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584

PROJECTED CANAL NEAR VICKSBURG.

vital question, and his attention was turned alternately to the Canal that General Williams attempted to cut,' Milliken's Bend, Lake Providence, the Yazoo Pass, and Steele's Bayou. All of these routes were tried, as we shall observe, before in another way he achieved the desired end.

It was determined first to complete Williams's canal across the peninsula opposite Vicksburg, which was traversed by the Shreveport and Vicksburg

railroad—the great highway over which large quantities of supplies for the Confederates were

transported from Western Louisiana. That cutNICKSBURG

off was five or six miles from Vicksburg. By it, when completed, that city would be isolated, and through it troops and supplies might be safely transported out of reach of the Vicksburg batteries to a new base of supplies below that town. It also seemed probable that it would make a new channel for the Mississippi, and leave Vicksburg on the borders of a bayou only.

For the prosecution of this work McClernand, by order of Grant, moved with his army down

the Mississippi on the day after the © Jan, , conference at Napoleon.“ In conse1863.

quence of detention by a storm, it did PENINSULA OPPOSITE VICKSBURG.

not reach its destination at Young's Point, on the

right bank of the river, nearly opposite the mouth of the Yazoo, until late on the 21st. On the following day the troops landed, and took post a little farther down the river, so as to protect the

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line of the canal. There also Porter's fleet, strengthened by the addition of several armored vessels, such as the Chillicothe, Indianola, Lafayette, East

, 1 See page 527.

2 This is a view of the peninsula opposite Vicksburg, and the site of the canal, from a sketch by the author, taken from " Battery Castle,” in the southern portion of the city, looking southwest. In making this sketch the writer stood upon the top of a mound in “ Battery Castle,” in which was mounted a 32-pounder rifled can. non, known as “ Whistling Dick." It had belonged to the Confederates, and from the hill near the marine hospital it had been one of the most destructive enemies of the National gun-boats during the siege. The Confederates gave it the significant name. Its projectile was a short pointed solid shot, whose straight lines would form

FAILURE OF THE CANAL PROJECT.

585

a Feb., 1863.

port, and other gun-boats rendezvoused, and immense power was immediately brought to bear on the cutting of the canal, and other operations of a vigorous siege.

General Grant, as we have observed, hastened back to Memphis after the conference at Napoleon, and immediately commenced moving his troops, which had been gathered there after the disaster at Holly Springs, down the Mississippi, to assist in the siege of Vicksburg. These troops had been pushed to Memphis from Grand Junction as rapidly as possible, and were now reorganized and in readiness for other work. All these veterans of the Army of the Tennessee, excepting detachments left to hold posts in that State, and the divisions of Logan, were there, and with ample provisions and other supplies, they were now borne swiftly, on more than a hundred transports, upon the rapid current of the rising Mississippi, and were before Vicksburg at the beginning of February. Grant himself arrived at Young's Point on the 2d,' and assumed command

EL in person. Already the work on the canal (which was only a mile in length) had been vigorously prosecuted by the soldiers with their picks and shovels, and by the powerful dredge Samson, with its immense and nevertiring iron scoop. The earth was cast up on the western side of the canal, on which the troops were encamped, to form a levee for protection against overflow in that direction. Day after day the great ditch grew deeper and longer, and day after day the waters of the Mississippi arose higher and higher, until their surface was full eight feet above the bottom of the canal. The river threatened a destructive overflow, and its menaces were met by piling up a great bulkhead at the upper end of the ditch. But the river was too powerful for puny man. On the 8th of March it broke through the barrier, drove the workmen to the levee, filled the ditch, submerged thousands of implements of labor, and flooded the camps. The river refused to make this canal its main channel, or more than a bayou, nearly dry at low water, and it was evident to the Commander-in-Chief that the canal project was a failure.

In the mean time General Grant had employed others of his now redun

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THE SAMBON.

almost a right-angled triangle. In the picture the Mississippi is seen sweeping sharply around the peninsula, and approacbing itself within a mile where the canal was cut. The canal is indicated by the broad white line beyond the trees on the peninsula. Its terminus below the city was at a point hidden by the tree near the house on the left of the picture. There was a little hamlet on the peninsula, at the terminus of the railway opposite Vicksburg, called De Soto. The river was full, and the peninsula was partially submerged when tho sketch was made.

