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1863 June 13: The Siege of Port Hudson and Other News

June 13, 2013

Unlike last week, this week the Polk County Press in their summary of the week’s news finds the news to be “considerable.”  This is from the June 13, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal.  The Siege of Vicksburg lasted from May 18 to July 4, 1863; the Siege of Port Hudson lasted from May 22 to July 9, 1863.

The News.

The news of the week is considerable, though unsatisfactory as regards its source, but very little of an official character has been sent over the wires from the war department.  The siege of Vicksburg up to the 7th inst. was progressing satisfactory, and it was stated that PEMBERTON [John C. Pemberton] would soon be obliged to surrender to Gen. GRANT [Ulysses S. Grant].  The rebels are short of provisions, their men only being allowed fourteen ounces of food per day.  The bombardment is going on day and night and the best part of the city has been burnt by our shells.  The rebels were obliged to shoot nearly 500 horses, on account of not having feed for them.  Reports from rebel sources place GRANT’S losses before Vicksburg as enormous, while reports from GRANT put figures at 2,000 all told.

On the 27th of May GEN. BANKS [Nathaniel P. Banks] fought the rebels a severe battle at Port Hudson, and defeated them with great loss.  The loss on our side was first reported at 4,000, but is now only estimated at 1,000.  An official report dated before Port Hudson, May 30th, gives an account of the attack on that place.  In speaking of the negro troops, it says they answered every expectation formed of them.  Their conduct was heroic.  No troops could be more daring or determined.  They made during the day three distinct charges upon the batteries of the enemy, suffering very heavy losses, and holding their position at night fall, with the other troops, on the right of our line.

The highest commendation is bestowed upon them by all the officers in command, on the right, and justifies all that has been said heretofore, as to the eficiency [sic] of origanization [sic] of these troops.  The history of this day, proves conclusively to those who were in a condition to observe the conduct of the regiments, that the government will find in this body of troops effective supporters and defenders.  The severest test to which they were subject, and the manner in which they encountered the enemy, leave upon my mind no doubt of their ultimate success.  They require only good officers and careful discipline, to make them excellent soldiers.

Our losses in killed, wounded, and missing, from the 22nd, to this date, are nearly 1000, including I deeply regret to say, some of the ablest officers of the corps.

Among the wounded were General NIEL [sic] DOW [Neal S. Dow],¹ and Gen. SHERMAN [Thomas W. Sherman].²  The latter is not expected to live.

Reports from ROSECRANS’ department [William S. Rosecrans] show that he is feeling the enemy.  Skirmishing is of daily occurrence and several sharp engagements have transpired at Franklin and along the line, with repeated success to the Union arms.

From the Potomac army we have it that HOOKER [Joseph Hooker] crossed the Rappahonnock in force, and made a reconoisance [sic] with the loss of five men.  Our troops are everywhere on the move, and we expect to have news of great battles, and we trust victories, for our next issue.

1.  During the Union assault on Port Hudson on May 27, Dow was wounded in the right arm and left thigh and sent to a nearby plantation to convalesce where he was captured by Confederates in early July. He was imprisoned for eight months and then exchanged Confederate General Fitzhugh Lee on February 25, 1864. His health deteriorated in prison and as a consequence he resigned from the Union Army in November 1864
2.  During the May 27, 1863, attack on Port Hudson, Sherman was severely wounded, which led to the amputation of his right leg. His injuries were so severe that he was not expected to live. Even the newspaper in his hometown (Newport, Rhode Island) printed an obituary for him. For the rest of the war he held only administrative commands in Louisiana.

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