HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI,
Jackson, Miss., September 9, 1862
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit for the information of the War Department the following report of the defense of Vicksburg and of operations in this district up to the present time:
Pursuant to orders, I assumed command of this district and the defenses of Vicksburg on June 27. Prior to my arrival Major-General Lovell, having resolved to defend the city, had ordered a detail of his force, under the command of Brigadier General M. L. Smith, to garrison the place and construct works for its defense. I found the city besieged by a powerful fleet of war vessels and an army. The inhabitants, inspired by a noble patriotism, had determined to devote the city to destruction rather than see it fall into hands of an enemy who had abandoned many of the rules of civilized warfare. This voluntary sacrifice on the altar of liberty inspired me with the determination to defend to the last extremity. Orders to this effect were at once issued, to which my army respond with the liveliest enthusiasm. The citizens retired to the interior while the troops marched in and pitched their tents in the valleys and on the hills adjacent in convenient position to support batteries and strike assailants.
The batteries of heavy guns already established by the skill and energy of General Smith on the crest of the hills overlooking the river were placed in complete readiness for action. Other guns were brought up from Mobile,from Richmond, from Columbus, and elsewhere, and put in battery. Breckinridge's division occupied the city. Smith's brigade which previous to my arrival had furnished the garrison of the place, manned the batteries, and with details from Breckinridge's division guarded the approaches in front and on the flanks. Withers' light artillery was placed in such positions as to sweep all near approaches, while Starke's cavalry watched at a distance on our flanks on the Yazoo and below Warrenton on the Mississippi.
Prior to my assuming command the attacking force of the enemy was confined to Porter's mortar fleet and Farragut's gunboats (with their attendant army in transports), which had ascended the river from New Orleans. For the operations of this force in attack and for the successful and heroic resistance made by General Smith and the troops under his command I refer the Department to the satisfactory and graphic report of that officer, herewith communicated.
The evacuation of Fort Pillow and the fall of Memphis opened the new danger of a combination between the upper and lower fleets of the enemy. This junction was effected early in July, and thus an added force of more than forty gunboats, mortar-boats, rams, and transports lay in menace before the city. On July 12 it opened fire and kept up a continuous attack until the bombardment of the city ceased. Having received authority from the President to use the ram Arkansas as part of my force, some days prior to July 15 I issued an order to Captain [I. N.] Brown to assume command of her and prepare her for immediate and active service. From all reliable sources I learned that she was a vessel capable of great resistance and armed with large offensive power. Making the order imperative, I commanded Captain Brown to take her through the raft of the Yazoo, and after sinking the Star of the West in the passage to go out and attack the upper fleet of the enemy, to the cover of my batteries. I left it to his judgment to determine whether on reaching the city his vessel was in a condition to proceed down the river and destroy the lower mortar fleet. Captain Brown properly substituted a vessel of inferior quality in place of the Star of