lake St. Joseph. Three large bayous had to be
crossed. They were rapidly bridged in the same manner as those
previously encountered. (*12)

On the 27th McClernand's corps was all at Hard Times, and
McPherson's was following closely. I had determined to make the
attempt to effect a landing on the east side of the river as soon
as possible. Accordingly, on the morning of the 29th, McClernand
was directed to embark all the troops from his corps that our
transports and barges could carry. About 10,000 men were so
embarked. The plan was to have the navy silence the guns at
Grand Gulf, and to have as many men as possible ready to debark
in the shortest possible time under cover of the fire of the
navy and carry the works by storm. The following order was

April 27,1863.

Commanding 13th A. C.

Commence immediately the embarkation of your corps, or so much
of it as there is transportation for. Have put aboard the
artillery and every article authorized in orders limiting
baggage, except the men, and hold them in readiness, with their
places assigned, to be moved at a moment's warning.

All the troops you may have, except those ordered to remain
behind, send to a point nearly opposite Grand Gulf, where you
see, by special orders of this date, General McPherson is
ordered to send one division.

The plan of the attack will be for the navy to attack and
silence all the batteries commanding the river. Your corps will
be on the river, ready to run to and debark on the nearest
eligible land below the promontory first brought to view passing
down the river. Once on shore, have each commander instructed
beforehand to form his men the best the ground will admit of,
and take possession of the most commanding points, but avoid
separating your command so that it cannot support itself. The
first object is to get a foothold where our troops can maintain
themselves until such time as preparations can be made and
troops collected for a forward movement.

Admiral Porter has proposed to place his boats in the position
indicated to you a few days ago, and to bring over with them
such troops as may be below the city after the guns of the enemy
are silenced.

It may be that the enemy will occupy positions back from the
city, out of range of the gunboats, so as to make it desirable
to run past Grand Gulf and land at Rodney. In case this should
prove the plan, a signal will be arranged and you duly informed,
when the transports are to start with this view. Or, it may be
expedient for the boats to run past, but not the men. In this
case, then, the transports would have to be brought back to
where the men could land and move by forced marches to below
Grand Gulf, re-embark rapidly and proceed to the latter place.
There will be required, then, three signals; one, to indicate
that the transports can run down and debark the troops at Grand
Gulf; one, that the transports can run by without the troops;
and the last, that the transports can run by with the troops on

Should the men have to march, all baggage and artillery will be
left to run the blockade.

If not already directed, require your men to keep three days'
rations in their haversacks, not to be touched until a movement


At 8 o'clock A.M., 29th, Porter made the attack with his entire
strength present, eight gunboats. For nearly five and a half
hours the attack was kept up without silencing a single gun of
the enemy. All this time McClernand's 10,000 men were huddled
together on the transports in the stream ready to attempt a
landing if signalled. I occupied a tug from which I could see
the effect of the battle on both sides, within range of the
enemy's guns; but a small tug, without armament, was not
calculated to attract the fire of batteries while they were
being assailed themselves. About half-past one the fleet
withdrew, seeing their efforts were entirely unavailing. The
enemy ceased firing as soon as we withdrew. I immediately
signalled the Admiral and went aboard his ship. The navy lost
in this engagement eighteen killed and fifty-six wounded. A
large proportion of these were of the crew of the flagship, and
most of those from a single shell which penetrated the ship's
side and exploded between decks where the men were working their
guns. The sight of the mangled and dying men which met my eye as
I boarded the ship was sickening.

Grand Gulf is on a high bluff where the river runs at the very
foot of it. It is as defensible upon its front as Vicksburg
and, at that time, would have been just as impossible to capture
by a front attack. I therefore requested Porter to run the
batteries with his fleet that night, and to take charge of the
transports, all of which would be wanted below.

There is a long tongue of land from the Louisiana side extending
towards Grand Gulf, made by the river running nearly east from
about three miles above and nearly in the opposite direction
from that point for about the same distance below. The land was
so low and wet that it would not have been practicable to march
an army across but for a levee. I had had this explored before,
as well as the east bank below to ascertain if there was a
possible point of debarkation north of Rodney. It was found
that the top of the levee afforded a good road to march upon.

Porter, as was always the case with him, not only acquiesced in
the plan, but volunteered to use his entire fleet as
transports. I had intended to make this request, but he
anticipated me. At dusk, when concealed from the view of the
enemy at Grand Gulf, McClernand landed his command on the west
bank. The navy and transports ran the batteries successfully.
The troops marched across the point of land under cover of
night, unobserved. By the time it was light the enemy saw our
whole fleet, ironclads, gunboats, river steamers and barges,
quietly moving down the river three miles below them, black, or
rather blue, with National troops.

When the troops debarked, the evening of the 29th, it was
expected that we would have to go to Rodney, about nine miles
below, to find a landing; but that night a colored man came in
who informed me that a good landing would be found at
Bruinsburg, a few miles above Rodney, from which point there was
a good road leading to Port Gibson some twelve miles in the
interior. The information was found correct, and our landing
was effected without opposition.

Sherman had not left his position above Vicksburg yet. On the
morning of the 27th I ordered him to create a diversion by
moving his corps up the Yazoo and threatening an attack on
Haines' Bluff.

My object was to compel Pemberton to keep as much force about
Vicksburg as I could, until I could secure a good footing on
high land east of the river. The move was eminently successful
and, as we afterwards learned, created great confusion about
Vicksburg and doubts about our real design. Sherman moved the
day of our attack on Grand Gulf, the 29th, with ten regiments of
his command and eight gunboats which Porter had left above

He debarked his troops and apparently made every preparation to
attack the enemy while the navy bombarded the main forts at
Haines' Bluff. This move was made without a single casualty in
either branch of the service. On the first of May Sherman
received orders from me (sent from Hard Times the evening of the
29th of April) to withdraw from the front of Haines' Bluff and
follow McPherson with two divisions as fast as he could.

I had established a depot of supplies at Perkins' plantation.
Now that all our gunboats were below Grand Gulf it was possible
that the enemy might fit out boats in the Big Black with
improvised armament and attempt to destroy these supplies.
McPherson was at Hard Times with a portion of his corps, and the
depot was protected by a part of his command. The night of the
29th I directed him to arm one of the transports with artillery
and send it up to Perkins' plantation as a guard; and also to
have the siege guns we had brought along moved there and put in

The embarkation below Grand Gulf took place at De Shroon's,
Louisiana, six miles above Bruinsburg, Mississippi. Early on
the morning of 30th of April McClernand's corps and one division
of McPherson's corps were speedily landed.

When this was effected I felt a degree of relief scarcely ever
equalled since. Vicksburg was not yet taken it is true, nor
were its defenders demoralized by any of our previous moves. I
was now in the enemy's country, with a vast river and the
stronghold of Vicksburg between me and my base of supplies. But
I was on dry ground on the same side of the river with the
enemy. All the campaigns, labors, hardships and exposures from
the month of December previous to this time that had been made
and endured, were for the accomplishment of this one object.