The fortification from which this view was taken was named “ Battery Castle,” because it was on the site of a fine castellated building, the property and residence of Armistead Burwell, a leading lawyer of Vicksburg, who, on account of his stanch patriotism in adhering to his Government, was driven from his house by the traitors of Mississippi. He remained an exile at St. Louis until after the capture of the city by the Nationals. After that event, and when Grant had a new line of fortifications constructed for the defense of the post, Mr. Burwell's house was demolished to make room for a battery. The writer met this unselfish loyalist at the headquarters of General T, J. Wood, in April, 1966, and was deeply impressed by the purity and zeal of his devotion to his country. Notwithstanding he had been ruined pecuniarily by the war, he refused to apply to the Government for compensation for the loss of his mansion taken for the public use. When the writer remarked that it would be clearly a rightful claim, he replied: -“ No, it will only lead the way to a host of dishonest claims npon my Government, and I will not ask it." The Government should seek to reimburse such men for their losses, without waiting for them to submit claims.

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586

ANOTHER YAZOO EXPEDITION.

dant troops in preparing another way to reach the vitals of the Vicksburg defenses. It was by cutting a channel from the western shore of the Mississippi, forty or fifty miles above Vicksburg, across a narrow neck of land into Lake Providence, from which there was a continuous water communication to the great river, far below the city to be assailed, through bayous Baxter and Macon, and the Tensas River, as also into the Washita and Red rivers. This would be a long and tedious way by which to reach the Mississippi, and the chief object to be gained in opening it was the establishment of a communication with General Banks, in command of the Department of the Gulf, to whom had been assigned the duty of reducing Port Hudson, below. Another side cut was attempted from Milliken's Bend into bayous that connected with the eastern branch of the Tensas, and so through other bayous with the Mississippi, near New Carthage. At the same time other troops were employed in the more promising labor of opening a way for light-draft gun-boats and transports with troops from the Mississippi, near Milliken's Bend, through Moon Lake into Yazoo Pass, the Cold Water and Tallahatchee rivers, and so into the Yazoo, or River of Death,' which is formed by the Tallahatchee and Yallobusha rivers. Grant hoped to have his troops reach the Yazoo safely, and make another attempt, in connection with the gun-boats, to carry Haines's Bluff and press on to Vicksburg, as Sherman ha l desired to do. It was reported that the Confederates were building gunboats and transports on those two chief affluents of the Yazoo, and the destruction of these was an important object of the proposed expedition.

About five thousand men were assigned to the Yazoo expedition. It was led by General L. F. Ross, with a division of McClernand's corps, and the Twelfth and Seventeenth Missouri, of Sherman's corps; and with it went the large gun-boats Chillicothe and De Kalb, five smaller ones, and nearly twenty transports, under the control of Lieutenant Watson Smith. These vessels passed out of the Mississippi on a swift current, through a broad cut in the levee, at the mouth of the tortuous bayou leading to Moon Lake, and a fearful voyage they had until the power of the redundant waters was modi. fied by diffusion over the swamps. They swept among lofty and overhang. ing forest-trees, that demolished smoke-stacks and nearly all besides above the decks; and everywhere fallen and submerged trees, and sharp and difficult turns in the channel, were encountered. Three days were consumed in making their way twelve miles to the Cold Water, and they were constantly exposed to Confederate sharp-shooters on the shores. While rudders and wheels were badly wounded, the vessels were not seriously injured. At the mouth of the Cold Water two mortar-boats joined the expedi

tion, and the whole flotilla moved cautiously down the Talla• March 2, hatchee, when, just as it approached a sharp bend in the stream,

near the little village of Greenwood, ten miles from its confluence with the Yallobusha, it encountered a strong fortification called Fort

Pemberton, in command of Major-General W. W. Loring. Near • March 11, it a raft, with a sunken steamboat, had been placed to obstruct

the Tallahatchee. The fort consisted of a line of breast-works thrown across the narrow neck a mile in width, where the two rivers approach

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1 Yuzoo is the Choctaw word for River of Death. This stream was so nained by the Indians, because of the fatal malarious fevers that browded along its borders.

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a March 12,

1869.

