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Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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Defeated in front of Jackson, the Confederates evacuated the city, after having removed all their arms and stores to a safer place, or else destroyed them. This was on the 14th of May. General Johnston collected his shattered forces at a point farther north, and sent orders to General Pemberton, commanding in Vicksburg, to march out with a portion of the garrison and join him. But before Pemberton could do so, the Federals were upon him; and he sustained a serious defeat in a bloody action at Champion Hills (May 16), between Jackson and Vicksburg, on the line of the Big Black river. The Confederates were driven into Vicksburg, and Grant found himself at last under the walls of the fortress, the possession of which he had so long coveted. Without delay he ordered an assault on the outer line of works, reckoning perhaps, as it was said Lord Raglan and Marshal St. Arnaud ought to have reckoned after the battle of the Alma, on finding the defenders demoralised, and, in the flush of victory, carrying all before him. If so, the result justified their conduct on that memorable occasion; for the assault was repulsed, with the loss of nearly 3,000 men. Grant then regularly invested the place, and proceeded to open trenches and dig mines. Pemberton defended the place with great skill and determination; but provisions ran short, there was no hope of relief from without, and the fierce sun of Mississippi exhausted his harassed men, who were required to defend a line of entrenchments and earthworks too extensive for their now reduced numbers. After forty-five days of isolation, Pemberton, quite at the end of his resources, hung out a white flag, and proposed to come to terms for surrendering the place. Grant would hear of nothing but an unconditional surrender. A conference between him and Pemberton was then arranged, at which Grant heard all that was proposed on the other side, and said that he would send his answer before night. After conferring with his major- generals, Grant wrote to Pemberton, offering the following terms: that upon the surrender of the city, public stores, &c., the officers and men of the garrison should be allowed to depart, giving their parole not to serve again during the war, the officers being permitted to take one horse each, and both officers and men taking with them their clothing, but no other property. Pemberton might take for the use of the garrison any amount of rations he might deem necessary, from the stores he then had. There was a stroke of grim humour in this; for Pemberton, not wishing it to be thought that the garrison was reduced to extremities, had proposed to take with him eight days' rations; and Grant well knew that his stores were far too attenuated for that; indeed, the famished men applied for rations at the Federal camp on the day after the surrender. Vicksburg fell on the 3rd of July.

Still everything was not lost beyond the Alleghanies, so long as General Bragg, commanding at Chattanooga, could keep the field, and preserve that most important position. Chattanooga is a small town on the Tennessee river, close to the southern border of the state of the same name, and adjoining the boundary lines of three other states - Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina. On one side it was protected by the river, here flowing deep and wide; on the other an intrenched camp had been constructed, and fortified with great care. Mountain ridges encompassed it on all sides, rendering the marching of armies difficult: in fact, it was the key of all that region; so that while it was in Confederate hands, a Federal army could not, without great risk, advance out of Tennessee into Georgia, or Alabama, or even into the Carolinas. But Chattanooga once lost, a direct way was open for the Federal armies into Georgia, with a strong base to retire upon in case of a reverse. These considerations weighed so strongly with Lee, that, at the risk of dangerously weakening his army in Virginia, he detached Longstreet, in the autumn of 1863, with 20,000 men, to the aid of Bragg. But before relating the operations which ensued, we must briefly retrace the course of events in Tennessee since the end of the campaign of 1862.

It has been related how, after the battle of Perryville, the President relieved Buell of the command, and appointed to it (October 30) General Rosecrans, who had a few weeks before ably repelled a combined attack made by the Confederate Generals Van Dorn and Price upon the lines of Corinth, and driven them back with heavy loss far into Mississippi. Rosecrans' first care was to re-organise his army, and to provide a sufficiency of supplies. The bulk of his army was posted at Murfreesboro', a few miles to the south-east of Nashville. Here it was attacked by Bragg (whose soldiers had by this time recovered from the fatigues of the Kentucky expedition), on the line of the Stone river. Two bloody battles were fought, on the last day of 1862, and January 2nd, 1863. On the first day, Bragg turned the Federal right and routed it, taking twenty-eight guns and many prisoners; but he met with a solid resistance on the centre and left. On the second day, Breckinridge's corps made a very brilliant charge, which for a time swept away all before it; but it was finally cut up by artillery, and driven back. The losses were very heavy on both sides - heaviest, probably, on the side of the Federals; nevertheless, Rosecrans - unlike that Samnite general who retreated after a battle because a voice in the night declared that the Samnites had lost one more man than the Romans - persisted in holding his ground; and it was finally Bragg who retired. Wheeler, the celebrated Confederate raider, was busy all this time in Rosecrans' rear, destroying railroads, breaking bridges, and capturing or burning supply trains; the consequence of all which was that Rosecrans was not in a condition to pursue.

