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Character of Military Events of the Spring of 1863.-Repulse of the Enemy at Fort McAllister.-THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.-The Yazoo Pass Expedition.-Confederate Success at Fort Pemberton.-The Enemy's Canals, or "Cut-offs."-Their Failure.BOMBARDMENT OF PORT HUDSON.-Destruction of "The Mississippi."-A Funeral Pyre. Happy Effects of our Victory.-A Review of the line of inland Hostilities.-Hooker's hesitation on the Rappahannock.-The Assignment of Confederate commands west of the Mississippi.-The Affair of Kelly's Ford.-Death of Major Pelham.-NAVAL ATTACK ON CHARLESTON.-Destruction of "The Keokuk."-Scenery of the Bombardment.-Extent of the Confederate Success.-Events in Tennessee and Kentucky.-Pegram's Reverse.-The Situation of Hostilities at the close of April, 1862.
ALTHOUGH but little is to be found of a decisive character in the military events of the Spring of 1862, there was yet a series of interesting occurrences which went far to prove the inefficiency of the most boasted naval structures of the enemy, and the progress we had made in defensive works on the lines of our harbors and the banks of our rivers.
The first of these may be mentioned as the repulse of the enemy at Fort McAllister on the 3d of March. This fort is on the outer line of the defences of Savannah. Off the Georgia coast, and eighteen miles to the southward of the Savannah river, is Ossabaw sound. Into this sound flows the Ogechee river, a stream navigable some distance up-some thirty miles -to vessels of a larger class. On the Ogechee river, four miles above the sound, is situate Fort McAllister. The fort stands on the mainland, directly on the river bank, and commands the river for a mile and a half or two miles.
The attack of the enemy on this fort was made with three iron-clads and two mortar-boats. The result of a whole day's bombardment was, that one gun was dismounted, but the fort remained uninjured, and no loss of life was sustained on our side. The iron-clad Montauk was struck with solid shot eventy-one times, and was lifted clear out of the water by the explosion of a torpedo under her bow, but the Yankees stated that she was not seriously injured. Indeed, they de clared that the whole affair was nothing more than an experimentum crucis, to ascertain the power of their new iron-clads
to resist cannon-shot, and that the result of the encounter was all that they had hoped. If the enemy was pleased with the result, the Confederates had certainly no reason to dispute his satisfaction, as long as they had the solid gratification of hav ing resisted a bombardment of eight hours, without injury to their works or the loss of a single life.
While the enemy menaced the seaboard, he had found another theatre for his naval power on the waters of the Mississippi river. His operations there were even more important than those on our sea lines, for they were an essential part of the campaign in the West. In fact, Vicksburg was for a long time the point on which depended the movements in Tennessee and the resolution of the great crisis in the West.
THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.
The siege of Vicksburg furnishes a most remarkable instance of the industry and physical perseverance of the Yankees. Ever since December, 1862, they had been busily engaged in the attempt to circumvent our defences, even to the extremity of forcing our internal navigation of swampy lagoons and obstructed creeks for a distance of four hundred and fifty miles.
The enemy's operations in other directions kept him quiet directly in front of Vicksburg, but his purpose was all the same-the capture and occupation of the place. The enemy had three distinct projects for compassing the capture of Vicksburg: First, the canal across the isthmus opposite the city; secondly, the project of getting through the Yazoo Pass; third, the Lake Providence canal project. It had been all the time the principal aim of the Yankees to get in the rear or below Vicksburg. Their present plan, and one on which they were now at work, was to get through the Yazoo Pass, in the hope of getting in our rear and cutting off our supplies. Their idea was to flank Vicksburg, capture Jackson, cut off Grenada, and destroy all possibility of our obtaining supplies throughout that rich country, by this one bold stroke.
The route mapped out by the Yankees commences near Helena, Arkansas, where the Yazoo Pass connects the Mis
sissippi with the Coldwater river, through Moon lake. The distance from the Mississippi to the Coldwater, by this pass, is about twenty miles-a very narrow and tortuous channel, only navigable when the Mississippi is quite high and its waters overflow the low lands of this region. The Coldwater river empties into the Tallahatchie, and the Tallahatchie into the Yazoo. The whole distance by this route from the Mississippi to the mouth of the Yazoo, in the neighborhood of Vicksburg, is some five hundred miles, and over one-half of it, or to the mouth of the Tallahatchie, it is easily obstructed. The Yankees met with no obstruction on their ascent of the Tallahatchie, except the overgrowth and tortuousness of the stream -which prevented the gunboats, in some instances, from making more than three and four miles a day-until reaching the mouth of the Tallahatchie, or its neighborhood, where they encountered the batteries known as Fort Pemberton, which stood as the barrier against the entrance of their fleet into the Yazoo river, formed by the confluence of the Tallahatchie and Yalabusha rivers.
