Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/555

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the neck of land opposite Vicksburg, with nine of his vessels, and the neck itself was occupied by Gen. Thomas Williams with an infantry force which was considered too small to attempt an attack upon Vicksburg by land. Williams, therefore, by order of General Butler (who also dug a canal at Dutch Gap), engaged in the undertaking of cutting a ditch across the neck, so as to change the course of the river and leave Vicksburg and its obdurate defenders on an unimportant bayou. But this effort to add to the territory of the State, and render Vicksburg a side issue, did not win the co-operation of the Father of Waters, who fell faster than the ditch could be dug; and, in fact, never would appreciate the well-meant attempt to shorten his course to the Gulf.

The bombardment continued day by day, but with less vigor, and on June 12th more than forty gunboats, mortar-boats and transports had arrived from Memphis under Flag-Officer Davis, above Vicksburg, and took part in the attack upon the batteries and city. Even the citizens who remained became accustomed to the steady dropping of shells, and went about their daily business. Women and children who remained sheltered in caves would come out and divert themselves by watching the fiery instruments of destruction, taking refuge again when the shots would concentrate in their neighborhood.

Finally the situation, which had grown monotonous, was enlivened by one of the most gallant performances in the history of the Confederate navy. The arming of the ram Arkansas had been progressing rapidly under the most unfavorable circumstances, inspired by the indomitable energy of Captain Brown. The planters furnished laborers; forges were sent in; the hoisting engine of the steamboat Capitol was employed to drive drills; gun-carriages were made from timber that was standing when work was begun; and in five weeks from the time the incomplete vessel reached the Yazoo she was a formidable warship. Previous to her completion, Commander A. W.