“To-day an attempt was made to carry the city by assault, but was not entirely successful”

May 22 1863.  Our second assault on Vicksburg’s defenses has failed to carry them.  We were able to make forward progress though.  We have resigned ourselves to conducting a siege.  I informed Gen. Halleck,

NEAR Vicksburg, May 22, 1863,

General H. W. HALLECK,

Washington, D. C.:

Vicksburg is now completely invested. I have possession of Haynes’ Bluff and the Yazoo; consequently have supplies. To-day an attempt was made to carry the city by assault, but was not entirely successful. We hold possession, however, of two of the enemy’s forts, and have skirmishers close under all of them. Our loss was not severe. The nature of the ground about Vicksburg is such that it can only be taken by a siege. It is entirely safe to us in time, I would say one week, if the enemy do not send a large army upon my rear. With the railroad destroyed to beyond Pearl River, I do not see the hope that the enemy can entertain of such relief.

I learn that Jeff. Davis has promised that if the garrison can hold out for FIFTEEN days he will send 100,000 men, if he has to evacuate Tennessee to do it.

What shall I do with the prisoners I have?

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 249

O.R., I, xxiv, part 1, p 37

“A simultaneous attack will be made to morrow at 10 a. m. by all the army corps of this army.”

May 21 1863.  Our initial assault on Vicksburg failed to take the city.  However, only Sherman’s corps was directly engaged.  The other two corps failed to get into position to contribute to the assault.  After meeting with my officers, we believe that if we can pressure the fortifications at Vicksburg simultaneously with all forces, the defenders will be stretched too thin to stop us.  I issued an order for another attack tomorrow.

GENERAL FIELD ORDERS,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE, Numbers -.
near Vicksburg, May 21, 1863.

A simultaneous attack will be made to morrow at 10 a. m. by all the army corps of this army. During the day army corps commanders will have examined all practicable roads over which troops can possibly pass. They will get in position all the artillery possible, and gain all the ground they can with their infantry and skirmishers. At an early hour in the morning a vigorous attack will be commenced by the artillery and skirmishers. The infantry, with the exception of reserves and skirmishers, will be placed in columns of platoons, or by a flank if the ground over which they may have to pass will not admit of a greater front, ready to move forward at the hour designated. Promptly at the hour designated all will start at quick time, with bayonets fixed, and march immediately upon the enemy without firing a gun until the outer works are carried.

The troops will go Light, carrying with them only their ammunition, canteens, and one day’s rations.

The skirmishers will advance as soon as possible after heads of columns pass them, and scale the walls of such works as may confront them.

If prosecuted with vigor, it is confidently believed this course will carry Vicksburg in a very short time, and with much less loss than would be sustained by delay. Every day’s delay enables the enemy to strengthen his defenses and increases his chance for receiving aid from outside.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:

JNO. A. RAWLINS,

Assistant Adjutant-General

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 245-6

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 333-4

“This will be the signal for a general charge of all the corps along the whole line.”

May 19 1863.  Our army has reached the outskirts of Vicksburg.  Gen. Sherman’s corps has been able to reach the Mississippi north of the city which will do a great deal to alleviate our supply problems.  After the resounding defeats inflicted on the enemy in the last few days, I cannot believe that he will put up much of a fight for Vicksburg.  I have therefore ordered a general assault to be made.

SPECIAL ORDERS,
HDQRS. DEPT. OF THE TENNESSEE, Numbers 134.
near Vicksburg, MISS., May 19, 1863-11. 16 a. m.

Army corps commanders will push forward carefully, and gain as close position as possible to the enemy’s works until 2 p. m. At that hour they will fire three volleys of artillery from all the pieces in position. This will be the signal for a general charge of all the corps along the whole line.

When the works are carried, guards will be placed by all DIVISION commanders, to prevent their men from straggling from their companies.

By order of Major General U. S. Grant:

JNO. A. RAWLINS.

Assistant Adjutant-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 327

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 329

“Their road, you being in the center, will be the direct Vicksburg road.”

We have inflicted two successive major defeats on the enemy.  If we can move on Vicksburg quickly, we could capture the city in the next few days.  I sent orders to Gens. McClernand and McPherson.

BLACK RIVER, MISS., May 18, 1863.

Major General John A. McClernand,

Commanding Thirteenth Army Corps:

Move your corps as early as possible, taking the direct road as far as Mount Albans. From that point reconnoiter well as you advance. If a parallel road can be found within 3 miles of the direct road, take it. No teams will be allowed to cross the river until all the troops are over, except ambulances and ammunition wagons. One brigade will be left to guard the bridge and trains, and to bring the latter over after the troops have all passed.

U. S. GRANT.

BLACK RIVER, MISS., May 18, 1863.

Major General J. B. McPHERSON, Comdg. SEVENTEENTH Army Corps:

Start your columns at the earliest practicable moment. Their road, you being in the center, will be the direct Vicksburg road.

No teams will be allowed to pass over the road until all the troops and artillery have passed, except ammunition wagons and ambulances. One brigade will be left to guard the bridge and wagon trains, and to pass the latter over as soon as all the troops are out of the way.

