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A Period of Disasters.-DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI.-Grant's March upor Vicksburg.-Its Steps and Incidents.-The Engagement of Port Gibson.-The Evacuation of Jackson.-The Battle of Baker's Creek.-Pemberton's Declarations as to the Defence of Vicksburg.-A grand Assault upon the "Heroic City."-Its Repulse.— The Final Surrender of Vicksburg.-How the Public Mind of the South was shocked. -Consequences of the Disaster.-How it involved affairs on the Lower Mississippi. -Other Theatres of the War.-THE CAMPAIGN IN PENNSYLVANIA AND MARYLA ND.— Hooker manœuvred out of Virginia.-The Recapture of Winchester.-The Second Invasion of the Northern Territory.-The Alarm of the North.-Gen. Lee's object in the Invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania.-His Essays at Conciliation.-The Error of such Policy.-The advance of his Lines into Pennsylvania.-The Battle of Gettysburg. The Three Days' Engagements.-Death of Barksdale.-Pickett's splendid Charge on the Batteries.-Repulse of the Confederates.-Anxiety and Alarm in Richmond.-Lee's safe Retreat into Virginia.-Mystery of his Movement.-Recovery of the Confidence of the South. Review of the Present Aspects of the War.-Comparison between the Disasters of 1862 and those of 1863.-The Vitals of the Confederacy yet untouched.-Review of the Civil Administration.-President Davis, his Cabinet, and his Favorites.-His private Quarrels.-His Deference to European Opinion. Decline of the Finances of the Confederacy.-Reasons of their Decline. The Confederate Brokers.-The Blockade Runners.-The Disaffections of Propertyholders.-The Spirit of the Army.-The Moral Resolution of the Confederacy.-How the Enemy has strengthened it.-The Prospects of the Future.
We find it necessary to give another chapter to the extension of our narrative beyond its appropriate limit. We shall proceed rapidly with a general reference to such events as may exhibit the condition of the Confederacy at the time of this writing, reserving details for another volume that will properly cover the period of the third year of the War. That year has opened with disasters, at which we can now glance only imperfectly, for upon them the lights of time have scarcely yet developed.
DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI.
As the attention of the reader returns to the busy scenes of the war, it is taken by one of those sudden translations, so common in this history, from Virginia to the distant theatres of the West. The smoke of battle yet lingered on the Rappanock, when the attention of the public was suddenly drawn to
the Valley of the Mississippi by the startling announcement that an army of the enemy was on the overland march against Vicksburg, that had so long defied an attack from the water.
We have at this time only very uncertain materials for the history of the campaign in Mississippi. We must at present trust ourselves to a very general outline that will exclude any considerable extent of comment; satisfied that what we can do at present to interest the reader is simply to put certain leading occurrences of the campaign in their natural succession, and make a compact resume of events which, up to this time, have been related in a very confused and scattering style.
By running the gauntlet of our batteries at Vicksburg with his transports, Grant avoided the necessity of the completion of the canal, and secured a passage of the river, after leading his troops over the narrow peninsula below Vicksburg, at any point above Port Hudson which he might select. It appears that the defences at Grand Gulf, twenty-two miles south of Warrenton, at the mouth of Black river, were only constructed after the enemy had succeeded in getting some of his vessels between Port Hudson and Vicksburg. The Black river being navigable for some distance, they were intended to obstruct the passage of a force to the rear of Vicksburg by this route.
The abandonment of our works there, after a severe bombard-. ment, opened the door to the enemy, and the battle of Port Gibson, fought on the 1st day of May, put them still further on their way to Vicksburg. The evacuation of Port Gibson by Gen. Bowen was followed by that of Bayou Pierre, and his forces were withdrawn across the Big Black within twenty miles of Vicksburg.
So far in the campaign the enemy had a remarkable advantage. Our generals were wholly unable to penetrate his designs, and were compelled to wait the progressive steps of their development.
It was impossible to foresee the precise point at which the blow would be struck, or to form any probable conjecture of the immediate objects of the enemy's enterprise. When Grant's transports had succeeded in passing the batteries at Vicksburg, he had a river front of more than a hundred miles where he could land. The point of his landing having been determined at Grand Gulf, it was still uncertain whether he meant to ap
proach Vicksburg by the river, under cover of his gunboats, or whether he would attempt to circumscribe the place and cut our communications east. It subsequently appeared that the latter enterprise was selected by the enemy, and that Jackson was the immediate point of attack.
On the 14th of May the enemy took possession of Jackson. Gen. Johnston was intrusted with the active command of the Confederate forces in the southwest too late to save those disastrous results which had already occurred; and the very first step to which he was forced by existing circumstances was the evacuation of Jackson. But the enemy's occupation of the capital of Mississippi seems to have been but an unimportant incident, and it is probable that, even with inferior forces on our side, a battle would have been risked there if Jackson had been of greater importance than as a point of railroad in possession of the enemy.
