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At dark the gunboats again engaged the batteries' and all the transports ran by, with but little injury. The work of ferrying the troops across to Bruinsburg, was commenced at day break in the morning, both gunboats and transports being used. As soon as the 13th Corps were crossed, three days' rations were given them, and they started at once on the road to Port Gibson. The 17th Corps crossed over, received their rations and followed, as speedily as possible. The 15th Corps, under General Sherman, bad remained at Milliken's Bend, with orders to make a demonstration on Haines' Bluff, making as large a show as possible, in order to prevent any heavy reinforcements being sent from Vicksburg to the assistance of the Grand Gulf forces. This ruse was executed with most admirable success.
At two o'clock, on the 1st of May, the advance of the enemy was met eight miles from Bruinsburg, and compelled to fall back; and from position to position they were driven, with considerable loss, all day, toward Port Gibson, where it was thought they would make another stand; but in the morning it was found they had retreated.
Port Gibson taken, Grand Gulf was evacuated by the enemy; and General Grant, in person, with a small cavalry escort, went there and made arrangements for changing his base of supplies to that place.
General Sherman's Corps having come up, the army moved rapidly, on, though upon different roads, from victory to victory, including in brilliant succession, Champion's Hill, or Baker's Creek, Raymond, Jackson, and Black River Bridge, where the entire garrison and seventeen pieces of artillery were captured.
General Sherman, by the morning of the 18th of
May, had crossed the Black River, at Bridgeport, above, by means of pontoons, and was ready to march on Walnut Hills. McClernand and McPherson built floating bridges during the night, and were ready for crossing their commands by eight o'clock, A. M., of the 18th.
Sherman marched at an early hour, taking the Bridgeport and Vicksburg road, turning to the right when within three and a half miles of Vicksburg, to get possession of the Walnut Hills and the Yazoo River, which he successfully accomplished before night.
McPherson crossed the Black River above the Jackson Road, and came into the same road with Sherman, but in his rear. He arrived at night-fall with his advance to where Sherman turned to the right.
McClernand moved by the Jackson and Vicksburg road to Mount Albans, and there turned to the left, to get into Baldwin's Ferry Road. By this disposition, the three army corps covered all the ground their numbers would admit of, and by the morning of the 19th, the investment of Vicksburg was made as complete as could be, by the forces at General Grant's command.
During the day there was continuous skirmishing, and, relying upon the demoralization of the enemy, in consequence of their late repeated defeats, a general assault was ordered at two, P. M., in hopes of being able to carry their works.
The 15th, Sherman's Corps, from having arrived in front of the works on the 18th, to get a good position, were enabled to make a vigorous assault. The 13th and 17th Corps succeeded no further than to gain advanced positions, covered from the fire of the enemy. The 20th and 21st of May were spent in perfecting communications with the army supplies, which, it may
well be supposed, were beginning to be much needed, after marching and fighting for twenty days, on an average of about five days' rations drawn from the Commissary Department.
On the 21st, the General, having completed his arrangements for drawing supplies of every description, determined to make another effort to carry Vicksburg by assault. Orders were accordingly given for a general assault on the whole line, to commence at ten o'clock, A. M., on the 22d.
Promptly, at the appointed time, the three army corps, then in front of the enemy's works, commenced the assault. General Grant had taken a commanding position near McPherson's front, from which he could see all the advancing columns from that corps, and a part of each of Sherman's and McClernand's.
A portion of the commands of each, succeeded in planting their flags on the outer slopes of the enemy's bastions, and maintaining them there till night. Each corps had many more men than could possibly be used in the assault, over such unfavorable ground as intervened between them and the enemy.
The assault was gallant in the extreme, on the part of all the troops; but the enemy's position was too strong, both naturally and artificially, to be taken in that way. At every point assaulted, and at all of them at the same time, the enemy was able to show all the force his works could cover.
The assault failed, with much loss on our side, but without weakening the confidence of our troops in their ability to ultimately succeed.
No troops succeeded in entering any of the enemy's works, with the exception of Sergeant Griffith, of the 21st Iowa, and some eleven privates of the same regiment, none of whom returned except the Sergeant, and possibly one of the privates.
After this failure, General Grant determined on prosecuting a regular siege. The troops being now fully aware of the necessity of it, worked diligently and cheerfully, and the work progressed rapidly and satisfactorily, until the 3d of July, when all was about ready for a final assault.
Of this state of readiness on our part, the Rebels were not ignorant; and dreading the consequences, and anticipating the result of an assault, General Pemberton, on the afternoon of the 3d of July, sent a letter, under a flag of truce, to General Grant proposing an armistice, and the appointment of commissioners to arrange terms of capitulation. The result was the surrender of the city and garrison of Vicksburg, at ten o'clock, A. M., July 4th, 1863, on the following terms:-
The entire garrison, officers and men, were to be paroled, not to take up arms against the United States, until exchanged by the proper authorities; officers and men, each to be furnished with a parole, signed by him. self; officers to be allowed their side-arms, and private baggage; and the field, staff, and cavalry officers, one horse each; the rank and file to be allowed all their clothing, but no other property; rations from their own stores, sufficient to last them beyond our lines; the necessary cooking utensils for preparing their food; and thirty wagons to transport such articles as could not be carried.
These terms were considered by General Grant, as more favorable to the government than an unconditional surrender, as it saved us the transportation of the pri. soners to the North ; which at that time would have been very difficult, owing to the limited amount of river transportation on hand, and the expenses of subsisting them.
Our army was thus left free to operate against Johnston, who was threatening it from the direction of Jackson; and our river transportation was ready to be used for the movement of troops to any point the exigency of the service might require.
However expedient the arrangement may have been, , it failed to receive the hearty approval of the country, from the general lack of confidence that the Rebels would observe it on their part in good faith. That they did not, has been subsequently abundantly shown; the Rebel government itself sanctioning the wholesale violation of the parole.
STORY L XXIX.
CAPITULATION OF PORT HUDSON.
On the morning of the 7th of July, 1863, a salute was fired from both the upper and lower fleets, immediately on the reception of the news from Vicksburg, and the bands of the different regiments struck up national and patriotic airs. The wildest enthusiasm prevailed among the soldiers all day; and the proximity of the contending forces, enabled the Rebels in Port Hudson to hear the cheering, without enlightening them as to the cause.
At several points on the lines, the Rebels and our troops were so near together that conversations could be held, and were carried on, without danger to either party.