Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May 14, 1863

March 14, 1863:
---Ulysses S. Grant writes in his Memoirs of the campaign in central Mississippi at this point, and his reasoning in moving toward Jackson rather than straight to Vicksburg:
When the news reached me of McPherson's victory at Raymond [battle on May 12] about sundown my position was with Sherman. I decided at once to turn the whole column towards Jackson and capture that place without delay.

Pemberton was now on my left, with, as I supposed, about 18,000 men; in fact, as I learned afterwards, with nearly 50,000. A force was also collecting on my right, at Jackson, the point where all the railroads communicating with Vicksburg connect. All the enemy's supplies of men and stores would come by that point. As I hoped in the end to besiege Vicksburg I must first destroy all possibility of aid. I therefore determined to move swiftly towards Jackson, destroy or drive any force in that direction and then turn upon Pemberton. But by moving against Jackson, I uncovered my own communication. So I finally decided to have none—to cut loose altogether from my base and move my whole force eastward. I then had no fears for my communications, and if I moved quickly enough could turn upon Pemberton before he could attack me in the rear.

This is when Grant makes a risky decision: to march into enemy territory with no line of communications or supply. His men march and live off the land—that is, spoils of war taken from the countryside and the Southern populace. This campaign becomes the model for the Total War concept that Sherman uses in Georgia the following year. 


---Battle of Jackson – Grant’s troops dash towards Jackson, the Mississippi state capital. Gen. Joseph Johnston, who has hastened there with 10,000 men, decides that he cannot stop Grant, and so withdraws north of the city. Gen. John Gregg, with 6,000 Confederates, establishes a defensive line west of the city, unaided by Johnston, and McPherson deploys his Federal XVII Corps in line of battle. Sherman advances his corps from the south. Gen. Grant notes the opening movements of the battle in the midst of bad weather:
It rained in torrents during the night of the 13th and the fore part of the day of the 14th. The roads were intolerable, and in some places on Sherman's line, where the land was low, they were covered more than a foot deep with water. But the troops never murmured. By nine o'clock Crocker, of McPherson's corps, who was now in advance, came upon the enemy's pickets and speedily drove them in upon the main body. They were outside of the intrenchments in a strong position, and proved to be the troops that had been driven out of Raymond. . . . McPherson brought up Logan's division while he deployed Crocker's for the assault. Sherman made similar dispositions on the right. By eleven A.M. both were ready to attack.

As the Federals launch the assault, Gregg is driven back to a second defensive line. Grant adds details:
Crocker moved his division forward, preceded by a strong skirmish line. . . . the whole division charged, routing the enemy completely and driving him into this main line. This stand by the enemy was made more than two miles outside of his main fortifications. McPherson followed up with his command until within range of the guns of the enemy from their intrenchments, when he halted to bring his troops into line and reconnoitre to determine the next move. It was now about noon.

Just as the Federals launch a second attack, they find that Gregg has abandoned the position:
I had directed Sherman to send a force to the right, . . . This force, Tuttle's division, not returning I rode to the right with my staff, and soon found that the enemy had left that part of the line. . . . Tuttle had seen this and, passing through the lines without resistance, came up in the rear of the artillerists confronting Sherman and captured them with ten pieces of artillery. I rode immediately to the State House, where I was soon followed by Sherman. About the same time McPherson discovered that the enemy was leaving his front, and advanced Crocker, who was so close upon the enemy that they could not move their guns or destroy them. He captured seven guns and, moving on, hoisted the National flag over the rebel capital of Mississippi.
Before the fighting is quite over, Frederick Dent Grant, the General Grant’s son, dashes (without paternal permission) into the state Capitol to help pull down the Rebel flag and hoist the Stars and Stripes. The boy also confiscates the governor’s pipe and tobacco. Young Grant is afterwards reprimanded by the General. 

U.S., 300              Confederate, 850
A Union soldier of the 8th New York Rifles on picket duty, by Alfred Waud

No comments:

Post a Comment