soldier with rifle american civil warVICKSBURG 1863
Joe Ryan's Civil War


VICKSBURG

By: Joe Ryan


 

On April 30, 1863—the same day General Joe Hooker, with 45,000 men, crossed the Rapidan and marched toward Fredericksburg—General Grant, with 23,000 men, crossed the Mississippi and began marching toward Vicksburg. Hooker's movement would end in another Union disaster while Grant's would end in a great victory that spelled doom for the Confederacy. What explains the difference in result between the two men? One had General Lee in his front; the other did not.

The Seat Of The Revolution

When the politics that triggered the American Civil War is distilled to its essence, it is easy to see that the political pressure that pushed the country into the war sprung from the State of Illinois. By 1861, its people, its businessmen, and its politicians were united as one in the view that the Mississippi River was the economic life blood of the State, and that Illinois could not, would not, allow the Mississippi to be held as if it were a ring in the State's nose with the South pulling the string. Standing at the edge of the Great Plains, Illinois was the natural source of population to fill it up and the commerce that supported the State's energy in the effort required the uninterrupted use of the river highway.

In orchestrating the onset of the war, the Illinois politicians counted on the fact that the population of their state was twice the size of any one of the lower states that bordered the Mississippi, and, if, with the help of Indiana (1.3 million) and Ohio (2.3 million), Illinois might quickly occupy Kentucky and Tennessee (2 million combined), it would be impossible for the Gulf States to resist the force of arms Illinois could bring to bear against them. It would be a test of strength the Gulf States—Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama—with a combined population of 1.3 million (half of which were Africans)—could not possibly win in the long run. So, then, it is easy to see that the first stake driven into the heart of the Confederacy was the capture by Illinois men of western Kentucky and Tennessee, which they sealed with the Battle of Shiloh.

Grant Quickly Steals The Show

Within months of starting the war as a colonel of volunteers, Ulysses S. Grant became the ranking field general in the West. Introduced to John Frémont by John Pope, an Illinoisan, commanding forces in northwest Missouri in 1861, Grant was assigned as a brigadier to command of southeast Missouri with headquarters at Cairo, Illinois. By the time Henry Halleck superceded Frémont as theater commander, Grant had occupied Paducah, Ken tucky, at the mouth of the Tennessee River. With the help of Navy flag officer, A.H. Foote, Grant pressed Halleck to allow him to use newly constructed gun boats to attack Fort Henry. Despite Halleck's dislike for Grant—Halleck thought of Grant at this time as a washed out uncouth drunk, which, of course, he was—Halleck authorized the expedition.

Halleck, by this time, had substantially suppressed guerilla activity in Missouri and was about ready to shift troops from that state to Kentucky; and he saw Grant's expedition to Fort Henry as merely a preliminary move in preparation of a later attack to be made on Fort Donelson, which he meant to personally lead. But Grant, taking advantage of the military discretion a field officer enjoys, no sooner had seized Fort Henry than he moved his forces to Fort Donelson and, laying siege to the place, forced the garrison's surrender.

Suddenly Grant was a major general of volunteers, outranking the other Illinois generals—Prentiss, Hurlbut, McClernand, and W.H. Wallace. All these men had firm political bases in Illinois and had been responsible for organizing most of the Illinois regiments that provided the major source of manpower for the prosecution of the war in the West. Without waiting upon the wishes of Halleck, or the arrival of the army of Buell, Grant did not hesitate to push his force forward on the Tennessee River to a place called Shiloh, though he knew a Confederate army stronger than his was within striking distance. Inviting attack, in the process leaving his front unentrenched, he was attacked and almost driven into the river; saved in the nick of time by Buell's arrival, he recovered his balance and won Lincoln's favor.

Five Months of Failure

With Kentucky and western Tennessee now in Union hands, Halleck was called to Washington to assume the role of general-in-chief and Grant was left in command of the Department of Mississippi, with the objective of capturing Vicksburg. Grant's first idea of doing so, was to approach Vicksburg by two roads: he would move a column of 30,000 men south on the line of the Mississippi Central Railroad while Sherman would move a like amount of men by steamer down the river and, by the mouth of the Yazoo River north of Vicksburg, attempt to storm the Confederate entrenchments that lined the bluffs.