I had with me the 13th corps, General McClernand commanding, and
two brigades of Logan's division of the 17th corps, General
McPherson commanding--in all not more than twenty thousand men
to commence the campaign with. These were soon reinforced by
the remaining brigade of Logan's division and Crocker's division
of the 17th corps. On the 7th of May I was further reinforced by
Sherman with two divisions of his, the 15th corps. My total
force was then about thirty-three thousand men.

The enemy occupied Grand Gulf, Haines' Bluff and Jackson with a
force of nearly sixty thousand men. Jackson is fifty miles east
of Vicksburg and is connected with it by a railroad. My first
problem was to capture Grand Gulf to use as a base.

Bruinsburg is two miles from high ground. The bottom at that
point is higher than most of the low land in the valley of the
Mississippi, and a good road leads to the bluff. It was natural
to expect the garrison from Grand Gulf to come out to meet us and
prevent, if they could, our reaching this solid base. Bayou
Pierre enters the Mississippi just above Bruinsburg and, as it
is a navigable stream and was high at the time, in order to
intercept us they had to go by Port Gibson, the nearest point
where there was a bridge to cross upon. This more than doubled
the distance from Grand Gulf to the high land back of
Bruinsburg. No time was to be lost in securing this foothold.
Our transportation was not sufficient to move all the army
across the river at one trip, or even two; but the landing of
the 13th corps and one division of the 17th was effected during
the day, April 30th, and early evening. McClernand was advanced
as soon as ammunition and two days' rations (to last five) could
be issued to his men. The bluffs were reached an hour before
sunset and McClernand was pushed on, hoping to reach Port Gibson
and save the bridge spanning the Bayou Pierre before the enemy
could get there; for crossing a stream in the presence of an
enemy is always difficult. Port Gibson, too, is the starting
point of roads to Grand Gulf, Vicksburg and Jackson.

McClernand's advance met the enemy about five miles west of Port
Gibson at Thompson's plantation. There was some firing during
the night, but nothing rising to the dignity of a battle until
daylight. The enemy had taken a strong natural position with
most of the Grand Gulf garrison, numbering about seven or eight
thousand men, under General Bowen. His hope was to hold me in
check until reinforcements under Loring could reach him from
Vicksburg; but Loring did not come in time to render much
assistance south of Port Gibson. Two brigades of McPherson's
corps followed McClernand as fast as rations and ammunition
could be issued, and were ready to take position upon the
battlefield whenever the 13th corps could be got out of the way.

The country in this part of Mississippi stands on edge, as it
were, the roads running along the ridges except when they
occasionally pass from one ridge to another. Where there are no
clearings the sides of the hills are covered with a very heavy
growth of timber and with undergrowth, and the ravines are
filled with vines and canebrakes, almost impenetrable. This
makes it easy for an inferior force to delay, if not defeat, a
far superior one.

Near the point selected by Bowen to defend, the road to Port
Gibson divides, taking two ridges which do not diverge more than
a mile or two at the widest point. These roads unite just
outside the town. This made it necessary for McClernand to
divide his force. It was not only divided, but it was separated
by a deep ravine of the character above described. One flank
could not reinforce the other except by marching back to the
junction of the roads. McClernand put the divisions of Hovey,
Carr and A. J. Smith upon the right-hand branch and Osterhaus on
the left. I was on the field by ten A.M., and inspected both
flanks in person. On the right the enemy, if not being pressed
back, was at least not repulsing our advance. On the left,
however, Osterhaus was not faring so well. He had been repulsed
with some loss. As soon as the road could be cleared of
McClernand's troops I ordered up McPherson, who was close upon
the rear of the 13th corps, with two brigades of Logan's
division. This was about noon. I ordered him to send one
brigade (General John E. Smith's was selected) to support
Osterhaus, and to move to the left and flank the enemy out of
his position. This movement carried the brigade over a deep
ravine to a third ridge and, when Smith's troops were seen well
through the ravine, Osterhaus was directed to renew his front
attack. It was successful and unattended by heavy loss. The
enemy was sent in full retreat on their right, and their left
followed before sunset. While the movement to our left was
going on, McClernand, who was with his right flank, sent me
frequent requests for reinforcements, although the force with
him was not being pressed. I had been upon the ground and knew
it did not admit of his engaging all the men he had. We
followed up our victory until night overtook us about two miles
from Port Gibson; then the troops went into bivouac for the



We started next morning for Port Gibson as soon as it was light
enough to see the road. We were soon in the town, and I was
delighted to find that the enemy had not stopped to contest our
crossing further at the bridge, which he had burned. The troops
were set to work at once to construct a bridge across the South
Fork of the Bayou Pierre. At this time the water was high and
the current rapid. What might be called a raft-bridge was soon
constructed from material obtained from wooden buildings,
stables, fences, etc., which sufficed for carrying the whole
army over safely. Colonel J. H. Wilson, a member of my staff,
planned and superintended the construction of this bridge, going
into the water and working as hard as any one engaged. Officers
and men generally joined in this work. When it was finished the
army crossed and marched eight miles beyond to the North Fork
that day. One brigade of Logan's division was sent down the
stream to occupy the attention of a rebel battery, which had
been left behind with infantry supports to prevent our repairing
the burnt railroad bridge. Two of his brigades were sent up the
bayou to find a crossing and reach the North Fork to repair the
bridge there. The enemy soon left when he found we were
building a bridge elsewhere. Before leaving Port Gibson we were
reinforced by Crocker's division, McPherson's corps, which had
crossed the Mississippi at Bruinsburg and come up without
stopping except to get two days' rations. McPherson still had
one division west of the Mississippi River, guarding the road
from Milliken's Bend to the river below until Sherman's command
should relieve it.

On leaving Bruinsburg for the front I left my son Frederick, who
had joined me a few weeks before, on board one of the gunboats
asleep, and hoped to get away without him until after Grand Gulf
should fall into our hands; but on waking up he learned that I
had gone, and being guided by the sound of the battle raging at
Thompson's Hill--called the Battle of Port Gibson--found his way
to where I was. He had no horse to ride at the time, and I had
no facilities for even preparing a meal. He, therefore, foraged
around the best he could until we reached Grand Gulf. Mr. C. A.
Dana, then an officer of the War Department, accompanied me on
the Vicksburg campaign and through a portion of the siege. He
was in the same situation as Fred so far as transportation and
mess arrangements were concerned. The first time I call to mind
seeing either of them, after the battle, they were mounted on two
enormous horses, grown white from age, each equipped with
dilapidated saddles and bridles.

Our trains arrived a few days later, after which we were all
perfectly equipped.

