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154

BANKS' EXPEDITION..

gallant. Commander, Buchanan, who steamed to the front with his vessel, and fought with the greatest intrepidity.

In the Spring, while Grant was endeavoring to get below Vicksburg, Banks planned an extensive expedition into “The Attakapas Country,” the garden of Louisiana, and which the rebels held in force. Berwick City, at the mouth of the Atchafalaya River, was selected as the starting point of the army, which was to move up the Teche River, strongly fortified, and protected by rebel gunboats. On the 11th of April, the main column, commanded by Banks in person, took up its line of march from Berwick City, while Grover, with his division, moved up the Atchafalaya in transports, for the purpose of passing into Grand Lake—which approached the Teche above the fortifications of the enemy-and thus cutting off his retreat. On Sunday, Banks came upon the rebel works, stretching along the shores on both sides of the river, and guarded by the gunboat Diana. A heavy artillery fight followed, which lasted till dark. It was renewed the next day, and soon the gunboat was compelled to retire up-stream. In the meantime, Grover was steadily moving around the rebels, to the east, who, finding themselves threatened in the rear, hastily retreated, leaving two thousand prisoners in our hands. Banks then resumed his march, and, on the 20th, reached Opelousas, a hundred and eighty miles from New Orieans, and only seventy-five from the Red River, the point at which he was aiming. Alexandria, an important and strongly fortified place upon it, was at length reached, on the Sth of May, but not until it had surrendered to Admiral Porter, who, acting in conjunction with Banks, had advanced against it with his gunboats. The latter imme. diately assumed command. Having marched two hundred miles, through the enemy's country, without meeting with a single repulse, after giving his army a short rest he moved down on Port Hudson from the north.

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CHAPTER XI.

APRIL-MAY, 1863.

FICKSBURG CAMPAIGN-THE ATTEMPTS TO GET IN REAR OF HAINES' BLUFF

LAKE PROVIDENCE ROUTE-MOON LAKE ROUTE-STEELE'S BAYOU ROUTE

BOLD RESOLVE TO RUN THE BATTERIES-THE MARCH INLAND-THE BATTERIES

RUN-DIFFICULTIES OF THE MARCH-NEW CARTHAGE-GRAND GULF-PORT

GIBSON-GRAND RESOLVE OF GRANT-THE MARCH INLAND-BATTLES OF RAYMOND, JACKSON, CHAMPION'S HILL, BLACKWATER—VICKSBURG INVESTED FIRST ASSAULT-SECOND ASSAULT ACTION OF THE GUNBOATS.

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E left Grant, early in the Spring, attempting to get

below Vicksburg, by means of the canal dug the year before, by General Williams. This scheme proving abortive, as sufficient water could not be got into the ditch, he started another project. About seventy miles above Vicksburg, and some five miles west of the Mississippi River, lies Lake Providence, which empties itself through a bayou, filled with snags, into Swan Lake; this in turn sends its waters southward, through a long, winding stream called the Tensas River, into the Black River, the last flowing on into the Red River, which effects a junction with the Mississippi below Natchez. The whole route was about a hundred and fifty miles in length. A canal five miles

A canal five miles long had to be cut through a morass, the shallows to be dug out, the snags removed, and stumps cleared away, before the boats could be got out of the Mississippi, and sent through this long, crooked,

As the work went on, predictions were uttered that a new channel for the Mississippi would be made, extending, perhaps, even to the Gulf.

The canal was at length opened, and a steamer and a few barges were got across into Lake Providence. But the Mississippi kept its old course, and, as the spring floods fell,

inland course.

156

BTRANGE NAVIGATION.

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the new channel became a shallow creek, so that the whole project had to be abandoned.

