Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 19, 1863 (Tuesday): "Vicksburg Must Before Long Fall"

The Vicksburg Campaign (

May 19, 1863.
Admiral PORTER, U. S. Navy:
    You can rely on any information which may be given you by the bearer. We have the city invested, and all the bluffs between this and Snyder's under our control. There are no troops at Haynes' Bluff. General Grant has sent Colonel Taggart to communicate with Admiral Porter by way of Snyder's Bluff. General Grant wishes the admiral's co-operation in taking Vicksburg.
    We are short of rations, and want rations sent up the Yazoo to Snyder's, if the Chickasaw Bayou is not navigable.
     Very truly, yours,


(Any officer of the Army or Navy of the United States, into whose hands this may fall, will please forward it to Admiral Porter immediately.)

HDQRS. 15TH ARMY CORPS, Walnut Hills, May 19, 1863.
Admiral Porter, or Senior Officer at Mouth of Yazoo:
    DEAR ADMIRAL: My right is on the Mississippi. We have possession of the bluff down a mile or more below the mouth of the bayou.
    Can't you send immediately a couple of gunboats down? They can easily see and distinguish our men, and can silence a water battery, that is, the extremity of their flank on the river, and enfilade the left flank of their works.
    I think nearly all the guns of their upper batteries are moved inside of Vicksburg and are now on the land front.
    You will have no trouble in distinguishing our flank; it is about one-quarter of a mile below a cattle pen, on the immediate shore of the Mississippi.
    I would get General Grant to make this request, but he is far on the left flank and it would take hours to find him.
    Truly, yours,

    W. T. SHERMAN,

near Vicksburg, MISS., May 19, 1863-11. 16 a. m.
    Army corps commanders will push forward carefully, and gain as close position as possible to the enemy's works until 2 p. m. At that hour they will fire three volleys of artillery from all the pieces in position. This will be the signal for a general charge of all the corps along the whole line.
    When the works are carried, guards will be placed by all DIVISION commanders, to prevent their men from straggling from their companies.
    By order of Major General U. S. Grant:

    Assistant Adjutant-General.

Vicksburg, May 19, 1863.
President JEFFERSON DAVIS, Richmond:
    Against my own judgment, but by instructions from superior authority, sustained by the unanimous voice of my general officers, I felt myself compelled to advance my position beyond Edwards Depot, and to offer or accept battle according to circumstances. The enemy attacked me in very great force about 7 a. m. on 16th. My position was a good one, but numbers prevailed; at 5 p. m. we were forced to retire. General Loring's DIVISION, which covered the retreat across Baker's Creek, failed to rejoin me, but will probably form a junction with General Johnston. We were again driven from and intrenched line at east and south head of Big Black Bridge, on morning of 17th; we lost a large amount of artillery. The army was much demoralized; many regiments behaved badly. We are occupying the trenches around Vicksburg; the enemy is investing it, and will probably attempt an assault. Our men have considerably recovered their morale, but unless a large force is sent at once to relieve it, Vicksburg must before long fall. I have used every effort to prevent all this, but in vain.


Series I., Vol. 24, Part 3, Pages 318-319, 892.

On May 19 Grant staged a series of frontal assaults against Pemberton's fortifications, suffering heavy losses. He would not immediately give up on the idea of storming the city, but with the Navy coming up river and the city surrounded the game was over unless relief was sent.  Meanwhile Pemberton sends a message to Davis blaming his situation on Johnston.

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