Today in History:

9 Series I Volume XV- Serial 21 - Baton Rouge-Natchez


sels that had passed the lower batteries continuing on up the river, apparently as the quickest means of getting out of range, those that had not passed rapidly dropping down.

The result of this effort on the part of the enemy was most satisfactory not a single gun was silenced, none disabled and to their surprise, the serious bombardment of the preceding seven days had thrown nothing out of fighting trim. It also demonstrated to our satisfaction that how large soever the number of guns and mortar-boats, our batteries could probably be successfully held; consequently that the ultimate success of our resistance hinged upon a movement by land. The enemy evidently came to the same conclusion as, after one week's bombardment with their mortars and the final attempt on the morning of June 28 to silence and take our guns, the attack sensible decreased in vigor and persistency.

Up to the 28th there had been a great pressure on my command, owing to the limited number of men. The situation of the enemy's fleet and the peculiar shape of the river in this vicinity, combined with the proximity of the Yazoo and the expected descent of a large force from above (as reported), had necessitated a rather heavy line of pickets, extending along a distance of 20 miles. To keep up this line and sustain a heavy attack at the same time taxed the energies of my men to a great extent. The arrival of the advance brigade of Major-General Breckinridge's reserve corps was a great respite, and as the force was gradually increased, thus bringing us to an equality in numbers with that which accompanied the fleet it was almost felt that Vicksburg was no longer besieged. The general command of these defenses was assumed by Major General Earl Van Dorn on June 28, Major-General Lovell having been relieved by him from the command of the department.

Being authorized to make requisitions on the reserve corps for whatever force was deemed necessary to carry out the plan of defense, the picket front was after the 28th divided into five divisions the two extreme ones guarded by detachments from my brigade (Third Louisiana), the remaining three by detachments from Brigadier-General Preston's Helm's, and Colonel Statham's brigades, re-enforced by light batteries from Colonel Withers' artillery.

The fleet from Memphis began to make its appearance above on June 26, and continued to receive accessions until it numbered in all forty-odd gunboats, mortar boats, rams, and transports.

Firing commenced from this fleet on July 12, and, although at no time as heavy as from the lower fleet, continued with but little interruption until the final bombardment of the attack.

On the morning of [July] 15 the daring passage of the ram Arkansas out of the Yazoo through the enemy's fleet seemed to necessitate a prompt descent of those vessels that had passed up on the 28th, and everything was accordingly placed in readiness for them. A new battery of 24-pounders, just erected, was manned by a light artillery detachment from Preston's brigade, under Lieutenant Gracey, and sharpshooters from the same brigade placed along the bank wherever the ground was favorable.

As conjectured the enemy were in motion at sundown, and at dusk descended amid the road of cannon, the flashing of musketry, the glare of lightning, and scenes in every respect such as had distinguished their passage up, except that the action was of shorter duration and the Arkansas was on the river returning their broadside. The firing