War of the Rebellion: Serial 037 Page 0170 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

front, and consisted of small works on commanding points, necessarily irregular, from the shape of the ridges on which they were situated; in only one case(that of a redoubt 30 yards square)closed at the gorge; of weak at distances varying from 75 to 500 yards from each other, and connected by lines of simple trench or rifle-pit. Vicksburg was, then, rather and intrenched camp than a fortified place, owing much of its strength to the difficult ground, obstructed by fallen tress in its front, which rendered rapidly of movement and ensemble in an assault impossible.

REASONS FOR AS ASSAULT.

The army within Vicksburg, differing slightly in numbers from that commanded by Major-General Grant, had been demoralized by defeat. Its strength was underestimate. Our own troops, buoyant with success, were eager for an assault, ad would not work we if the slow process of a siege was undertaken. Accordingly, at 2 p. m. May 19, an assault was, attempted, but only partially carried out before nightfall. Sherman's troops reached the enemy's works near the northeast angle of their line, but failed to enter, and were withdrawn at nightfall.

ASSAULT OF May 22.

On May 22, a general assault was made at 10 p. m. Steele's DIVISION, of Sherman's corps, attacked on the north side at a point about halfway between the river and the northeast angle of enemy's line. Blair's DIVISION, of Sherman's corps, near this angle; McPHERSON' corps near the Jackson road, and McClernand's corps near the railroad. These attacks were, gallantly made, men from each of the corps reaching the enemy's line, and in one instance entering one of the enemy's works; but the fire both of artillery and musketry from the enemy's line was so heavy, and the loss in moving over the rough and obstructed ground so severe, that the assault failed at all points. The troops took the nearest cover, in some places under the parapet of the enemy's work, on which our flag was flying, and waited for night to enable them of fall back without further exposure to the murderous fire. The question as to the practicability of carrying the place by assault without previous preparation was now settled for men as well as for officers. Before such an assault could again the attempted with a reasonable prospect of success, the enemy's artillery must, so far as practicable, be disabled by our fire, and means used to cover our troops to which had caused the failure of the first assault. Preparations were accordingly made for the construction of batteries, opening trenches &c., and the siege was commenced.

ENGINEER ORGANIZATION.

The engineer organization here, as in all our armies, was very deficient, if we judge either from thtions wiser in the art of war than ourselves or from result. Thirty officers of engineers would have found full employment. When the siege commenced there were with the army two engineer officers doing engineer duty. Superintendence at any particular point was impossible, without neglecting the more important general superintendence of the whole line. A few