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Vieksburgf a people at war*
1860-1865. Chapel Hill, Uni-
versity of North Carolina
AT VICKSBURG, said one of the city's
inhabitants, Grant fought the Con-
federate army in part, but the city
and its people mainly. This is the
compelling story of these people and
their city, caught in eivil war. Here
were a people who in the tumultuous
months of I860 hesitantly moved
from peace to secession and were
then caught in the stream of events
which relentlessly moved from civil
war to siege to final defeat.
Part of the main battery aboard the USS
Richmond, which dealt heavy blows at the
city. Sketched by an officer aboard the
Richmond. (From Harper's Weekly)
A People at War, 1860-1865
PETER F. WALKER
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS
COPYRIGHT, 1960, BY
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS
Manufactured in the United States of America
FRANKLIN T. WALKER
ANNA L. WALKER
BEFORE the Civil War is understood as a complete historical
experience it will be necessary to press beyond studies of mili-
tary campaigns, finely spun constitutional theories, tenuous diplo-
matic negotiations, and significant individuals. This is not to
question the validity of such studies, but merely to make the
point that they are not enough. Putting an army into the field
and maintaining it, for example, is nothing more than an ex-
pression of a peoples' will; so is a particular constitutional theory,
if it is acted upon. But if a peoples' will can be determined,
and the development of that will charted, it will be necessary to
get right down among the people, if the historian is to do more
than make generalizations, which may or may not be valid.
I have attempted to study the will and spirit of the people of
Vicksburg. I have gotten as close to them as I am able. I
advance no contention that the people of Vicksburg were typical
Southerners of their time, but on the other hand I do not neces-
sarily believe that they were atypical. Vicksburg was special
simply because of its geographic location. The inhabitants of
the city, except through chance, might well have lived elsewhere,
and their actions might have been duplicated in another place.
Before this statement can be proved or disproved more studies
will have to be made on the state and local level. And, regard-
less of the bearing they may have on this study, they will enable
Civil War historians to add dimension to their work which has
heretofore been lacking.
Certain problems were encountered in this study which
should be admitted: Tn some areas source material was lacking
the bare bones of the narrative attest to this. In other places I
deliberately left unused some of the available material, for in my
judgment its inclusion would have been repetitious. Tn dealing
with manuscript sources the question of how they should be
reproduced always arises. To avoid jogging the reader's atten-
tion I have omitted unnecessary interpolations in the quotations,
and it should be understood that those errors of grammar, spell-
ing, and mechanics which appear in the quotations exist in the
original. Finally, I admit to the development of sympathies
and biases reactions which, I contend, are natural and inelucta-
ble. It is hoped that they have not materially colored or distorted
the work. If, however, it is marred by error of fact or interpreta-
tion, the responsibility rests solely with me.
If I have succeeded in combining demonstrable fact and
sound interpretation in telling the story of Vicksburg, the credit,
in large measure, accrues directly to these people:
Professors Herbert Weaver and Henry L. Swint of Vanderbilt
University trudged every step of the way with me, from con-
ception to completion, and were lavish with their time, patience,
and understanding. To them, a great debt is due.
Miss Clara Mae Brown of the Joint University Libraries,
Nashville, Tennessee, with an unflagging smile, looked up more
things than should be asked of a reference librarian; Miss Char-
lotte Capers, Mr. Carl Ray, and the staff of the Mississippi State
Department of Archives and History went far beyond the usual
limits and made research a positive pleasure; Mrs. Eva W. Davis
and the staff of the Old Courthouse Museum of Vicksburg
opened many doors for me and allowed me unencumbered ac-
cess to a precious set of newspapers; Professor John K. Betters-
worth of Mississippi State University rifled his personal files for
me, read the completed manuscript, and saved me from some
previously undetected errors; Miss Sarah Gray, Assistant to the
Curator of Manuscripts, Duke University Library, Mrs. Sara D.
Jackson, Old Army Section, National Archives, and Mrs. Elsa B.
Meier, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana
State University, extended to me an extraordinary courtesy and
helpfulness which sets them apart in my mind.
And the first shall be last Judith Adams Walker, niy
wife, who possesses that most precious quality which is at once
fragile and inextinguishable faith.
PETER F. WALKER
Chapel Hill, N. C.
I. "A Large Lot of Scraps" 3
II. "The Low Rumbling Thunder" 13
III. "Every Available Means" 35
IV. "War Is Near Us Indeed" 47
V. "Mississippians Don't Know How to Surrender" 70
VI. "We Can Feel the Shock Very Sensibly" 93
VH. "How Can We Ever Be Conquered" 133
VIII. "The Day of Our Doom" 157
IX. "An Angry Wave Had Passed" 201
An eleven-inch naval cannon aboard the USS Richmond
The railroad and road net leading to Vicksburg 5
The city at the beginning of the war 8
The surrender of Vicksburg 32-33
A Confederate transport bringing cattle to Vicksburg 74
The Arkansas 99
Refugees camped in the woods on the outskirts of Vicksburg 118
Union transports passing the Vicksburg batteries 153
Life in the Union trenches surrounding Vicksburg 178
The people watch Federal troops entering the city 202
Federal troops enter Vicksburg, July 4, 1863 207
Washington Street shortly following the war 217
The endpaper of the book shows the United States ironclad
Indianola running the batteries at Vicksburg.
(From Harper's Weekly)
BRIGHT morning sunshine beat down upon the city. A few
fleeting clouds did little to break the heavy heat. Heat waves
shimmered off the sidewalks and the asphalt on the streets was
soft underfoot. Crowds of people gathered under awnings and
in the shadows of buildings while more hardy souls lined the
sun-swept streets. Flags and bunting hung limply along the
main streets and the faint popping of firecrackers sounded
throughout the city.
On the surface the city appeared prepared for the annual
Fourth of July festivities. The people were in a holiday mood;
they had sent their men to war and the soldiers had crushed the
European enemies and were now gathering for the final assault
upon the Japanese. In the summer of 1945 a sense of victory
hung over Vicksburg as it did over the entire country.
But this was no ordinary Fourth for Vicksburg; usual holi-
day moods were leavened with something distinct and separate,
something that set the city and its people apart from the rest of
the country as the moment of complete military triumph ap-
From up the main street came the sound of a military band,
and the people turned to watch for the parade. Down the street
the formations came the band, the color guard carrying the
flag of the United States, the marching troops; overhead a flight
of aircraft roared above the city. The youngsters' eyes opened
bright with excitement because many of them had never seen
such a show. The eyes of some of the older people probably
grew distant as the blare of the marching music faded from
their consciousness and they remembered the stories of mothers
and fathers and aunts and friends.
They were remembering a day almost a hundred years past,
a day so etched into the historical experience of the city and its
people that it linked them all together and made them as one.
This distinctive thing had brought dignitaries and newspapermen
from over the nation and had set them in the sweltering Southern
city during the early days of July. This Fourth of July, 1945,
was the first time the holiday had been observed in Vicksburg
since Grant's victorious army marched into the city on the same
day in 1863. Throughout the day and into the night the city
celebrated. Vicksburg had finally accepted a decision made al-
most a hundred years before. 1
The people of Vicksburg had bought dearly the right to
choose the time they would observe this national holiday. They
had been surrounded by the army and navy of this nation,
isolated from friends and relief, and mauled as no community
has been in the history of the American people. New York,
Atlanta, Petersburg, and Boston have claimed the title "The
Siege of," but these cities were never completely cut off, were
never subjected to continuous and vehement attack as was
Vicksburg. The city rises on its bluffs, possessor of a unique
place in American history.
The story of a city and a people besieged has fascinated man
since Homer told his stories. In the trapped city human life
goes on; people go to their businesses, to market, they buy and
sell, pray and love, are born and die amidst the clamor and the
destruction. The written record leaves traces of unquestioning
bravery, indomitable humor, and base selfishness that the screw
of stress seldom presses out. It leaves the picture of a gentle
bride from New Orleans cowering under the pounding artillery
and musing, "Would it be wise like the scorpion to sting our-
selves to death?" 2 It holds the dark image of a slave named
Abraham blown by an exploding mine into the midst of the
Forty-Fifth Illinois Regiment allowing that he had met his
master going up while he was coming down and had traveled
" 'Bout free miles, I guess." 3
1. Vicksburg Evening Post, July 4, 5, 1945.
2. [Anonymous], "A Woman's Diary of the Siege of Vicksburg," ed.
George W. Cable, The Century Magazine, XXX (September, 1885), 77 J.
Hereinafter cited as "A Woman's Diary."
3. Osborn H. Oldroyd, A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg (Spring-
field, Illinois, 1885), p. 67. * fo
Although it is hard, it is a necessary imposition to rely solely
upon the written record, for the great majority of the people
remain unspeaking and dim in the background. Even so, the
story of Vicksburg emerges in more than skeletal outline. The
articulate inhabitants were observant; some knew that they were
living a unique historical experience and they wrote ac-
Theirs is the record of war-struck Vicksburg, the city which
was the key to success or failure in the West and perhaps for the
entire Confederacy. Confederate defeat at Gettysburg and
Vicksburg occured on the same day. On this day the stamp of
ultimate victory was set upon the Union. On the Fourth of
July, 1863, Lee was moving back into Virginia, never again to
take the initiative, never again to dominate the minds of the
Union commanders. At the same time Lee's mangled corps
turned southward, the Vicksburg river batteries were occupied
by Federal troops and the Confederacy was cut in half. After
successive failures Grant had achieved a brilliant victory. He
had served his apprenticeship for Petersburg and was now ready
to go east to impose his will upon the Army of Northern Vir-
ginia. He had imposed his will, and that of the Union, upon
Vicksburg and its people.
