Captain Comstock, chief engineer, reports to-day that in the present condition of the siege works, and the indisposition of the troops to work zealously in the trenches, it will require at least a fortnight to take the place by that means only; still, it is possible that the explosion of a new mine, now nearly finished, in the fort on McPherson's center, and another mine, under the rifle-pits on the front of Ransom, who holds McPherson's right, may give us advantages that will expedite the catastrophe. The first of these mines will be sprung within twenty-four hours.
I visited yesterday the front of Vicksburg on the Louisiana side. There are six guns of various calibers planted opposite the town, mostly in the railroad embankment. About De Soto the batteries are badly constructed, and the guns are exposed to a converging fire from the heavy artillery of the rebels, but the town is there so completely exposed to us that, though our guns are only fired occasionally, they are quite effective. Two 12-pounder howitzers are kept masked against a possible attempt of the enemy to escape in that direction, and one regiment of infantry is kept on picket. It is not true our sharpshooters prevent the rebels from getting water.
A rebel force, said to be 6,000 men, with two guns, attacked General H. T. Reid at Lake Providence on the 28th, and was repulsed. Reid had three regiments of white troops. The rebels took the way down river, devastating the plantations. No sings of an attack from Joe Johnston. General Sherman still remains about Bear Creek, waiting and preparing.
C. A. DANA
Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
NEAR Vicksburg, July 2, 1863-10 a. m.,
VIA MEMPHIS, July 5-10. 30 a. m.
(Received July 8-9 a. m.)
We have no positive information concerning Joe Johnston. All of General Grant's and General Sherman's scouts concur in saying that the main body of his army remains in the same position, between Canton, Vernon, Brownsville, and Bolton. Day before yesterday a report was received from some cavalry outpost, who crossed the Big Black at Hall's Ferry, penetrated 5 miles on the other side, and learned from inhabitants that a force, variously estimated from 1,200 to 12,000, had pushed down the Rocky Springs road. Yesterday a squadron of the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry had a skirmish with a body of the enemy at Hankinson's Ferry. He drove them back and made their way across to this side. The number of this force is reckoned at about 200. M. K. Lawler's brigade marched from here last night to look after them. McPherson yesterday exploded a SECOND mine under the main fort in his front. Six rebels were thrown into our lines by the explosion; all dead but one, a negro. The right flank fort was cleared off by it, so that Ransom's shells had free way into the work. Many rebels were killed, but McPherson has not yet got possession of the fort. In the absence of ordinary mortars, he has constructed several of wood, throwing 12-pounder shells effectively.
On Ord's front the enemy have exploded a mine before a sap of ours, doing us no damage, but giving us the advantage of carrying the trench into the crater. Orders have been given to abandon all attempts to push forward saps with a view of entering the enemy's works by that
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