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1863 June 6: The Seige of Vicksburg

June 6, 2013

From the June 6, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal. We are introduced to another set of Confederate generals.

The Siege of Vicksburg.


The Bulletin of this city has the following special :


Our direct advices from Vicksburgh [sic] to the 30th of May.  For several days previously, quiet had prevailed all along the line, broken only by occasional cannonading.

The Commercial has a dispatch dated the 30th, saying “Spades are once more trumps.”  We are erecting earthworks, and are mining to blow the face out of one or two of the rebel forts, that are unapproachable otherwise.  The idea of carrying the place by storm seems to be abandoned.  The safer and surer plan of starving General Pemberton [John C. Pemberton] into submission now finds favor everywhere.

A deserter came into our lines this morning. He represents that he was sent by General Pemberton to communicate verbally with Generals Johnston [Joseph E. Johnston] and Loring [William W. Loring].  The former is supposed to be between Big Black river and Jackson.—The latter was near Port Gibson.  He represents affairs in the city as growing desperate.  About 18,000 effective men are there, two-thirds of whom are kept on the fortifications night and day, and not allowed to be idle an instant on any pretext.

Gens. Pemberton, Lee,¹ Reynolds,² Stevenson³ and others are in the city.  Most of the sick left before its investment.

Over 100 women and children have been killed by our bombardment.  The gunboats inflicted no injury on the city.  Gen. Pemberton believed his rations wo’d hold out 30 days, but urged Johnson [sic] to come to his relief within 10 days at the fartherest [sic].

Cavalry horses have been turned loose and driven towards our lines owing to the scarcity of forage.  There was ammunition enough to last 60 days, with the exception of gun caps—they were scarce.

All confidently expect superhuman efforts to be made by those outside to raise the siege.  They consider Vicksburg the strongest place in the Confederacy.

Gen. Blair4 has met no enemy in force, and the reports of Johnston being near are disbelieved.  Banks [Nathaniel P. Banks], with reinforcements, is reported near here, but like many other rumors, it may have little foundation in fact.

This morning the heaviest cannonading of the siege was kept up without intermission for nearly three hours.  New batteries have lately been put in position and 150 guns are playing on the city.

At daylight this morning the firing was rapid beyond belief.  The reports of the guns along the whole line averaged one a second for minutes together.

1.  Stephen Dill Lee (1833-1908) graduated from West Point and served in the Seminole War and on the western frontier. He resigned his commission in 1861 to join the South Caroline Militia. He was P.G.T. Beauregard’s aide-de-camp who delivered Beauregard’s ultimatum to Union Major Robert Anderson. Lee commanded a light battery in Hampton’s Legion in Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s army, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1862, was the artillery chief for Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaw and then Brig. Gen. John B. Magruder. Lee participated in the Peninsula Campaign, Second Bull Run, and the Battle of Antietam where his artillery played a prominent role in defending the ground near the famed Dunker Church. In November 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general, and in May 1863 took command of Pemberton’s artillery defending Vicksburg. Lee was wounded at the Battle of Champion Hill. Lee was promoted to major general in August 1863 and lieutenant general in June 1864, the youngest Confederate lieutenant general during the American Civil War. After the War Lee became a planter in Mississippi, was the first president of Mississippi A&M College, and wrote extensively about the War.
2.  Alexander Welch Reynolds (1817-1876) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer, serving in the Mexican War. When the Civil War started, he went AWOL from the U.S. Army rather than resign his commission and joined the Confederate Army, quickly being promoted to colonel of the 50th  Virginia Infantry. Reynolds spent most of the War in the Western Theater in Kentucky and Tennessee. In December 1862 he was Reynolds, commanding a brigade in Carter Stevenson’s division when it was sent Vicksburg. During the Siege of Vicksburg his brigade held a portion of the southern-most sector near the “Salient Work.” Reynolds was promoted to brigadier general in September 1863 and led a brigade during the Chattanooga Campaign. He fought at the battles of Missionary Ridge, Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, and Adairsville before being wounded in War. After the War, Reynolds was a colonel in the Egyptian Army, along with William W. Lorning and others.
3.  Carter Littlepage Stevenson (1817-1888) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer who served in having spent much of his private fortune in support of the Union, was financially ruined the Seminole Wars, the Mexican War, and the Utah War. He resigned his commission when Virginia seceded from the Union in early 1861 and was commission a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army. At Beauregard’s recommendation, he was promoted to colonel of the 53rd Virginia Infantry, and then to brigadier general in February 1862. Recognized again for his leadership ability, he was promoted to major general in October 1862 and led his division at the Battle of Perryville. In December, Stevenson with 10,000 men was sent to reinforce John C. Pemberton’s force at Vicksburg, Mississippi, and his division bore the brunt of fighting at the Battle of Champion’s Hill. During the Siege of Vicksburg, Stevenson commanded the right of the entire Confederate defensive line.
4.  Francis Preston Blair (1821-1875) was a lawyer in Missouri who, before the Civil War, served in the Mexican War, was the attorney general for New Mexico Territory, served in the Missouri House of Representatives (1852-1856) and the U.S. House of Representatives (1856-1857, 1861-1862, 1863-1864), where he served as chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. He resigned from Congress in July 1862 to become a Union colonel of Missouri volunteers, and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers in August and major general in November. Blair commanded a division in the Vicksburg campaign and in the fighting around Chattanooga, and was one of William T. Sherman’s corps commanders in his campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas. After the War, having spent much of his private fortune in support of the Union, Blair was financially ruined. In the 1868 presidential election, Blair was the Democratic candidate for vice president. From 1871-1873 he served in the U.S. Senate from Missouri.

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