Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

I notified General Halleck that I should attack the State
capital on the 14th. A courier carried the dispatch to Grand
Gulf through an unprotected country.

Sherman and McPherson communicated with each other during the
night and arranged to reach Jackson at about the same hour. It
rained in torrents during the night of the 13th and the fore
part of the day of the 14th. The roads were intolerable, and in
some places on Sherman’s line, where the land was low, they were
covered more than a foot deep with water. But the troops never
murmured. By nine o’clock Crocker, of McPherson’s corps, who
was now in advance, came upon the enemy’s pickets and speedily
drove them in upon the main body. They were outside of the
intrenchments in a strong position, and proved to be the troops
that had been driven out of Raymond. Johnston had been
reinforced; during the night by Georgia and South Carolina
regiments, so that his force amounted to eleven thousand men,
and he was expecting still more.

Sherman also came upon the rebel pickets some distance out from
the town, but speedily drove them in. He was now on the south
and south-west of Jackson confronting the Confederates behind
their breastworks, while McPherson’s right was nearly two miles
north, occupying a line running north and south across the
Vicksburg railroad. Artillery was brought up and
reconnoissances made preparatory to an assault. McPherson
brought up Logan’s division while he deployed Crocker’s for the
assault. Sherman made similar dispositions on the right. By
eleven A.M. both were ready to attack. Crocker moved his
division forward, preceded by a strong skirmish line. These
troops at once encountered the enemy’s advance and drove it back
on the main body, when they returned to their proper regiment and
the whole division charged, routing the enemy completely and
driving him into this main line. This stand by the enemy was
made more than two miles outside of his main fortifications.
McPherson followed up with his command until within range of the
guns of the enemy from their intrenchments, when he halted to
bring his troops into line and reconnoitre to determine the next
move. It was now about noon.

While this was going on Sherman was confronting a rebel battery
which enfiladed the road on which he was marching–the
Mississippi Springs road–and commanded a bridge spanning a
stream over which he had to pass. By detaching right and left
the stream was forced and the enemy flanked and speedily driven
within the main line. This brought our whole line in front of
the enemy’s line of works, which was continuous on the north,
west and south sides from the Pearl River north of the city to
the same river south. I was with Sherman. He was confronted by
a force sufficient to hold us back. Appearances did not justify
an assault where we were. I had directed Sherman to send a
force to the right, and to reconnoitre as far as to the Pearl
River. This force, Tuttle’s division, not returning I rode to
the right with my staff, and soon found that the enemy had left
that part of the line. Tuttle’s movement or McPherson’s
pressure had no doubt led Johnston to order a retreat, leaving
only the men at the guns to retard us while he was getting
away. Tuttle had seen this and, passing through the lines
without resistance, came up in the rear of the artillerists
confronting Sherman and captured them with ten pieces of
artillery. I rode immediately to the State House, where I was
soon followed by Sherman. About the same time McPherson
discovered that the enemy was leaving his front, and advanced
Crocker, who was so close upon the enemy that they could not
move their guns or destroy them. He captured seven guns and,
moving on, hoisted the National flag over the rebel capital of
Mississippi. Stevenson’s brigade was sent to cut off the rebel
retreat, but was too late or not expeditious enough.

Our loss in this engagement was: McPherson, 37 killed, 228
wounded; Sherman, 4 killed and 21 wounded and missing. The
enemy lost 845 killed, wounded and captured. Seventeen guns
fell into our hands, and the enemy destroyed by fire their
store-houses, containing a large amount of commissary stores.

On this day Blair reached New Auburn and joined McClernand’s 4th
division. He had with him two hundred wagons loaded with
rations, the only commissary supplies received during the entire
campaign.

I slept that night in the room that Johnston was said to have
occupied the night before.

About four in the afternoon I sent for the corps commanders and
directed the dispositions to be made of their troops. Sherman
was to remain in Jackson until he destroyed that place as a
railroad centre, and manufacturing city of military supplies. He
did the work most effectually. Sherman and I went together into
a manufactory which had not ceased work on account of the battle
nor for the entrance of Yankee troops. Our presence did not seem
to attract the attention of either the manager or the operatives,
most of whom were girls. We looked on for a while to see the
tent cloth which they were making roll out of the looms, with
“C. S. A.” woven in each bolt. There was an immense amount of
cotton, in bales, stacked outside. Finally I told Sherman I
thought they had done work enough. The operatives were told
they could leave and take with them what cloth they could
carry. In a few minutes cotton and factory were in a blaze.
The proprietor visited Washington while I was President to get
his pay for this property, claiming that it was private. He
asked me to give him a statement of the fact that his property
had been destroyed by National troops, so that he might use it
with Congress where he was pressing, or proposed to press, his
claim. I declined.