By mid-December 1862, Grant had his column over the Tallahatchie River and was at Oxford. Fifty miles to the south of Oxford, Confederate general Pemberton was waiting for him at the Yalobusha River. Sherman was ten miles up the Yazoo River at Chickasaw Bayou. Grant's plan was to hold Pemberton in his front while Sherman made his attack, but instead he was forced to retreat when Confederate cavalry destroyed his supply depot at Holly Springs and struck at his railroad communications with his base of operations at Columbus, Kentucky.

Sherman Repulsed

Grant now moved his headquarters to Milliken Bend opposite Vicksburg where Sherman had retreated to after being repulsed in his attack at Chickasaw Bayou. When he arrived at Milliken's Bend, Grant had to fend off efforts by John McClernand, a special friend of Lincoln's, to take command of the expedition against Vicksburg. A month before, Lincoln had given McClernand authority to lead the expedition in return for McClernand's recruitment of 40,000 men in Illinois. Lincoln eventually reneged, making it plain Grant was in command.

Grant now spent two months—January and February 1863—trying various ways of getting within attacking distance of Vicksburg. On the west side of the Mississippi, he had his troops digging canals, one across the peninsula formed by the bend in the river, and another through waterways in an attempt to connect to the Red River; these efforts designed to get the army below the Vicksburg defenses. At the same time, on the east side, he had Navy gunboats threading their way through a maze of waterways in the delta country that extends to the Vicksburg bluffs. All of these efforts, for one reason or another, were failures.

The Yazoo Delta Country North of Vicksburg Impossible To Pass 

Vicksburg's Defenses

The Politics Getting Nasty

By the winter of 1863, there were no more volunteers to be had on either side of the war. Both governments had turned to conscription as the means to fill the ranks of their armies and this had the civilian populations grumbling against the war, especially in the Union; the people agitated, not only by the horrible casualties mounting up but also because the object of the war had changed from "Union as it was" to freedom for the Africans. The "Copperhead" attitude gaining ground in the North at this time, is seen in the election results of November 1862, in the newspaper editorials, and in the speeches of Democrat politicians, most notably Clement Vallindigham of Ohio; and in the resistance offered by the people to the draft.

Joseph Medill, editor and owner of the Chicago Tribune, showed the negative pressure of the political atmosphere when he wrote to Grant's sponsor, Illinois Congressman E.B. Washburne, in January 1863:

"The rebels can't be conquered by the present machinery. We have to fight for a boundary—that is all left to us. The war has assumed such proportions, our finances are so deranged, the Democratic Party is so hostile that complete success has become a moral impossibility (The pain.). It is now `save what we can.' Lincoln is only half awake and will never do much better than he has done."

 

Note: At this time the soldiers of the Union's armies had not been paid a nickel in over two months, and the Government was 35 million in debt. When their term of enlistment was up, they did not reenlist.

 

At his headquarters at Milliken's Bend, watching each of his efforts to get at Vicksburg fail, Grant turned his mind to the idea of building a road down the west bank of the Mississippi and marching a column of infantry over it to a point where—with steamboats and gunboats—the column could cross to the east bank below the Vicksburg defenses and march north.

From Vicksburg to Grand Gulf

As March 1863 came to an end, Grant ordered McClernand to send a force south to explore the route to New Carthage, the point below the Vicksburg defenses at Warrenton. McClernand's column used skiffs and scows to get over the flooded land to Bayou Videal where Smith's plantation was located; from there they took a road that ran along a ridge to New Carthage. With McClernand at New Carthage, Grant used the masses of Africans that the army had collected to build bridges and causeways to make a tenuous road that infantry, but not artillery or supply wagons, could use to get to a point opposite Grand Gulf.

Note: The real meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation was that the Lincoln Government's war policy of restoring the Union as it was had changed to altering its constitution by war to include Africans as citizens of the United States. In March 1863, at Milliken Bend, Grant had issued orders requiring his troops to keep Africans out of his lines. When he arrived at Milliken Bend he had found huge numbers of Africans being fed and clothed by the army and the drain on its resources he found impossible to sustain, so he issued the order. He was immediately overruled by Washington and told to encourage his troops to draw to them every African they could find. Lorenzo Thomas, the Army's Adjutant General, was sent to Milliken Bend to organize the Africans into regiments. Not only had the Confederacy lost the recruitment ground of Kentucky and Tennessee but now the Union was turning its slave population into soldiers.

