« PreviousContinue »
laid to the city by the land forces, the gunboats in the river cooperating. Our approaches were pushed forward with vigorous perseverance; our works, in spite of the most strenuous opposition of the garrison under General Pemberton, drawing nearer every day, and the gunboats in the river keeping up an almost constant bombardment. The enemy, it was known, were greatly straitened by want of supplies and ammunition, and their only hope of relief was that General Johnston would be able to collect an army sufficient to raise the siege by attacking Grant in his rear. This had been so strongly defended that a force of 50,000 men would have been required to make the attempt with any hope of success, and Johnston was not able to concentrate half of that number. On the morning of the 4th of July, therefore, General Pemberton proposed to surrender Vicksburg, on condition that his troops should be permitted to march out. Grant refused, demanding an absolute surrender of the garrison as prisoners of war. Upon consultation with his officers, Pemberton acceded to these terms. By this surrender about 31,000 prisoners, 220 cannon, and 70,000 stand of small arms fell into our hands. oners were at once released on parole. The entire loss of the enemy during the campaign which was thus closed by the surrender of Vicksburg, was nearly 40,000; ours was not far from 7,000.
The capture of Vicksburg was immediately followed by that of Port Hudson, which was surrendered on the 8th of July to General Banks, together with about 7,000 prisoners, fifty cannon, and a considerable number of small arms. The whole course of the Mississippi, from its source to its mouth, was thus opened, and the Confederacy virtually separated into two parts, neither capable of rendering any effective assistance to the other.
The great victories, by which the Fourth of July had been so signally, and so gloriously commemorated, called forth the
PUBLIC REJOICINGS.—THE PRESIDENT'S SPEECH. 385
most enthusiastic rejoicings in every section of the country. Public meetings were held in nearly all the cities and principal towns, at which eloquent speeches and earnest resolutions expressed the joy of the people, and testified their unflinching purpose to prosecute the war until the rebellion should be extinguished. A large concourse of the citizens of Washington preceded by a band of music, visited the residence of the President, and the members of his cabinet-giving them, in succession, the honors of a serenade—which the President acknowledged, in the following remarks :
FELLOW-CITIZENS: I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you, for this call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occa
you have called. How long ago is it, -eighty odd years since on the Fourth of July, for the first time, in the history of the world, a nation, by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth, “that all men are created equal.” That was the birthday of the United States of America. Since then the Fourth of July has had several very peculiar recognitions. The two men most distinguished in the framing and support of the Declaration were THOMAS JEFFERSON and JOHN ADAMS—the one having penned it, and the other sustained it the most forcibly in debate—the only two of the fifty-five who signed it, and were elected Presidents of the United States. Precisely fifty years after they put their hands to the paper, it pleased Almighty God to take both from this stage of action. This was indeed an extraordinary and remarkable event in our history. Another President, five years after, was called from this stage of existence on the same day and month of the year; and now on this last Fourth of July, just passed, when we have a gigantic rebellion, at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men were created equal, we have the surrender of a most powerful position and army on that very day. And not only so, but in a succession of battles in Pennsylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called one great battle, on the first, second, and third of the month of July; and on the fourth the cohorts of those who opposed the Declaration that all men are created equal, “turned tail” and run. [Long continued cheers.] Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech, but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion. I would like to speak in terms of praise due to the many brave officers and soldiers who have fought in the cause of the Union and liberties of their country from the beginning of the war. These are trying occasions, not only in success, but for the want of success. I dislike to mention the name of one single officer, lest I might do wrong to those I might forget. Recent events bring up glorious names, and particularly prominent ones; but these I will not mention, Having said this much, I will now take the music.
The President, a few days afterwards, wrote to General Grant the following letter :
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, July 13, 1863. Major-General GRANT:
MY DEAR GENERAL:—I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally did-march the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river, and join General Banks, and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment, that you were right and I was wrong.
A. LINCOLN. These victories, together with others, both numerous and important, which were achieved in other sections of the country, gave such strong grounds of encouragement and hope for the speedy overthrow of the rebellion, that, on the 15th of July, the President issued the following proclamation for a day of National Thanksgiving: By the President of the United States of America.
A PROCLAMATION. It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the Army and the Navy of the United States, on the land and on the sea, victories so signal and
so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently secured; but these victories have been accorded, not without sacrifice of life, limb, and liberty, incurred by brave, patriotic, and loyal citizens. Domestic affliction, in every part of the country, follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father, and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and these sorrows.
Now, therefore, be it known, that I do set apart Thursday, the sixth day of August next, to be observed as a day for National Thanksgiving, praise, and prayer; and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and in the form approved by their own conscience, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things He has done in the Nation's behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit, to subdue the anger which has produced, and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a National emergency, and to visit with tender care, and consolation, throughout the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate, and finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this 15th day of July, in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of [L. s.] the independence of the United States of America the eightyeighth.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:
WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
In other portions of the field of war, our arms, during the year 1863, had achieved other victories of marked importance which deserve mention, though their relation to the special object of this work is not such as to require them to be described in detail.
After the retreat of the rebel General Lee to the south side of the Rapidan, a considerable portion of his army was detached and sent to re-enforce Bragg, threatened by Rosecrans, at Chattanooga; but, with his pumbers thus diminished, Lee assumed a threatening attitude against Meade, and turning his left flank forced him to fall back to the line of Bull Run. Several sharp skirmishes occurred during these operations, in which both sides sustained considerable losses, but no substantial advantage was gained by the rebels, and by the 1st of November they had resumed their original position on the south side of the Rapidan.
After the battle of Murfreesboro, and the occupation of that place by our troops, on the 5th of January, 1863, the enemy took position at Shelbyville and Tullahoma, and the winter and spring were passed in raids and unimportant skirmishes. In June, while General Grant was besieging Vicksburg, information reached the government which led to the belief that a portion of Bragg's army had been sent to the relief of that place; and General Rosecrans was urged to take advantage of this division of the rebel forces and drive them back into Georgia, so as completely to deliver East Tennessee from the rebel armies. He was told that General Burnside would move from Kentucky in aid of this movement. General Rosecrans, however, deemed his forces unequal to such an enterprise ; but, receiving re-enforcements, he commenced on the 25th of June a forward movement upon the enemy, strongly intrenched at Tullahoma, with his main force near Shelbyville. Deceiving the rebel General by a movement upon his left flank, Rosecrans threw the main body of his army upon the enemy's right, which he turned so completely that Bragg abandoned his position, and fell back rapidly, and in confusion, to Bridgeport, Alabama, being pursued as far as practicable by our forces. General Burnside had been ordered to connect himself with Rosecrans, but had