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DEPARTMENT OF THE TENNESSEE.
EVENTS WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI AND IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE.
HE repulse of the Confederates at Corinth was followed by brief repose in the Department over which General Grant had command, and which, by a general order of the 16th of October, was much extended, and named the Department of the Tennessee,' with head-quarters at Jackson. He made a provisional division of it into four districts, commanded respectively by Generals W. T. Sherman, S. A. Hurlbut, C. S. Hamilton, and
T. A. Davies—the first commanding the district of Memphis, the second that of Jackson, the third the district of Corinth, and the fourth the district of Columbus.
Vicksburg, a city of Mississippi, situated on a group of high eminences known as the Walnut Hills, on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, at a bold turn of the stream, and a point of great military importance, had been fortified by the Confederates, and was daily growing stronger. It was becoming a Gibraltar for them in opposing the grand scheme of the Nationals for gaining the command of the Great River, and thus severing important portions of the Confederacy. Toward the seizure of that point operations in the southwest were now tending. Vicksburg was not in General Grant's departnient, but its capture became his great objective, as well as that of others, and for that purpose a large portion of his forces had moved southward, and at the beginning of December had taken post between Holly Springs and Coldwater, on the two railways diverging from Grenada, in Mississippi, and the Tallahatchee River, behind which lay the Confederates in strength. There he was prepared to co-operate with the National forces westward of the Mississippi, and on the river below. That we may have a clear understanding of the relations of these co-operating forces, let us glance a moment at their antecedents, and especially their more recent movements. These forces, in other forms and numbers, we left, in former chapters, some under General Curtis, after the battle of Pea Ridge, and others under General Butler and Admiral Farragut."
Let us first follow the fortunes of Curtis's army after the battle of Pea Ridge. We left it at Batesville, on the White River, in Arkansas, on the
1 The newly organized Departınent included Cairo, Forts Henry and Donelson, Northern Mississippi, and those portions of Tennessee and Kentucky lying west of the Tennessee River.
? Here was the first blockade of the Mississippi. See page 164, volume I.
See page 845.
CURTIS'S MARCH TOWARD THE MISSISSIPPI.
6th of May,' where Curtis expected to find gun-boats and supplies, in charge of Colonel Fitch. The lowness of the water in the river had prevented their ascent, and one of the war-vessels had been destroyed by explosion in a struggle with a Confederate battery at St. Charles. This was a great disappointment to Curtis, for he had expected to advance on Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas. Being compelled to depend for his supplies by wagontrains from Rolla, far up in Missouri, he did not feel warranted in making aggressive movements, and he remained at Batesville until the 24th of June, when he moved on toward the Mississippi, crossing the Big Black River on pontoon bridges, and traversing a dreary country, among a thin and hostile population, until he reached Clarendon, on the White River, a little below the mouth of the Cache River.
Curtis was joined at Jacksonport" by General C. C. Washburne, with the Third Wisconsin cavalry, which had made its way down from
* Springfield, in Missouri, without opposition. Southward the whole •June 25, army moved, across the cypress swamps and canebrakes that line the Cache, and on the 7th of July the advance (Thirty-third Illinois), under Colonel A. P. Hovey, was attacked by about fifteen hundred Texas cavalry, led by General Albert Rust. Ilovey halted until Lieutenant-Colonel Wood came up, with the First Indiana cavalry and two howitzers, when these re-enforcements made an impetuous charge, and put the foe to flight with heavy loss. They left one hundred and ten of their dead to be buried by the victors. The latter lost eight killed and forty-five wounded.
. Curtis was again doomed to disappointment on reaching the White River at Clarendon, where he expected to meet gun-boats and supplies. These had gone down the river only twenty-four hours before his arrival. He was now short of provisions, and the people being intensely hostile, he felt compelled to go to the Mississippi by as short a journey as possible. After a most wearisome march of sixty-five miles, he reached Helena, in Phillips County, between the 11th and 13th of July. Washburne, with twenty-five hundred cavalry and five howitzers, had marched that distance in twenty-four hours. The infantry brought with them a few Arkansas volunteers, and a large number of negroes, who sought liberty and protection under the old flag.
Both the National and Confederate powers were weak in Arkansas at this time. Price and Van Dorn, with their armies, and a large number of the Arkansas troops, had been called to Corinth and vicinity, and when Governor Rector summoned militia to defend his capital when Curtis menaced it, the response was so feeble that he fled from the State, leaving the archives to be carried to Arkadelphia, more in the interior. Ten regiments had been drawn from Curtis to re-enforce the army in Tennessee about to attack Corinth, and he had not strength enough to seize the Arkansas capital. Rector's flight left the State without a civil head, and John S. Phelps, of Missouri, was appointed its military governor, but he could not take his seat in the capital, and his authority was nominal.
In the mean time National war-vessels had ascended the Mississippi to Vicksburg, and above, and exchanged greetings with others which had come down from Cairo. When New Orleans was fairly in the possession of the
1 See page 260.
LAND AND NAVAL FORCES ON THE MISSISSIPPI.
military power under Butler, Commodore Farragut sent a portion of his force up the river, for the purpose of reducing such posts on its banks as were held by the Confederates. Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, was captured on the 7th of May without resistance. The Mayor refused to surrender it formally. So Commander Palmer, of the Iroquois, landed, and
** repossessed” the National arsenal there.' Farragut arrived soon afterward, and the naval force moved on, with the advance under Commander S.
