29th. With General Sherman's permission, rather than by his order, General Morgan made preparations for assaulting the hill. General Sherman has issued no order appointing a certain time for the assault upon the batteries, and there was no common understanding among the various generals of divisions and brigades. Colonel Williamson's regiment was fast falling before the concentrated fire of the rebels, and, with an anxiious heart, General Thayer looked around for aid. Down the hill, crouched in the line of rifle-pits near the base, lay the Twenty-second Kentucky and the Sixteenth Ohio, the only regiments of Morgan that had attempted to make the assault. General Thayer rushed down to where those tow regiments lay. In vain he implored, urged, ordered, and entreated them to go to his assistance. Move they would not, alleging as an excuse that the brigade commander (Colonel De Courcy) was not there to command. While General Thayer was begging them to go to his assistance, he was joined by General Blair on the same errand, the latter going to Colonel De Courcy in person. Their conjoined efforts were alike fruitless to move Colonel De Courcy or his men.
By some criminal oversight, there had been little preparation for battle on the part of Sherman's medical director, and the hospitals were but poorly supplied with many needed stores. Since the battle, General Sherman has persistently refused to allow a hospital boat to go above, though their detention in this region is daily fatal to many lives. The only know reason for his refusal is his fear that a knowledge of his mismanagement will reach the papers of the North.
As soon as the assault of the 29th had been concluded, General Sherman decided to make another attack on the same day. General Blar's brigade was moved from the north side of the bayou, and its place taken by the brigade of General Hovey. The latter officer was to attack the hill in his front, and was to be supported by General Thayer, General Blair, and General Morgan. Twice the order was given to advance up the hill, when it was countermanded by General Sherman. Once General Hovey had given the command "Forward!" but before he uttered the word "march!" a messenger came from General Sherman, ordering him to postpone his advance.
Finding that his on plan of attack had proved a failure, General Sherman now gave attention to the suggestions of his subordinates. General Steele had from the first advocated the ascent of the Yazoo as near as possible to Haines' Bluff. The troops were to be landed just out of the range of the guns of the forts, and as soon as they could be thrown on shore they were to storm and carry the position, said to be defended by but a few hundred men. The plan was approved by all the other officers of the army, and finally obtained the sanction of the commander-in-chief. For some blow or bell rung on any of the boats for twenty-four hours under pain of death. General Sherman issued orders for the erection of batteries along the bayou in front of the enemy's works, and from the moment of the repulse, he appeared anxious to change his tactics, and act on the defensive.
At the time we entered the Yazoo, it is certain that there were not more than 10,000 men in and around Vicksburg. Had we struck promptly at the batteries, it is probable that we could have taken possession of the high ground, and had an open road into Vicksburg. One of the commissaries had recently taken 50,000 rations to a depot in rear of the battle-field, only 1 1\2 miles from the landing. General Sherman ordered these destroyed, by rolling them into the bayou, as thee was no time for their removal. A part of the supplies was tumbled into the bayou in obedience to instructions. Captain Smith, brigade commissary to General Blair, went out with a wagon train as the troops were being withdrawn, and brought in what had not already been destroyed. General Sherman also ordered commissary stores destroyed by General A. J. Smith's division, and there was much waste in consequence. All these stores might have been saved, and would have been, had General Sherman's orders been less peremptory. The embarkation was covered by the gunboats, so that the enemy would not be able to get to the bank before we could get away. Everything was hurry.
And many and other similar false, malicious imputations and charges against officers in the service of the United States, calculated to weaken their authority and to give aid and comfort to the enemy.
CHARGE 3D.-Disobedience of orders.
Specification 1st.-In this, that Thomas W. Knox did, knowingly and wifflully, disobey the lawful command of the proper authority, as contained in General Orders, Numbers 8, dated Headquarters Right Wing, Thirteenth Army Corps, Memphis, Tenn., December 18, 1862, by accompanying the expedition down the Mississippi from Helena, Ark., about December 21, 1862