This fort was nothing more than an indented line of earthworks, composed of cotton bales and mud, thrown up on the neck of a bend of the Tallahatchie river, where the river was only two hundred and fifty yards wide. The site was selected by Major-gen. Loring as the best position on the Yazoo or Tallabatchie river.
It was here, on the 13th of March, that the Yazoo expedition was intercepted and driven back by our batteries, which achieved a splendid victory over the Yankee gunboats. The Yalabusha river unites with the Tallahatchie in the bend, forming the Yazoo, so that the right flank of our works rested upon the Tallahatchie, and the left upon the Yazoo, both, however, being really the same stream. The left flank was opposite Greenwood, which is situated on the east side of the Yazoo. The Tallahatchie, under the guns of the fort, was obstructed by an immense raft, behind which the Star of the West was sunk in the channel. The intervention of the point above the bend masked the whole of our line except the left, upon which, consequently, the fire of the enemy's boats was directed. The fire was terrific, uninterrupted for four hours, from ten to sixteen heavy calibre guns on gunboats, two heavy
guns on land and one mortar. Yet the line of our batteries was maintained. The loss of the enemy in this unsuccessful attack is not known; but his gunboats and batteries were constantly hit, and large quantities of burning cotton were struck from them.
The defeat of the enemy at Fort Pemberton prevented his fleet from passing by to the lower Yazoo. But this was not the only canal project of the Yankees. One at Lake Providence, was intended to afford a passage from the Mississippi to the head-waters of the Red river, by which they might command a vast scope of country and immense resources. This canal, which it was said was to change the bed of the Mississippi and turn its mighty current in the Atchafalaya river on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, was also a failure. The canal had been opened, and an enormous extent of country submerged and ruined, but it was found that no gunboats or transports could ever reach the Mississippi below Vicksburg by that route. Snags and drift choked up the tortuous streams formed by the flood from the cut levees, and even if navigation had been possible, the channel might have been rendered impassable in a hundred places by a score of active guerrillas.
In the mean time, there was every reason to believe that the Yankees were content to abandon the project of cutting a ditch through the mainland opposite Vicksburg, by which it was hoped to force the current of the Mississippi into an unaccustomed course, through which to pass their vessels without going within range of our batteries.
It was thus that the enemy was apparently brought to the point of necessity of either attacking our fortifications at Snyder's Bluff on the Yazoo, or our batteries in front of the city. These were the only two points left against which he could operate, and they were the same which he had been trying to avoid for the last three months. When he first arrived, these were the only points susceptible of assault, but wishing to flank them, he had wasted three months' time, lost a number of gunboats and transports, and many thousands of his troops.
An attack directly in front of the city plainly threatened the most serious disaster to the enemy. From a point of the river above, where high land begins, there is a high and pre
cipitous bluff, which would not afford any landing-place for the troops-only about two acres of ground are to be found where a landing could be effected, and upon this a formidable battery was ready to receive them, and in the rear there were numberless other batteries to protect it. The whole bluff, extending a distance of two miles, was also frowning with guns, all of which would bear upon an enemy in the river.
The expedition of the enemy on the Tallahatchie, which met such unexpected and disgraceful defeat from the guns of a hastily made fort, is memorable as another of those Yankee raids which, unable to accomplish military results, was left to gratify itself with the plunder of citizens and the cowardly atrocities of marauders. From the barbarity of the Yankee, Mississippi was a distinguished sufferer as well as Virginia. Two-thirds of Sherman's army was composed of new troops from Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, and they had come down the Mississippi with the intention of burning and destroying every thing they could lay their hands on. The whole line of their march was one continued scene of destruction. Private dwellings were burned, women and children driven out of their houses, and even the clothes stripped from their backs, to say nothing of acts committed by the soldiery which might make the blackest-hearted libertine blush for shame.*
Another attempt of the enemy to force our strongholds on the Mississippi, which we have to relate at this time, was made
* The following is private confession taken from the letter of a Yankee officer, attached to Sherman's command: "I have always blamed Union generals for guarding rebel property, but I now see the necessity of it. Three weeks of such unbridled license would ruin our army. I tell you the truth when I say we are about as mean a mob as ever walked the face of the earth. It is perfectly frightful. If I lived in this country, I never would lay down my arms while a 'Yankee' remained on the soil. I do not blame Southerners for being secessionists now. I could relate many things that would be laughable if they were not so horribly disgraceful. For instance, imagine two privates in an elegant carriage, belonging to some wealthy Southern nabob, with a splendid span of horses riding in state along the road we are marching over, with a negro coachman holding the reins in all the style of an English nobleman, and then two small drummer-boys going it at a two-forty pace, in an elegant buggy, with a fast horse, and the buggy loaded with a strange medley of house hold furniture and kitchen utensils, from an elegant parlor mirror to a pair of fire-dogs, all of which they have 'cramped' from some fine house, which, from sheer wantonness, they had rifled and destroyed."