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 235-7

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 324

“The enemy have been so terribly beaten yesterday and to-day that I cannot believe that a stand will be made”

May 17 1863.  The enemy occupied some fortifications along the Big Black River on the road to Vicksburg.  We were able to drive them off, but not before they burned the bridges across the river.  I wrote Gen. Sherman,

BLACK RIVER BRIDGE, MISS., May 17, 1863.

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,

Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps:

Our bridges here will not be ready to cross before daylight in the morning. Secure a commanding position on the WEST bank of Black River as soon as you can.

If the information you gain after crossing warrants you in believing you can go immediately into the city, do so. If there is any doubt in this matter, throw out troops to the left, after advancing on a line with the railroad bridge, to open communications with the troops here. We will then move in three columns, if roads can be found to move on, and either have Vicksburg or Haynes’ Bluff to-morrow night.

The enemy have been so terribly beaten yesterday and to-day that I cannot believe that a stand will be made unless the troops are relying on Johnston’s arriving with large re-enforcements, nor that Johnston would attempt to re-enforce with anything at his command if he was at all aware of the present condition of things.

U. S. GRANT,

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 232-3

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 321-2

“The enemy were driven and are now in full retreat.”

We have met the enemy in battle on Champion’s Hill, just east of Edwards Station, and routed him.  I wrote Gen. Sherman,

Near Bakers Creek, Miss.
May 16th 1863
Maj Gen. Sherman, Comd.g 15 Army Corps, Gen.
We met the enemy about four miles East of Edwards station and have had a desperate fight. The enemy were driven and are now in full retreat. I am of the opinion that the battle of Vicksburg has been fought. We must be prepared however for what¬ ever turns up.
McClernand & McPherson are in full pursuit and will continue until night closes in. I want you to advance as far as possible tonight and start early in the morning again. When opposite Bolton turn North and get on to the Vicksburg road North of the rail-road and follow that.
We took to-day about 1500 prisoners and three batteries. Loss in killed & wounded heavy on both sides.
Get to Black river as soon as possible.
Yours Truly
U. S Grant
Maj Gen

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 228-9

“[A]ttack him in force if an opportunity occurs”

I replied to Gen. McClernand,

EDWARDS STATION, MISS, May 16, 1863. -12. 35 p. m.

Major General John A. McClernand, Comdg. Thirteenth Army Corps:

As soon as your command is all in hand, throw forward skirmishers and feel the enemy, and attack him in force if an opportunity occurs. I am with Hovey and McPherson,. and will see that they fully co-operate.

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 226

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 318

McClernand: “Shall I hold, or bring on an engagement?”

I received the following dispatch from Gen. McClernand,

BEFORE EDWARDS STATION, MISS, May 16, 1863.

Major General U. S. GRANT, Comdg. Dept. of the Tennessee:

GENERAL: At 9. 45 a. m. General Hovey has advanced on his road about 4 miles. Finds the enemy strongly posted in his front, showing two pieces of artillery at the distance of some 400 yards. The general has taken 15 prisoners, who represent the enemy to be from 50,000 to 60,000 strong. Osterhaus must be some 4 miles from Edwards Station. General Smith is about the same distance.

McPherson, I think should move up to the support of Hovey, who thinks his right flank will encounter severe resistance. Shall I hold, or bring on an engagement? General Hovey thinks the enemy has passed a large force toward Raymond, and to our rear, but an aide from General Smith knows nothing of it.

JOHN A. McClernand.

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 225

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 316-7

“The fight may, therefore, be brought on at any moment.”

If we are to fight a large battle today, as seems likely, we will need every man available.  Gen. Sherman’s men, after capturing Jackson, have left that city and are now following us.  I urged him to hurry his men forward.

CLINTON, MISS., May 16, 1863-5. 30 a. m.

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN, Comdg. Fifteenth Army Corps:

Start one of your DIVISIONS on the road at once, with their ammunition wagons, and direct the general commanding the DIVISION to move with all possible speed until he comes up with our rear beyond Bolton. It is important that the greatest celerity should be shown in carrying out this movement, as I have evidence that the entire force of the enemy was at Edwards Depot at 7 p. m. last night, and was still advancing. The fight may, therefore, be brought on at any moment. We should have every man in the field.

U. S. GRANT.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 228

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 319

“I have just obtained very probable information, that the entire force of the enemy has crossed the Big Black”

May 16 1863.  It appears that Pemberton has marched the troops in Vicksburg out to meet us in the field.  I wrote Gen. McClernand,

Head Quarters, Dept. of the Tenn.
Clinton Miss.
May 16th 1863 5.40.—A. M.
Maj. Gen. J. A. McClernand Commanding 13th Army Corps.
General.
I have just obtained very probable information, that the entire force of the enemy has crossed the Big Black, and was at Edwards Depot at 7 o’clock last night. You will therefore disencumber yourself of your trains, select an eligible position, and feel the enemy.
Our whole force is closely following you, and orders have been issued, requiring the utmost celerity in the march towards Edwards Depot.
Don’t bring on a general engagement till we are entirely prepared. Draw your troops closely to-gether and notify Blair what to do. I will leave here for the front at 8 A. M.
Very respectfully your obedt. Servt.
U. S. Grant,
Maj. Gen. Comd’g.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 224

National Archives, RG 393, 13th Army Corps, Letters Received