This is the story of these people and their city, of how for
over two years they stood against this will, and how, finally, they
submitted to it. The climax of their record is the siege, but their
story extends beyond this period alone. The siege, with its
violence, carries an undeniable dramatic impact when set against
the even tenor of the people first at peace and then far removed
from actual war; but a thread of tragedy runs through the story
of Vicksburg that transcends the importance of the violent weeks
of bombardment. High tragedy was enacted on those hills
overlooking the Mississippi (and let it be understood that it was
tragedy and not irony that marked wartime Vicksburg). Here
were a people, peaceful and reasonably content with the status
quo, who in the tumultuous months of 1860 rejected the siren
call of the Southern firebrands, who fought against secession and
the implicit threats that secession carried, who went with their
state out of the Union because there was really nothing else they
could do, and who suffered more than any others when secession-
brought armies poured into their state.
And a tragic condition of mind must be equated with the
train of events. The tragedy is heightened because the people
of Vicksburg, first eschewing secession, later chose to embrace
the cause which would take them down into battered defeat.
Distinct turning points stand out, directly related to specific
events, that mark decisive changes in the Vicksburg mind. These
points mark the shift of thought from peace and compromise to
outright belligerency which, unlike that of Natchez was hard and
determined, and not a brittle shell, easily punctured by a few shots
from a squadron of gunboats. These turning points also mark
the change of mind from burnished gallantry in the face of at-
tack to acquiescence in surrender, and the reshaping of lives
and attitudes in the shambles of defeat.
In sum, this is the story of a people reluctant to fling down
the gauntlet of war, a people who played at war when the
fighting was far away, who were greatly frightened when real
war came to them, who sloughed off the most frightened ones
and stood against attack with all the gallantry and sordidness
of which human beings are capable; and finally it is the story of
a people who found themselves defeated when the violence had
Some persons stand out because they chose to write about
what was happening to them, or because they were famous, or
infamous, or because they merely caught the eyes of those who
did write. The mass of inhabitants, white man, free Negro, and
slave alike, stand mute; they are limned into the scene as best as
their inarticulateness allows. There are no heroes only the
people who happened or chose to be in the city during its trial
A People at War, i86cyi865
And he shall besiege thee in all
thy gates, until thy high and fenced
walls come down, wherein thou trustedst. . . .
Deuteronomy 28 : 52
"A LARGE LOT OF SCRAPS"
THE soldier was sweat-streaked and tired, but most of all he
was disgusted. He rolled a few choice curse words off his
tongue and then said: "There [is] only one way to account for
the hills of Vicksburg after the Lord of Creation had made all
the big mountains and ranges of hills, He had left on His hands
a large lot of scraps; these were all dumped at Vicksburg in a
waste heap." The major in charge of the detail did not bother
to reprimand the soldier; he probably felt the same way. Both
men were members of a party of army surveyors who were work-
ing their way along the crests of the tumbling hills. It was in
July 1862, and it was hot work. Pine trees and scrub oaks,
tangled and matted with underbrush and ropey vines, held them
to a crawl-like pace. The summer sun caught the humidness
rising from stagnant backwaters and sloughs and bathed the
men with sweat as they toiled across the cut-up terrain. There
was little time for rest as they leveled their transits and traced
in the traverses; there was scarcely time for a quick bite of food
and a hurried gulp of tepid canteen water. They went into the
field early in the morning and stayed there until darkness stopped
them. In the distance the sullen sound of cannon lent a sense of
urgency to their work. 1
The soldier who had to labor his way through this "waste
heap" might well curse the scraps of hills, but these hills were
the key to Vicksburg; and the city in turn was the key and the
climax to a two-year struggle for control and possession of the
1. Samuel H. Lockett, The Defense of Vicksburg Notes and Sketches
from an Engineering Point of View, Southern Historical Collection, Uni-
versity of North Carolina, p. 1.
The grand strategy of the United States in the Civil War was
to divide the Confederacy and then slice up the pieces into
succeedingly smaller bits. The Mississippi River, the great
natural divider of the Confederacy, was the heart and core of
this divide-and-strangle concept. Almost from the war's in-
ception Federal forces were operating on the river in the form
of gigantic pincers moving centerward from both the north
and, the south until finally they snapped together at Vicksburg.
' They closed at Vicksburg because of the hills, the hills and
bluffs which were the strongest point the Confederacy possessed
along the river to withstand the might of the Union in the west.
This rugged land and the city built upon it was, in 1862 and
1863, some of the most valuable real estate in North America.
Vicksburg owed its supreme moment to the peculiar lay of the
land, just as it owed its very existence to the land and the river.
The Mississippi River coils southward like a muddy snake
to outline the western border of the state of Mississippi. About
half way down the boundary a smaller river, the Yazoo, flows
from the northeast and intersects the great muddy earth-bearing
one at an acute angle. An inverted triangle is outlined, the con-
fluence of the rivers forming the apex. The land lying between
the two rivers is very flat and laced with innumerable streams,
sloughs, and swamps. When the mighty river boils down in
spring flood, the wash spreads over the triangle and deposits
some of the richest soil in the world on the low land. At the
river junction the land, in some ageless convulsion, heaved it-
self above the low country. Bluffs rise almost straight from
the river, ripple back to the east, and gradually settle into rolling
country. Across the river from the bluffs the land lies flat, al-
most at water level, as far as the eye can see. Vicksburg sits
at the apex of this land-triangle watching over the river and the
flat country which stretches out to the horizon.
Vicksburg has always been a river town, its pulse timed to
the flow of the water which swirls at its feet. The city was
founded and settled as the steamboat was developed; the city
grew as the number of boats on western waters increased. From
the river the city drew its life as skiffs, flatboats, and steamboats,
laden with people and wares, tied up along its wharves.
A LARGE LOT OF SCRAPS 5
Up the Mississippi from New Orleans came boats bearing
china and clothes from France, knives and needles from Eng-
land, gin machinery and nails from the North. These goods
were unloaded at the docks and trundled up the hills to be dis-
played in stores or packed away in warehouses to await the
orders of the planters and fanners. In return for the manu-
factured goods came bales of cotton, bushels of corn, and sides of
bacon from the rich river lands, where the loamy topsoil lay
twenty feet deep. The produce was carried by wagons and rafts
and flat-bottomed boats that could work their way into the
shallowest bayou landing and return to the city. The richest
land in Mississippi was webbed by roads and waterways, and
Vicksburg sat at the center of the web.
When Newitt Vick came to the Old Southwest some time
before 1812, no city crowned the hills; there were only the
vestigial remains of a Spanish fort. Soon after the turn of the
century this Methodist parson, farmer, and father of thirteen
Vicksburg, showing the strategic railway and road net leading to the city.
(Based upon a map in William Freeman Vilas, The Vicksburg Campaign,
Wisconsin History Commission, 1908)
children, left settled Virginia society, moved to North Carolina,
and then came to the bleakness of the Mississippi Territory.
On a flatboat, he and his family floated down the Tennessee and
Mississippi rivers and landed a few miles below the confluence
of the Yazoo and the Mississippi. He moved inland about four
miles to make his home and to lay out his fields. When other
Virginians joined him and settled in the neighborhood, Vick
pushed on toward the river to claim and to buy more land. In
1819 he died and left a portion of his estate to be divided into
plots of land for the founding of a city.
Families from the east, from Kentucky, and from Tennessee
moved into the vicinity until, in 1825, the preacher-patriarch's
city became reality with the incorporation of the town of Vicks-
burg. Seven years later the Yazoo delta was opened to settlers;
the dark, rich soil and the cotton crop it would yield brought
the men who sought after it into the city. By 1835, the little
town had prospered and become a bustling river port of some
2,500 persons. Cotton lust had swept the Old Southwest and
held out great promises to the river town which served the
great, loamy delta country. 2
Life in a river town still on the frontier was turbulent, raw,
and sometimes very brief. Territorial Mississippi's rivers and
roads were infested with gangs of robbers and murderers. One
of the worst outlaws was Little Harpe: he would kill and rob a
victim, eviscerate him, stuff the body with stones, and hide it by
sinking it to the bottom of a river. After Harpe, John Murrell
with his partner Carter came up from Natchez to carry on.
They posed as revivalists complete with songs, psalms, and
"the jerks" to allay the fears of their victims before they did
their bloody work. Gamblers, fleecers, and prostitutes hovered
along the waterfront to catch their share of travelers and local
men who succumbed to the lure of a fast-turned card or a
flaunted smile. 3
2. "Newitt Vick," Encyclopedia of Mississippi History, ed. Dunbar Row-
land, II, 857-58; Willie D. Halsell, "A Vicksburg Speculator and Planter in
the Yazoo Delta," Journal of Mississippi History, XI (October, 1949), 231,
3. Virginia P. Matthias, "Natchez-Under-The-Hill," Journal of Mississippi
History, VII (October, 1945), 218.
A LARGE LOT OF SCRAPS 7
Vigilance committees finally extirpated the most vicious
river gangs once by hanging five men and setting a sixth adrift
in a skiff on the Mississippi with his hands tied behind his back. 4
Of the more settled elements in Vicksburg, newspaper editors
especially had difficulty staying alive. The city was a political
no man's land where pretentious, established Whigs clashed
head-on with the brawling democracy. The newspapers spear-
headed the political attack and editors were often called out to
the city's streets or a river island to defend their editorials.