Early in May, the Federal Colonel Streight, at the head of 1,800 cavalry, started on a raid into Georgia, with intent to destroy the factories, machine-shops, and magazines at Rome and Atlanta. But he was overtaken before long by the Confederates Forrest and Roddy, and after a running fight of 100 miles, compelled to surrender.

Rosecrans' preparations for an advance were not completed till the 24tli June, 1863; on which day he moved forward from Murfreesboro', at the head of a well-appointed army of 60,000 men. By a series of vigorous and combined movements, he drove the Confederates from the towns of Shelbyville and Tullahooma, and out of the whole plain country of Tennessee. The mountainous comer which included Chattanooga was the only remaining hold which Bragg had on Tennessee, and yet he voluntarily relinquished it! This is the most inexplicable step which we have found recorded in the whole history of the war. Bragg, it is true, had an army inferior by at least one-third to that of Rosecrans; and he seems to have dreaded the being cooped up within Chattanooga, as Pemberton had been in Vicksburg, and being ultimately compelled to capitulate from failure of supplies. Yet, on the other hand, he received a strong reinforcement in August, when he was joined by General Buckner and his troops from Knoxville, East Tennessee; and but a few days after the evacuation he was further reinforced by Longstreet and his tried veterans from Virginia. Bragg must have been apprised of their approach; why, then, did he abandon Chattanooga? That he could, behind those formidable entrenchments, have beaten back an army much superior in force to his own appears certain, for this was accomplished by Rosecrans a few days later, when, after being worsted in a great battle, and driven into Chattanooga, he held out there without difficulty against an enemy at that time, according to Greeley, superior in numbers, and flushed with recent victory. After evacuating the place, Bragg led his army to Lafayette, in Georgia, fifteen or twenty miles south of Chattanooga. Rosecrans, thinking that he was retreating on Rome, urged his columns in over-hasty pursuit, and the two armies encountered each other (September 20) in the wooded country to the west of Chickaniauga creek, a stream running in a northerly direction into the Tennessee, above Chattanooga. Longstreet, who had just come up, was on the left of the Confederate army, with the gallant Hood - the Bayard of the South - acting under him. The veterans from Virginia broke through every formation opposed to them, and chased the Federal right in headlong disorder off the field; but on the Confederate left matters fared otherwise. General Thomas stubbornly held his ground, in spite of the utmost efforts, attended with lavish expenditure of life, of Breckinridge and Cleburne, and defeated Bragg's main object, which was to turn the Federal right, and interpose between it and Chattanooga. Yet the sum of the entire struggle was a Confederate victory, though, as it proved, a barren one. The slaughter on both sides was frightful, amounting on the Federal side to more than 11,000 killed and wounded, and on the Confederate side to 16,000, they having been generally the assailants. The next day Rosecrans withdrew his army behind the lines of Chattanooga, which, as already stated, Bragg had not force enough to storm. All that he could do was to endeavour to starve the enemy out, by intercepting their communications.

Meantime, General Burnside, commanding at Cincinnati, having ascertained that Buckner had marched from East Tennessee to join Bragg, led an army of 20,000 men thither, and occupied Knoxville without opposition. But he diffused his small force over the district; hearing which Bragg detached Longstreet against him, who at first gained some minor successes, and shut up Burnside in Knoxville, without being able, however, to take it or drive him out of it.

The President was not pleased at the loss of the battle of Chickamauga, and as Grant had now nothing more to conquer about Vicksburg, he sent him to supersede Rosecrans at Chattanooga (October 19). Hooker, who had been detached with 20,000 men from Meade's army, now joined Grant, and the Federals had again their usual preponderance of numbers, and, what was more, a general who, since hostilities began, had learnt the art of war, made no mistakes himself, and took the utmost advantage of those of the enemy. Issuing from Chattanooga, the Federals, in a series of hard-fought actions, drove Bragg's army from its positions on the mountain ridges south of Chattanooga (November 24 and 25), and forced it to fall back upon Ringgold, in Georgia. Sherman was immediately sent with a superior force to the relief of Knoxville, and Longstreet, unable to risk a battle, fell back across the mountains into Virginia.