My son accompanied me throughout the campaign and siege, and
caused no anxiety either to me or to his mother, who was at
home. He looked out for himself and was in every battle of the
campaign. His age, then not quite thirteen, enabled him to take
in all he saw, and to retain a recollection of it that would not
be possible in more mature years.

When the movement from Bruinsburg commenced we were without a
wagon train. The train still west of the Mississippi was
carried around with proper escort, by a circuitous route from
Milliken's Bend to Hard Times seventy or more miles below, and
did not get up for some days after the battle of Port Gibson. My
own horses, headquarters' transportation, servants, mess chest,
and everything except what I had on, was with this train.
General A. J. Smith happened to have an extra horse at
Bruinsburg which I borrowed, with a saddle-tree without
upholstering further than stirrups. I had no other for nearly a

It was necessary to have transportation for ammunition.
Provisions could be taken from the country; but all the
ammunition that can be carried on the person is soon exhausted
when there is much fighting. I directed, therefore, immediately
on landing that all the vehicles and draft animals, whether
horses, mules, or oxen, in the vicinity should be collected and
loaded to their capacity with ammunition. Quite a train was
collected during the 30th, and a motley train it was. In it
could be found fine carriages, loaded nearly to the top with
boxes of cartridges that had been pitched in promiscuously,
drawn by mules with plough, harness, straw collars, rope-lines,
etc.; long-coupled wagons, with racks for carrying cotton bales,
drawn by oxen, and everything that could be found in the way of
transportation on a plantation, either for use or pleasure. The
making out of provision returns was stopped for the time. No
formalities were to retard our progress until a position was
secured when the time could be spared to observe them.

It was at Port Gibson I first heard through a Southern paper of
the complete success of Colonel Grierson, who was making a raid
through central Mississippi. He had started from La Grange
April 17th with three regiments of about 1,700 men. On the 21st
he had detached Colonel Hatch with one regiment to destroy the
railroad between Columbus and Macon and then return to La
Grange. Hatch had a sharp fight with the enemy at Columbus and
retreated along the railroad, destroying it at Okalona and
Tupelo, and arriving in La Grange April 26. Grierson continued
his movement with about 1,000 men, breaking the Vicksburg and
Meridian railroad and the New Orleans and Jackson railroad,
arriving at Baton Rouge May 2d. This raid was of great
importance, for Grierson had attracted the attention of the
enemy from the main movement against Vicksburg.

During the night of the 2d of May the bridge over the North Fork
was repaired, and the troops commenced crossing at five the next
morning. Before the leading brigade was over it was fired upon
by the enemy from a commanding position; but they were soon
driven off. It was evident that the enemy was covering a
retreat from Grand Gulf to Vicksburg. Every commanding position
from this (Grindstone) crossing to Hankinson's ferry over the Big
Black was occupied by the retreating foe to delay our progress.
McPherson, however, reached Hankinson's ferry before night,
seized the ferry boat, and sent a detachment of his command
across and several miles north on the road to Vicksburg. When
the junction of the road going to Vicksburg with the road from
Grand Gulf to Raymond and Jackson was reached, Logan with his
division was turned to the left towards Grand Gulf. I went with
him a short distance from this junction. McPherson had
encountered the largest force yet met since the battle of Port
Gibson and had a skirmish nearly approaching a battle; but the
road Logan had taken enabled him to come up on the enemy's right
flank, and they soon gave way. McPherson was ordered to hold
Hankinson's ferry and the road back to Willow Springs with one
division; McClernand, who was now in the rear, was to join in
this as well as to guard the line back down the bayou. I did
not want to take the chances of having an enemy lurking in our

On the way from the junction to Grand Gulf, where the road comes
into the one from Vicksburg to the same place six or seven miles
out, I learned that the last of the enemy had retreated past
that place on their way to Vicksburg. I left Logan to make the
proper disposition of his troops for the night, while I rode
into the town with an escort of about twenty cavalry. Admiral
Porter had already arrived with his fleet. The enemy had
abandoned his heavy guns and evacuated the place.

When I reached Grand Gulf May 3d I had not been with my baggage
since the 27th of April and consequently had had no change of
underclothing, no meal except such as I could pick up sometimes
at other headquarters, and no tent to cover me. The first thing
I did was to get a bath, borrow some fresh underclothing from one
of the naval officers and get a good meal on the flag-ship. Then
I wrote letters to the general-in-chief informing him of our
present position, dispatches to be telegraphed from Cairo,
orders to General Sullivan commanding above Vicksburg, and gave
orders to all my corps commanders. About twelve o'clock at
night I was through my work and started for Hankinson's ferry,
arriving there before daylight. While at Grand Gulf I heard
from Banks, who was on the Red River, and who said that he could
not be at Port Hudson before the 10th of May and then with only
15,000 men. Up to this time my intention had been to secure
Grand Gulf, as a base of supplies, detach McClernand's corps to
Banks and co-operate with him in the reduction of Port Hudson.

The news from Banks forced upon me a different plan of campaign
from the one intended. To wait for his co-operation would have
detained me at least a month. The reinforcements would not have
reached ten thousand men after deducting casualties and necessary
river guards at all high points close to the river for over three
hundred miles. The enemy would have strengthened his position
and been reinforced by more men than Banks could have brought. I
therefore determined to move independently of Banks, cut loose
from my base, destroy the rebel force in rear of Vicksburg and
invest or capture the city.

Grand Gulf was accordingly given up as a base and the
authorities at Washington were notified. I knew well that
Halleck's caution would lead him to disapprove of this course;
but it was the only one that gave any chance of success. The
time it would take to communicate with Washington and get a
reply would be so great that I could not be interfered with
until it was demonstrated whether my plan was practicable. Even
Sherman, who afterwards ignored bases of supplies other than what
were afforded by the country while marching through four States
of the Confederacy with an army more than twice as large as mine
at this time, wrote me from Hankinson's ferry, advising me of the
impossibility of supplying our army over a single road. He urged
me to "stop all troops till your army is partially supplied with
wagons, and then act as quick as possible; for this road will be
jammed, as sure as life." To this I replied: "I do not
calculate upon the possibility of supplying the army with full
rations from Grand Gulf. I know it will be impossible without
constructing additional roads. What I do expect is to get up
what rations of hard bread, coffee and salt we can, and make the
country furnish the balance." We started from Bruinsburg with an
average of about two days' rations, and received no more from our
own supplies for some days; abundance was found in the mean
time. A delay would give the enemy time to reinforce and

McClernand's and McPherson's commands were kept substantially as
they were on the night of the 2d, awaiting supplies sufficient to
give them three days' rations in haversacks. Beef, mutton,
poultry and forage were found in abundance. Quite a quantity of
bacon and molasses was also secured from the country, but bread
and coffee could not be obtained in quantity sufficient for all
the men. Every plantation, however, had a run of stone,
propelled by mule power, to grind corn for the owners and their
slaves. All these were kept running while we were stopping, day
and night, and when we were marching, during the night, at all
plantations covered by the troops. But the product was taken by
the troops nearest by, so that the majority of the command was
destined to go without bread until a new base was established on
the Yazoo above Vicksburg.