Vicksburg, founded by a preacher's vision, was nurtured to the
accompaniment of the "thunk" of bowie knives stuck solidly
into human flesh and the mean little bark of derringers as well
as Methodist hymns.
As the frontier washed past, life became more placid and
society more stable, but a legacy of violence clung to the city.
Yet in a short while the legacy would be claimed with a degree
of violence undreamed of by the contentious frontiersmen.
A new courthouse, erected three years before the war,
symbolized the transition from frontier town to ordered city.
One of the highest hilltops was leveled for the building and its
four-faced clock became a landmark of the city (later, the
building's stuccoed fagade and column-supported cupola would
become a favorite registration point for gunboats and artillery).
Below the courthouse more streets were cut into the hillsides,
more gullies were bridged, and more land was leveled for new
homes, stores, and churches. By 1860, the hills were tiered with
buildings long, low warehouses lay along the waterfront; three
blocks up from the river the best stores and shops lined Wash-
ington Street; farther away from the river, Greek Revival homes,
shielded by fences and hedges, stood aloof from the streets; less
pretentious houses were stacked along the hillsides, and a visitor
had to climb several flights of stairs to get to some of the front
The architecture of the buildings, itself without a common
pattern, followed in unconscious imitation the sprawling pattern
4. "Vicksburg," Encyclopedia of Mississippi History, II, 861. See also
"Vicksburg Gamblers'* in the Subject File of the Mississippi State Department
of Archives and History, hereinafter cited as Miss. Arch.
J-^""^ IViEr-?"-^ !"-^~i ~. .- ^f^^^STz. ^ >u '"-^'j^IIr""^--''"*^- I* * * '-, "^ " f^* * " ~ - ,
The city at the beginning of the war, as a passenger on a riverboat from New
Orleans might have seen it. (Courtesy of the Mississippi Department of
Archives and History)
of the city. Rough, unpainted shacks held the human drift from
the river and the families of immigrant Irish workers. Latin
influence from New Orleans was manifested by broad verandas
bordered with lacy iron grillwork. Duff Green, one of the leading
grocery and commission merchants, built a house that rose four
stories and was trimmed with ironwork. Ex-Governor Alexander
McNutt lived in a little, neat, clapboard house that looked as if
it should be set in New England rather than the South. Emma
Balfour, a doctor's wife, lived in a two-story brick home whose
simple lines reflected good taste. Atop one of the hills the
Sisters of Mercy built a red brick convent which was square and
undistinguished (shortly, the color of its weathering brick would
be matched by the dull, brown bloodstains on its floors) /'
The best view of the city was from the river. A passenger
on a riverboat could see the city stretching out for almost a mile
along the river, the streets rising up the hills from the water-
front, and the sky spiked by the spire of St. Paul's Church and
the cupola of the courthouse.
i As the war decade opened, the city's population numbered
close to 4,500. ] These people, together with the agricultural
community served by Vicksburg, supported almost one hundred
shops, banks, stores, factories, and business houses of one sort
5. Bette E. Barber, Vicksburg: Home Town Gibraltar, Miss. Arch., passim.
A LARGE LOT OF SCRAPS 9
or another. Wholesale grocers, commission merchants, and
cotton brokers held the largest business interests in the city.
Druggists, gunsmiths, tailors, jewelers, insurance salesmen, pub-
lishers, bookbinders, carriagemakers, stove- and boilermakers,
photographers, bakers, confectioners, nurserymen, liquor dealers,
and dressmakers catered to the legitimate wants and wishes of
the community. Professional men, too, found a good living
in the city. There were enough teachers to staff both public
and private schools, and the city supported a school system
which kept an "average" of five hundred scholars busy at their
books. Vicksburg's lawyers were probably the finest in the
state, and the memory of the glittering eloquence of Seargent S.
Prentiss left a luster that had not been matched in Natchez or
Vicksburg held out promises of opportunity across the
nation and beyond the seas. Polyglot conversations could be
heard in the streets and shops. Mme. Cognaisse fashioned
Parisian-modeled gowns for the ladies. After a dress fitting a
woman could stop by Saintsott's to be fitted with the latest-style
shoe. From there she could go to Henry Scheulier's grocery
store to select imported foods for her table. Then she might
stop at Bazzinsky, Simmons and Company to choose ma-
terial for her daughter's dresses, which could be sewn on a
machine sold by L. B. Johnson. Clarke's Literary Depot was
a popular place for the woman of leisure who wanted to read the
latest novels or obtain a copy of Clarke's own Household Alma-
nac for her kitchen. On her way home the woman might leave
an order with Jacob Gisill for the next day's bread, then pause
to look at the necklaces and bracelets displayed in the window
at the jewelry store of Moody and Kuner.
A planter could come to town and spend several days mixing
business with pleasure. He might check over his account with
W. C. Raum, a commission merchant, then drive down to Bitter-
man, Wixforth and Company where a carriage was being made
for him. From there he could go to place an order for plow-
shares at Paxton's foundry, then stop at A. N. Auguste's to
6. A General Directory for the City of Vickshurg (Vicksburg, 1860), pp.,
50, 56. Hereinafter cited as City Directory, 1860.
replenish Ms wine cellar. John Baum would sell him some long,
black Havanas which he could puff on while A. J. Carnahan
fitted him with a suit. ' Over the span of a few days he could buy
any of the six newspapers printed in the city. The Daily Whig,
Weekly Whig, Daily Sun, Weekly Sun, Daily Evening Citizen,
and Weekly Evening Citizen all supplied their readers with a
diet of subjects ranging from national politics to patent medicine
cures for maladies running from stomach ache and syphilis to
young men's "dark and secret practices." The reader's choice
was usually dictated by his political inclinations, for all of the
papers were strongly partisan.
If a visitor was without an invitation to spend the night, he
could find good accommodations and better food at the Washing-
ton Hotel, which reminded a titled English visitor of an old
London tavern. 7 If the Washington did not suit his tastes, he
could stay at either the Prentiss House, which was near the
waterfront, or the Commercial Hotel higher up the hill. He
might rest easier at night if he knew that four volunteer fire
companies, the Washington, the Constitution, the Phoenix, and
the Independent, raced one another to fires and sometimes
put them out. j
If his visit carried him through the week end, and if he was
so inclined, the visitor could worship in churches which covered
the whole range of organized American religion. Baptist,
Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, and
a Jewish synagogue were established in the city and they offered
the citizen and the traveler ample fare for their souls, 8
Satisfaction of the flesh as well as the soul could also be had
in the city. Below Washington Street, where the hills dropped
off sharply toward the river, "Vicksburg-Under-the-Hill" flour-
ished and supplied items of pleasure and necessity that could not
easily be obtained elsewhere. The scourings of the river worked
in the houses and alleyways there, ready for anything if the
price was right. In places such as Mollie Bunch's bordello a
look, a word, or the flash of money could bring instant violence,
T.William H. Russell, My Diary North and South (Boston, 1863), p. 295.
8. The material presented in this paragraph and the preceding ones is based
upon information obtained from City Directory, 1860, and the Vicksburg
Weekly Whig and the Vicksburg Daily Citizen for 1860.
A LARGE LOT OF SCRAPS 1 1
and a man's life could be snuffed out without causing a ripple
of interest in the city or bringing more than scant official notice. 9
But the city tolerated the sordid business heaped along the
waterfront because it was an inevitable part of the river, and it
was from the river that the city drew its life. The stores, the
shops, the schools, the churches, and the dark houses on South
Street were the surface of the city. The deepest meaning of the
city its very heart-throb lay at the foot of the hills, where
the river flowed.
As the people went about their business as the newspapers
were printed, as the plowshares were cast, as the clothes were
tailored the steamboats warped into the landings bearing news-
print, iron ingots, and yard goods. The wharves were the heart
of the city, and the newspapers pridefully noted the forest of
smokestacks gathered at the foot of their hills. They tallied the
number of boats coming and going, and reserved special com-
ment for particularly smart or fast vessels. In 1860, as he looked
out of his office window down to the wharves, the editor of the
Whig never dreamed that in three years the boats cruising past
the waterfront would smash his newspaper plant to smouldering
Steamboats from New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and
Louisville arrived daily. Three times a week boats left Vicks-
burg for Memphis and New Orleans, and the Yazoo boat, which
went deep into the delta to Greenwood, made its run four times
a week. Every half hour a ferry crossed the river to De Soto
City, Louisiana, the eastern terminal for the Vicksburg, Shreve-
port and Texas Railroad. 10
The coming of the railroads gave Vicksburg lateral com-
munications as well as the vertical lines provided by the rivers.
The Southern Railroad of Mississippi spanned the state to con-
nect Vicksburg with Meridian. Halfway across the line, at
Jackson, the Mississippi Central Railroad and the New Orleans,
Jackson and Great Northern Railroad provided rail links to the
north and south. Two feeder lines, between Jackson and
Vicksburg, connected Port Gibson and Raymond to the Southern
9. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, December 19, 1860.
10. City Directory, I860, pp. 55-56.
Railroad. Across the river the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas
Railroad pushed its way toward Texas. 11 The line was partially
subsidized by taxes gathered in Vicksburg, taxes which the people
had levied upon themselves in their enthusiasm to construct
channels of commerce leading to their city. 12 ; As they built the
railroad they did not know that they were also fashioning an
iron noose about their necks.