On the night of the 13th Johnston sent the following dispatch to
Pemberton at Edward’s station: “I have lately arrived, and learn
that Major-General Sherman is between us with four divisions at
Clinton. It is important to establish communication, that you
may be reinforced. If practicable, come up in his rear at
once. To beat such a detachment would be of immense value. All
the troops you can quickly assemble should be brought. Time is
all-important.” This dispatch was sent in triplicate, by
different messengers. One of the messengers happened to be a
loyal man who had been expelled from Memphis some months before
by Hurlbut for uttering disloyal and threatening sentiments.
There was a good deal of parade about his expulsion, ostensibly
as a warning to those who entertained the sentiments he
expressed; but Hurlbut and the expelled man understood each
other. He delivered his copy of Johnston’s dispatch to
McPherson who forwarded it to me.

Receiving this dispatch on the 14th I ordered McPherson to move
promptly in the morning back to Bolton, the nearest point where
Johnston could reach the road. Bolton is about twenty miles
west of Jackson. I also informed McClernand of the capture of
Jackson and sent him the following order: “It is evidently the
design of the enemy to get north of us and cross the Big Black,
and beat us into Vicksburg. We must not allow them to do
this. Turn all your forces towards Bolton station, and make all
dispatch in getting there. Move troops by the most direct road
from wherever they may be on the receipt of this order.”

And to Blair I wrote: “Their design is evidently to cross the
Big Black and pass down the peninsula between the Big Black and
Yazoo rivers. We must beat them. Turn your troops immediately
to Bolton; take all the trains with you. Smith’s division, and
any other troops now with you, will go to the same place. If
practicable, take parallel roads, so as to divide your troops
and train.”

Johnston stopped on the Canton road only six miles north of
Jackson, the night of the 14th. He sent from there to Pemberton
dispatches announcing the loss of Jackson, and the following
order:

“As soon as the reinforcements are all up, they must be united
to the rest of the army. I am anxious to see a force assembled
that may be able to inflict a heavy blow upon the enemy. Can
Grant supply himself from the Mississippi? Can you not cut him
off from it, and above all, should he be compelled to fall back
for want of supplies, beat him.”

The concentration of my troops was easy, considering the
character of the country. McPherson moved along the road
parallel with and near the railroad. McClernand’s command was,
one division (Hovey’s) on the road McPherson had to take, but
with a start of four miles. One (Osterhaus) was at Raymond, on
a converging road that intersected the other near Champion’s
Hill; one (Carr’s) had to pass over the same road with
Osterhaus, but being back at Mississippi Springs, would not be
detained by it; the fourth (Smith’s) with Blair’s division, was
near Auburn with a different road to pass over. McClernand
faced about and moved promptly. His cavalry from Raymond seized
Bolton by half-past nine in the morning, driving out the enemy’s
pickets and capturing several men.

The night of the 15th Hovey was at Bolton; Carr and Osterhaus
were about three miles south, but abreast, facing west; Smith
was north of Raymond with Blair in his rear.

McPherson’s command, with Logan in front, had marched at seven
o’clock, and by four reached Hovey and went into camp; Crocker
bivouacked just in Hovey’s rear on the Clinton road. Sherman
with two divisions, was in Jackson, completing the destruction
of roads, bridges and military factories. I rode in person out
to Clinton. On my arrival I ordered McClernand to move early in
the morning on Edward’s station, cautioning him to watch for the
enemy and not bring on an engagement unless he felt very certain
of success.

I naturally expected that Pemberton would endeavor to obey the
orders of his superior, which I have shown were to attack us at
Clinton. This, indeed, I knew he could not do; but I felt sure
he would make the attempt to reach that point. It turned out,
however, that he had decided his superior’s plans were
impracticable, and consequently determined to move south from
Edward’s station and get between me and my base. I, however,
had no base, having abandoned it more than a week before. On
the 15th Pemberton had actually marched south from Edward’s
station, but the rains had swollen Baker’s Creek, which he had
to cross so much that he could not ford it, and the bridges were
washed away. This brought him back to the Jackson road, on which
there was a good bridge over Baker’s Creek. Some of his troops
were marching until midnight to get there. Receiving here early
on the 16th a repetition of his order to join Johnston at
Clinton, he concluded to obey, and sent a dispatch to his chief,
informing him of the route by which he might be expected.