While the troops were awaiting the arrival of rations I ordered
reconnoissances made by McClernand and McPherson, with the view
of leading the enemy to believe that we intended to cross the
Big Black and attack the city at once.

On the 6th Sherman arrived at Grand Gulf and crossed his command
that night and the next day. Three days' rations had been
brought up from Grand Gulf for the advanced troops and were
issued. Orders were given for a forward movement the next
day. Sherman was directed to order up Blair, who had been left
behind to guard the road from Milliken's Bend to Hard Times with
two brigades.

The quartermaster at Young's Point was ordered to send two
hundred wagons with Blair, and the commissary was to load them
with hard bread, coffee, sugar, salt and one hundred thousand
pounds of salt meat.

On the 3d Hurlbut, who had been left at Memphis, was ordered to
send four regiments from his command to Milliken's Bend to
relieve Blair's division, and on the 5th he was ordered to send
Lauman's division in addition, the latter to join the army in
the field. The four regiments were to be taken from troops near
the river so that there would be no delay.

During the night of the 6th McPherson drew in his troops north
of the Big Black and was off at an early hour on the road to
Jackson, via Rocky Springs, Utica and Raymond. That night he
and McClernand were both at Rocky Springs ten miles from
Hankinson's ferry. McPherson remained there during the 8th,
while McClernand moved to Big Sandy and Sherman marched from
Grand Gulf to Hankinson's ferry. The 9th, McPherson moved to a
point within a few miles west of Utica; McClernand and Sherman
remained where they were. On the 10th McPherson moved to Utica,
Sherman to Big Sandy; McClernand was still at Big Sandy. The
11th, McClernand was at Five Mile Creek; Sherman at Auburn;
McPherson five miles advanced from Utica. May 12th, McClernand
was at Fourteen Mile Creek; Sherman at Fourteen Mile Creek;
McPherson at Raymond after a battle.

After McPherson crossed the Big Black at Hankinson's ferry
Vicksburg could have been approached and besieged by the south
side. It is not probable, however, that Pemberton would have
permitted a close besiegement. The broken nature of the ground
would have enabled him to hold a strong defensible line from the
river south of the city to the Big Black, retaining possession of
the railroad back to that point. It was my plan, therefore, to
get to the railroad east of Vicksburg, and approach from that
direction. Accordingly, McPherson's troops that had crossed the
Big Black were withdrawn and the movement east to Jackson

As has been stated before, the country is very much broken and
the roads generally confined to the tops of the hills. The
troops were moved one (sometimes two) corps at a time to reach
designated points out parallel to the railroad and only from six
to ten miles from it. McClernand's corps was kept with its left
flank on the Big Black guarding all the crossings. Fourteen
Mile Creek, a stream substantially parallel with the railroad,
was reached and crossings effected by McClernand and Sherman
with slight loss. McPherson was to the right of Sherman,
extending to Raymond. The cavalry was used in this advance in
reconnoitring to find the roads: to cover our advances and to
find the most practicable routes from one command to another so
they could support each other in case of an attack. In making
this move I estimated Pemberton's movable force at Vicksburg at
about eighteen thousand men, with smaller forces at Haines'
Bluff and Jackson. It would not be possible for Pemberton to
attack me with all his troops at one place, and I determined to
throw my army between his and fight him in detail. This was
done with success, but I found afterwards that I had entirely
under-estimated Pemberton's strength.

Up to this point our movements had been made without serious
opposition. My line was now nearly parallel with the Jackson
and Vicksburg railroad and about seven miles south of it. The
right was at Raymond eighteen miles from Jackson, McPherson
commanding; Sherman in the centre on Fourteen Mile Creek, his
advance thrown across; McClernand to the left, also on Fourteen
Mile Creek, advance across, and his pickets within two miles of
Edward's station, where the enemy had concentrated a
considerable force and where they undoubtedly expected us to
attack. McClernand's left was on the Big Black. In all our
moves, up to this time, the left had hugged the Big Black
closely, and all the ferries had been guarded to prevent the
enemy throwing a force on our rear.

McPherson encountered the enemy, five thousand strong with two
batteries under General Gregg, about two miles out of Raymond.
This was about two P.M. Logan was in advance with one of his
brigades. He deployed and moved up to engage the enemy.
McPherson ordered the road in rear to be cleared of wagons, and
the balance of Logan's division, and Crocker's, which was still
farther in rear, to come forward with all dispatch. The order
was obeyed with alacrity. Logan got his division in position
for assault before Crocker could get up, and attacked with
vigor, carrying the enemy's position easily, sending Gregg
flying from the field not to appear against our front again
until we met at Jackson.

In this battle McPherson lost 66 killed, 339 wounded, and 37
missing--nearly or quite all from Logan's division. The enemy's
loss was 100 killed, 305 wounded, besides 415 taken prisoners.

I regarded Logan and Crocker as being as competent division
commanders as could be found in or out of the army and both
equal to a much higher command. Crocker, however, was dying of
consumption when he volunteered. His weak condition never put
him on the sick report when there was a battle in prospect, as
long as he could keep on his feet. He died not long after the
close of the rebellion.



When the news reached me of McPherson's victory at Raymond about
sundown my position was with Sherman. I decided at once to turn
the whole column towards Jackson and capture that place without

Pemberton was now on my left, with, as I supposed, about 18,000
men; in fact, as I learned afterwards, with nearly 50,000. A
force was also collecting on my right, at Jackson, the point
where all the railroads communicating with Vicksburg connect.
All the enemy's supplies of men and stores would come by that
point. As I hoped in the end to besiege Vicksburg I must first
destroy all possibility of aid. I therefore determined to move
swiftly towards Jackson, destroy or drive any force in that
direction and then turn upon Pemberton. But by moving against
Jackson, I uncovered my own communication. So I finally decided
to have none--to cut loose altogether from my base and move my
whole force eastward. I then had no fears for my
communications, and if I moved quickly enough could turn upon
Pemberton before he could attack me in the rear.

Accordingly, all previous orders given during the day for
movements on the 13th were annulled by new ones. McPherson was
ordered at daylight to move on Clinton, ten miles from Jackson;
Sherman was notified of my determination to capture Jackson and
work from there westward. He was ordered to start at four in
the morning and march to Raymond. McClernand was ordered to
march with three divisions by Dillon's to Raymond. One was left
to guard the crossing of the Big Black.