 

Getting to New Carthage was hardly the problem: to get his infantry across the Mississippi, Grant needed transports, and to get them he ordered Navy officer, D.D. Porter, to run eight of them past the Vicksburg batteries in the night. On April 2, Grant wrote Porter, "I am satisfied that one army corps with the aid of two gunboats can take and hold Grand Gulf until such time as I might be able to get my whole army there and make provision for supplying them."

Note: This proved to be wrong.

 

In response to this, Porter ran eight ships past the Vicksburg batteries the night of April 16. The next day he was at New Carthage with seven gunboats and three steamboats loaded with stores, plus several barges filled with coal. Another try was made several nights later but the Confederate gunners were now on target and several steamers were sunk along with a gunboat, so no more tries were made. The army would have to be supplied, if at all, by the road that was being constructed through the bayous and swamps on the west side of the river.

Porter's Gunboats And Steamers Passing Vicksburg

Grant now rode south over the road to New Carthage and, in doing so, realized it could not possibly supply his army. The road was no more than a narrow track the bed of which was miry and subject to collapse under the weight of artillery and loaded wagons.

At this point, Grant remembered his experience at the time the Confederate cavalry had reached into his rear and destroyed his depot at Holly Springs. With his supply line, extending over 200 miles from Oxford to Columbus, Kentucky, cut in several places, and his depot at Holly Springs, 30 miles away, destroyed, Grant had ordered his troops to collect all the food and forage they could find from a region of 15 miles east and west of the road from Holly Springs back to Grand Junction. Grant was amazed at the quantity of food the country had afforded, his army subsisting for two weeks off what was collected in this way—and now he was confident that he could do the same thing again when he reached the east bank. As Lee would do on the march to Gettysburg, Grant meant to operate against Vicksburg without a base. (Two men so unalike, yet so alike.)

At New Carthage, Grant realized there was no place to land on the east side of the river between Warrenton and Grand Gulf. And, even if there were, it turned out that the Union gunboats could not silence the Confederate guns at Grand Gulf. This made passage of the river for troops at that point too dangerous. So Grant decided to march his force twenty miles further south to Hard Times Plantation, then march another dozen miles to get to the river bank and, finally, cross at a place called Bruinsburg.

Bruinsburg 

Bruinsburg to Port Gibson And The Only Road North

The Confederate Command Responds

In November 1862, at the same time Grant began his efforts against Vicksburg, President Davis appointed Joseph E. Johnston to command Confederate forces west of the Alleghenies. These forces were organized in two armies: one at Vicksburg, under Pemberton; the other at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, under Bragg.

 

Johnston reached Chattanooga on December 4, and immediately advised Davis that the two armies should be combined into one under his immediate command and operate against Grant first; then, when Grant was neutralized, march to Tennessee and deal with Rosecrans, the commander of the Union army then at Nashville.

Soon after this, Davis came to Chattanooga to confer with Johnston and Bragg. Johnston told Davis that he could not command both armies, because each of the armies was inferior in strength to their Union counterparts and were too far apart to support one another.

Davis responded with the statement that he wanted a general on the spot with authority to transfer troops between the two; then he ordered a division from Bragg's army be sent to Pemberton's. At the same time Bragg sent his cavalry, which throughout this time was far superior to the Union's, to operate against Rosecrans's and Grant's communications—Rosecrans with Louisville, Grant's with Columbus. Davis, after going with Johnston to confer with Pemberton at Vicksburg, returned to Richmond.

Note: After the Union army occupied Corinth and Grant began operating against Vicksburg, the shortest line of communication was the Memphis & Charleston Railroad which connected to the Mississippi Central Railroad at Grand Junction. But Confederate cavalry, in cooperation with residents of the area, kept breaking the bridges on this line, forcing Grant to depend upon the railroad running north from Grand Junction to Columbus, which Confederate cavalry also interrupted.

 

As soon as Rosecrans learned that Bragg's strength was reduced by a division, he moved from Nashville on Murfreesboro with about 43,000 men organized in three corps. He arrived in Bragg's front on December 30. The next day Bragg beat him to the attack and, after a long day of combat, smashed in Rosecrans' left and pushed it back almost to the point Rosecrans lost his communications with Nashville. 

Bragg Attacks

Bragg Inflicts Heavy Casualties But, After Three days Of Battle, Still Retreats

On January 1, Rosecrans abandoned his original position, realigning his forces to cover the Nashville road, and the battle pressure swung to his left flank which held the crest of a hill. Bragg attacked this front with some initial success but by the end of the day was driven back. The next day, though Rosecrans had slightly the worse of it, Bragg retired southward eighteen miles to Tullahoma.

