“There is no doubt of the fall of this place ultimately, but how long it will take is a matter of doubt”

During the assault of Vicksburg yesterday, I wrote to Adm. Porter asking him to use the guns on his boat to shell the defenses of the city.  Today I got his reply.

UNITED STATES Mississippi SQUADRON,

Above Vicksburg, May 23, 1863.

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

GENERAL: Yours of May 22 has been received. I am doing all with the mortars and gunboats that can be done.

I attacked all the batteries yesterday as high as the water batteries at hospital, but I found it impossible, with our slow vessels to get beyond that point, the current was so strong. We were perfect targets for the enemy. The Tuscumbia was soon disabled, and the other boats cut up between wind and water, and we had to haul out of action to repair damages. I fought the batteries one hour and a half longer than you asked me to do.

I do not think it possible to get the gunboats up to the point you speak of without sacrificing every vessel and man on board, but I am feeling my way along with the mortars, and drop them down a little every day. Depend that I am doing everything that can be done with my small means. I think we lost a fine chance yesterday on your left of going into the fort on that range of hills. Those hills, as I told you, had no one on them. I forward your letter to General McArthur.

Hope you will soon finish up this Vicksburg business, or these people may get relief. I wrote to General Hurlbut four days ago, telling him that I thought you would thank him for every man he or any one else could send you.

General Banks is not coming here with his men. He is going to occupy the attention of Port Hudson, and has landed at Bayou Sara, using your transports for that purpose.

If the people in the batteries now in our possession see us sending coal barges by, it would be well to fire on any boats the enemy may send out to destroy them.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

DAVID D. PORTER

I replied,

NEAR Vicksburg, MISS., May 23, 1863.

Rear-Admiral DAVID D. PORTER,

Commanding Mississippi Squadron:

Your note of this date is just received. I am satisfied that you are doing all that can be done in aid of the reduction of Vicksburg. There is no doubt of the fall of this place ultimately, but how long it will take is a matter of doubt. I intend to lose no more men, but to force the enemy from one position to another without exposing my troops.

I have information that the enemy under Johnston, who have been threatening me, have gone back to Calhoun, on the Mississippi Central Railroad. There is but about 8,000 of them, much demoralized.

A force is collecting at Yazoo City which numbers now about 2,000 men. Does this expose your boats now up the Yazoo? If so, I will send Lauman to disperse them, although I do not like to detach any troops until this job here is closed up. One week is as along as I think the enemy can possibly hold out.

U. S. GRANT

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 8, p 257-8

O.R., I, xxiv, part 3, p 342-3

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