On the 10th I had received a letter from Banks, on the Red
River, asking reinforcements. Porter had gone to his assistance
with a part of his fleet on the 3d, and I now wrote to him
describing my position and declining to send any troops. I
looked upon side movements as long as the enemy held Port Hudson
and Vicksburg as a waste of time and material.

General Joseph E. Johnston arrived at Jackson in the night of
the 13th from Tennessee, and immediately assumed command of all
the Confederate troops in Mississippi. I knew he was expecting
reinforcements from the south and east. On the 6th I had written
to General Halleck: "Information from the other side leaves me
to believe the enemy are bringing forces from Tullahoma."

Up to this time my troops had been kept in supporting distances
of each other, as far as the nature of the country would
admit. Reconnoissances were constantly made from each corps to
enable them to acquaint themselves with the most practicable
routes from one to another in case a union became necessary.

McPherson reached Clinton with the advance early on the 13th and
immediately set to work destroying the railroad. Sherman's
advance reached Raymond before the last of McPherson's command
had got out of the town. McClernand withdrew from the front of
the enemy, at Edward's station, with much skill and without
loss, and reached his position for the night in good order. On
the night of the 13th, McPherson was ordered to march at early
dawn upon Jackson, only fifteen miles away. Sherman was given
the same order; but he was to move by the direct road from
Raymond to Jackson, which is south of the road McPherson was on
and does not approach within two miles of it at the point where
it crossed the line of intrenchments which, at that time,
defended the city. McClernand was ordered to move one division
of his command to Clinton, one division a few miles beyond
Mississippi Springs following Sherman's line, and a third to
Raymond. He was also directed to send his siege guns, four in
number with the troops going by Mississippi Springs.
McClernand's position was an advantageous one in any event. With
one division at Clinton he was in position to reinforce
McPherson, at Jackson, rapidly if it became necessary; the
division beyond Mississippi Springs was equally available to
reinforce Sherman; the one at Raymond could take either road. He
still had two other divisions farther back now that Blair had
come up, available within a day at Jackson. If this last
command should not be wanted at Jackson, they were already one
day's march from there on their way to Vicksburg and on three
different roads leading to the latter city. But the most
important consideration in my mind was to have a force
confronting Pemberton if he should come out to attack my rear.
This I expected him to do; as shown further on, he was directed
by Johnston to make this very move.

I notified General Halleck that I should attack the State
capital on the 14th. A courier carried the dispatch to Grand
Gulf through an unprotected country.

Sherman and McPherson communicated with each other during the
night and arranged to reach Jackson at about the same hour. It
rained in torrents during the night of the 13th and the fore
part of the day of the 14th. The roads were intolerable, and in
some places on Sherman's line, where the land was low, they were
covered more than a foot deep with water. But the troops never
murmured. By nine o'clock Crocker, of McPherson's corps, who
was now in advance, came upon the enemy's pickets and speedily
drove them in upon the main body. They were outside of the
intrenchments in a strong position, and proved to be the troops
that had been driven out of Raymond. Johnston had been
reinforced; during the night by Georgia and South Carolina
regiments, so that his force amounted to eleven thousand men,
and he was expecting still more.

Sherman also came upon the rebel pickets some distance out from
the town, but speedily drove them in. He was now on the south
and south-west of Jackson confronting the Confederates behind
their breastworks, while McPherson's right was nearly two miles
north, occupying a line running north and south across the
Vicksburg railroad. Artillery was brought up and
reconnoissances made preparatory to an assault. McPherson
brought up Logan's division while he deployed Crocker's for the
assault. Sherman made similar dispositions on the right. By
eleven A.M. both were ready to attack. Crocker moved his
division forward, preceded by a strong skirmish line. These
troops at once encountered the enemy's advance and drove it back
on the main body, when they returned to their proper regiment and
the whole division charged, routing the enemy completely and
driving him into this main line. This stand by the enemy was
made more than two miles outside of his main fortifications.
McPherson followed up with his command until within range of the
guns of the enemy from their intrenchments, when he halted to
bring his troops into line and reconnoitre to determine the next
move. It was now about noon.

While this was going on Sherman was confronting a rebel battery
which enfiladed the road on which he was marching--the
Mississippi Springs road--and commanded a bridge spanning a
stream over which he had to pass. By detaching right and left
the stream was forced and the enemy flanked and speedily driven
within the main line. This brought our whole line in front of
the enemy's line of works, which was continuous on the north,
west and south sides from the Pearl River north of the city to
the same river south. I was with Sherman. He was confronted by
a force sufficient to hold us back. Appearances did not justify
an assault where we were. I had directed Sherman to send a
force to the right, and to reconnoitre as far as to the Pearl
River. This force, Tuttle's division, not returning I rode to
the right with my staff, and soon found that the enemy had left
that part of the line. Tuttle's movement or McPherson's
pressure had no doubt led Johnston to order a retreat, leaving
only the men at the guns to retard us while he was getting
away. Tuttle had seen this and, passing through the lines
without resistance, came up in the rear of the artillerists
confronting Sherman and captured them with ten pieces of
artillery. I rode immediately to the State House, where I was
soon followed by Sherman. About the same time McPherson
discovered that the enemy was leaving his front, and advanced
Crocker, who was so close upon the enemy that they could not
move their guns or destroy them. He captured seven guns and,
moving on, hoisted the National flag over the rebel capital of
Mississippi. Stevenson's brigade was sent to cut off the rebel
retreat, but was too late or not expeditious enough.

Our loss in this engagement was: McPherson, 37 killed, 228
wounded; Sherman, 4 killed and 21 wounded and missing. The
enemy lost 845 killed, wounded and captured. Seventeen guns
fell into our hands, and the enemy destroyed by fire their
store-houses, containing a large amount of commissary stores.

On this day Blair reached New Auburn and joined McClernand's 4th
division. He had with him two hundred wagons loaded with
rations, the only commissary supplies received during the entire

I slept that night in the room that Johnston was said to have
occupied the night before.

About four in the afternoon I sent for the corps commanders and
directed the dispositions to be made of their troops. Sherman
was to remain in Jackson until he destroyed that place as a
railroad centre, and manufacturing city of military supplies. He
did the work most effectually. Sherman and I went together into
a manufactory which had not ceased work on account of the battle
nor for the entrance of Yankee troops. Our presence did not seem
to attract the attention of either the manager or the operatives,
most of whom were girls. We looked on for a while to see the
tent cloth which they were making roll out of the looms, with
"C. S. A." woven in each bolt. There was an immense amount of
cotton, in bales, stacked outside. Finally I told Sherman I
thought they had done work enough. The operatives were told
they could leave and take with them what cloth they could
carry. In a few minutes cotton and factory were in a blaze.
The proprietor visited Washington while I was President to get
his pay for this property, claiming that it was private. He
asked me to give him a statement of the fact that his property
had been destroyed by National troops, so that he might use it
with Congress where he was pressing, or proposed to press, his
claim. I declined.