Rosecrans Advances

Bragg Takes Position Behind The Duck River, Rosecrans at Manchester

With Rosecrans hampered by breaks the Confederate cavalry was making in his communications, Johnston, in February, went to Vicksburg and conferred with Pemberton as Grant was pressing his efforts to get through the swamps north of Vicksburg and build his road down the west bank of the river. Johnston came away from the conference convinced that Vicksburg was a trap for Pemberton's army and advised him to operate outside it.

On March 9, while at Vicksburg, Johnston received a message from Davis to go back to Tennessee, order Bragg to Richmond and take direct command of his army. (Bragg was unpopular with his officers.) When he arrived at Tullahoma, though, Johnston became seriously ill and left Bragg in command.

Here, then, is the setup for Confederate disaster. The shortfall in manpower obvious to all at the time, meant that the Confederate Government could not expect to hold both Middle Tennessee, where Bragg's army was operating, and Vicksburg indefinitely. Grant had available to him about 65,000 soldiers, to operate against Vicksburg, while Pemberton had about 35,000 to resist them. Rosecrans had about 43,000 men and was being reinforced by Lincoln, while Bragg had about 30,000 after the division was sent to Pemberton. If Bragg was weakened any further, to support Pemberton, he would be pushed out of Tennessee entirely, and if Pemberton returned the division Bragg sent to him, Pemberton would be too weak to operate against Grant.

Common sense seems to indicate, here, that, as Johnston had suggested, the two armies be combined to deal first with Grant, then with Rosecrans. But reality trumps common sense: if the combined armies had moved against Grant, Rosecrans would have moved to cut their communications with the East, and if they had moved against Rosecrans, Grant would waltz into Vicksburg, secure the place, and move to join Rosecrans. Once the Union armies combined, their strength would be twice the strength of the Confederates. And the certain consequence would be the Union invasion of Georgia.

President Davis's only practical choice in the circumstances was to hold Rosecrans off from Chattanooga with Bragg's army, while he used Pemberton's to hold Grant off from Vicksburg, as long as possible. As long as Vicksburg was held by the Confederates, the Union could not concentrate its overwhelming strength against Chattanooga, and Georgia and the southern route to Richmond would be safe. Most important to this strategy, though, was having its best available field general in command of the Vicksburg forces. Joseph E. Johnston was that general, Lee being occupied with keeping the Union army in the East away from Richmond, and Joe Johnston, according to himself, was too sick to mount a horse.

But For The Absence Of General Lee 

On April 30, as Joe Hooker, 1,500 miles to the east, was marching out of the wilderness toward Lee's rear at Fredericksburg, Grant, with four divisions of McClernand's corps—23,000 men—marched from Bruinsburg to Port Gibson and drove the Confederate brigade holding the place back on Grand Gulf.

Grant Takes Grand Gulf And Immediately Moves For Pemberton's Communications

Grant was now isolated on the east bank of the Mississippi, with Pemberton between him and his base of supply. From now on, until he could reestablish his communications, he would be living off the land.

Pemberton had plenty of notice, by Grant's activities throughout April, that the enemy was intending to cross the river below his defenses and operate against him from the south.

A quick glance at the map shows that Pemberton knew the enemy's first objective would be to cut his communications with Jackson and the East. Therefore, the crucial decision the situation required Pemberton to make, before Grant materialized on the east bank, was when to move the main body of his available force south to resist the enemy's advance toward the Southern Railroad link between Jackson and Vicksburg.

Pemberton, in other words, was facing the same situation General Lee faced with McClellan's advance against Richmond, and was facing now with Hooker's advance against his rear at Fredericksburg. In both situations, Lee had left the smallest force he thought possible to defend his base, and, with the main body, maneuvered against the enemy to push him back.

But Pemberton did not do this. Grant had left Sherman's corps at Milliken's Bend, to demonstrate against Vicksburg as Grant, with McClernand, crossed to Bruinsburg and advanced. Sherman threw his corps across the river and up the mouth of the Yazoo River and made frontal attacks against the bluffs. Unlike Lee or Johnston, had either of them been there, Pemberton thought the chance of a breakthrough too great to risk taking the bulk of his force into the field and march south to strike Grant's flank. (Lee would do it, though, a year later in the Wilderness.)