The campaign in the West was now over, and everywhere the Confederates had been foiled. Vicksburg was lost, the Mississippi wholly under Federal control, East Tennessee lost, Chattanooga lost, and the way into Georgia left open. Of the remarkable expedition which this last circumstance occasioned, we shall hear in a future chapter.

The retreat into Virginia after the battle of Gettysburg brought no repose to Lee's army. Meade also crossed the Potomac, and re-occupied all the country as far as the Rappahannock. But having been required by the Commander-in-Chief, General Halleck, to detach two corps under Hooker to the aid of the Federal army at Chattanooga, and learning that Lee was approaching the fords higher up the river so as to menace his right flank, Meade fell back upon Centerville and even as far as Fairfax Court House, the Confederates, though with far inferior force, audaciously pursuing. Lee now carefully destroyed the Orange and Alexandria railway, connecting Washington with the Rappahannock, and fortified a tete-du-pont on that river. This was in October, and the campaign seemed at last to be over. But Mr. Lincoln's policy was to " keep hammering away " continually, and to give the South no rest. Sedgwick, therefore, was ordered, early in November, to attack the tete-du-pont on the Rappahannock, which he did, and successfully, his troops carrying the work by assault, and making prisoners of the chief part of the garrison. Meade then resolved upon a winter campaign. He crossed the Rappahannock, and also the Rapidan, meeting with little resistance till he reached a stream called Mine Run, running in a northerly direction into the Rapidan. Lee's army was strongly posted to the west of this stream, and awaited the attack, which, however, never came; for Meade, after having made every preparation for turning Lee's position on the left, since it was too strong to be forced in front, was informed by the general whom he had charged with the operation that he found the obstacles to an advance so serious that it would be imprudent to attempt it. This was on the 30th of November. Meade acquiesced, and led back his army unpursued across the Rappahannock; and thus, for the armies in Virginia, terminated the campaign of 1863.

Except in Texas, the tide of military fortune along all the coasts of the Confederacy had from the first - with an occasional slight reflux here and there - flowed steadily for the Federal cause. We proceed to give a summary of the more important operations.

Galveston, the chief sea-port of Texas, and Sabine Pass, an important point on the coast higher up, had been occupied by the Federal naval power since 1861. On the last day of 1862, a brilliant and successful attack by the Confederate General Magruder resulted in the recapture of Galveston, with heavy loss to the Federal squadron stationed there. The gun-boat Harriet Lane, after an obstinate contest with two Confederate steamers, barricaded with cotton-bales, which had come down from the inland waters, was carried by boarding; the Westfield, armed with eight heavy rifled guns, was driven on shore, and blown up by her commander; and the officer left in command of the squadron (for his superior had been killed in the action), thinking that his force was now too weak to hold the place, abandoned Galveston to Magruder and sailed for New Orleans. In this action one of those terrible rencounters took place which are incident to civil war. The captain of the Harriet Lane having been killed, the command devolved on a Lieutenant Lee, whose father was a major in the Confederate service. This Major Lee was one of the boarding party which carried the Harriet Lane; the lieutenant commanding was mortally wounded in the conflict; and when the ship was in the hands of the boarders, the father was one of the first to recognise his bleeding and dying son.

At Sabine Pass soon after (January 31, 186| a collision occurred which had a similar result. The broad estuary at the mouth of the Sabine was blockaded by the gun-boats Morning Light and Velocity; these were attacked by two Confederate gun-boats, fitted out in the Sabine for the purpose, under the command of Major Watkins, who chased the Federal gun-boats out to sea and captured them after a very feeble resistance. The result of these actions was that the blockade was for a short time really raised along a large portion of the Texan coast. Ships, however, were soon sent down from New Orleans to re-establish it. Much desultory fighting took place in Texas during 1863, with results, indecisive indeed, but generally favourable to the Confederates.

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Pictures for Chapter V, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 3

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