On the night of the 13th Johnston sent the following dispatch to
Pemberton at Edward's station: "I have lately arrived, and learn
that Major-General Sherman is between us with four divisions at
Clinton. It is important to establish communication, that you
may be reinforced. If practicable, come up in his rear at
once. To beat such a detachment would be of immense value. All
the troops you can quickly assemble should be brought. Time is
all-important." This dispatch was sent in triplicate, by
different messengers. One of the messengers happened to be a
loyal man who had been expelled from Memphis some months before
by Hurlbut for uttering disloyal and threatening sentiments.
There was a good deal of parade about his expulsion, ostensibly
as a warning to those who entertained the sentiments he
expressed; but Hurlbut and the expelled man understood each
other. He delivered his copy of Johnston's dispatch to
McPherson who forwarded it to me.

Receiving this dispatch on the 14th I ordered McPherson to move
promptly in the morning back to Bolton, the nearest point where
Johnston could reach the road. Bolton is about twenty miles
west of Jackson. I also informed McClernand of the capture of
Jackson and sent him the following order: "It is evidently the
design of the enemy to get north of us and cross the Big Black,
and beat us into Vicksburg. We must not allow them to do
this. Turn all your forces towards Bolton station, and make all
dispatch in getting there. Move troops by the most direct road
from wherever they may be on the receipt of this order."

And to Blair I wrote: "Their design is evidently to cross the
Big Black and pass down the peninsula between the Big Black and
Yazoo rivers. We must beat them. Turn your troops immediately
to Bolton; take all the trains with you. Smith's division, and
any other troops now with you, will go to the same place. If
practicable, take parallel roads, so as to divide your troops
and train."

Johnston stopped on the Canton road only six miles north of
Jackson, the night of the 14th. He sent from there to Pemberton
dispatches announcing the loss of Jackson, and the following

"As soon as the reinforcements are all up, they must be united
to the rest of the army. I am anxious to see a force assembled
that may be able to inflict a heavy blow upon the enemy. Can
Grant supply himself from the Mississippi? Can you not cut him
off from it, and above all, should he be compelled to fall back
for want of supplies, beat him."

The concentration of my troops was easy, considering the
character of the country. McPherson moved along the road
parallel with and near the railroad. McClernand's command was,
one division (Hovey's) on the road McPherson had to take, but
with a start of four miles. One (Osterhaus) was at Raymond, on
a converging road that intersected the other near Champion's
Hill; one (Carr's) had to pass over the same road with
Osterhaus, but being back at Mississippi Springs, would not be
detained by it; the fourth (Smith's) with Blair's division, was
near Auburn with a different road to pass over. McClernand
faced about and moved promptly. His cavalry from Raymond seized
Bolton by half-past nine in the morning, driving out the enemy's
pickets and capturing several men.

The night of the 15th Hovey was at Bolton; Carr and Osterhaus
were about three miles south, but abreast, facing west; Smith
was north of Raymond with Blair in his rear.

McPherson's command, with Logan in front, had marched at seven
o'clock, and by four reached Hovey and went into camp; Crocker
bivouacked just in Hovey's rear on the Clinton road. Sherman
with two divisions, was in Jackson, completing the destruction
of roads, bridges and military factories. I rode in person out
to Clinton. On my arrival I ordered McClernand to move early in
the morning on Edward's station, cautioning him to watch for the
enemy and not bring on an engagement unless he felt very certain
of success.

I naturally expected that Pemberton would endeavor to obey the
orders of his superior, which I have shown were to attack us at
Clinton. This, indeed, I knew he could not do; but I felt sure
he would make the attempt to reach that point. It turned out,
however, that he had decided his superior's plans were
impracticable, and consequently determined to move south from
Edward's station and get between me and my base. I, however,
had no base, having abandoned it more than a week before. On
the 15th Pemberton had actually marched south from Edward's
station, but the rains had swollen Baker's Creek, which he had
to cross so much that he could not ford it, and the bridges were
washed away. This brought him back to the Jackson road, on which
there was a good bridge over Baker's Creek. Some of his troops
were marching until midnight to get there. Receiving here early
on the 16th a repetition of his order to join Johnston at
Clinton, he concluded to obey, and sent a dispatch to his chief,
informing him of the route by which he might be expected.

About five o'clock in the morning (16th) two men, who had been
employed on the Jackson and Vicksburg railroad, were brought to
me. They reported that they had passed through Pemberton's army
in the night, and that it was still marching east. They reported
him to have eighty regiments of infantry and ten batteries; in
all, about twenty-five thousand men.

I had expected to leave Sherman at Jackson another day in order
to complete his work; but getting the above information I sent
him orders to move with all dispatch to Bolton, and to put one
division with an ammunition train on the road at once, with
directions to its commander to march with all possible speed
until he came up to our rear. Within an hour after receiving
this order Steele's division was on the road. At the same time
I dispatched to Blair, who was near Auburn, to move with all
speed to Edward's station. McClernand was directed to embrace
Blair in his command for the present. Blair's division was a
part of the 15th army corps (Sherman's); but as it was on its
way to join its corps, it naturally struck our left first, now
that we had faced about and were moving west. The 15th corps,
when it got up, would be on our extreme right. McPherson was
directed to get his trains out of the way of the troops, and to
follow Hovey's division as closely as possible. McClernand had
two roads about three miles apart, converging at Edward's
station, over which to march his troops. Hovey's division of
his corps had the advance on a third road (the Clinton) still
farther north. McClernand was directed to move Blair's and A.
J. Smith's divisions by the southernmost of these roads, and
Osterhaus and Carr by the middle road. Orders were to move
cautiously with skirmishers to the front to feel for the enemy.

Smith's division on the most southern road was the first to
encounter the enemy's pickets, who were speedily driven in.
Osterhaus, on the middle road, hearing the firing, pushed his
skirmishers forward, found the enemy's pickets and forced them
back to the main line. About the same time Hovey encountered
the enemy on the northern or direct wagon road from Jackson to
Vicksburg. McPherson was hastening up to join Hovey, but was
embarrassed by Hovey's trains occupying the roads. I was still
back at Clinton. McPherson sent me word of the situation, and
expressed the wish that I was up. By half-past seven I was on
the road and proceeded rapidly to the front, ordering all trains
that were in front of troops off the road. When I arrived
Hovey's skirmishing amounted almost to a battle.

McClernand was in person on the middle road and had a shorter
distance to march to reach the enemy's position than
McPherson. I sent him word by a staff officer to push forward
and attack. These orders were repeated several times without
apparently expediting McClernand's advance.