During the war, as Confederate communication centers in the
west fell, and as the Mississippi was swept clear of Southern
traffic, the single line of iron running eastward from Vicksburg
and the sorry little spur of track stuck out into Louisiana loomed
larger and larger in military planning. After New Orleans and
Memphis were lost, Vicksburg became the sole strong link
holding the Confederacy together across the Mississippi River.
For two years Confederate supply lines, stretching from the
Mexican border to Northern Virginia, passed through Vicksburg.
English rifles, landed in Mexico and smuggled through Browns-
ville, were shipped with Texas beef and grain to the armies
operating in the east. In Louisiana the supplies were joined
by shipments of sugar and rice and were ferried across the
river to Vicksburg depots. From there, loaded on rickety trains,
they were sent to the east. So long as the city held, the supplies
could come across to the eastern armies. The moment the
city fell the trickle would be stopped and the Confederacy
would be severed.
/ If, at the outbreak of war, a military man with a penetrating
understanding of the importance of communications and terrain
had studied a topographical map of the Mississippi valley, he
would have jabbed a finger at the spot where Vicksburg was
located, looked up, and said, "Here, a great battle will be fought.' 1
11. Robert C. Black, The Railroads of the Confederacy (Chapel Hill,
North Carolina, 1952), see fold-out map Inside back cover. At the outbreak
of war the Southern Railroad did not run quite to Meridian, In the spring of
1860 it was completed between Vicksburg and Newton, Mississippi.
12. City Council Minute Book, 1860-69, City Hall, Vicksburg, p. 125.
Hereinafter cited as Council Minute Book,
"THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER"
WASHINGTON Street was the city's main thoroughfare. It
was smoothly graveled and lay parallel to the river. Jack-
son Street, at right angles to the river, ran up and down the hills.
It was paved with widely spaced cobblestones so that horses and
mules might set their hooves in the spaces to gain solid footing as
they pulled their loads up the inclines; this gave carriages and
wagons a hard bouncing, but it kept the animals from slipping and
falling. Jackson Street got its name because, as it veered off to
the north and left the city, it became the Jackson Road which con-
nected Vicksburg with the state capital. The intersection at
Washington and Jackson streets was the busiest place in the
city. Throughout the day people crossed this corner as they
went about their business. Within a given time such persons as
C. W. Vick, Mahala Roach, Mrs. I. O. Smith, William Merritt,
Max Kuner, and the Episcopal rector's maid Minnie might have
passed by. They met and passed a cross section of the popula-
tion of Vicksburg,
The majority of the city's citizens were either native Missis-
sippians or had come to the city laterally across the South from
Alabama, Georgia, or the Carolinas. The remainder of the
South had also contributed to the population and there was a
sprinkling of New Englanders and Midwesterners, probably be-
cause Vicksburg was a handy place to step off (or be put off ) a
Some of the Vicks still lived in the city where they spent
much of their time haggling over their patrimony. Seargent S.
Prentiss, who came from Maine, got caught in the legal tangle
of the Vick inheritance and left town a ruined man. When this
was past, C. W. Vick, one of the heirs, found a measure of quiet
tending the fruit trees and shrubs which he grew in his nursery
on the edge of town. 1 The strength and the vision of the first
generation was not transmitted to the offspring and the Vicks
no longer sat with the men who directed the business of the city
nor did their names appear on the important notices of the day.
Some people thought that Mahala Roach was a tragic figure.
Mahala's mother was a bellwether of Vicksburg society and had
not been pleased when Mahala married John Roach, an Irish
immigrant. John Roach was a good husband and Mahala loved
him, but he died young. Mahala, an attractive woman in her
mid-thirties, was left with a marriageable daughter, a flock of
young children, and the account books to study and puzzle with.
Yet people could not guess that she preferred the company of her
daughter's beaus, "Sturm und Drang" novels, and even the ac-
count books to the continuous round of her mother's tea parties
and the blandishments of her own suitors. 2
Just where Mrs. I. O. Smith fitted into the Vicksburg social
structure is not certain. She might have been part of the mass
that moved along the waterfront as easily at home in Natchez
or New Orleans as Vicksburg. She might have been the wife
of a riverman or a laborer. This much is certain: she belonged
to that part of the population which seldom put words on paper
and which kept few account books. If she had a husband he
was a tolerant man, because Mrs. Smith was ready to travel
alone throughout the South and if she wanted company she
knew "tow Laidiey" friends who were prepared to go with her. 3
William Merritt had come from the leached soil of Virginia
to find his fortune in Mississippi. He brought a gang of Negroes
with him and set them to work clearing cotton land, Merritt
and Ms slaves worked hard, and he prospered, but he could never
cut himself away from his Virginia heritage. He regularly asked
for advice and help from his father who remained in Virginia. 4
1. Dallas C. Dickey, Sear gent S. Prentiss: Whig Orator of the Old South
(Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1945), pp. 266-88; City Directory, I860, p. 27.
2. Mahala P. H. Roach, Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University
of North Carolina, passim.
S.Mrs. I. O. Smith to John J. Pettus, September 16, 1861, Governors*
Correspondence, Series E, Vol. LIII, Miss. Arch.
4. William H. E. Merritt Papers, Duke University, biographical hcadnote.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 15
Another portion of the population was neither native Missis-
sippian nor American. This group of people had come to the
city from Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Spain, Poland,
Canada, Switzerland, Cuba, Russia, Finland, and the German
and Italian states.
Max Kuner and his brothers left Bavaria in 1847. They
made their way to a seaport and sailed away from what or to
what is unknown for the New World. The brothers separated
at New Orleans and Max took passage on a steamboat for
Vicksburg. He landed there, found work as a watchmaker,
and was given four months in which to learn the language. Max
was a quick learner and a better businessman. By the outbreak
of the war he was half -owner of a jewelry business which car-
ried $56,000 in accounts, did not lose one per cent of the ac-
counts because of bad debts, and had Jefferson Davis as a
regular customer. 5
There were more than a thousand Max Kuners in and about
Vicksburg in 1861. This meant that almost one out of every
three free persons who would go to war or stand the siege was
not a native American, much less a Southerner. De la Hunts,
Kellys, Genellas, Cohens, and Lowenhaupts were scattered
throughout the town. Bridget Kelly took in washing; the Ge-
nellas sent their children in carriages to play with Mahala
Roach's brood. The manner in which the immigrants cut across
the Vicksburg social strata indicated that the town put as much
value on ability and acquisitiveness as it did on the chance of
Ability and acquisitiveness made no difference for one small
group of free inhabitants. They were free, but that amounted
to nothing so far as social or political status was concerned. The
black man was black, free or slave, and that was all there was
to it. He might have been a drayman or a fisherman or a
preacher, or even as successful a businessman as William John-
son was in Natchez; but he left no mark on the city. The free
Negro lived in a limbo shuffling between the prerogatives of a
5. [Max Kuner], "Vicksburg and After: Being the Experience of a Southern
Merchant," cd. Edwin L. Sabin, The Sewanee Review, XV (October, 1907),
485. Kuncr was identified as the merchant through the Warren County
Census, 1860, Schedule 1, p. 25, Miss. Arch.
free man and the status of a slave. Occasionally some note
might be taken of him, but it was usually because he had brushed
against the white man's law. In January 1861, a free Negro
named Edgar was arrested by the police when they found
"several suspicious documents, together with about $65 in
money" in his possession. The mayor heard the case and told
Edgar he must leave the state or be sold into slavery. Edgar
decided to be sold, and the only comment this brought from
J. W. Swords, the editor of the Daily Citizen, was, "Edgar is
worth about $1800, which added to the State fund will help out
The final segment of the population consisted of the slaves.
Unlike the free Negroes, the slaves left their print upon the city.
The landmark of the city, the courthouse, was built by slave
labor. Many of the homes and buildings in the town were put
up by their hands. The boilers of the steamboats which tied
up at the wharves were stoked by slaves; the wagons which
carried the bales and boxes off-loaded at the wharves were driven
by slaves; the homes of the men who owned the boxes and bales
were tended by slaves; the cotton upon which the city thrived
was produced by slaves. It may be argued that the city existed
because of the slaves. Whether this idea occurred to the Negro
and what he thought of it is problematical because the strictly
ordered system under which he lived and worked had no time
or place for such speculation, nor did it have any desire to
help the slave set it down on paper. Therefore as long as the
system was capable of being enforced the slave remained mute.
Only a fleeting glimpse of him remains, and that is usually
through the eyes of a white person. Then as the system began
to disintegrate the slave became more expressive. As before,
he showed himself through the eyes and the pen of the white
man, but his behavior had altered so much that the white man had
to take notice of him and comment on him. But in 1861 the
system was firm.
6. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, January 22, 24, 1861. See Charles S. Sydnor^
"The Free Negro in Mississippi before the Civil War," American Historical
Review, XXXII (My, 1927), 769-88, for a legalistic and statistical study of
the free Negro. As Warren County (Vicksburg) was one of the four counties
in which the free Negro was most numerous, this article is of some significance.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 17
Occasionally a slave would run away, but the runaway
notices carried in the newspapers were few, and the majority of
the advertisements concerned slaves who had escaped from
plantations rather than from owners who lived in the city. Some-
times when slaves ran away they made no attempt to put much
distance between themselves and their owners, for they could
effectively hide themselves within the city. One master posted
notice that Martha, who worked as a "washer and ironer," was
"lurking about town, and probably hiring herself to persons
by the day." 7
Instances such as this were the exception rather than the
rule and, in January 1861, almost fifteen hundred Vicksburg
slaves docilely followed their masters into the Confederacy. Most
of the slaves probably knew nothing of the momentous hap-
penings or what the implications held for them. One of them,
Minnie, who was owned by Dr. William Lord, the Episcopal
rector, did know; or at least she thought she did. The rector
had been born in New York, but had lived most of his life in
the slave states. He was prepared to remain in the South among
the people with whom he had lived and served, but the question
of Minnie's status bothered him. He could not justify keeping
her as he shifted his allegiance from the country which would
probably free her to a state whose avowed purpose was the
maintenance and protection of slavery; therefore he offered
Minnie her freedom. She rejected the offer and chose instead
to remain with the family through war and siege, finally to be
separated from the family when they moved on to unoccupied
territory after the fall of the city. One of the children re-
membered Minnie as an "ardent defender of the cause" who
was always called the "secesh darkey" by her colored friends. 8
Minnie was in the minority, though she did reflect the at-
titude of some of the slaves. Subtle relationships existed between
masters and slaves which breached the barriers of the class and
caste system. These relationships would shift and change as
peace gave way to war and war became siege. When siege
7. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, February 7, 186L The same sort of advertise-
ment appeared In ibid., December 28, I860.
8. Lida L. Reed, "A Woman's Experiences During the Siege of Vicksburg,"
The Century Magazine, LXI (April, 1901), 923.
ended in conquest the relationship between the Negro and the
white man would be so twisted that it would be unrecognizable
as akin to that which had existed three years previously. But
this was all to come. In 1861 the slave did what he was bought
to do, and he did it so well that his masters had scarce cause to
remark on his presence.
These were the people of Vicksburg, the human sum of the
city. Almost five thousand of them g slave, free Negro, immi-
grant, and native American lived in the hilled city unaware
that it would bring them all to their lowest common denominator
that of human beings struggling to survive and in doing so
would give them a common name. The name would depend
upon the particular writer and where that writer's sympathies lay.
A Louisiana lady with literary inclinations called them "the
keepers of the River." 10 The phrase occurred to her when she
rather romantically recalled their behavior during the unsuccess-
ful gunboat attacks during the summer of 1862. But in January
1861, the people of Vicksburg did. not, any more than the in-
habitants of New Orleans, Memphis, or St. Louis, consider
themselves the keepers of the Mississippi, or any, other river for
that matter. The things they kept were homes, shops, horses,
and slaves. This was their business. They did it well and they
had become wealthy. There were not many romantic overtones
to it, but there was a great deal of substance. They paved their
streets for their carriages and wagons, guttered their sidewalks
to carry off rain and refuse, lighted "their streets with gas so they
might travel at night more safely and securely, sent their children
to the East to school, and traveled on vacation throughout the
9. The population figures are based upon the United States Census Popula-
tion of the United States in I860 (Washington, 1864), p. 271, and the Warren
County Census, 1860, Schedule I, pp. 1-82, and Schedule II, pp. 1-17, Miss,
Arch. In 1860, 1,767 white males, 1,391 white females, 14 colored free
males, 17 colored free females, 694 male slaves, and 708 female slaves lived
in the city. The total population was 4,591. It would be reasonable to
assume that this number increased somewhat by the outbreak of war. This
population made Vicksburg the second largest city, after Natchez, in the state.
10. Sara A. Dorsey, Recollections of Henry Watkins Allen, Brigadier
General Confederate States Army, Ex-Governor of Louisiana (New York,
1866), p. 122.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 19
Their substance had a bourgeois quality to it. They were a
new people and they smelled of the store and the shop and the
rawness of new land rather than the secluded mustiness of the
Battery and the Vieux Carree. In their newness they had found
wealth and the pleasures wealth could bring.
While schism and disunion were made in Charleston and
compounded in Baltimore during the summer of I860, some of
the people of Vicksburg sought relief from the hot beat of the
southern sun at Saint Anthony's Falls, Minnesota. There Emma
Shannon, vivacious and articulate daughter of the editor of the
Vicksburg Whig, amused herself with walks to the springs and
buggy rides with a dashing man later rumored to be an absconder.
Her father found pleasure in the summer society of both the
Northerners and the Southerners at the resort. 11 But when he
was home the editor was not too proud to print that his was a
hard business, and he reminded his readers that they should be
prompt with subscription payments.
The rubric which sets forth the Southerner's climb to
wealth runs something like this: take a poor man with a little
land; he will pick up a slave or two and work in the fields with
them; with his increased income he will buy more land and
produce more cotton; with his profits he will buy more land and
more slaves until he is the master of a plantation and, ipso facto,
is economically well off and socially acceptable and the peer of
every gentleman. After he attains the desired economic and
social status he will build a' white-winged house and live in it
like an English country gentleman.
There were white-winged houses in Vicksburg. Duff Green
owned one which was as magnificent as any to be found along
the river. But here the dialectic breaks down. Duff Green was
a merchant. William Lum owned a house which was considered
good enough for General Grant to live in when he stayed in
Vicksburg. William Lum was a businessman. These men pos-
sessed little land and fewer slaves; in fact William Lum em-
ployed white women as servants in his home. 12
11 . Marmaduke Shannon to Lavinia Shannon, July 21, 1860, Phillip
Crutcher Collection, Miss, Arch.
12. Charles J. Slack in a letter to the author, November 8, 1957; Warren
County Census, I860, Schedule I, Miss. Arch.
Vicksburg was a city of shopkeepers and the wealth of the
people was measured by the goods stocked in the shops or stored
in the warehouses rather than by acreages and slaves. 13 The
pattern for the creation and acquisition of wealth was more like
that of Max Kuner or Auguste Genella, who came from
Switzerland to build one of the largest mercantile houses in the
city, than the man who, with his own sweat and that of his
slaves, hacked a plantation out of the delta wilderness.
The corollary to the status-through-land-and-slave dialectic
is that everyone, small farmer, merchant, professional man,
aspired to the plantation and the status it would give him. Yet
the Vicksburg merchants and professional men were the social
peers of the plantation owner. The planter was glad to come to
town to visit and stay in their homes and also bring along
his family so they might enjoy the social life of the city.
The visiting was reciprocal; families from town were invited
guests in the plantation homes and they were especially thankful
for their plantation-owning friends when the gunboats started
bombarding the city. No trace exists of a social barrier which is
supposed to have rifted plantation owner and city dweller.
The Vicksburg economy was organized about the merchant
and his business. This was only natural as the city was the
warehouse for wide swaths of the Mississippi and Yazoo deltas,
but the significance of the businessman's supremacy would not
become apparent until his economic interests became imperilled
by secession and the threat of war.
In addition to being a mercantile center the city also sup-
ported enough heavy and light industry to make the value of its
13. In 1860, the assessed valuation of property, both real and personal, in
Vicksburg was $4,582,650. An analysis of this sum supports the textual state-
ment. Merchandise was valued at $1,746,400, real estate at $1,538,400, slaves
at $876,300, money loaned on interest at $183,450, horses at $28,200, and
pleasure carriages at $9,900. Notice that the value of the merchandise was
more than twice that of the slaves. As these figures represent evaluations for
tax purposes, in all likelihood the real total far exceeded $4,582,650. This
contention is supported by the fact that with a total value of $876,300 the
average value of a slave would be little more than $700. This amount seems
too low considering that town slaves were usually skilled or semi-skilled workers
or trained household servants and they generally brought in more than $1,000
on the market. City Directory, I860, p. 75.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 21
manufactured products the second largest in the state. 14 Agri-
cultural implements, books, shoes, jewelry, steam engines, car-
riages, clothing, firearms, and saddles were some of the articles
produced in the shops and factories. The city could also claim
a unique distinction in that it possessed the only gas works in
the state. Clustered about the mercantile and industrial interests
were the varied occupations which always exist in an urban area.
Doctors, lawyers, bankers, dentists, newspapermen, teachers, bar-
keepers, railway workers, and servants were busy in the city.
The newspapermen and the lawyers would play a prime role in
molding and expressing the opinion of the people as the time
approached when such an expression would bear heavily upon
the course of events.
When the business, industrial, professional, and service in-
terests are considered as an economic whole, the Vicksburg econ-
omy emerges as the most complex and variegated system which
functioned in Mississippi. Natchez was a larger city, but it was
tied to agriculture much more than its sister city up the river,
and there was much less heavy industry located there. Holly
Springs, which was the largest railroad town in the state, sup-
ported more heavy industry than Vicksburg, but its fortunes lay
almost wholly with the railroads. This dispersal of economic
activity linked Vicksburg to a wider group of interests than any
other city or town in the state. Agriculture, industry, transpor-
tation and communications, as well as the various professions,
raised the city to the place where it was not vitally dependent
upon one of these interests alone. This tended to make the
people less susceptible to the increasingly vehement arguments
of the firebrand Southerners who preached secession as the
panacea which would perpetuate slavery and make secure their
peculiar economic and social system.