A BOW GUN.

each other within that distance two or three miles above their junction. Its best guns were placed so as to sweep the Tallahatchee. In front of it was a slough that formed an excellent substitute for a ditch, and near the rivers it was flanked by low, oozy earth. It was a formidable barrier to the further progress of the expedition. The Chillicothe, heavily mailed, attempted to run by, but was made to recoil by a blow from a 32-pound shell, when she backed

around the point at the sharp bend in the stream, and opened upon the fort with a heavy bow gun. After fighting for an hour in this half-sheltered position, she withdrew, when the De Kalb came forward, fought two hours, and in turn gave up the contest.

On the following dayo General Ross, under cover of a forest, erected a land battery in front of the Confederate works, and at ten o'clock on the morning of the 13th, its guns and those of both war-vessels opened simultaneously upon Fort Pemberton. The attack was kept up during the day, with considerable damage to the fort, but this was repaired that night, and the fire of the Nationals the next morning was returned with great spirit. After a short time the struggle ceased, and was not renewed until the morning of the 16th, when the gun-boats opened fire on the fort. The Chillicothe was soon hulled by an 18-pound Whitworth shot, which entered one of her port-holes, and struck and exploded a shell, by which three of her men were killed and fourteen were wounded. The Chillicothe then withdrew, but the De Kalb and the land batteries kept up the contest until sunset.

Ross was now satisfied that the fort could not be taken with the force at his command, and he retreated by the route he came. On the way he was met by General Quinby,' of McPherson's corps, with some troops, who ranked Ross, and took command. He returned to the front of Fort Pemberton, and was about to assail it, when he received March 23. orders° to return to the Mississippi.

There was still another effort made at this time to gain a footing in the rear of Vicksburg. Admiral Porter, whose zeal, energy, and skill in thridding the creeks and bayous of that strange region with his gun-boats were most remarkable, had thoroughly reconnoitered Steele's bayou from Swan Lake to the Yazoo. He was informed by the negroes that there was a channel to be found at that high-water period leading from the bayou into the Sunflower Creek, and so into the Yazoo, between Haines's Bluff and Yazoo City, of sufficient depth for the lighter iron-clads. At the latter place

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588

THIRD YAZOO EXPEDITION.

1863.

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“Commodore” Lynch, of Elizabeth City fame,' had a ship-yard, where he completed the Arkansas ; and there, and in the Yallobusha, between Greenwood and Grenada, were moored for safety about thirty steamers and other vessels, which escaped from New Orleans when Farragut approached that city the year before. The destruction of these, and a lodgment behind Vicksburg, were advantages to be gained by a successful movement to the Yazoo, and Grant determined to attempt it. He accompanied Porter in

persone up Steele's Bayou in the ram Price, preceded by several • March 15, armored gun-boats, and, turning into the Black Fork, that led to

Deer Creek and the Sunflower through the Rolling Fork, found it greatly obstructed by the overhanging and interlacing boughs, and the fallen trunks of trees.

Porter's boats were now in a perilous position, for the Confederates, apprised of the expedition and its progress, were gathering in strength in that direction, to capture or destroy the fleet. Grant hastened back to Young's Point, and ordered a pioneer force and a division of Sherman's

corps to push across Eagle Bend to Steele's Bayou (there only a mile from the Mississippi), to the relief of Porter, and to assist in the labors of the expedition.

While these were slowly progressing against great difficulties, the Confederates, advised of the movement, were making ample preparations for the reception of the fleet in the Yazoo. The expedition was withdrawn just as the difficulties of the passage were overcome, for General Grant had planned new schemes for accomplishing his great object. A record in detail of the naval and military operations in the Yazoo region, during a part of the winter and early spring of 1863, would fill a volume with narratives more wonderful than romance affords.

While these events were occurring among the network of bayous in that

region, there were some stirring scenes HAINES'BLUFF

on the Mississippi. It was known that VÍCKSBURG

Confederate transports were in the river YOUNGS P?

below Vicksburg, supplying the troops

at that place and at Port Hudson with THE TAZOO REGION.

necessaries, and it was determined to destroy them. The ram Queen of the West, commanded by Colonel C. L. Ellet, was prepared to run by the batteries at Vicksburg.

She was armed with a 30-pounder Parrott as a bow gun on her main deck, and

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