During the night of the 2d of May the bridge over the North Fork
was repaired, and the troops commenced crossing at five the next
morning. Before the leading brigade was over it was fired upon
by the enemy from a commanding position; but they were soon
driven off. It was evident that the enemy was covering a
retreat from Grand Gulf to Vicksburg. Every commanding position
from this (Grindstone) crossing to Hankinson’s ferry over the Big
Black was occupied by the retreating foe to delay our progress.
McPherson, however, reached Hankinson’s ferry before night,
seized the ferry boat, and sent a detachment of his command
across and several miles north on the road to Vicksburg. When
the junction of the road going to Vicksburg with the road from
Grand Gulf to Raymond and Jackson was reached, Logan with his
division was turned to the left towards Grand Gulf. I went with
him a short distance from this junction. McPherson had
encountered the largest force yet met since the battle of Port
Gibson and had a skirmish nearly approaching a battle; but the
road Logan had taken enabled him to come up on the enemy’s right
flank, and they soon gave way. McPherson was ordered to hold
Hankinson’s ferry and the road back to Willow Springs with one
division; McClernand, who was now in the rear, was to join in
this as well as to guard the line back down the bayou. I did
not want to take the chances of having an enemy lurking in our
rear.

On the way from the junction to Grand Gulf, where the road comes
into the one from Vicksburg to the same place six or seven miles
out, I learned that the last of the enemy had retreated past
that place on their way to Vicksburg. I left Logan to make the
proper disposition of his troops for the night, while I rode
into the town with an escort of about twenty cavalry. Admiral
Porter had already arrived with his fleet. The enemy had
abandoned his heavy guns and evacuated the place.

When I reached Grand Gulf May 3d I had not been with my baggage
since the 27th of April and consequently had had no change of
underclothing, no meal except such as I could pick up sometimes
at other headquarters, and no tent to cover me. The first thing
I did was to get a bath, borrow some fresh underclothing from one
of the naval officers and get a good meal on the flag-ship. Then
I wrote letters to the general-in-chief informing him of our
present position, dispatches to be telegraphed from Cairo,
orders to General Sullivan commanding above Vicksburg, and gave
orders to all my corps commanders. About twelve o’clock at
night I was through my work and started for Hankinson’s ferry,
arriving there before daylight. While at Grand Gulf I heard
from Banks, who was on the Red River, and who said that he could
not be at Port Hudson before the 10th of May and then with only
15,000 men. Up to this time my intention had been to secure
Grand Gulf, as a base of supplies, detach McClernand’s corps to
Banks and co-operate with him in the reduction of Port Hudson.

The news from Banks forced upon me a different plan of campaign
from the one intended. To wait for his co-operation would have
detained me at least a month. The reinforcements would not have
reached ten thousand men after deducting casualties and necessary
river guards at all high points close to the river for over three
hundred miles. The enemy would have strengthened his position
and been reinforced by more men than Banks could have brought. I
therefore determined to move independently of Banks, cut loose
from my base, destroy the rebel force in rear of Vicksburg and
invest or capture the city.

Grand Gulf was accordingly given up as a base and the
authorities at Washington were notified. I knew well that
Halleck’s caution would lead him to disapprove of this course;
but it was the only one that gave any chance of success. The
time it would take to communicate with Washington and get a
reply would be so great that I could not be interfered with
until it was demonstrated whether my plan was practicable. Even
Sherman, who afterwards ignored bases of supplies other than what
were afforded by the country while marching through four States
of the Confederacy with an army more than twice as large as mine
at this time, wrote me from Hankinson’s ferry, advising me of the
impossibility of supplying our army over a single road. He urged
me to “stop all troops till your army is partially supplied with
wagons, and then act as quick as possible; for this road will be
jammed, as sure as life.” To this I replied: “I do not
calculate upon the possibility of supplying the army with full
rations from Grand Gulf. I know it will be impossible without
constructing additional roads. What I do expect is to get up
what rations of hard bread, coffee and salt we can, and make the
country furnish the balance.” We started from Bruinsburg with an
average of about two days’ rations, and received no more from our
own supplies for some days; abundance was found in the mean
time. A delay would give the enemy time to reinforce and
fortify.

McClernand’s and McPherson’s commands were kept substantially as
they were on the night of the 2d, awaiting supplies sufficient to
give them three days’ rations in haversacks. Beef, mutton,
poultry and forage were found in abundance. Quite a quantity of
bacon and molasses was also secured from the country, but bread
and coffee could not be obtained in quantity sufficient for all
the men. Every plantation, however, had a run of stone,
propelled by mule power, to grind corn for the owners and their
slaves. All these were kept running while we were stopping, day
and night, and when we were marching, during the night, at all
plantations covered by the troops. But the product was taken by
the troops nearest by, so that the majority of the command was
destined to go without bread until a new base was established on
the Yazoo above Vicksburg.