Grant, however, with his accustomed tenacity of purpose, determined not to abandon his design to get in the rear of Vicksburg, for it could be taken in no other way. He now made a third trial on the east side of the Mississippi. About a hundred and fifty miles, in a straight line, north from Vicksburg, there is a little lake, called Moon Lake, separated from the river only by a thin strip of land. From this lake, a narrow stream, called the Yazoo Pass, leads into the Coldwater River, which flows south into the Tallahatchie, that in turn unites with the Yazoo. If he could get into the latter river, he would be able to move down in the rear of Haines' Bluff, and thus effectually turn the fortifications there, which Sherman had failed to capture. The canal to the lake was quickly cut; the waters of the Mississippi poured through it, and the steamers floated into Moon Lake. Passing out of this, into the Coldwater and Tallahatchie Rivers, they slowly felt their tortuous way towards the navigable Yazoo. It was a strange spectacle, to see these armed vessels threading their way under overarching cypress trees, and plunging into apparently interminable swamps, where never before even a canoe had floated. It was like sailing through a flooded forest, made still more dangerous by the rapid flow of the swollen waters, which the Mississippi sent with headlong fury through this new channel. The paddle-wheels, instead of being used to propel the vessels, incessantly backed water, to prevent their too rapid descent among the gigantic trees, whose overhanging branches sometimes swept the decks. The solitude and gloom of this strange, winding route, oppressed the spirits, yet the men toiled patiently on-making, upon an average, less than a quarter of a mile an hour—till they reached the Yazoo. The heaviest part of the task now seemed accomplished, and a

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THE BLACK BAYOU.

157

swift sail down to the rear of Vicksburg was anticipated. But the rebels had received information of the expedition, and, divining its object, erected, near the confluence of the streams, a fort which commanded the channel, and yet was so surrounded by bogs that the land force could not approach it. The frail wooden steamboats, of course, could not silence these batteries, and so this project, costing so much labor and time, also had to be abandoned.

Baffled, but not disheartened, Grant now made another attempt to get in the rear of the batteries on Haines' Bluff. About seven miles above where the Yazoo enters the Mississippi, Steele's Bayou is connected with the latter river. This, in turn, connects inland, north, with the Black Bayou, Rolling Fork and Sunflower Rivers, which, in their course, wind entirely around Haines' Bluff. On the 14th of March, Admiral Porter entered this bayou with a gunboat fleet, accompanied by a force of infantry under General Sherman. A portion of this, like each of the other routes which had been tried, was full of difficulties. One who accompanied the expedition, thus describes the Black Bayou: “Black Bayou, a narrow stream, heretofore navigable only by dug-outs, was made of the width of our steamers, with great labor, by felling trees and sawing stumps below the surface. Every foot of our way was cut and torn through a dense forest, never before traversed by steamers. I never witnessed a more exciting and picturesque scene than the transportation, on the last day, of the third brigade, by General Staart. Crowded with men, the steamers, at the highest possible steed, pushed through ovisshanging treas and arou: d short curves. Sometimes they were wedged fast between trees, then sailing along smoothly, a huge cypress would reach out an arm and sweep the whole length of the boats, tearing guards and chimneys from the decks. The last trip through the Black Bayou, was in a night, pitchy dark and rainy.” Added to

158

A DESPERATE RESOLUTION.

all this, the enemy, having been apprised of our desigu, filled the thickets along the banks with sharp-shooters, who swept the decks with their fire, at close range, and scattered the working parties. Large trees were felled across the stream, by negroes, in advance, to retard the boats and keep them under fire, and behind them, to prevent their return. Before the expedition reached Sunflower. River, the peril of being caught there in the forest, permanently, with his boats, was so great, that Porter determined to return. This resolution was not taken a moment too soon, for, if he had pushed on a few hours longer, he would have been hemmed in beyond release.

When the expedition again reached the Mississippi, Grant saw that the last hope of getting in the rear of Vicksburg, inland, from the north, was gone. Still, he would not abandon the great object for which he had struggled so long and worked so patiently. Difficulties, instead of discouraging, roused him to greater efforts. Having exhausted all the plans that ingenuity could suggest, to avoid the direct fire of the rebel batteries, which lined the river for eight miles, he at last took the bold and apparently rash resolution of running them with his gunboats and transports. Preparatory to this, the army was marched inland, towards New Carthage, below Vicksburg, on the west side of the river. In this march, General McClernand led the advance, with the Eleventh Army Corps. The swampy country, however, soon became a vast mortar bed, in which the hubs of the artillery wheels would often entirely disappear from sight, and through which the army floundered, till further progress became impossible without constructing for itself a regular military road. Bridges had to be built over the sluggish streams, and corduroy causeways made across treacherous swamps, and, in the meantime, the levee carefully guarded, best the enemy should cut it, and turn the swampy lowland

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