P. Lee, on the Oneida, as far as Vicksburg, without opposition. a May, 1862. There the troops of Lovell, who fled from New Orleans, after 6 May 18.
having halted at different places, were now stationed. Lee sum
moned the city to surrender, and was answered by a respectful refusal by the Mayor, and a preposterous note of defiance from “James L. Autry, Military Governor and Commandant Post.” M. L. Smith, the “ Brig
? adier-General Commanding,” also refused, and Lee prudently awaited the arrival of Farragut with the remainder of his squadron, a portion of Porter's mortar-flect, and transports with four thousand land troops under General Thomas Williams. The latter were sent by General Butler to occupy and hold places that might be captured by the navy. It was expected that batteries would be found on the bluffs at Port Hudson, Elles's Cliffs, Natchez, and Grand Gulf, but no serious resistance was offered at those places. Williams landed below Elles's Cliffs, and made a circuit in the rear to capture a battery on their crown, but the troops had filed with their guns. There were no signs of opposition at Natchez, but fearing it at Grand Gulf, the troops landed, took possession of the town, and, in retaliation for being fired upon, they burned it before they left.
The whole force appeared off Vicksburg on the 26th of June, and that night the gun and mortar boats opened fire on the formidable Confederate batteries there. These were too elevated to be much damaged by the bombardment, and, after two days of almost ineffectual firing, Farragut deterBRIEF SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.
1 See notice of its capture by the insurgents on page 181, volume I. The large turreted building seen in the above picture, above al the others, is the State House of Louisiana.
2 "I have to state," said Autry, " that Mississippians don't know, and refuse to learn, how to surrender to an enemy. If Commodore Farragut or Brigadier-General Butler can teach them, let them come and try."
mined to run by them. This he did without much harm,' at three o'clock on the morning of the 28th, with the flag-ship Hartford and six other vessels, leaving the mortar-fleet and transports below, and met the gun and mortar flotilla of Commodore Davis, and the steam-rams, under the younger Ellet
(the elder having just died at Cairo), who had come down from Memphis. Williams, under the direction of Farragut, made an attempt, with twelve hundred negroes, to cut a canal across the peninsula opposite Vicksburg, through which his transports might pass in safety, but failed; and such was the result of a bombardment by the floating batteries above and below the town. So, in the course of a few days, the siege was temporarily abandoned.
A startling rumor now reached Farragut, to the effect that a formidable ram ” was lying in the Yazoo River, which empties into the Mississippi above Vicksburg. She had been commenced at Memphis, and two days before the evacuation of Fort Pillow3 she was towed down the river with materials sufficient to finish her. She was now completed, with low-pressure engines possessing in the aggregate nine hundred horse-power, and was named Arkansas.“ Farragut sent the gun-boats Carondelet and Tyler, and Ellet's ram, the Queen of the West, to reconnoiter her position. They passed cautiously up the Yazoo on the 15th, about six miles, when suddenly they encountered the formidable foe. A sharp contest ensued, in which the armored Carondelet, Captain Walke, bore the most con
DAVID G. FARRAGUT.
He lost by the fire of the batteries fifteen killed and thirty wounded.
? This is from a sketch of the Cliffs made by the writer from the steamer Indiana, in April, 1866. These cliffs, on the east bank of the river, are at a sharp turn in the stream, about eighteen miles below Natchez. They are of yellow clay, and rise from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet above the water.
3 See page 298 * This was a sea-going steamer of 1,200 tons burden, and had a cutwater composed of a sharp, solid beak of 528
ATTEMPT TO DESTROY TAE RAM “ARKANSAS."
spicuous part. After a severe contest, in which the Carondelet was badly injured and lost fourteen men killed and wounded, and the Arkansas twentyfive killed and wounded, the latter, beating off and much damaging her antagonists, made her way down the Yazoo into the Mississippi, and tock shelter under the batteries at Vicksburg.
Farragut now ran past the Vicksburg batteries again, and anchored below, and he and Davis abandoned the bombardment of that post. On the
22do another attempt was made to capture or destroy the Arkana July, 1862.
The Esser, Captain W. D. Porter, and Ellet's Queen of the West were employed for the purpose, while the gun-boats were bombarding the batteries above and below the town. The attempt was not successful, and, as the river was falling fast, and thus made naval operations less efficient, the siege of Vicksburg was abandoned, under instructions from Washington, and Farragut's fleet returned to New Orleans on the 28th. His transports having been annoyed by the firing upon them of a guerrilla band at Donaldsonville, on the left bank of the river, at the mouth of the Bayou
La Fourche, he ordered that village to be bombarded, after warning the
inhabitants of his intention. Much of the town was destroyed." * Aug. 10.
It was afterward occupied by National troops, who built a strong earthwork there, and named it Fort Butler.
When Farragut descended the river, General Williams and the landtroops debarked at Baton Rouge, for the purpose of permanently occupying it. Re-enforcements were sent to him, and Farragut took a position to give him aid in holding the place if necessary. Williams's troops were suffering severely from sickness, and this fact, in an exaggerated form, having been communicated to Van Dorn by resident secessionists, he organized an expedition to capture the post. It was composed of about five thousand men, under General J. C. Breckenridge, who expected to be aided by the ram
cast-iron, sixteen feet in length, covering the bow ten feet, and bolted through solid timber eight feet. She was covered with T-rail iron, with heavy thick timber bulwarks and cotton-pressed casemating, and was impervious to shot. She had a battery of ten 64-pounders and 32-pounders rifled, and was commanded by the best officers in the Confederate service.—Statement of Captain Walke.
1 This was the appearance of Fort Butler and vicinity when the writer sketched it from the Indiana, just at the close of a bright April day, 1866. The mouth of the Bayou La Fourche is seen between the small building on the left and the fort,