While the troops were awaiting the arrival of rations I ordered
reconnoissances made by McClernand and McPherson, with the view
of leading the enemy to believe that we intended to cross the
Big Black and attack the city at once.

On the 6th Sherman arrived at Grand Gulf and crossed his command
that night and the next day. Three days’ rations had been
brought up from Grand Gulf for the advanced troops and were
issued. Orders were given for a forward movement the next
day. Sherman was directed to order up Blair, who had been left
behind to guard the road from Milliken’s Bend to Hard Times with
two brigades.

The quartermaster at Young’s Point was ordered to send two
hundred wagons with Blair, and the commissary was to load them
with hard bread, coffee, sugar, salt and one hundred thousand
pounds of salt meat.

On the 3d Hurlbut, who had been left at Memphis, was ordered to
send four regiments from his command to Milliken’s Bend to
relieve Blair’s division, and on the 5th he was ordered to send
Lauman’s division in addition, the latter to join the army in
the field. The four regiments were to be taken from troops near
the river so that there would be no delay.

During the night of the 6th McPherson drew in his troops north
of the Big Black and was off at an early hour on the road to
Jackson, via Rocky Springs, Utica and Raymond. That night he
and McClernand were both at Rocky Springs ten miles from
Hankinson’s ferry. McPherson remained there during the 8th,
while McClernand moved to Big Sandy and Sherman marched from
Grand Gulf to Hankinson’s ferry. The 9th, McPherson moved to a
point within a few miles west of Utica; McClernand and Sherman
remained where they were. On the 10th McPherson moved to Utica,
Sherman to Big Sandy; McClernand was still at Big Sandy. The
11th, McClernand was at Five Mile Creek; Sherman at Auburn;
McPherson five miles advanced from Utica. May 12th, McClernand
was at Fourteen Mile Creek; Sherman at Fourteen Mile Creek;
McPherson at Raymond after a battle.

After McPherson crossed the Big Black at Hankinson’s ferry
Vicksburg could have been approached and besieged by the south
side. It is not probable, however, that Pemberton would have
permitted a close besiegement. The broken nature of the ground
would have enabled him to hold a strong defensible line from the
river south of the city to the Big Black, retaining possession of
the railroad back to that point. It was my plan, therefore, to
get to the railroad east of Vicksburg, and approach from that
direction. Accordingly, McPherson’s troops that had crossed the
Big Black were withdrawn and the movement east to Jackson
commenced.

As has been stated before, the country is very much broken and
the roads generally confined to the tops of the hills. The
troops were moved one (sometimes two) corps at a time to reach
designated points out parallel to the railroad and only from six
to ten miles from it. McClernand’s corps was kept with its left
flank on the Big Black guarding all the crossings. Fourteen
Mile Creek, a stream substantially parallel with the railroad,
was reached and crossings effected by McClernand and Sherman
with slight loss. McPherson was to the right of Sherman,
extending to Raymond. The cavalry was used in this advance in
reconnoitring to find the roads: to cover our advances and to
find the most practicable routes from one command to another so
they could support each other in case of an attack. In making
this move I estimated Pemberton’s movable force at Vicksburg at
about eighteen thousand men, with smaller forces at Haines’
Bluff and Jackson. It would not be possible for Pemberton to
attack me with all his troops at one place, and I determined to
throw my army between his and fight him in detail. This was
done with success, but I found afterwards that I had entirely
under-estimated Pemberton’s strength.

Up to this point our movements had been made without serious
opposition. My line was now nearly parallel with the Jackson
and Vicksburg railroad and about seven miles south of it. The
right was at Raymond eighteen miles from Jackson, McPherson
commanding; Sherman in the centre on Fourteen Mile Creek, his
advance thrown across; McClernand to the left, also on Fourteen
Mile Creek, advance across, and his pickets within two miles of
Edward’s station, where the enemy had concentrated a
considerable force and where they undoubtedly expected us to
attack. McClernand’s left was on the Big Black. In all our
moves, up to this time, the left had hugged the Big Black
closely, and all the ferries had been guarded to prevent the
enemy throwing a force on our rear.

McPherson encountered the enemy, five thousand strong with two
batteries under General Gregg, about two miles out of Raymond.
This was about two P.M. Logan was in advance with one of his
brigades. He deployed and moved up to engage the enemy.
McPherson ordered the road in rear to be cleared of wagons, and
the balance of Logan’s division, and Crocker’s, which was still
farther in rear, to come forward with all dispatch. The order
was obeyed with alacrity. Logan got his division in position
for assault before Crocker could get up, and attacked with
vigor, carrying the enemy’s position easily, sending Gregg
flying from the field not to appear against our front again
until we met at Jackson.

