The storming party reached the salient of the bastion and passed toward the sally port, when rose, from every part commanding it, a double rank of the enemy, that poured on the head of the column a terrific fire. It halted, wavered, and sought cover. The rear pressed on, but the fire was so terrific that very soon all sought cover.
The head of the column crossed the ditch of the left face of the bastion and climbed upon the exterior slope, where the colors were planted, and the men burrowed in the earth to shield themselves from the flank fire. The leading brigade of Ewing being unable to carry that point, the next brigade of Giles SMITH was turned down a ravine, and by a circuit to the left found cover, formed line, and threatened the parapet about 300 yards to the left of the bastion, and the brigade of Kilby SMITH deployed on the off slope of one of the spurs, where, with Ewing's brigade, they kept up a constant fire against any object that presented itself above the parapet.
About 2 p. m. General Blair reported to me that none of his brigades could pass the point of the road swept by the terrific fire encountered by Ewing's, but that Giles SMITH had got a position to the left, in connection with General Ransom, of McPherson's corps, and was ready to assault.
I ordered a constant fire of artillery and infantry to be kept up to occupy the attention of the enemy in our front. Under these circumstances Ransom's and Giles SMITH's brigades charged up against the parapet, but also met a staggering fire, before which they recoiled under cover of the hillside.
At the same time, while McPherson's whole corps was engaged, and having heard General McClernand's report to General Ghe had taken three of the enemy's forts, and that his flags floated on the stronghold of Vicksburg, I ordered General Tuttle to send directly to the assault one of his brigades. He detailed General Mower's, and while General Steele was hotly engaged on the right, and I could hear heavy firing all down the line to my left, I ordered their charge, covered in like manner by Blair's DIVISION, deployed on the hillside, and the artillery posted behind parapets within point-blank range.
General Mower carried his brigade up bravely and well, but again arose a fire more severe, if possible, than that of the first assault, with exactly a similar result. The colors of the leading regiment, the Eleventh Missouri, were planted by the side of that of Blair's storming party, and remained there till withdrawn after nightfall by my orders.
McClernand's report of success must have been premature, for I subsequently learned that both his and McPherson's assault had failed to break through the enemy's line of intrenchments, and were equally unsuccessful as my own.
At the time we were so hotly engaged along the road, General Steele, with his DIVISION, made his assault at a point about midway from the bastion and Mississippi River. The ground over which he passed was more open and exposed to the flank fire of the enemy's batteries in position, and was deeply cut up by gullies and washes; still, his column passed steadily through this fire and reached the parapet, which was also found to be well manned and defended by the enemy. He could not carry the works, but held possession of the hillside till night, when he withdrew his command to his present position. These several assaults, made simultaneously, demonstrated the strength of the natural and artificial defenses of Vicksburg, that they are garrisoned by a strong force, and that we must resort to regular approaches.
Our loss during the day was severe, and the proportion of dead to