War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0273 Chapter XXXVI. GENERAL REPORTS.

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same date as this latter, I informed you that the men had failed to hold the trenches at Big Black Bridge, and that, as a consequence, Snyder's Mill was directed to be abandoned. On the receipt of your communication, I immediately assembled a council of war of the general officers of this command, and having laid your instructions before them, asked the free expression of their opinions as to the practicability of carrying them out. The opinion was unanimously expressed that it was impossible to withdraw the army from this position with such morale and material as to be of further service to the Confederacy. While the council of war was assembled, the guns of the enemy opened on the works, and it was at the same time reported that they were crossing the Yahoo River at Brandon's Ferry, above Snyder's Mill. I have decided to hold Vicksburg as long as is possible, with the firm hope that the Government may yet be able to assist me in keeping this obstruction to the enemy's free navigation of the Mississippi River. I still conceive it to be the most important point in the Confederacy.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant-General, Commanding.

The development of the intrenched line from the extreme right of Major-General Stevenson's position to the left of Major-General Smith's was about 8 miles, the shortest defensible line of which the topography of the country admitted. The plan was submitted to me immediately after I assumed command of the Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, in the latter part of October, 1862; was approved, and ordered to be carried out with the utmost dispatch. Similar instructions were about the same time given for fortifying the strong position at Snyder's Mill, and the land defenses of Port Hudson were also ordered to be commenced at once. The line of defense around the city of Vicksburg consisted (as is shown in the map accompanying the report of Major [S. H.] Lockett, chief engineer) of a system of detached works (redans, lunettes, and redoubts) on the prominent and commanding points, with the usual profile of raised field works, connected in most cases by rifle-pits. To man the entire line, I was able to bring into the trenches about eighteen thousand five hundred muskets, but it was absolutely necessary to keep a reserve always ready to re-enforce any point heavily threatened. It became indispensable, therefore, to reduce the number in the trenches to the minimum capable of holding them until a reserve could come to their aid. It was also necessary that the reserve should be composed of troops among the best and most reliable. Accordingly, Bowen's DIVISION (about 2,400) and Waul's Texas Legion (about 500) were designated for that purpose, thus reducing the force in the trenches to little over 15,500 men. The Legion was on the 18th assigned as a reserve to Forney's DIVISION, and was held in rear of Brigadier-General Moore's right, but on the evening of the 19th was transferred to Stevenson's DIVISION, and during the remainder of the siege was held in rear of Brigadier-General Lee's brigade, occupying one of the most exposed and important positions on the whole line.

On the night of the 17th, and during the 18th, Major-General Smith, misapprehending my instructions given him immediately after my return from the Big Black, had occupied an outer line of defense on the range of hills north of the Fort Hill road. This line had undoubtedly some advantages; it was within 600 yards of the inner line, and partially commanded one of our most important river batteries. I considered, however, that the increased length which would necessarily be given to the whole line of defense, the intervening valley, and other objections to its occupation more than counterbalanced the advantages; the troops and artillery were, therefore, on the night of the 18th silently and safely withdrawn, and General Smith's DIVISION occupied the inner line during the remainder of the siege. The enemy, however, had made during the day a demonstration with artillery and infantry on his position, and