General Pemberton Troop Movement

Pemberton's only chance of holding Vicksburg, now that Grant was across the Mississippi, was to throw up entrenchments across the roads and turn the situation into trench warfare—for the longer Grant could be held in check the greater the chance that he would fall back across the river for want of supplies; the military road he had built from New Carthage to Milliken Bend being incapable of supporting wagon trains and the river blocked to steam transport at Vicksburg.

Note: On November 10, 1863, Confederate Secretary of War, James Seddon, wrote Pemberton demanding an explanation why it was Pemberton did not obey Johnston's order that he march on Grant's rear. Pemberton replied with this: "I deem to have made the movement would have been suicidal, for in that case would my flank and rear have been entirely unprotected, and a large part of the enemy force would have interposed itself between my army and its base of operations (Vicksburg) without a struggle, so small was its garrison after I had drawn all my available force for the field. . . it had not been my intention to make any forward movement beyond Edwards Depot, but to have there awaited an attack from the enemy, which must have taken place quickly or he would have been compelled to have sought supplies at his base on the Mississippi River."

 

Informed by telegraph that Grant had crossed the river at Bruinsburg, Joe Johnston, at Tullahoma, wired Pemberton: "Grant's army lands on this side, the safety of the Mississippi (he could just as well said "Heartland") depends on beating it. For that object you should unite your whole force."

Note: At the same time as this, Pemberton called upon Johnston for large reinforcements and Johnston tells us in his memoirs that the call "was transmitted to the War Department with the statement that they cannot be sent from Tennessee without losing the state."Davis's Government is impaled on the horns of an insoluble dilemma.

 

By May 3, Grant had possession of Grand Gulf and was moving toward the Southern Railroad and Sherman's corps was put on the march for New Carthage and would cross at Grand Gulf.

As At Donelson and Shiloh, Grant Refuses To Be Leashed

As Grant was about to move out from Grand Gulf, a message arrived from General-in-Chief Halleck: Lincoln wanted Grant to march south now, to Port Hudson in Louisiana—the other Confederate blocking point on the river—and cooperate with Nathaniel Banks (Grant's senior in rank), who was moving there with 15,000 men, in the capture of the place; and, then, combining his force with Banks, move back north and deal with Vicksburg.

General US Grant

It is hard not to see, given the fact that Banks was then his senior in rank, that Grant did not like the idea. Earlier, in March, as Rosecrans was advancing through middle Tennessee, Halleck had informed both generals that a commission as major-general in the Regular Army was available and that it would go to the one whose campaign was the most successful. With these thoughts in his mind, it is easy to understand why Grant handed Lincoln's order back to the messenger with the statement—"I don't have the time."

Five days later, Grant had one wing at Hankinson's Ferry on the Big Black River and the other, under McClernand, six miles to the east of Big Sandy Creek.

Grant, at Rocky Springs when Sherman began to cross, sent him this message in reply to his begging caution: "I do not calculate the possibility of supplying the army with full rations from Grand Gulf. I know it will be impossible without constructing additional roads. I do expect to get up rations of hard bread, coffee and salt, and make the countryside furnish the balance. A delay would give the enemy time to reinforce and fortify."

Note: Here the minds of Lee and Grant mesh like hand and glove. This is what Grant meant when he ignored Lincoln's order with, "I don't have the time."Had he done what Lincoln ordered, when he and Banks returned to Grand Gulf they would have been met by stronger Confederate force waiting behind barricades on the road to Raymond.

 

Joe Johnston, still sick and unable to ride a horse, arrived at Jackson with 10,000 men on May 14. By that time Grant had abandoned his communications with Grand Gulf and had his advance near Raymond. Up to this moment, Grant had kept Sherman guarding the fords of the Big Black, in case Pemberton moved against his flank, but now he ordered Sherman to move north and to McPherson leading the van, he sent the order—"Move on Raymond. We must fight the enemy before our rations fail."

At this point, Joe Johnston wanted Pemberton to abandon Vicksburg, bring his army out into the field and confront Grant, But again Pemberton refused. As a consequence McPherson reached Raymond and Grant now ordered McPherson to move on Jackson, with Sherman following, and he ordered McClernand to move toward Edwards Depot.

