Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/364
354 Southern Historical Society Papers.
purpose of cutting all railroad communications, and so embarassing the transportation of supplies. It succeeded in this object, which success is wholly attributable to the absence of a sufficient force of cavalry. To supply this deficiency, under the exigency, General Pemberton was compelled to resort to the impressment of private horses, and to mount infantry, which could illy be spared.
On the night of the i6th of April, the enemy's fleet attempted to pass the batteries at Vicksburg. Some six or seven gunboats and transports succeeded ; one boat was burned, another sunk, and the remainder were forced to put back. With the number of guns and weight of metal, it was impossible to effect more damage. Vicks- burg, the grand key to the Mississippi — had only twenty-eight guns, of which two were smooth-bore thirty- two-pounders, two twenty- four- pounders, one thirty-pound Parrott, one Whitworth, and one ten-inch Mortar. Compare this with the armament of Charleston Harbor : Fort Pemberton alone, on Stono River, can compete with the entire batteries of Vicksburg. Every possible exertion was made to procure more ordnance, and even guns intended for the navy were diverted for army use. But probably owing to a scarcety of guns, and the time required to transport them, no further supply could be procured, and Vicksburg repelled every assault of the vaunted ironclads, and stood a siege of forty eight days, with an armament of tweyity- eight guns.
After the passage of the boats alluded to, the character of the de- fence of Vicksburg, as expressed by General Pemberton, was changed. The enemy could operate from below. He now made a demonstra- tion on our left flank, landing a force at Chickasaw Bayou, also a naval attack on Haines' Bluff", Yazoo River, and at the same time threw a heavy column across the Mississippi River, on the right flank at Brunisburg, below Port Gibson. To meet this column, Brigadier-General Bowen was ordered to move out from Grand Gulf, which he did, holding the enemy for some time in check near Bayou Pierre. Reinforcements were at the same time hurried forward, Major-General Loring in command. General Bowen however, being pressed by vastly superior numbers, was forced to fall back, crossing the Big Black River, after having destroyed the works at Grand Gulf
In was now General Pemberton' s intention to concentrate his troops behind the Big Black, the question of subsistence, proximity to base, and necessity of supporting Vicksburg, being the determin- ing causes. At the same time the arrival of reinforcements was anx- iously awaited.