Today in History:

1063 Series I Volume XXIV-III Serial 38 - Vicksburg Part III


numbers as to have rendered it impossible for any vessel to have lived under their concentrated fire.

The next cause of our failure at Vicksburg was the absence of cavalry.

Last winter Major-General Van Dorn, with 6,000 cavalry, was sent to Tennessee, to make a diversion in favor of General Bragg. Though often and earnestly asked for, they were never returned. If General Pemberton's earnest desires had been complied with, if he had Van Dorn and his splendid DIVISION of cavalry at hand, Grant and his vandals would never have polluted the soil of Mississippi. Van Dorn and his gallant fellows would have sabered and ridden them down faster than Grant could have put them ashore. This, however, was not permitted; General Pemberton was not allowed to judge of his own necessities; and Van Dorn's cavalry remained with Bragg, while Mississippi was being overrun by Grierson and his marauders.

The battle of Baker's Creek was fought under protest, against his own judgment, and in obedience to positive orders; and yet, but for a panic on the part of Cumming's and a portion of Lee's brigades, and the unaccountable absence of Loring's DIVISION, even this disastrous affair would have been a victory.

Industrious efforts have been made to induce the opinion that Vicksburg was starved out; that the surrender was compelled by want of food. This is not so. All the food in the world could not have prevented an early surrender. Eighteen thousand men (reduced by death, wounds, and disease to 15,000) had held nearly or quite six times their number at bay for forty-eight days and nights, covering the ground with the enemy's dead and wounded, and capturing five stand of colors. They had stood like heroes to their posts, but forty-eight days of labor and forty-eight nights of incessant watching had done their work upon them. They were worn out. Their hearts were as firm and unshaken as ever, but their physical

strength was gone. Our works were crumbling piecemeal before us. General Pemberton knew that there was no relief to be expected from the outside, and he had only three alternatives, viz: To cut his way out, to surrender with or without terms, or to subject the city, with hundreds of helpless women and children, to the untold horrors of an assault, which he left he could no longer hope to repel.

He preferred the first and most gallant alternative, but his DIVISION and brigade commanders unanimously declared that the men were not physically able to make the attempt with any hope of success, and the idea was, of course, abandoned. The report of Lieutenant-General Pemberton will show that no blame attaches to him for any real or imaginary deficiency, either in subsistence or ammunition, and the court of inquiry, soon to semble at Atlanta, will afford those who have been so fiercely denouncing him, an opportunity of making good the charges. I chance to know the fact that as soon as he was informed that the court of inquiry, which he had solicited, was ordered, General Pemberton telegraphed to the proper authority requesting a searching investigation, and asked that the court be allowed to invite all attainable testimony against him.

Let none, therefore, stand back. If any man knows that he is disloyal or incapable; that he has been negligent in the discharge of his high trust, let the man come forward and present the facts before the court; but, in Heaven's name, do not continue to condemn unheard and execute without trial.

We have many able generals, many redoubtable warriors, men who