Today in History:

171 Series I Volume XXIV-II Serial 37 - Vicksburg Part II

Page 171 Chapter XXXVI. THE SIEGE OF Vicksburg, MISS.

officers had been detailed, either from a list of additional aides-de-camp or from the line, for engineer duty; these were assigned to the headquarters of corps or DIVISIONS. Several DIVISIONS had pioneer companies attached to them; these were used as engineer soldiers in the construction of gabions, fascines, in building batteries, and in saps, notwithstanding their rawness at first, toward the close of the siege became in some DIVISIONS very effective. With so deficient an engineer organization was the siege to be carried on; more engineer officers could not be obtained, so that the rate of progress, of an approach or even its position, often depended on the energy and engineering skill of the DIVISION or brigade commander who furnished the working party for it.


The following were the principal approaches made during the siege, beginning at our own right, some of them being begun after the siege was half over, viz: 1st Thayer's; 2nd Ewing's 3rd, Giles A. Smith's 4th, ransom's; 5th Logan's; 6th A. J. Smith's; 7th Carr's; 8th, Hovey's; 9th, Lauman's; 10th, Herron's. These approached derived their names from the brigade or DIVISION commands who furnished the guards and working parties. The 2nd of these was along what was called the Graveyard road; the 5th along the Jackson road; the 6th along the Baldwin's Ferry road, and the 10th on the Warrenton road. The 2nd, or Ewing's approach, was directed again the northeast angle of the enemy's line, where that line, bending around the ravines at the head of a small stream, takes the form of a bastion. This approach early begun, was the principal one in front of Sherman's corps, and with collateral work was that on which he expended most labor. On the Jackson road, where it enters the enemy's line of defense, is a commanding hill, quite strongly salient, which had on it a redan for several guns. The ridge along which the Jackson road runs offered fair ground, and along it McPHERSON pushed his main approach-the one earliest begun and on which his corps did most work. A. J. Smith and Carr pushed approaches toward salient works, called by the Confederates Fort Pulaski and Beauregard, one to the right, the other to the left of the railroad, Hovey's approach on the square redoubt was not begun until late in the siege. The three last approaches were in front of McClernand's (afterward Ord's) corps. There was another approach begun by Colonels Woods and Manter to the right of Thayer's and near the river. After the work had been energetically pushed by these officers, it met a deep ravine, precluding farther progress. As this approach would not have been used in an assault, it has not been mentioned in the previous enumeration. A brief history of the approaches above mentioned MAY be of some interest.


This approach commenced near the crest of a ridge, ran down the slope which was toward the enemy, and then up the opposite slope of the ravine, toward the ridge on which the salient approached was situated. As it was difficult to define this approach, blinding was resorted to. Fascines made of cane were used; these, being placed across the

Page 171 Chapter XXXVI. THE SIEGE OF Vicksburg, MISS.