All of this was a matter of degree. Ultimately the economy
of Vicksburg, as well as that of the state, rested upon slavery;
14. Manufactures of the United States in 1860 (Washington, 1865), p.
292. The tabulations are by counties, but as Warren, Adams, and Marshall
counties had only one major urban center it may be assumed that the great
preponderence of industry was located in these cities, i.e., Vicksburg, Natchez,
and Holly Springs. The total valuation of Warren County manufactures was
but there were some citizens who believed that the city would
be able to withstand the shock if the slave economy was dis-
located, a belief the secession-bent planter or the man who
aspired to land-slave status could never admit. 15
Slavery became a very sensitive subject within the city as a
vociferous minority agitated for the restoration of the African
slave trade. The argument over the revival of the trade became
so bitter that one of the leading citizens declared that "if African
Negroes were imported into the South, he would move out of it."
The "ultra," Davis-backed, Democratic paper seized this and
printed a cartoon of the man, hair on end, eyes glassy with fear,
lips drawn back in horror, as he contemplated the importation of
This was mild compared to what was coming. As the aboli-
tionists' shrill clamor increased, and as the undisguised threat
to a basic element of Southern life and culture mounted, the
state went into convulsion.
Anne Harris was a Vicksburg judge's daughter. The judge
was a prosperous man and Anne had a fine home, house servants,
and a carriage to keep her mind occupied with pleasfant things.
In the unsettled months of early 1861, war was a distant thing
to her. Much later when she thought about it, she decided "the
first mutterings of war were like the low, rumbling thunder that
one hears on a quiet summer day, when there is hardly a cloud
to be seen in the sky." 17 But Anne was just a child in 1861 ;
she was not supposed to know that the thunder was long in
coming and that the war clouds had been piling up for decades
before she was born.
For over thirty years a discontent that bred disunion had
worked its course in Mississippi. The state had bridled and
tugged against Federal authority from the time of the nullifica-
tion controversy. At the next great test Senator Henry S, Foote,
15. Vicksburg Weekly Sun, May 30, 1859, reproduced in Percy L, Rain-
water, Mississippi: Storm Center of Secession 1856-1861 (Baton Rouge, 1938),
17. Anne Harris Broidrick, A Recollection of Thirty Yeans Ago, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, p. 10.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 23
who labeled slavery "a selfish and semibarbarous policy," brought
the state in line behind the Compromise of 1850. But soon the
men who talked secession lured more and more Mississippians
with their heady theme and Foote was beaten by fire-eating Al-
bert Gallatin Brown when he ran for re-election in 1854. John
J. McRae and John A. Quitman, ideological brothers of Brown,
became governor and congressman in the same election. The
presidential election of 1856 further widened the gulf which
separated the Unionist and the secession-bent. James Buchan-
an's election, said Jefferson Davis, was merely a four-year truce
which left the enemy standing "upon the field with flag flying,
defiant and an army ready for attack." 18
Three years later John Brown's raid blew new life into the
sectional fears that Senator Foote had tried to allay in 1850. A
month after the raid, John J. Pettus, called by one Mississippian
"a disunion man of the most unmitigated order," was chosen to
be governor of Mississippi. The train of events was building to
the point at which men's reason would be subverted by passion,
and those who clung to reason and to old loyalties would be
shouted down in the race toward secession.
That point came with the election of 1860 when the Demo-
crats split wide over the slavery issue. Stephen A. Douglas ran
as the legitimate Democratic candidate. The South bolted the
party and nominated John C. Breckinridge as the symbol of
their discontent and secessionist tendencies. The Republicans,
blatantly sectional and anti-slave, were dead in the South. A
fourth party, the Constitutional-Unionists, selected John Bell
to straddle party and sectional differences to try to hold the
sagging nation together.
In Vicksburg, as throughout the state and the South, the
election was the climax of a ten-year campaign of emotion-laden
fears and hard, cold facts of political and economic dominance.
The single issue stood out stark in its simplicity secession.
This time Jefferson Davis was determined that the enemy would
not be left "upon the field with flag flying . . . ready for attack."
He knew that Vicksburg, close by his plantation home, had
strong Unionist leanings, and the night before the election he,
18. Rainwater, Mississippi: Storm Center of Secession, p. 40.
with Albert Gallatin Brown, L. Q. C. Lamar, and some lesser
men, came to lead the "last Grand rally [of the] last great effort
to save the right and honor of the South." In the dancing
shadows cast by torches and gaslight, to a crowd whipped up by
the Davis paper, they pleaded with the people to support Breckin-
ridge as the only defender of Southern honor. 19
At the same time Davis, Brown, and Lamar were holding
forth, the Constitutional-Unionists met at the courthouse for
their last effort before the people went to the polls. The court-
house hill was ablaze with the flare of rockets and roman candles
as the Unionist speakers pointed their appeals to the young men
of the city. 20 The conservatives felt secure with the older man,
but the young men had found a liking for the hotspur chauvinism
of the secessionists. The foppish glory of a military adventure
stemming from secession caught their imagination and the
Unionists tried to counter this emotional appeal with one of their
Marmaduke Shannon had aimed right at this point when he
printed; "Young men! Will you see the Union of your fathers
rent in twain? Will you see the Constitution torn in tatters by
bands of secessional agitators and traitorous fanatics? No.
NEVER, NEVER. Then buckle on your armor and go forth
to do battle for the success of the Union candidates." 21 Shannon
was a gentle man and these were strong words for him, but he
would have dipped his pen in more vehement ink if he could have
known that secession-brought war would kill five of his children
and scatter others from Alabama to Texas.
The next day the people went to the polls. When the bal-
loting was done the split Democrats gave eighty-three votes to
Douglas and 580 to Breckinridge. The Old Whig-Conservativc-
Unionist men had a solid majority 816 of them voted for Bell. 22
Vicksburg agreed with Marmaduke Shannon and rejected Jeffer-
son Davis' storming for Southern rights and secession if neces-
19. Vicksburg Weekly Sun, November 5, 1860, reproduced in ibid., p. 15S.
20. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, November 7, 1860.
21. Vicksburg Daily Whig, October 10, 1860.
22. Returns for Presidential Electors, 1860, Series F, Vol. LXXXV, Miss
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 25
Though set upon a slave culture, the people of Vicksburg
were strongly Unionist. They had weighed the issues for years
and when the matter came to a head they unequivocally set
themselves against disunion. Marmaduke Shannon took note
of the election returns and registered the mind of the people
when he wrote: "The Union party [is] a Permanent organiza-
tion. ... It is founded upon a rock and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it." 23 The rock of which he spoke rested
within the framework of an orderly settlement of differences. It
would turn to sand under the onslaught of inflamed passions
called States' Rights.
When all of the abstruse involutions of States' Rights doc-
trines were set aside, the base upon which secession rested was
slavery, and slavery was the foundation of the state's culture.
Neither the wealthy Vicksburg-Natchez merchant-planter nor
the small slaveholder nor the yeoman farmer would care to have
that foundation changed. For the wealthy man it was his stake
in the present; for the man on the make it was his stake in the
future. But secession was another matter. Secession probably
meant war with all of war's attendant risks of loss. The wealthy
man of the river counties and cities stood to lose if war came.
He was well established and could afford to wait and bargain and
hope that his culture would be left intact. The man on the make
had less to lose and more to gain with war. If he could free his
section for once and for all from Northern meddling he would
know that his future was secure, that someday he too might amass
land and slaves and social status. He was not afraid to gamble
on war. The man of property was. When all of the prolix
arguments were stripped away and the nub of the matter was
exposed, the prospect of war was the thing which separated
secessionist from conservative. 24
Vicksburg voted conservative. Economic ties with the
North especially the river connection with the Midwest fear
23. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, November 7, 1860.
24. This interpretation is set forth at greater length and in greater detail
in John K. Bcttersworth, Confederate Mississippi (Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
1943), p. 5. It has a decided economic emphasis and neglects other motiva-
tions such as a genuine love and regard for the Union, fear of war which did
not stem from fear of property loss, and sincere political differences.
of war stemming from property and personal hazard, genuine
love for the Union, and strong partisan political feelings which
made the conservatives distrust the demagogic, secession-inclined
Democrats, were the forces which worked to hold the city apart
from most of the state. The vote characterized the population
they were a people established, entrenched, and content with the
When the national election results were announced the state
quivered with wrath and apprehension. The Black Republicans
had won, and Abraham Lincoln, a minority president, was bound
for the White House. The announcement that Lincoln was to be
the next president shivered even some of the staunchest Unionists,
and the pressure of the secessionists mounted on all sides.
Crisis was a word on everyone's lips. The shops, the streets,
the homes were filled with the word. It even crept into the
sanctuary of the churches. Emma Shannon excused herself from
the Methodist Church on the Sunday following the election and
went home to find peace and to send a note to her fiance:
"Sunday school was so dismal this morning, that I needed to
come home .... Mr. Marshall preaches, or speaks, rather, for
I suspect he is eager for an opportunity of airing his peculiar
political views in the present crisis. But I don't care anything
for the present crisis. ..." She closed her letter by saying that
country and crisis could go hang, that all she cared for was her
sick lover. 25 Political upheaval might be forced into abeyance
by a young woman in love, but other persons in the city searched
deep into their conflicting and torn loyalties to try to find a
solution to their dilemma.
