Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/365
The, Surrender of Vicksburg. 355
In the meantime the enemy was heavily reinforcing, and appa- rently moving on Jackson.
On the 14th of May General Pemberton received instructions to move and attack the enemy towards Clinton, Mississippi. A council of war was called of the general officers, and the matter laid before them for their deliberation and opinions. The majority of those pres- ent expressed them.selves in favor the movement. The minority (among whom was General Pemberton ) expressed themselves averse, regarding it as too hazardous, preferring a movement by which it might be endeavored to cut off the enemy's supplies from the Mis- sissippi, and not to move the army from its base— Vicksburg. Sub- sequent developments show that this policy would probably have de- feated the objects of Grant's campaign. His army was furnished with only five days' rations, and, as expressed by their own officers, was in almost a starving condition ; and the transportation from the Missis- sippi, a distance of forty miles, open to constant interruption from our forces, was precarious and almost impracticable. It was there- fore essential that he should obtain a new base, which could be estab- lished only by the opening of the Yazoo river ; and his policy was to bring about a battle, as the means of obtaining this end. Certainly under these circumstances, and with our known inferiority of num- bers, our policy would have been to have avoided an engagement. Pursuant to instructions, however. General Pemberton moved out of Vicksburg with seventeen thousand five hundred men, and met and en- gaged the enemy at Baker's Creek, near Raymond. The enemy were at first repulsed ; but continuing to receive heavy reinforcements, General Pemberton was overwhelmed by numbers and forced to fall back to the entrenchments on the Big Black The enemy pushed on rapidly, and again encountered our forces behind these entrench- ments, which, however, we failed to defend, and retired in rather a disorderly manner to the inner line of works around Vicksburg. The abandonment of the entrenchments on Big Black necessitated the evacuation of Haines' Bluff, the left flank of that line, thus opening the Yazoo river to the enemy's fleet, and rendering his transportation easy.
Although considerably demoralized by the defeats at Baker's Creek and Big Black, the army was now posted within the trenches around Vicksburg. At this juncture, instructions were received by General Pemberton to evacuate Vicksburg and bring out his army. A coun- cil of war of the general officers was immediately called, in which the opinion was unanimously expressed that it was impossible to with-