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teries.” But, at half-past one, not a single gun had been silenced. It was a most unfortunate repulse.
Grant knew it would be simply a massacre of his men to lead them against such works; but he knew, also, no such word as 6 fail.” His definition of the word “ difficulty” was a
was a thing to be overcome. He signalled to the admiral, and was immediately put on board the flagship, where he requested that the fleet would run the batteries the same night as a cover to the transports, while the troops marched farther down the river.
It was expected they would be obliged to march south as far as Rodney before they could effect a crossing; but a “contraband,” during the night, told them of an excellent road at Bruinsburg, only half-way to Rodney, which led directly to Port Gibson, in the interior.
At this time, Grant desired an attack to be made on Haine's Bluff, above, to divert the attention of the enemy from his real movement, to the rear of Vicksburg ; but it was only to be a feigned attack, and then the army were to withdraw. He hesitated to order Sherman to make an attack and fall back at this time. It would be misunderstood at the North. It would be published as another defeat, and stimulate still more the efforts for his removal. Sherman, as well as Grant, had been subjected to the harshest censures for the failures to take Vicksburg. But Grant wrote to him, still remaining at Milliken's Bend, “ The effect of a heavy demonstration in that direction would be good so far as the enemy are concerned; but I am loath to order it, because it would be so hard to make our own troops understand that only a demonstration was intended, and our people at home would characterize it as a repulse.”
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But Sherman replied, “I believe a diversion at Haine's Bluff is proper and right, and will make it, let whatever reports of repulses be made.”
This incident brings out in admirable light the rare friendship of these remarkable men.
Sherman at once moved ten regiments up the Yazoo, who were landed and disposed as if to make a formidable attack. The gunboats, which had been left at the bend, commenced a furious bombardment. These movements created great excitement in Vicksburg. “ There was mounting in hot haste;” troops were hurried from one point to another. For two days and nights, Sherman kept up active preparations for an attack of the most threatening character, when he received the following from Grant : “Move up to Perkins's Plantation with two divisions of your corps as rapidly as possible.”
He at once retired, and hurried down the river, not having lost a single man. The news went over the country of “another repulse at Haine's Bluff;” the rebels shouted over another victory won. Vicksburg is impregnable !
Grant had only passed Grand Gulf; had not begun his march to Jackson; and, while all seemed dark to others, he was full of confidence, and wrote to Halleck, “I feel now that the battle is half over.” Four days after, he wrote, “ In two weeks, I expect to be able to collect all my forces, and turn the enemy's left.”
As the gunboats were now all at Grand Gulf, Gen. Grant was apprehensive that the rebels might send an armed steamer down the Big Black River, turn north, and attack him at Perkins's, where he had accumulated
stores and ammunition. To meet
such emergency, he constructed a gunboat by placing some pieces of light artillery on board one of the transports, and had four 30-pound Parrott guns dragged by oxen to a commanding position on the river, ready for immediate service.
Port Gibson is in the rear of the works at Grand Gulf, about twelve miles from Bruinsburg, on the route to Jackson and also to Vicksburg. The capture of Port Gibson would carry also the fall of Grand Gulf.
Grant hurried his army across the river with the utmost speed, that he might advance before the enemy should be aware of his plans. To the quartermaster he wrote in regard to loading rations, “ Do this with all expedition, in forty-eight hours : time is of immense importance.'
He thus cuts away the “ red tape of the chief commissary's department: “You will issue to the troops of this command, without provision-returns,* for their subsistence the next five days, three rations.”
Every tug, boat, and barge was crowded to its utmost in taking the men over the river, which is here a mile in width. And Admiral Porter, who also knew the value of time, offered the naval vessels for the unusual work of ferry-boats, and loaded them with men and
guns, in cordial sympathy with Gen. Grant's energetic movements. The
could not follow the army on dry land; but it could go with them to the water's edge, and bid them “ God speed.”
Not a single tent, nor any personal baggage, was
*“Provision-returns are technical vouchers required of each officer drawing rations, involving formality and delay.
allowed to go over, not even the horses of the general and staff, until the troops were landed. Hon. Mr. Washburne, the early and eloquent friend of Gen. Grant, who was with the army at this time, thus writes :
“In starting on the movement, the general disencumbered himself of every thing, setting an example to his officers and men. He took neither a horse nor a servant, overcoat nor blanket, nor tent nor camp-chest, nor even a clean shirt. His only baggage consisted of a tooth-brush. He always showed his teeth to the rebels. He shared all the hardships of the private soldier ; sleeping in the front and in the open air, and eating hard-tack and salt pork. He wore no sword, had on a low-crowned citizen's hat; and the only thing about him to mark him as a military man was his two stars on his undress military coat.”
It was about an hour before sunset that the Thirteenth Corps led the way from the bluffs in this the last and successful expedition for the capture of Vicksburg. The scene was inspiring. Behind them was the broad river; around and before them was the verdure of midsummer. The air was loaded with perfumes, the corn was waving, the magnolia was in full blossom. The peaceful beauty of the landscape was in
. strange contrast with the glittering bayonets, the rolling drums, and the warlike appearance of the military array. The army advanced quietly until about two o'clock, when they encountered a rebel force of about eleven thousand men, in a strong position, under Gen. Bowen. After a light fire from the infantry, both armies waited the coming of daylight before opening battle. The nature of the ground was peculiar : the roads were on ridges, with ravines on each side choked
up with magnolia trees and vines, and gave the rebels opportunity to contest with great advantage the advance of the Union army. On the right, McClernand advanced with Generals Carr, Hovey, and A. J. Smith; and the left was under the command of Osterhaus.
The right advanced steadily, pressing back the enemy; but an almost impassable ravine resisted the left wing. About noon, Grant ordered two brigades of Logan's division, and Smith's brigade, to attack and outflank the enemy on the left. Grant and McPherson both accompanied the advance. Soon after, a general charge was ordered ; and the enemy gave way in all directions. Before sunset, the enemy were retreating toward Port Gibson, leaving their dead and wounded on the field.
They were pursued to within two miles of Port Gibson, when darkness and the danger of ambuscades rendered it necessary to rest till daylight. But, lest the enemy should attempt a retreat, Grant's orders to McClernand were, “Push the enemy, with skirmishers well thrown out, until it gets too dark to see him. Park your artillery so as to command the surrounding country, and renew the attack at early dawn. . . . No camp-fires should be allowed, unless in deep ravines and in rear of the troops.
Grant took six hundred and fifty prisoners, four flags, six field-guns; and nearly eight hundred of the enemy were killed or wounded. Among the former was Gen. Tracy. Our loss was one hundred and thirty killed, and about seven hundred wounded. The landing at Bruinsburg, and the rapid advance of the Fed