HDQRS. 15TH ARMY CORPS, DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE,
Camp on Black River, MISS., July 27, 1863.
To the Officers and Soldiers of the Fifteenth Army Corps:
When, in progress of the war, time and opportunity present a favorable occasion, we should pause and reflect upon the past.
In November of last year we were mostly at Helena and Memphis.
The enemy lay in force behind intrenchments of his own choice at the Tallahatchee, boastful of his power and strength, defiant and insulting in his tone. In combination with our fellow-soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee, we advanced directly against him, whilst a force from Helena, thrust laterally at Grenada, made him leave in haste and confusion, and fall behind the Yallabusha and the Yazoo, with Vicksburg, and its frowning hills and Batteries, as his impregnable stronghold.
It then became our part of the grand drama to strike this stronghold, and we moved against it with expedition and a firm resolution to succeed. But there are in war, as in peace, limits to the power of the bravest men, and we failed to carry by a dash the line of forts and bluffs that had been prepared with consummate art and defended by a brave and skillful enemy. Not daunted, we drew off to prepare anew for a more powerful blow. Time offering the opportunity, instead of waiting in idleness, we turned against Arkansas Post, and, by a quick and skillful movement, we reduced and captured Fort Hindman, with all its garrison and material of war. Then, returning to the original purpose of the campaign, we were again at Young's Point, and began that series of preparation which has resulted in final success. The labor and toil of those dark and gloomy months were not spent in vain. The gunboat fleet, commanded by Admiral Porter, explored every bayou and creek of the network of streams that afforded any chance of reaching the land above Vicksburg, and it was our pleasing task, when, in March last, during one of these expeditions, when the safety of our gunboat fleet was threatened, to hasten through water and swamp and canebrake and storm to its assistance, and we now know that to the labor and energy than displayed the country owes to us in a great measure the safety of the iron-clads, which have done so much to open the Mississippi.
At last, when it was demonstrated that nature and art had made Vicksburg impregnable from the river on its north side, and our general had resolved to reach it from the south, we aided much in passing the necessary fleet of boats below Vicksburg, and when the first battle was to begin at Grand Gulf we had the important but ungrateful task of deceiving our enemy by a feigned attack on Haynes' Bluff. That feint or diversion was perfectly successful, and for weeks we succeeded admirably in confusing and deceiving the enemy as to our purposes, and contributed largely thereby in gaining a successful foothold on land below Vicksburg. Then, by a rapid march, we overtook our comrades, and with them swept the enemy before us to Jackson and back again to Vicksburg, reaching, after unexampled skill, the very points we had aimed to secure in December.
Of the siege of Vicksburg, it ill becomes your commander now to speak. That the Fifteenth Army Corps performed its full share of labor and fighting, our general-in-chief has borne full testimony, and our colors will ever bear, in proud remembrance of that great historical event, the appropriate mark. But before the fall of that city, one of the most skillful of the mighty rebellion was known to be hurrying to our rear with a large army, threatening our safety, and