Johnston held McPherson off from Jackson for a day, but as Sherman came up, he retreated to the northeast a dozen miles, sending as he moved a message to Pemberton telling him to bring his army out of Vicksburg and join him at Brownsville. Fifteen thousand men, plus nine thousand more, were on the way, he said. With Pemberton massed with these forces Johnston would have 50,000 men to contest Grant's force of about the same size. Instead Pemberton moved his force as far as Edwards Station with the idea of striking Grant's rear. But Grant countered, by ordering McClernand to occupy Bolton to prevent Johnston from linking up with Pemberton.

Grant Moves To Prevent Pemberton From Reaching Johnston

Pemberton's Plan Comes Too Late; Grant Is Already Past and Has No Rear

Grant Forces Johnston To Fall Back

Grant Moves To Attack Pemberton

(The X marks the spot where Grant regains his base)

Pemberton now retreats into a hopeless situation. Grant's van attacks his front at Champion Hill, overwhelms it, and he falls back into his defenses at Vicksburg. "I have decided to hold Vicksburg as long as possible," he messages to Johnston. All contact with the outside world now cut off from him, he lives off his stockpile of rations until July 4, when he surrenders.

Note: It is unclear how much, if any, artillery Grant was able to get across the Mississippi at Grand Gulf. He did have ferries capable of moving artillery across the river, but how he got artillery to the transfer point is unclear. Grant did capture, according to his report, about 70 pieces of artillery from Pemberton as a consequence of the battle of Champion Hill. Once he established connection with Milliken Bend by way of Haines Bluff, artillery was brought to him.

 

On May 20, Johnston received several more brigades from the East, and he ordered the force at Port Hudson to abandon the place and march to him. By June 3, with Grant having moved west to seize Vicksburg, Johnston returned to Jackson. Now, he has about a third of Grant's strength, but no artillery and no wagons. This made it impossible for Johnston to attack Grant's rear. On June 23 Banks appeared before Port Hudson and the Confederate general in command, who had ignored Johnston's evacuation order, finds himself surrounded.

Port Hudson

Johnston now wires desperately to Richmond, asking for more help, and the answer comes back from Secretary of War Seddon on June 5: "I regret I cannot send you more troops." (Lee is now moving to Culpeper, on his way toward Gettysburg and Bragg is under pressure from Rosecrans who's now moving toward Chattanooga.) Seddon asks Johnston to say whether more troops should be pulled from Bragg. Johnston answers: "It's your call not mine. My only plan is to relieve Pemberton. My force is too small for the purpose. Tell me if you can increase it."

On June 16, Seddon's answer came: Vicksburg must not be lost without a desperate struggle. You must attack."

Johnston answered Seddon on June 19: "You do not understand the difficulties in the course you direct, nor the probability and consequences of failure. Grant's position, naturally strong (Grant is entrenched now, covering his front with McClernand and McPherson, using Sherman to cover his rear), is intrenched, and protected by powerful artillery and the roads obstructed. (Grant has supplies coming to him now by way of the Yazoo River at a point beyond the extreme north end of Pemberton's defenses.) The Big Black covers him from attack, and would cut off our retreat if defeated. We cannot combine operations with Pemberton from uncertain and slow communications. The defeat of this army would at once open Mississippi and Alabama to Grant."

Note: At no time in his war career did Grant, in fact, break through Confederate defenses, not Pemberton's and not Lee's. Using his superior strength he starved them out.

 

On June 21, Seddon's answer came back—Attack at once. The aim justifies any risk and all probable consequences." The good soldier that he was, Johnston ordered his force, with no artillery or wagons, to take up the march toward the Big Black. He has four divisions now, Loring, French, Walker, and Breckinridge. They have a pontoon bridge but it is no go. Sherman holds the Big Black and there's no way of crossing though Johnston makes a stab at it.

Union Troops From Memphis Are Pouring Into Grant's Lines

With Vicksburg surrendered, Grant turned back to deal with Johnston and Johnston retreated beyond his reach. Lincoln now bestowed on Grant the regular army commission that placed him above all active Union generals except for Henry Halleck.

Grant was now the man. Soon all the troops of the Army of Mississippi would be sent east to join the Army of the Cumberland and march past Chattanooga into Georgia. With the fall of Vicksburg, the war was won, though the killing would go on, it must have seemed, forever.

On July 13, 1863, Lincoln wrote Grant this:

"When you got below Vicksburg, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join Gen. Banks; and when you turned northeast of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgement that you were right, and I was wrong."

 

Note: Grant saved Lincoln from another blunder.

 

Joe Ryan