In this battle McPherson lost 66 killed, 339 wounded, and 37
missing–nearly or quite all from Logan’s division. The enemy’s
loss was 100 killed, 305 wounded, besides 415 taken prisoners.

I regarded Logan and Crocker as being as competent division
commanders as could be found in or out of the army and both
equal to a much higher command. Crocker, however, was dying of
consumption when he volunteered. His weak condition never put
him on the sick report when there was a battle in prospect, as
long as he could keep on his feet. He died not long after the
close of the rebellion.

CHAPTER XXXV.

MOVEMENT AGAINST JACKSON–FALL OF JACKSON–INTERCEPTING THE
ENEMY–BATTLE OF CHAMPION’S HILL.

When the news reached me of McPherson’s victory at Raymond about
sundown my position was with Sherman. I decided at once to turn
the whole column towards Jackson and capture that place without
delay.

Pemberton was now on my left, with, as I supposed, about 18,000
men; in fact, as I learned afterwards, with nearly 50,000. A
force was also collecting on my right, at Jackson, the point
where all the railroads communicating with Vicksburg connect.
All the enemy’s supplies of men and stores would come by that
point. As I hoped in the end to besiege Vicksburg I must first
destroy all possibility of aid. I therefore determined to move
swiftly towards Jackson, destroy or drive any force in that
direction and then turn upon Pemberton. But by moving against
Jackson, I uncovered my own communication. So I finally decided
to have none–to cut loose altogether from my base and move my
whole force eastward. I then had no fears for my
communications, and if I moved quickly enough could turn upon
Pemberton before he could attack me in the rear.

Accordingly, all previous orders given during the day for
movements on the 13th were annulled by new ones. McPherson was
ordered at daylight to move on Clinton, ten miles from Jackson;
Sherman was notified of my determination to capture Jackson and
work from there westward. He was ordered to start at four in
the morning and march to Raymond. McClernand was ordered to
march with three divisions by Dillon’s to Raymond. One was left
to guard the crossing of the Big Black.

On the 10th I had received a letter from Banks, on the Red
River, asking reinforcements. Porter had gone to his assistance
with a part of his fleet on the 3d, and I now wrote to him
describing my position and declining to send any troops. I
looked upon side movements as long as the enemy held Port Hudson
and Vicksburg as a waste of time and material.

General Joseph E. Johnston arrived at Jackson in the night of
the 13th from Tennessee, and immediately assumed command of all
the Confederate troops in Mississippi. I knew he was expecting
reinforcements from the south and east. On the 6th I had written
to General Halleck: “Information from the other side leaves me
to believe the enemy are bringing forces from Tullahoma.”

Up to this time my troops had been kept in supporting distances
of each other, as far as the nature of the country would
admit. Reconnoissances were constantly made from each corps to
enable them to acquaint themselves with the most practicable
routes from one to another in case a union became necessary.

McPherson reached Clinton with the advance early on the 13th and
immediately set to work destroying the railroad. Sherman’s
advance reached Raymond before the last of McPherson’s command
had got out of the town. McClernand withdrew from the front of
the enemy, at Edward’s station, with much skill and without
loss, and reached his position for the night in good order. On
the night of the 13th, McPherson was ordered to march at early
dawn upon Jackson, only fifteen miles away. Sherman was given
the same order; but he was to move by the direct road from
Raymond to Jackson, which is south of the road McPherson was on
and does not approach within two miles of it at the point where
it crossed the line of intrenchments which, at that time,
defended the city. McClernand was ordered to move one division
of his command to Clinton, one division a few miles beyond
Mississippi Springs following Sherman’s line, and a third to
Raymond. He was also directed to send his siege guns, four in
number with the troops going by Mississippi Springs.
McClernand’s position was an advantageous one in any event. With
one division at Clinton he was in position to reinforce
McPherson, at Jackson, rapidly if it became necessary; the
division beyond Mississippi Springs was equally available to
reinforce Sherman; the one at Raymond could take either road. He
still had two other divisions farther back now that Blair had
come up, available within a day at Jackson. If this last
command should not be wanted at Jackson, they were already one
day’s march from there on their way to Vicksburg and on three
different roads leading to the latter city. But the most
important consideration in my mind was to have a force
confronting Pemberton if he should come out to attack my rear.
This I expected him to do; as shown further on, he was directed
by Johnston to make this very move.

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