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crew of the former, finding themselves the centre of a terrific fire,
launched the yawl, and, leaping into it, pulled for the shore. They had
scarcely left their vessel when it was fired by a shell, and, aflame
from stem to stern, it drifted down stream. Meanwhile, the transport
that had grounded was towed out of danger. With this exception, the
whole fleet got safely past, the loss being only one man killed and two
wounded on Porter's flagship.

General Grant was greatly pleased with this success. A few nights later
a second attempt was successful. He was thus enabled to send supplies to
the army, with which he intended to attack Vicksburg on the south.
Gradually shifting his own position, he reached a point opposite Grand
Gulf, a short distance below the mouth of the Big Black River.


CAPTURE OF GRAND GULF.

Although Grand Gulf was strongly fortified its quick capture was a
necessity. McClernand had been ordered several times to attack it, but
he was so laggard that Grant himself undertook the task. It proved one
of extreme difficulty, and he was obliged to make a change of plans, but
he handled his troops with admirable skill and with such effect that the
Confederate commander's position at Grand Gulf became untenable and he
withdrew. Grant rode into town and found the place in the possession of
Admiral Farragut.

The success was so brilliant that Pemberton, the Confederate general
commanding the forces at Vicksburg, became alarmed and telegraphed to
General Jo Johnston for reinforcements, but Johnston was too much
occupied with Rosecrans in Tennessee to spare any of his men, and about
all he could do was to send encouraging words to his subordinate.


GRANT'S FINE GENERALSHIP.

General Grant never displayed his great genius more strikingly than in
the operations before Vicksburg. For days and nights he seemed scarcely
to eat or sleep. He was here, there, and everywhere, and was familiar
with all the minute details of his momentous enterprise. General
Pemberton confessed in his reports that the amazing activity of Grant
"embarrassed him."

Grand Gulf was made the base of operations, and, well aware that
reinforcements would be hurried to the garrison, Grant hastened his
movements. While pressing his attack he learned that Johnston was at
Jackson with a strong force, with which to reinforce Pemberton. He
immediately dispatched McPherson and Sherman thither, and, after a
fierce fight, Jackson was captured. Grant learned from deserters that
Johnston, the chief Confederate commander in that section, had sent
peremptory orders to Pemberton to leave Vicksburg and attack him in the
rear. The latter, with his usual promptness, met this danger, and, by
decisively defeating the enemy at Champion Hill, he accomplished the
splendid feat of keeping Johnston out of Vicksburg and Pemberton in. It
was a great exploit, for Jo Johnston was one of the ablest generals of
the war, and the fine campaign which he had planned was brought to
naught. Not only was he kept out of Vicksburg, but it was made
impossible for him to send any help to Pemberton, around whom the Union
commander was drawing the coils more tightly each day.

[Illustration: GRANT AFTER THE BATTLE OF BELMONT.]

Still the defenses of Vicksburg were too powerful to be captured by
storm, and Grant did the only thing possible--he besieged the city. The
siege began about the middle of May. The garrison had provisions for
barely two months, from which they had to supply the inhabitants of the
town. Jo Johnston saw the peril and set to work with such vigor to raise
a force to send to the relief of Pemberton, that Grant was hurried into
making an assault on the rebel works. This took place before daylight on
the morning of May 19th. Though successful at first, the Federals were
repulsed. A grand assault was undertaken three days later and pressed
with the utmost bravery, but it resulted in another repulse, in which
the loss of the assailants was three times greater than that of the
defenders. Porter tried to help with his fleet, but his vessels were so
badly injured by the batteries that they were compelled to withdraw from
action.

This failure showed that it was useless to try to capture Vicksburg
except through a regular siege, which was pressed henceforth without
intermission. Shells were thrown into the doomed city night and day; the
people lived in caves, on short rations, and underwent miseries and
sufferings which it is hard to comprehend in these days. All the time
Grant was edging closer and closer. Parallels and approaches were
constructed; mines sunk and countermining done. Several attempts were
made to relieve Vicksburg, but the bulldog-like grip of Grant could not
be loosened, and the condition of the garrison became much like that of
Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781.


FALL OF VICKSBURG.