A week after the election the conservatives made their de-
cision: "The die is cast . . . Abraham Lincoln is Presdent of
the United States . . . What is [our] duty in this crisis in our
national affairs .... Shall [we] follow the rash and mad advice
which the Governor of this State . . . urge? We do not mean
to rebel against the Government because an obnoxious man has
been made President! We do not mean to raise the standard of
25. Emma Shannon to William 0. Crutcher, November 11, I860, Crutcher
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 27
resistance .... Let others do what they will, for us, we will
stand by the Union, the Constitution, and the laws." 26
This was the will of the people. They had taken measure
of the election and they, like the rest of the South, loathed the
thought of Lincoln being in the White House. They readily
admitted that a crisis existed. Their loyalty to the Union bent
and was re-scrutinized, but then it snapped back firm. Re-
publicans, with all of their sectional and abolitionist trappings,
were distasteful but not unpalatable. In mid-November, Vicks-
burg was strong for the Union, but the inexorable current toward
secession had set in across the state.
There were men who tried to halt the flood, or at least hold
it back. Late in the month a state-wide Union mass meeting was
held in Vicksburg during which the speakers counseled patience
and the settlement of difficulties within the constitutional frame-
work. They found the people of Vicksburg a receptive audience,
but as far as the state was concerned they cried in the wind. 27
At the same time the Union men were gathering in Vicks-
burg, the state legislature called for an election of delegates to a
secession convention. The election was to be held December
20, six weeks after Lincoln's victory. This time lag gave the
secessionists ample time to intensify their clamorings of the dire
fate that awaited, the South at the hands of the Republicans.
In Warren County, Thomas A. Marshall and Walker Brooke
were nominated by the conservatives, now called "co-operation-
ists." W. H. Johnson and William H. McCardle (of ex parte
McCardle fame in Supreme Court reports) ran as avowed seces-
sionists. All of the candidates were citizens of Vicksburg, and
they spent several weeks campaigning in the city and out in the
When the ballots were counted the condition of mind of
November 6 was re-affirmed. Vicksburg remained Unionist.
The co-operationist candidates gathered 561 votes, only 173
voters selected the secessionists. The editor of the secessionist
Citizen cried fraud, but the returns stood and Vicksburg
26. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, November 14, 1860.
27. Vickshurg Daily Whig, November 30, 1860.
sent Unionist delegates to the convention. 28 Soon after the
election Marshall wrote to Joseph Holt, a native of Vicksburg
and Postmaster General: "I am a member of the convention . . .
and will certainly do all I can to bring about a satisfactory settle-
ment of our difficulties in the Union. . . ," 29
Marshall and Brooke would sit with the minority. Most
of the counties nominated secessionists and they had vowed
to take the state out of the Union as quickly as they could.
Vicksburg was one of a few islands of resistance which dotted
the state. The cruel jaws of dilemma clamped closer on her
people. J. M. Swords, the editor of the Citizen, was now
sure of the outcome; he could joke about his city's impossible
situation. He wrote that Vicksburg "distinguished herself by
voting in favor of co-operation, which is a modest term for
submission. As the State is certain to secede in less than two
weeks, it is a matter of great curiosity to some, to know what
is to become of [Vicksburg]. Will she secede too, or will she
hang on to Lincoln's Union?" 30
Swords could make his joke, but it was a hard question for
most of the people in the city. Untimately there was but one
answer. When the state seceded it would do so as an entity
everyone would go with it or risk the brand of traitor. That
much was plain. The use of force against the state was, as it
turned out, more repugnant to the people than was the use of
force against the Union. And there was a practical aspect to
the situation. The state, as weak as it was, could easily crush
28. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, December 21, 1860. The breakdown of the
voting was as follows: Marshall received 283 votes in the city and 177 votes
in the county; Brooke received 278 votes in the city and 167 votes in the
county; McCardle received 158 votes in the city and 4 votes in the county;
Johnson received 15 votes in the city and 71 votes in the county. This gave
the Unionist (co-operationist) candidates a total of 805 votes to 248 votes for
the secessionists. The Unionists lacked only nine votes of matching their
total in the November election. The secessionists fell short by 332 votes.
This great disparity in the totals might be explained by a feeling of apathy
or complacency on the part of the secessionists in Warren County. They
knew that they would be beaten in the county election, but were confident
that the state would return a secessionist majority to the convention, so they
did not bother to vote.
29. Thomas A. Marshall to Joseph Holt, December 29, 1860, Joseph Holt
Papers, Library of Congress.
30. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, December 22, 1860.
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 29
any internal armed opposition to it. If this thought occurred
to the Unionists they quickly dismissed it, for they were men
who stood for the law and for the peaceful settlement of diffi-
culties within the law. They saw no peaceful settlement at the
end of the course the state was now set upon, yet they knew that
they would have to be part of the decision when it was made.
They were caught. The press of events and numbers had be-
come too great for some of them to stand against.
In the closing weeks of December the Unionist opposition,
which up to this point had been a more or less solid front, began
to break up as the people tried to accommodate their loyalties
with the inflexible situation. They followed two separate and
distinct patterns. Succumbing to the intense pressure were
"some of the strongest and most prominent men who were in
favor of co-operation." They gave up the struggle, acquiesced
in secession, and became "among the most rampant Southern
Rights men." 31 Whatever their reasons for submission (and
they varied with the individual) they were finished as an articu-
late faction. The other group remained staunch. They would
fight secession until the final vote in the convention, and then
they planned to go underground to try to wrest political control
of the state from the secessionists. Brooke and Marshall were
members of this group.
The state convention met in Jackson at the turn of the new
year. The city was gay and bright with a holiday spirit of im-
pending revolution, and Marshall and Brooke, with the minority
of co-operationists, arrived grim-faced in the revelling capital.
They knew that they were set upon an unpopular course, but
they were determined to stick it to the end.
One of the first bits of business in the convention showed the
handwriting on the wall. A secessionist delegate moved that
copies of the firebrand Daily Mississippian be furnished the mem-
bers during the session. Marshall countered with an amendment
that the Vicksburg Whig should also be given to the delegates.
He was voted down. 32
3 1. J hid.
32. Journal of the State Convention and Ordinances and Resolutions
(Jackson, Mississippi, 1861), p. 11.
The main business was soon at hand when L. Q. C. Lamar
moved that a committee be appointed to draft an ordinance of
secession. The minority proposed to amend this to read, "An
Ordinance providing for the final adjustment of all difficulties
between free and slave states ... by securing further Constitu-
tional guarantees within the present Union." They were out-
voted. 33 Walker Brooke fought the rearguard action when he
submitted an amendment that the Ordinance should not become
effective until the people could vote for it in a general election.
Most of the river county delegates and a few of the hill county
men supported Brooke. They were not enough. 34
Thomas Woods was the youngest delegate in the convention;
he mostly sat, listened, and watched. He knew that outside the
capitol's walls the city was ablaze with excitement, but he was
impressed by the brooding spirit of gravity and seriousness
which hung over the convention itself. The speeches which he
listened to were plain and unpurpled with rhetorical flourishes.
This was heavy business and Woods did not find much thrill in
it. When he later thought about it, he could recall only one
"dramatic and thrilling" moment. That was when the Ordinance
was put to the final ballot. 35
In the vaulted north chamber of the capitol Walker Brooke
rose to cast his last vote. Then he spoke: "I was elected by a
large majority, as what is known as a co-operationist. ... I
have . . . endeavored to carry out the views of my constituents.
... I have acted in good faith ... I have failed." His head bowed
and his voice faltered. After a moment he continued. A vote
now against the Ordinance would be a "vote for this Convention
to do nothing" and this would "make ourselves obnoxious to the
scorn and ridicule of the world. ... I therefore feel it my duty,
painful as it may be, to ... assume the responsibility of casting
at least one of the votes of Warren County for the passage of
the Ordinance." 36
33. Ibid., p. 9. 34. Ibid., p. 10.
35. Thomas H. Woods, "Sketch of the Mississippi Secession Convention of
1861 Its Membership and Work," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, VI (1902), 95.
36. Proceedings of the Mississippi State Convention Held January 7th to
26th, A.D. 1861. Including the Ordinances, as finally Adopted, Important
Speeches, and a List of Members (Jackson, Mississippi, 1861), p. 14. Thomas
THE LOW RUMBLING THUNDER 31
Thomas Woods sat on the edge of his chair in rapt atten-
tion; he thought this was high drama. Vicksburg Unionism was
bowing before the weight of numbers and a sense of honor.
Neophyte and seasoned secessionists eased back in relief, then
they broke into the only applause of the session. 37
The business was done. Cannon and fireworks exploded
throughout the city, bells pealed out over the crowds. Missis-
sippi was out of the Union.
There were no cannon or fireworks in Vicksburg. The city
sat unrejoicing on its hills while the river lapped quietly at the
bluffs. The swift march of events and the crushing weight of
numbers had committed the city to secession, but though they
were committed the people did not have to celebrate their defeat.
Now they had to do two things: they had to devise a
rationale which would enable them to work with the rest of the
state in the new adventure and they had to look to the future and
lay plans for righting what they believed to be a dread political
mistake. But at the moment they were bereft of the power of
great expression. The swift action of the convention and Walker
Brooke's collapse left them dizzied. Even articulate Marmaduke
Shannon was at a loss for words. The best he could manage
when the news was announced was a laconic "We trust that the
prosperity of the new Republic may even exceed the expecta-
tions of the most sanguine secessionist." 38
The key to the whole question now lay in the people's con-
cept of their dual loyalties to the state and to the Federal Union.
Though they professed love and loyalty for the Union, they lived
in a time when the states were not considered mere appendages
of the central government, but, conversely, were regarded as the
creators of the central government. The government at Wash-
ington was far away and it did not greatly manifest its power.