Champion's Hill, where Pemberton had chosen his position to
receive us, whether taken by accident or design, was well
selected. It is one of the highest points in that section, and
commanded all the ground in range. On the east side of the
ridge, which is quite precipitous, is a ravine running first
north, then westerly, terminating at Baker's Creek. It was
grown up thickly with large trees and undergrowth, making it
difficult to penetrate with troops, even when not defended. The
ridge occupied by the enemy terminated abruptly where the ravine
turns westerly. The left of the enemy occupied the north end of
this ridge. The Bolton and Edward's station wagon-road turns
almost due south at this point and ascends the ridge, which it
follows for about a mile; then turning west, descends by a
gentle declivity to Baker's Creek, nearly a mile away. On the
west side the slope of the ridge is gradual and is cultivated
from near the summit to the creek. There was, when we were
there, a narrow belt of timber near the summit west of the road.

From Raymond there is a direct road to Edward's station, some
three miles west of Champion's Hill. There is one also to
Bolton. From this latter road there is still another, leaving
it about three and a half miles before reaching Bolton and leads
direct to the same station. It was along these two roads that
three divisions of McClernand's corps, and Blair of Sherman's,
temporarily under McClernand, were moving. Hovey of
McClernand's command was with McPherson, farther north on the
road from Bolton direct to Edward's station. The middle road
comes into the northern road at the point where the latter turns
to the west and descends to Baker's Creek; the southern road is
still several miles south and does not intersect the others
until it reaches Edward's station. Pemberton's lines covered
all these roads, and faced east. Hovey's line, when it first
drove in the enemy's pickets, was formed parallel to that of the
enemy and confronted his left.

By eleven o'clock the skirmishing had grown into a
hard-contested battle. Hovey alone, before other troops could
be got to assist him, had captured a battery of the enemy. But
he was not able to hold his position and had to abandon the
artillery. McPherson brought up his troops as fast as possible,
Logan in front, and posted them on the right of Hovey and across
the flank of the enemy. Logan reinforced Hovey with one brigade
from his division; with his other two he moved farther west to
make room for Crocker, who was coming up as rapidly as the roads
would admit. Hovey was still being heavily pressed, and was
calling on me for more reinforcements. I ordered Crocker, who
was now coming up, to send one brigade from his division.
McPherson ordered two batteries to be stationed where they
nearly enfiladed the enemy's line, and they did good execution.

From Logan's position now a direct forward movement carried him
over open fields, in rear of the enemy and in a line parallel
with them. He did make exactly this move, attacking, however,
the enemy through the belt of woods covering the west slope of
the hill for a short distance. Up to this time I had kept my
position near Hovey where we were the most heavily pressed; but
about noon I moved with a part of my staff by our right around,
until I came up with Logan himself. I found him near the road
leading down to Baker's Creek. He was actually in command of
the only road over which the enemy could retreat; Hovey,
reinforced by two brigades from McPherson's command, confronted
the enemy's left; Crocker, with two brigades, covered their left
flank; McClernand two hours before, had been within two miles and
a half of their centre with two divisions, and the two divisions,
Blair's and A. J. Smith's, were confronting the rebel right;
Ransom, with a brigade of McArthur's division of the 17th corps
(McPherson's), had crossed the river at Grand Gulf a few days
before, and was coming up on their right flank. Neither Logan
nor I knew that we had cut off the retreat of the enemy. Just
at this juncture a messenger came from Hovey, asking for more
reinforcements. There were none to spare. I then gave an order
to move McPherson's command by the left flank around to Hovey.
This uncovered the rebel line of retreat, which was soon taken
advantage of by the enemy.

During all this time, Hovey, reinforced as he was by a brigade
from Logan and another from Crocker, and by Crocker gallantly
coming up with two other brigades on his right, had made several
assaults, the last one about the time the road was opened to the
rear. The enemy fled precipitately. This was between three and
four o'clock. I rode forward, or rather back, to where the
middle road intersects the north road, and found the skirmishers
of Carr's division just coming in. Osterhaus was farther south
and soon after came up with skirmishers advanced in like
manner. Hovey's division, and McPherson's two divisions with
him, had marched and fought from early dawn, and were not in the
best condition to follow the retreating foe. I sent orders to
Osterhaus to pursue the enemy, and to Carr, whom I saw
personally, I explained the situation and directed him to pursue
vigorously as far as the Big Black, and to cross it if he could;
Osterhaus to follow him. The pursuit was continued until after

The battle of Champion's Hill lasted about four hours, hard
fighting, preceded by two or three hours of skirmishing, some of
which almost rose to the dignity of battle. Every man of Hovey's
division and of McPherson's two divisions was engaged during the
battle. No other part of my command was engaged at all, except
that as described before. Osterhaus's and A. J. Smith's
divisions had encountered the rebel advanced pickets as early as
half-past seven. Their positions were admirable for advancing
upon the enemy's line. McClernand, with two divisions, was
within a few miles of the battle-field long before noon and in
easy hearing. I sent him repeated orders by staff officers
fully competent to explain to him the situation. These
traversed the wood separating us, without escort, and directed
him to push forward; but he did not come. It is true, in front
of McClernand there was a small force of the enemy and posted in
a good position behind a ravine obstructing his advance; but if
he had moved to the right by the road my staff officers had
followed the enemy must either have fallen back or been cut
off. Instead of this he sent orders to Hovey, who belonged to
his corps, to join on to his right flank. Hovey was bearing the
brunt of the battle at the time. To obey the order he would have
had to pull out from the front of the enemy and march back as far
as McClernand had to advance to get into battle and substantially
over the same ground. Of course I did not permit Hovey to obey
the order of his intermediate superior.

We had in this battle about 15,000 men absolutely engaged. This
excludes those that did not get up, all of McClernand's command
except Hovey. Our loss was 410 killed, 1,844 wounded and 187
missing. Hovey alone lost 1,200 killed, wounded and
missing--more than one-third of his division.

Had McClernand come up with reasonable promptness, or had I
known the ground as I did afterwards, I cannot see how Pemberton
could have escaped with any organized force. As it was he lost
over three thousand killed and wounded and about three thousand
captured in battle and in pursuit. Loring's division, which was
the right of Pemberton's line, was cut off from the retreating
army and never got back into Vicksburg. Pemberton himself fell
back that night to the Big Black River. His troops did not stop
before midnight and many of them left before the general retreat
commenced, and no doubt a good part of them returned to their
homes. Logan alone captured 1,300 prisoners and eleven guns.
Hovey captured 300 under fire and about 700 in all, exclusive of
500 sick and wounded whom he paroled, thus making 1,200.

