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eral troops, had surprised and disconcerted the enemy; ; and Gen. Pemberton, in command of the department, telegraphed at once to Gen. J. E. Johnston, “ A furious battle has been going on since daylight, just below Port Gibson. Enemy can cross all his army from Hard Times to Bruinsburg. I should have large reenforcements. Enemy's movements threaten Jackson, and, if successful, cut off Vicksburg and Port Hud
To this, Johnston gave the best possible advice (no one could have given better): “Unite your troops, and beat Grant:" its only infirmity was the difficulty of carrying it out.
In the morning, it was found that the enemy had evacuated Port Gibson, and burned the bridge, one hundred and twenty feet long, across Bayou Pierre, to prevent pursuit. It was rebuilt with great energy.. Houses were torn down to furnish timber, and the men worked up to their waists in water. Meanwhile, a part of Logan's command succeeded in fording the stream, and pushed on with impatience after the retreating foe.
Crocker's division of McPherson's corps had been ferried over the river, had filled their haversacks with three days' rations, which were to last five days, and also hurried forward. Three miles beyond Port Gibson, the troops came upon some fifty thousand weight of hams in fine order, which the rebels had left by the road in their flight. The pursuit was kept up, with occasional skirmishing, to the Big Black River, fifteen miles beyond Port Gibson, and within eighteen miles of the city of Vicksburg. Pemberton might well ask for * large re-enforcements.”
As Grant had foreseen, the capture of Port Gibson carried with it the fall of Grand Gulf; and the next morning he rode over to this place with a small cavalry escort to learn that the enemy had abandoned the whole country, from the Bayou Pierre to the Big Black River north. He at once took possession, and gave orders to make Grand Gulf his base of supplies, instead of Bruinsburg.
The magazines had been blown up, and the guns buried or spiked. They had not been removed by the enemy, for the following excellent reason, given in Gen. Pemberton's report: “So rapid were his” [Grant's] “ movements, that it was impracticable to withdraw the heavy guns."
Grant had not had his clothes off for three days and nights: his only baggage was a tooth-brush, his only indulgence a cigar. He now went on board one of the gunboats, borrowed a change of linen, and wrote until near morning
To Gen. Halleck he announced the victory in the following modest terms:
GRAND GULF, Miss., May 3, 1863. Major-Gen. HALLECK, General-in-Chief,
We landed at Bruinsburg, April 30; moved immediately on Port Gibson ; met the enemy, eleven thousand strong, four miles south of Port Gibson, at two o'clock, A.M., on the 1st instant, and engaged him all day, entirely routing him, with the loss of many killed, and about five hundred prisoners, besides the wounded. Our loss is about one hundred killed, and five hundred wounded. The
enemy retreated towards Vicksburg, destroying the bridges over the two forks of the Bayou Pierre.
These were rebuilt ; and the pursuit has continued until the present time.
Besides the heavy artillery at the place, four field-pieces were
captured, and some stores; and the enemy were driven to destroy many more. The country is the most broken and difficult to operate in I ever saw. Our victory has been most complete, and the enemy is thoroughly demoralized.
But Gov. Yates of Illinois, who was with the
army, had no disposition for such moderation; and he telegraphed as follows:
GRAND GULF, Miss., May 4, 1863. Our arms are gloriously triumphant. We have succeeded in winning a victory, which, in its results, must be the most important of the war.
The battle of May 1 lasted from eight o'clock in the morning until night, during all which time the enemy was driven back on the right, left, and centre. All day yesterday, our army was in pursuit of the rebels ; they giving us battle at almost every defensible point, and fighting with desperate valor. Last night, a large force of the enemy was driven across Black River; and Gen. McClernand was driving another large force in the direction of Willow Springs. About two o'clock yesterday, I left Gen. Logan with his division, in pursuit of the enemy, to join Gen. Grant at Grand Gulf, which the enemy had evacuated in the morning ; first blowing up their magazines, spiking their cannon, destroying tents, &c. On my way to Grand Gulf, I saw guns scattered all along the road, which the enemy had left in their retreat. The rebels were scattered through the woods in every
direction. This army of the rebels was considered, as I now learn, invincible ; but it quailed before the irresistible assaults of North-western valor.
I consider Vicksburg as ours in a short time, and the Mississippi River is destined to be open from its source to its mouth.
I have been side by side with our boys in battle, and can bear witness to the unfaltering courage and prowess of our brave Illinoisians.
GRAND GULF CAPTURED.
RANT had now obtained a foothold on the high
ground he had been fighting for during five months. He had captured Grand Gulf, one of the strong outworks of Vicksburg. He had won a splendid victory. It was the beginning of the end. The foregoing despatches show the style in which the achievements were narrated by Grant and by an impartial observer.
Grant had now to decide on his plan of operations. He had thirty-five thousand men in his command, of whom he wrote, “ My army is composed of hardy and disciplined men, who know no defeat, and are not willing to learn what it is."
He was in the State of Mississippi, the home of Jefferson Davis, in a region wholly given over to secession. Shall he advance at once on Vicksburg, and begin the siege where Pemberton, by his report, has 59,411 men ? or shall he go north and east, and meet the force gathering under Gen. Gregg with numbers unknown ? If he sits down to besiege Vicksburg, Gregg will be upon his rear; ; if he attacks Gregg, Pemberton will be upon his rear. Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, who had entire command of the rebel armies in that region, was moving toward Jackson, the capital of the State, and only fifty miles
distant, with railroad communication in various direc. tions. The question must be decided at once.
Grant determined to move east, to Jackson ; attack and beat Gregg and the army there, before Pemberton should know of his plan, or could march to interfere with him ; then return, and beat Pemberton; or, if he retired into Vicksburg, besiege and capture it. But to do this before the rebel armies can unite and overwhełm him requires energy and speed not often exhibited. The army must be hurled with its whole force, first in one direction, then in another, as with the will of a single
He cannot leave part of his force to watch and fight Pemberton while he goes east to fight Gregg. This would require two armies, and he has but one.
But, if he strikes out with thirty-five thousand men into the heart of the Confederacy, how is he to feed them? His supplies, brought from Milliken’s Bend, are now to be sent from Grand Gulf. But Pemberton can easily send a force to intervene between his army and its base.
Grant determined to take what supplies he could, leave his base to care for itself, feed his army from the country through which he moved, fight his battles as fast as possible, then turn west, and return to Vicksburg. But he knew well that the cautious mind of Gen. Halleck, sitting in his office at Washington, would never sympathize with his views; and he thought his only method was to do it, and ask permission afterward. So he proclaimed no plans in advance, but reported regularly results as they occurred. We shall see that he judged correctly. They were studying the maps in