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FIRST ASSAULT ON VICKSBURG.
incessantly in their midst, struggled through, and with bayonets at charge, swept in headlong fury upon the rebel works. Taken by surprise at this sudden movement, the enemy at once raised the white flag, and the whole garrison, with seventeen pieces of artillery, was ours. The rebel army across the river, seeing the disaster, immediately set fire to the bridge-thus cutting off all chance of escape for any portion of their troops on the east bank—and retreated rapidly towards Vicksburg.
Sherman, in the meantime, had reached Bridgeport above, with the only pontoon train in the army, by which he effected a crossing of the river the next morning. MeClernand and McPherson built floating bridges during the night, and on the 18th, the army was moving en masse on Vicksburg. Sherman, still holding the right, marched rapidly towards the Yazoo River, while McClernand, inclining to the south, closed in on the doomed garrison in that direction. The next day, Sherman's right rested on the Mississippi, within plain view of our gunboats, and Haines' Bluff was at once hastily evacuated by the enemy.
Vicksburg was now closely besieged, and Grant, finding his army eager for an assault, and believing the enemy to be demoralized by the staggering blows that had been dealt him, determined, desperate as the undertaking was, to attempt to carry the place by storm. The army moved gallantly to the assault, under a desolating fire, but the works were too strong to be carried. Only a portion of the army, the Fifteenth Corps, gained even a temporary advantage, and at night the troops were recalled.
The two following days were spent in bringing up supplies, and perfecting the communications, and giving a little rest to the troops, which had for twenty days been constantly marching and fighting, on short rations.
Everything being arranged, Grant determined to make another effort to carry this modern Gibraltar by assault.
Ten o'clock, on the morning of the 22nd, was the time appointed. The several corps commanders set their watches by Grant's, so that there should be perfect unity of movement, and at the appointed signál, the larmy, in splendid array and magnificent order, swept, awful as the ocean surge, full on the rebel works. Then commenced one of the wildest scenes of war. All along the frowning 'fortifications, there streamed an incessant sheet of fire, bursting through the thick smoke, on the brave, uncovered ranks below, that still pressed dauntlessly forward, heedless of the destruction that wasted them. They could see no enemy in front-only solid earthworks, clouds of rolling smoke, and waves of fire, confronted them. For two fearful hours, they struggled desperately to reach this blazing vortex, and quench its deadly fires, but struggled in vain. Just then, Grant received a dispatch from McClernand, stating that he had gained the intrenchments in front of him, at several points, and needed more troops. They were given, and the assault was pressed more vigorously than ever. McClernand, however, overestimated the amount of success gained, and the fresh attempt only helped to swell the slaughter, and the bleeding army was at length compelled to fall; back, and abandon the struggle.
Grant now gave up all attempts to take the place by storm, and sat down before it in regular siege. Porter, with his gunboats, kept watch and ward on the Mississippi, cooperating with the former by every means in his power. The gunboat Cincinnati was sunk by the rebel batteries, and fifteen men drowned, and twenty-five killed and woundec? The masts had all been shot away before she went down, yet she sunk with her flag flying---nailed to one of the stumps.
* Grant blamed McClernand for giving this false information, which voked the latter to issue a general order, recapitulating the services of his corps, and also to defend himself in a letter to Governor Yates, which caused Grant to remove him from command, and put Ord in his place.
HAM-HIS BANISHMENT-EXASPERATED STATE OF PUBLIC FEELING.
VHE very next day after this unsuccessful assault of
Vicksburg, Banks arrived with his army, from Alexandria, before Port Hudson. Coming down the Red River, he had crossed the Mississippi above the place, hoping to find its defenses on that side much weaker than on the south.
Forming a junction with Augur's force, that came down from Baton Rouge, he immediately began to invest the place, but, unwilling to await the slow progress of a siege, made two unsuccessful assaults on its impregnable fortifications. The troops fought bravely, and Weitzel, Sherman and Augur maintained their old renown, and the colored regiments behaved with great gallantry; but it was a useless waste of life.
Banks now sat down before it in regular siege, and day by day, pushed his batteries nearer and nearer to the rebel works, until some of them were within three hundred yards. At length, after having dismounted several pieces of the rebel artillery, and silenced others with his sharpshooters, he determined to make another attempt to carry the place by assault. Sunday, the 14th of June, was the day fixed upon, and long before daylight the artillery opened all along the line, and the Sabbath morning was ushered in by a cannonading that shook the shores of the Mississippi.
Farragut, with his gunboats, was co-operating with Banks, and his heavy guns soon opened, and helped to swell the uproar that filled all the air.
The extreme north-east angle of the breastworks was selected as presenting the least formidable obstacles to success, for much of the artillery at this point had been, during the last week, dismounted or silenced, Still, almost insurmountable difficulties presented themselves, even here. At one point, a clear field, five or six hundred yards in width, swept up to the ramparts, crossed and recrossed with narrow, deep gullies, too small to afford protection and yet too broad to be easily passed, and covered also with fallen trees and vines, thus forming a trap for the advancing troops, who all the while would be exposed to a desolating fire.
In the dull, gray light of the early morning, the Seventy-fifth New York moved rapidly forward as skirmishers, followed by the Ninety-first New York, each soldier carrying a five-pound hand grenade, which to be thrown over the breastworks to scatter the enemy. Next came the Twenty-fourth Connecticut, loaded with sand-bags filled with cotton, to fill up the ditch for the advancing stormers. The balance of Weitzel's brigade was to press close after, to be supported by other brigades under Colonel Birge. As soon as Weitzel should make a lodgment within the enemy's works, Paine was to follow, and then the two columns were to be quickly deployed in line of battle, and move swiftly on the town and the grand citadel itself. Grover commanded these two divisions, which were to do the chief work, while Augur and Dwight made feints on the rebel left.
The assaulting columns advanced with great intrepiditybrigade after brigade dashing forward under a heavy firem but were compelled each time to fall back. A dense fog had lain along the river, giving a more somber hue to the
gray twilight, but in the midst of the carnage, it suddenly lifted and rolled upward like a mighty curtain, and the bright sun lighted up the wild scene with noontide splendor. The assault was pressed with great valor and resolution, and the commanders held their troops to the deadly struggle till eleven o'clock, when such as could retire fell back, and the rest crouched in the gullies or hid behind trees and whatever could afford shelter, and waited for the darkness to cover the field, so that they could get out of the deadly range of the enemy's muskets. Col. Paine, being wounded, lay all day between two rows of earth, in an old cotton field, exposed to the blazing sun, and when at dark he was removed, his wounds were full of maggots. Many of the wounded soldiers lay exposed in the same way.
The loss in this assault was estimated at seven hundred and fifty. The Secretary of War's maxim,“ to move at once upon the enemy's works," had now been tried quite enough, and the despised "spade” was resorted to again. Mathematical science and engineering skill, will always be found more worthy of trust than popular declamation or misguided bravery
Banks now préssed the siege with great vigor, and being determined that Grant, around Vicksburg, should not get all the glory, planned another assault. But before it was attempted, the surrender of the latter place made further aitempts to hold Port Hirson uselesi
When Grast had competed his lines around Vicksburg, opening communication with the North by way of the Mississippi, so that supplies and reinforcements could be forwarded to him to any amount, the fall of the stronghold was evidently a mere question of time. Rumors, from time to time, were received, that Johnston was assembling a heavy army in his rear, to raise the siege; but the arrival of reinforcements allowed Grant to detach Sherman, with a