McPherson joined in the advance as soon as his men could fill
their cartridge-boxes, leaving one brigade to guard our
wounded. The pursuit was continued as long as it was light
enough to see the road. The night of the 16th of May found
McPherson's command bivouacked from two to six miles west of the
battlefield, along the line of the road to Vicksburg. Carr and
Osterhaus were at Edward's station, and Blair was about three
miles south-east; Hovey remained on the field where his troops
had fought so bravely and bled so freely. Much war material
abandoned by the enemy was picked up on the battle-field, among
it thirty pieces of artillery. I pushed through the advancing
column with my staff and kept in advance until after night.
Finding ourselves alone we stopped and took possession of a
vacant house. As no troops came up we moved back a mile or more
until we met the head of the column just going into bivouac on
the road. We had no tents, so we occupied the porch of a house
which had been taken for a rebel hospital and which was filled
with wounded and dying who had been brought from the
battle-field we had just left.

While a battle is raging one can see his enemy mowed down by the
thousand, or the ten thousand, with great composure; but after
the battle these scenes are distressing, and one is naturally
disposed to do as much to alleviate the suffering of an enemy as
a friend.



We were now assured of our position between Johnston and
Pemberton, without a possibility of a junction of their
forces. Pemberton might have made a night march to the Big
Black, crossed the bridge there and, by moving north on the west
side, have eluded us and finally returned to Johnston. But this
would have given us Vicksburg. It would have been his proper
move, however, and the one Johnston would have made had he been
in Pemberton's place. In fact it would have been in conformity
with Johnston's orders to Pemberton.

Sherman left Jackson with the last of his troops about noon on
the 16th and reached Bolton, twenty miles west, before
halting. His rear guard did not get in until two A.M. the 17th,
but renewed their march by daylight. He paroled his prisoners at
Jackson, and was forced to leave his own wounded in care of
surgeons and attendants. At Bolton he was informed of our
victory. He was directed to commence the march early next day,
and to diverge from the road he was on to Bridgeport on the Big
Black River, some eleven miles above the point where we expected
to find the enemy. Blair was ordered to join him there with the
pontoon train as early as possible.

This movement brought Sherman's corps together, and at a point
where I hoped a crossing of the Big Black might be effected and
Sherman's corps used to flank the enemy out of his position in
our front, thus opening a crossing for the remainder of the
army. I informed him that I would endeavor to hold the enemy in
my front while he crossed the river.

The advance division, Carr's (McClernand's corps), resumed the
pursuit at half-past three A.M. on the 17th, followed closely by
Osterhaus, McPherson bringing up the rear with his corps. As I
expected, the enemy was found in position on the Big Black. The
point was only six miles from that where my advance had rested
for the night, and was reached at an early hour. Here the river
makes a turn to the west, and has washed close up to the high
land; the east side is a low bottom, sometimes overflowed at
very high water, but was cleared and in cultivation. A bayou
runs irregularly across this low land, the bottom of which,
however, is above the surface of the Big Black at ordinary
stages. When the river is full water runs through it,
converting the point of land into an island. The bayou was
grown up with timber, which the enemy had felled into the
ditch. At this time there was a foot or two of water in it. The
rebels had constructed a parapet along the inner bank of this
bayou by using cotton bales from the plantation close by and
throwing dirt over them. The whole was thoroughly commanded
from the height west of the river. At the upper end of the
bayou there was a strip of uncleared land which afforded a cover
for a portion of our men. Carr's division was deployed on our
right, Lawler's brigade forming his extreme right and reaching
through these woods to the river above. Osterhaus' division was
deployed to the left of Carr and covered the enemy's entire
front. McPherson was in column on the road, the head close by,
ready to come in wherever he could be of assistance.

While the troops were standing as here described an officer from
Banks' staff came up and presented me with a letter from General
Halleck, dated the 11th of May. It had been sent by the way of
New Orleans to Banks to be forwarded to me. It ordered me to
return to Grand Gulf and to co-operate from there with Banks
against Port Hudson, and then to return with our combined forces
to besiege Vicksburg. I told the officer that the order came too
late, and that Halleck would not give it now if he knew our
position. The bearer of the dispatch insisted that I ought to
obey the order, and was giving arguments to support his position
when I heard great cheering to the right of our line and, looking
in that direction, saw Lawler in his shirt sleeves leading a
charge upon the enemy. I immediately mounted my horse and rode
in the direction of the charge, and saw no more of the officer
who delivered the dispatch; I think not even to this day.

The assault was successful. But little resistance was made. The
enemy fled from the west bank of the river, burning the bridge
behind him and leaving the men and guns on the east side to fall
into our hands. Many tried to escape by swimming the river.
Some succeeded and some were drowned in the attempt. Eighteen
guns were captured and 1,751 prisoners. Our loss was 39 killed,
237 wounded and 3 missing. The enemy probably lost but few men
except those captured and drowned. But for the successful and
complete destruction of the bridge, I have but little doubt that
we should have followed the enemy so closely as to prevent his
occupying his defences around Vicksburg.

As the bridge was destroyed and the river was high, new bridges
had to be built. It was but little after nine o'clock A.M. when
the capture took place. As soon as work could be commenced,
orders were given for the construction of three bridges. One
was taken charge of by Lieutenant Hains, of the Engineer Corps,
one by General McPherson himself and one by General Ransom, a
most gallant and intelligent volunteer officer. My recollection
is that Hains built a raft bridge; McPherson a pontoon, using
cotton bales in large numbers, for pontoons; and that Ransom
felled trees on opposite banks of the river, cutting only on one
side of the tree, so that they would fall with their tops
interlacing in the river, without the trees being entirely
severed from their stumps. A bridge was then made with these
trees to support the roadway. Lumber was taken from buildings,
cotton gins and wherever found, for this purpose. By eight
o'clock in the morning of the 18th all three bridges were
complete and the troops were crossing.

Sherman reached Bridgeport about noon of the 17th and found
Blair with the pontoon train already there. A few of the enemy
were intrenched on the west bank, but they made little
resistance and soon surrendered. Two divisions were crossed
that night and the third the following morning.

On the 18th I moved along the Vicksburg road in advance of the
troops and as soon as possible joined Sherman. My first anxiety
was to secure a base of supplies on the Yazoo River above
Vicksburg. Sherman's line of march led him to the very point on
Walnut Hills occupied by the enemy the December before when he
was repulsed. Sherman was equally anxious with myself. Our
impatience led us to move in advance of the column and well up
with the advanced skirmishers. There were some detached works
along the crest of the hill. These were still occupied by the
enemy, or else the garrison from Haines' Bluff had not all got
past on their way to Vicksburg. At all events the bullets of
the enemy whistled by thick and fast for a short time. In a few
minutes Sherman had the pleasure of looking down from the spot
coveted so much by him the December before on the ground where
his command had lain so helpless for offensive action. He
turned to me, saying that up to this minute he had felt no
positive assurance of success. This, however, he said was the
end of one of the greatest campaigns in history and I ought to
make a report of it at once. Vicksburg was not yet captured,
and there was no telling what might happen before it was taken;
but whether captured or not, this was a complete and successful


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