Although Gen. Bowen, in the engagement of Port Gibson, failed to check the rapid advance of the enemy, it was understood that he had been able to evacuate in good order his position south of the Big Black, and establish a line of defence, extending along that stream east from the Mississippi, so as to secure Vicksburg against assault from the south. This, the main line of our defence, was occupied by Gen. Pemberton with heavy reinforcements from Vicksburg.
On the 16th of May occurred the bloody battle of Baker's creek (on the Jackson and Vicksburg road), in which the force under Pemberton was defeated, with considerable loss of artillery. On the following day the Confederates again sustained a disaster at Big Black bridge; and on the 18th Vicksburg was closely invested by the enemy, and the right of his army rested on the river above the town.
It is probable that it was to give time for reinforcements to arrive in the enemy's rear, who, flushed with victory at Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, and Jackson, had turned back from the latter on the rear defences of Vicksburg, that Gen. Pemberton, perhaps unwisely, advanced from his works to meet Grant in the open field and hold him in check, and thus, from greatly inadequate forces, suffered the disheartening disasters of Baker's creek and Big Black bridge. As a last resort he retired behind his works with a weakened and somewhat dispirited
but still glorious little army. The unfortunate commander appeased the clamor against himself by an apparently noble candor and memorable words of heroism. He said that it had been declared that he would sell Vicksburg, and exhorted his soldiers to follow him to see the price at which he would sell it-for it would not be less than his own life and that of every man in his command. Those words were not idle utterances; they deserve to be commemorated; they were heroic only in proportion as they were fulfilled and translated into action.
The events of the 19th, 20th, and 21st of May wearied the Yankees, who imagined that they saw in their grasp the palm of the Mississippi. So fully assured were they of victory, that they postponed it from day to day. To storm the works was to take Vicksburg, in their opinion; and when it was known, on the morning of the 21st, that at ten o'clock next morning the whole line of Confederate works would be assaulted, the credulous and vain enemy accounted success so certain that it was already given to the wings of the telegraph.
Indeed, there is no doubt that at one hour of this famous day, McClernand, the Yankee general who made the assault on the left, sent a dispatch to Grant that he had taken three forts, and would soon be in possession of the city. But the success was a deceitful one. The redoubts carried by the enemy brought him within the pale of a devouring fire. At every point he was repulsed; and with reference to completeness of victory, exhibitions of a devoted courage, and the carnage accomplished in the ranks of the enemy, these battles of Vicksburg must be accounted among the most famous in the annals of the war.
But despite the discouragements of the repulse, there still remained to the enemy the prospects of a siege under circumstances of peculiar and extraordinary advantage. Although Grant's attack was made from Grand Gulf, that place was not long his base; and when he gained Haines' Bluff and the Yazoo, all communication with it was abandoned. He was enabled to rely on Memphis and the river above Vicksburg for food and reinforcements; his communications were open with the entire West; and the Northern newspapers urgently demanded that the utmost support should be given to a favorite
general, and that the Trans-Mississippi should be stripped of troops to supply him with reinforcements.
But the South still entertained hopes of the safety of Vicksburg. It was stated in Richmond by those who should have been well informed, that the garrison numbered considerably more than twenty thousand men, and was provisioned for a siege of six months. Nearly every day the telegraph had some extravagance to tell concerning the supreme safety of Vicksburg and the confidence of the garrison. The heroic promise of Pemberton that the city should not fall until the last man had fallen in the last ditch was called to the popular remembrance. The confidence of the South was swollen even to insolence by these causes; and although a few of the intelligent doubted the extravagant assurances of the safety of Vicksburg, the people at large received them with an unhesitating and exultant faith.
Under these circumstances the surprise and consternation of the people of the South may be imagined, when, without the least premonition, the announcement came that the select anniversary of the Fourth of July had been signalized by the capitulation of Vicksburg, without a fight; the surrender of twenty odd thousand troops as prisoners; and the abandonment to the Yankees of one of the greatest prizes of artillery that had yet been made in the war. The news fell upon Richmond like a thunder-clap from clear skies. The day of our humiliation at Vicksburg had been ill-selected. But it was said that Gen. Pemberton was advised that the enemy intended to make a formidable assault on the next day, and that he was unwilling to await it with an enfeebled garrison, many of whom were too weak to bear arms in their hands. The condition of the garrison, although certainly not as extreme as that which Pemberton had heroically prefigured as the alternative of surrender, and although holding no honorable comparison with the amount of privation and suffering borne in other sieges recorded in history, was yet deplorable. Our troops had suffered more from exhausting labors than from hunger; and their spirit had been distressed by the melancholy isolation of a siege in which they were cut off from communication with their homes, and perhaps by other causes which are not now certainly known, Patience is not a virtue of Southern soldiers;