About five o’clock in the morning (16th) two men, who had been
employed on the Jackson and Vicksburg railroad, were brought to
me. They reported that they had passed through Pemberton’s army
in the night, and that it was still marching east. They reported
him to have eighty regiments of infantry and ten batteries; in
all, about twenty-five thousand men.

I had expected to leave Sherman at Jackson another day in order
to complete his work; but getting the above information I sent
him orders to move with all dispatch to Bolton, and to put one
division with an ammunition train on the road at once, with
directions to its commander to march with all possible speed
until he came up to our rear. Within an hour after receiving
this order Steele’s division was on the road. At the same time
I dispatched to Blair, who was near Auburn, to move with all
speed to Edward’s station. McClernand was directed to embrace
Blair in his command for the present. Blair’s division was a
part of the 15th army corps (Sherman’s); but as it was on its
way to join its corps, it naturally struck our left first, now
that we had faced about and were moving west. The 15th corps,
when it got up, would be on our extreme right. McPherson was
directed to get his trains out of the way of the troops, and to
follow Hovey’s division as closely as possible. McClernand had
two roads about three miles apart, converging at Edward’s
station, over which to march his troops. Hovey’s division of
his corps had the advance on a third road (the Clinton) still
farther north. McClernand was directed to move Blair’s and A.
J. Smith’s divisions by the southernmost of these roads, and
Osterhaus and Carr by the middle road. Orders were to move
cautiously with skirmishers to the front to feel for the enemy.

Smith’s division on the most southern road was the first to
encounter the enemy’s pickets, who were speedily driven in.
Osterhaus, on the middle road, hearing the firing, pushed his
skirmishers forward, found the enemy’s pickets and forced them
back to the main line. About the same time Hovey encountered
the enemy on the northern or direct wagon road from Jackson to
Vicksburg. McPherson was hastening up to join Hovey, but was
embarrassed by Hovey’s trains occupying the roads. I was still
back at Clinton. McPherson sent me word of the situation, and
expressed the wish that I was up. By half-past seven I was on
the road and proceeded rapidly to the front, ordering all trains
that were in front of troops off the road. When I arrived
Hovey’s skirmishing amounted almost to a battle.

McClernand was in person on the middle road and had a shorter
distance to march to reach the enemy’s position than
McPherson. I sent him word by a staff officer to push forward
and attack. These orders were repeated several times without
apparently expediting McClernand’s advance.

Champion’s Hill, where Pemberton had chosen his position to
receive us, whether taken by accident or design, was well
selected. It is one of the highest points in that section, and
commanded all the ground in range. On the east side of the
ridge, which is quite precipitous, is a ravine running first
north, then westerly, terminating at Baker’s Creek. It was
grown up thickly with large trees and undergrowth, making it
difficult to penetrate with troops, even when not defended. The
ridge occupied by the enemy terminated abruptly where the ravine
turns westerly. The left of the enemy occupied the north end of
this ridge. The Bolton and Edward’s station wagon-road turns
almost due south at this point and ascends the ridge, which it
follows for about a mile; then turning west, descends by a
gentle declivity to Baker’s Creek, nearly a mile away. On the
west side the slope of the ridge is gradual and is cultivated
from near the summit to the creek. There was, when we were
there, a narrow belt of timber near the summit west of the road.

From Raymond there is a direct road to Edward’s station, some
three miles west of Champion’s Hill. There is one also to
Bolton. From this latter road there is still another, leaving
it about three and a half miles before reaching Bolton and leads
direct to the same station. It was along these two roads that
three divisions of McClernand’s corps, and Blair of Sherman’s,
temporarily under McClernand, were moving. Hovey of
McClernand’s command was with McPherson, farther north on the
road from Bolton direct to Edward’s station. The middle road
comes into the northern road at the point where the latter turns
to the west and descends to Baker’s Creek; the southern road is
still several miles south and does not intersect the others
until it reaches Edward’s station. Pemberton’s lines covered
all these roads, and faced east. Hovey’s line, when it first
drove in the enemy’s pickets, was formed parallel to that of the
enemy and confronted his left.

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