Thursday, July 7, 2016

Big News From the Confederacy -- The Fall of Vicksburg

[Richmond Daily Dispatch, July 9, 1863]
Texas Monument at Vicksburg, Miss.
(National Park Service)

The fall of Vicksburg.
      After a defence which will be remembered as long as valor and patriotism continue to be objects of reverence among mankind, the heroic garrison of Vicksburg has been compelled to yield to the near prospect of starvation that which it never would have yielded to the prowess of the enemy. No helping hand was stretched out to them in the hour of their need — no encouraging voice came to them from beyond the enemy's lines — not an effort was made to relieve them — not an attempt to afford them succor. Shut out from all hope, save in their own valor and the resources which lay within their lines, it was theirs, from day to day, and from hour to hour, to experience that dreary sinking of the heart which arises from hope deferred, when they knew that a friendly army was lying within sound of their cannon, and that relief or assistance was not to be expected from them.
     We know not what may have been the situation of Gen. Johnston. His friends complain that he was not sufficiently furnished with men and the munitions of war. He may not have had the half of the force which even the Yankee estimate places at his command. But this we do know, that Vicksburg was a place of the utmost importance, that its capture, to be followed, we presume, by the capture like wise of Port Hudson, reduces our cause in the Southwest to great difficulty. Under such circumstances, it does appear to us that some little risk might have been run, some attempt, however feeble, might have been made to relieve it. But Gen. Johnston thought differently, and we suppose he is right. Doubtless he thinks the same thing with regard to Port Hudson, and we may therefore make up our minds to a catastrophe in that quarter.--From all the information we can collect, Grant never had more than 60,000 men around Vicksburg. He went there with that number, and was never able, with all his reinforcements, to swell his army to a larger size. The garrison had 17,000 men when they surrendered, and communication was constantly kept up with the army outside. The force of the latter must have been deplorably small indeed, otherwise a combined attack would surely have been concerted and executed. For the honor of the Confederacy, we cannot but wish this had been tried, even though it had been unsuccessful. The most mortifying part of the whole affair is, that the surrender was made, without a blow struck by the army without.
     The blow is severe. It is indeed a grievous one to the whole Confederacy, which had learned not only to admire but to love Vicksburg. Its gallant and successful defence for so many long months, against the concentrated assaults of so many gunboats, and finally of a combined attack of a large army in the rear, and a fleet of floating batteries in front, had impressed the public mind with the idea that it was invincible. Had it fallen directly after Natchez, as everybody expected, no one would have been surprised. But to the general surprise of all, it successfully defied and defeated the enemy, and had become our champion, our pride and our boast. Our heart and hope was with it. Its fate, however, was not unexpected by many; nor is it by any means irreparable. Not unexpected, for it was known in this city ten days ago that no attempt would be made to relieve the garrison. Not irreparable, for although it may not be as convenient for us to maintain the blockade of the Mississippi without Vicksburg as with it, yet if our own army acts with the vigor the situation demands, the navigation of the Mississippi, so far from being restored, will be so completely blockaded that nothing but a gunboat can go from St. Louis or Louisville to New Orleans, and gunboats do not carry freight. The Northwestern Yankees are fighting, they say, for the navigation of the Mississippi. They are as far from it now as ever.
      P. S.--Since writing the above, a telegram from Martinsburg says that the Baltimore Gazette, of the 6th, reports Grant to be retreating from Vicksburg.

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