either wing; also placing a portion of them at different points, to protect the transports. The battle commenced early in the day on the 29th, and our troops, with great heroism, went to the assault. One division succeeded in getting into the batteries on the hill, and drove the enemy out; but one of the two divisions that were to assault being behind time, the assault was unsuccessful. The men had to retire again, and lay on their arms that night in a cold, heavy rain, that must have decimated the army.
My opinion is that the present rain, which is heavy, will render any attempts of our army to enter Vicksburg in that way useless. They could scarcely move the artillery at first; it will be doubly troublesome now. In the mean time the rebels are receiving re-enforcements by every train, and are almost, if not quite, as numerous as our troops. Our army will have to intrench themselves until the ground will enable them to move. We have a good position, and the gunboats cover the army in a semicircle of 8 miles. Since I came below, the commanders of the different posts have all urgently demanded gunboats, many of them holding positions where they could drive off three or four times their number. At Island Numbers 10 I have been notified that the commander had been ordered to abandon that post and spike his guns. I have ordered to Pittsburg up there to hold it,and to break up the guns, as they are old ones and fit for nothing; still, the rebels might get them in some of these stampedes. The commanding officer at Columbus hears that 40,000 men are advancing on him, and wants a gunboat. I sent him the New Era, and ordered Commander Pennock to fit 32-pounders on the old mortar rafts, and plant them in front of Columbus and Hickman. General Curtis calls for a large force of gunboats, to meet General Gorman on the 5th of January, 1863. General Curtis has ordered movements from the east up the Arkansas, on Little Rock. General Gorman wants two gunboats at Helena. He says he is utterly powerless, with 5,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. I suppose I must raise them. The General Bragg is stationed at Memphis to protect that place and repair her machinery. I have sent the Conestoga to the mouth of Arkansas River, to protect the troops about to be stationed there, and to prevent any intercourse up or down the Arkansas. As the light-draughts are finished they will be stationed at different points on the river.
What our future operations will be here I cannot yet tell. We expected that General Grant would have been in the rear of Vicksburg by this time, and that General Banks would have been at Port Hudson, both of which movements were, I believe, part of the plan of operations. We hear nothing of either of these generals.
The rebels are going to throw a powerful force-in Vicksburg, to hold it at all hazards, and the heavy rains at this time will cause a change in the military operations. General Sherman is quite equal to the emergency, and nothing daunted by his want of success. Part of the proof our troops from here, but with the position held by the commanders of these ports they can defy any force brought against them if they do their duty and keep dispatch boats ready to notify the gunboats that will soon be stationed on the river. If there is a delay it will enable us to get down our iron-clads from above, of which I see no prospect at present.
Five light-draught steamers, under Lieutenant-Commander Fitch, are up the Tennessee River, and will be able to operate there, now that the water is rising. We will soon have two others on the Ohio. Everything