Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/641

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Confined, without a moment's relief from the very moment of their entrance into the fortifications of the city, to the narrow trenches; exposed without shelter to the broiling sun and drenching rains; subsisting on rations barely sufficient for the support of life; engaged from the earliest dawn till dark, and often during the night, in one ceaseless conflict with the enemy, they neither faltered nor complained; but, ever looking forward with confidence to relief, bore up bravely under every privation—saw their ranks decimated by disease and missiles of the enemy—with the fortitude that adorns the soldier and the spirit that becomes the patriot who battles in a holy cause."

"During the day," said General Lee, "there was a perfect rain of minie balls which prevented any one from showing the least portion of his body, while at night, on account of the proximity of the enemy, it was impossible for the men to leave their positions for any length of time. After about the tenth day of the siege the men lived on about half rations, and on even less than that toward its close." Various experiments were made in improvising food, such as pea-bread, which was promptly abandoned. Mule and horse meat were tried, but did not meet with favor. Not until the last days was a ration of mule meat actually issued.

The patriotic citizens of Vicksburg also had their sufferings, though few met with casualties. The rain of bombs and shells was terrifying; but women and children soon learned to walk the streets while the shells were falling. When the houses became dangerous or wrecked, shelter was taken in caves in the hill. The food of the citizens was even more meager than that of the soldiers, but in some way they survived.

On July 1st Pemberton addressed a letter to each of his division commanders, stating that unless the siege were raised or supplies thrown in, it would shortly become necessary to evacuate; and he asked that he be in-