The defenders displayed the greatest bravery and endurance, and held out
until the time came when it was apparent that it was a choice between
surrender and starving to death. That man who prefers to starve rather
than submit to a magnanimous foe is a fool. Pemberton had 21,000 troops
under his command, but 6,000 were in the hospitals, while Grant had
fully 60,000 soldiers waiting and eager to make the assault. On the 3d
of July, a flag of truce was displayed in front of Vicksburg, and a
message was sent to the Union commander, asking for an armistice with a
view of arranging for the capitulation of Vicksburg. Grant's reply was
his usual one, that the only terms he could accept were unconditional
surrender, and he, therefore, declined to appoint commissioners.

The commanders then met between the lines, and Grant agreed that the
garrison should be paroled and allowed to go to their homes, and that
the city, stores, arms, and supplies should belong to the conquerors.
Although the Union commander's terms "unconditional surrender" sounded
harsh, they always proved of a generous nature. There was a good deal of
criticism in the South of Pemberton for selecting the 4th of July for
making his submission, since the Union people would be sure to make a
greater ado over it. Pemberton's explanation was that he believed Grant
would be more disposed to give him liberal terms on that date than on
any other, and it would not be strange if he was partly right.


IMPORTANCE OF THE CAPTURE.

The capture of Vicksburg was one of the most important Union successes
of the war. In his official report, Grant thus summarized the results of
his campaign: "The defeat of the enemy in five battles outside of
Vicksburg; the occupation of Jackson, the capital of Mississippi; and
the capture of Vicksburg, its garrison and munitions of war; a loss to
the enemy of 37,000 prisoners, at least 10,000 killed and wounded, and
hundreds, perhaps thousands, who can never be collected or reorganized.
Arms and munitions of war for an army of 60,000 men have fallen into our
hands, beside a large amount of other public property and much that was
destroyed to prevent our capturing it."

Thus one of the great objects of the war was accomplished. The
Mississippi was opened throughout its entire length and the Confederacy
cut in twain. That President Davis felt the gravity of the blow (to
which one still more decisive was added about the same time) was proven
by his proclamation calling into service all persons in the Confederacy
not legally exempt, who were between the ages of eighteen and forty-five
years. He also appointed the 21st of August as a day of fasting,
humiliation, and prayer.

Grant's magnificent success greatly increased his popularity in the
North. His praises were in every one's mouth; he was declared to be the
ablest military leader that had yet appeared, and more than one saw in
him the coming saviour of the Union.

Perhaps it is slightly premature to say that the Mississippi was opened
from the hour of the surrender of Vicksburg. Port Hudson held out, but
its fall was a corollary of that of the more important city. It had
stoutly resisted several attacks, but, realizing the hopelessness of his
situation, the Confederate commander surrendered on the 9th of July, and
the opening of the Mississippi was fully completed.


ROSECRANS' CAMPAIGN.

The reader will recall that the battle of Murfreesboro' took place at
the very beginning of the year. Rosecrans, the Union commander, never
repeated the brilliant skill he had shown in fighting Bragg on Stone
River. He seemed to think that that repulse of the enemy was sufficient
to last a good while, for he remained idle throughout the several months
that followed. There were a number of brisk skirmishes and fights, but
none was of importance. When June arrived without anything of account
having been accomplished, the government suggested to Rosecrans that it
was time he took steps to drive Bragg into Georgia and thus secure
Eastern Tennessee, where the sentiment was strongly Union.

Rosecrans hesitated, but upon receiving a stronger intimation that he
ought to be up and doing, he began a series of movements, in the latter
part of June, which caused Bragg to withdraw to Chattanooga, where he
intrenched himself. Burnside then advanced from Ohio into Eastern
Tennessee, but was so delayed that Bragg was heavily reinforced from
Virginia. To protect his communications, he fell back, however, upon
the approach of the Federal army, which occupied Chattanooga.

Unaware of the increased strength of the enemy, Rosecrans divided his
army into three columns, separated by wide spaces of mountains, and
marched in loose order against his foe, observing which Bragg determined
to overwhelm each of the columns in detail.

The first demonstration was against General George H. Thomas, who
commanded the Federal left, and was encamped at the foot of Lookout
Mountain. That splendid officer eluded the enemy launched against him,
and effected a junction with the other two corps.

At the same time the centre of the three columns was attacked, but the
assault was repulsed, and the reunited Union army on the 18th of
September stood on the western bank of the Chickamauga, which stream was
well named, for the Indian word means "the river of death." The position
was twelve miles from Chattanooga, and it was a perilous one, for, as
has been stated, Bragg had been heavily reinforced, and Longstreet with
a powerful column of veterans from Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was
approaching.



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