Monument to Defenders of Vicksbury.
refresh our memories by glancing over the records of those days; let us look back to May i, 1862.
The Confederacy was appalled to hear that the great fleet under Farragut and the large army under Butler had entered the Mississippi river at the mouth ; had reduced Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and had arrived at New Orleans, and taken possession of the defenseless city. The Mississippi, which split the Confederacy in twain, was open to them as far up as Memphis and Fort Pillow the only two points left held by the Confederates. Vicksburg on the hills at once loomed up as the only defensible point between Memphis and New Orleans, but no garrison was there, no forts, but few defenses of any kind, save the high bluffs and hills. A few regiments were hurried there on receiving news of the fall of New Orleans, as also heavy guns and ammunition. They had scarce arrived there, and had not exceeding six batteries mounted, when the Federal fleet and trans- ports made their appearance, on the i8th day of May.
Three mighty efforts were made by the United States government to capture Vicksburg. This was the beginning of the first attempt. The fleet and flotilla consisted of the sloops of war, gunboats and mortar-boats, which had captured the strong forts at the mouth of the river, and numbered thirty-five vessels, including eighteen or nineteen mortar-boats for throwing shells, and transports bearing an army of 3,000 men. And, as if to add to the calamities of the Con- federates, Fort Pillow and Memphis also fell soon after their arrival below Vicksburg, and the entire Mississippi gunboat squadron from the upper river began to arrive, consisting of ironclads, wooden gun- boats, mortar-boats, rams and other vessels, making in the aggregate, above and below the city, near 200 heavy guns on the water. The few regiments and batteries at Vicksburg were not reinforced until about June 28th, when General Van Dorn arrived with General Breckinridge's division.
Previous to his arrival, which was the most critical period in the his- tory of the city, General M. L. Smith, the accomplished soldier and engineer, did all that mortal man could do with the means at his dis- posal, but he had little with which to do anything. From the i8th of May to the i8th of July, two months, these two grand naval squadrons almost uninterruptedly bombarded and shelled the apparently doomed city. On June 28th, a supreme effort was made to take the city. The