The state was close at hand, readily identifiable, and bound to
the people in countless homey and everyday ways. When
the last wrench occurred, when the ultimate choice was de-
Marshall remained faithful to his instructions. He was one of the fifteen
delegates who voted against the Ordinance.
37. Woods, "Sketch of the Mississippi Secession Convention," Publica-
tions of the Mississippi Historical Society, VI, 95.
38. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, January 16, 1861.
Surrender of Vicksbtirg. View of the city from the river link, showing part of the river batteries. (From Harper's Weekly)
manded, the state, and not the Union, held the loyalty of the
As spokesman for the conservatives, Marmaduke Shannon
took over a week to work these thoughts and feelings into print.
Finally he thought he had captured the mind of the city. He
began with a rhetorical question: "What of the law abiding,
conservative, patriotic men who fought so gallantly in the late
election against acknowledged odds under the banner inscribed
with the glorious motto, 'the Constitution, the Union and the
enforcement of the laws? 9 " Then he supplied the answer:
We do not think there can be any doubt as to the duty of patriots
at this crisis it is to follow the destiny of the State and abide 'its fate,
be it for weal or be it for woe. We are ... Mississipian[s]. Our
State has spoken. It has taken its stand .... It has declared its
independence .... We did not approve it. But it is not for any
citizen of the State, to set ... himself against the ACT of the
State .... It is enough for us to know that Mississippi, our State,
our government has taken its position. We, too, take our position
by its side. We stand ready to defend her rights and to share her
This summed up and settled the question of loyalties. But
here the conservatives made an important distinction. They
reserved their loyalty for the state, not for a particular faction
the secessionists. The will of the state was secession; they
would abide by that will But if the will of the state could be
changed they would then accept the new expression. This theory
opened up a new avenue through which they could at once
39. Ibid., January 23, 1861.
remain loyal to the state and reassert their allegiance to the
Outwardly the conservatives closed ranks with the seces-
sionists, but they did so merely to give an external appearance
of state unity and to keep away the taint of disloyalty. Horace
Fulkerson, who lived in Vicksburg, knew that Brooke and some
of the other conservatives had voted for the Ordinance in order
that they might keep favor in public eyes. They wanted to have
an opportunity to wage a state-wide campaign in the coming fall
elections to repeal the Ordinance of Secession and get the state
back into the Union. 40
This involuted logic did not satisfy a small number of men
in Vicksburg. Their loyalties were straightforward and could
not be led along such a devious route of accommodation. They
were for the Union and that was all there was to it. Alexander
Arthur, a banker, wrote Joseph Holt: "We have just learned
from Jackson that our Convention has just passed the Secession
Ordnance .... [Secession cannot] be justified upon any plea of
necessity of law, or of morals .... Peaceable secession is nothing
more . . . than Revolution." These were not empty words; he
would remain true to them through the war. 41
It made no difference if a man was an overt Unionist or an
accommodationist who waited for the autumn elections. Fall
would be too late. When autumn came Bull Run had become
history and the state was firmly set in the Confederacy; the fire-
eaters who had boasted that they would drink every drop of
blood shed in battle had long since fallen silent; and up at
Cairo, Illinois, a stubby man who had failed in the army and in
business, and who some said was too fond of the bottle, made
his first move down the Mississippi River. The tragedy of the
situation was that the people who did not want war, and who
waited for fall, lived on the Mississippi.
40. Horace S. Fulkerson, A Civilian's Recollection of the War Between
the States, ed. Percy L. Rainwater (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1939), pp. 5-9,
41. Alexander H. Arthur to Joseph Holt, January JO, 1861, Joseph Holt
'EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS'
Silver Wave was a riverboat, and the men of Vicksburg
JL who watched the river knew her familiar outline. She had
been in and out of the city many times, bearing passengers and
freight loaded at Cincinnati and New Orleans and everywhere in
between. The familiar Silver Wave was the thing that shattered
Unionism in Vicksburg. The subtle reasoning in Marmaduke
Shannon's theories and the Union leaders' quiet plotting were
lost on the people after they heard her name.
The people had stolidly accepted the secession of their state.
They had done their best to forestall secession, but when it
became an accomplished fact they abided by the decision. They
were passive in their acceptance, and they knew that men were
talking of peaceful secession and were working for compromise.
Then overnight the mood of the city changed from stolidness to
fighting fervor a martial spirit swept the people.
Mutterings of force and reprisal had begun to drift down the
river. Shipments of goods were held up in Cincinnati, and it
was rumored that Northern Unionists planned to send steamers
loaded with volunteers to attack seceded towns along the river.
The Silver Wave was supposed to be one of the boats.
On the morning of January 12, the city's alarm bells rang.
The Silver Wave was reported to be on her way to Vicksburg.
The "Vicksburg Battalion" rushed out to Fort Hill, a high bluff
north of the city, and hauled up four artillery pieces to halt the
steamer. The afternoon train brought volunteers from the little
hamlets of Bovina and Edwards Station. Under the beat of a
cold winter rain they hurried out to Fort Hill and helped em-
place the cannon. For three days they waited by their drip-
ping guns, watching the river. On the third day the battalion
was dismissed, and its members straggled back into the city
soaked and bedraggled. The Silver Wave had not come (and
when she did arrive she bore her usual cargo of passengers and
freight), but Vicksburg had gotten its first taste of war. 1
Across the divided nation men still talked of peaceful seces-
sion and compromise. In Vicksburg the people talked of war.
The state convention and legislature were asked to move from
Jackson to Vicksburg because there were better accommodations
in Vicksburg and because the city was "now the seat of war." 2
On January 6, the people unresponsively heard the news
that they were out of the Union. On the fifteenth they proudly
proclaimed that they were at the center of armed conflict, and
they had cannon frowning over the river to lend substance to their
statement. What could explain the transilience of minds that
within a week's time leaped from passiveness to pugnacity?
The simple answer was the Silver Wave. But the boat was
merely a symbol; the real reasons lay deeper and were more
complex. Marmaduke Shannon had put his finger on it when
he said "we are Mississippians." The people of Vicksburg were
Mississippians first and citizens of the United States second. In
innumerable ways they were bound to a culture which they
identified as Mississippian or Southern and not American. The
more abstract concept of political allegiance to a Federal Union
could not possibly hope to compete for loyalty against some-
thing as close and as compelling as a pattern of life created by
fathers and grandfathers and passed down from father to son.
Even as they fought against secession the Unionists acknowl-
edged this. They had sought to accommodate their way of life
to the radical ideals of the Republicans so that the Union might
be preserved. They had not dreamed of sacrificing the former
to retain the latter.
Compromise and peaceful solutions were one thing, but a
naked threat to the culture for which their state stood was an
1. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, January 14, 15, 1861. The January 31 edi-
tion of the Citizen carried this about the Silver Wave: "Even the Silver Wave
herself, after unloading her guns in Pittsburg, and taking other freight aboard
was kindly received at our landing the other day, and no manifestations were
made to interrupt her in her peaceful commercial voyage."
2. Ibid., January 14, 186L
EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS 37
entirely different matter. The Silver Wave was that naked threat.
She was the carrier (so they thought) of armed men bent on
attack and destruction. The Silver Wave was the catalyst that
hurried a people into precipitate but determined action. She
did not threaten slavery or States' Rights or any of the other
shibboleths of the secessionists per se. She threatened homes,
business, and life itself; and the threat was not rhetorical or
abstract; it was gun-metaled and grim. Vicksburg's response
to her threat was equally grim.
In this response the city resembled the upper South more
than the state to which it belonged. Three months later Virginia,
Tennessee, and North Carolina would react in the same manner
to Lincoln's call for troops. In Vicksburg, as in the upper
South, the majority of the people hung back from violence until
they were faced with overt coercion. The fear of force was the
thing which drove the conservatives into the secessionists' arms.
The city began to prepare for war. On January 16, the city
council met to consider the first large expenditure for war. A
citizen had offered to give five thousand dollars for the purchase
of munitions if the city would build an arsenal to house and
protect the supplies. The council voted to match this sum pro-
vided the county would do likewise, yet they did not let their
enthusiasm become boundless, and a note of caution crept into
their deliberations. They wanted the arsenal, but they did not
want it inside the city. It was decided to build it "outside the
city limits, and within a mile thereof." This action was re-
ported to the state convention. 3 A week later Thomas Marshall,
who was one of the fifteen who had voted against secession,
offered a resolution in the convention that the city's proposal
should be favorably reported to the state military board, which
was supposed to co-ordinate the defensive preparations being
made in the state. The convention refused to do this, and the
rejection left the council perplexed and dismayed. 4
Though they were rebuffed by the state, the council went
ahead with its local preparations. They could not wait for the
cumbersome, ill-prepared state machinery to move. The men in
3. Council Minute Book, p. 57. 4. Ibid., p. 62.
Jackson could dally and play politics, but Vicksburg sat on the
river and lay exposed to attack.
Six volunteer companies were raised in the city. The Volun-
teer Southrons, the Sharpshooters, the Warren County Guards,
the Warren Dragoons, the Hill City Cadets, and an artillery
company started to fill their ranks with men who responded to
the threat of force by creating force of their own. There was
talk of forming a company of Zouaves. The dash and glitter of
their uniforms appealed to some of the men, but the idea was
soon dropped. The name Zouave and the brightly colored
jackets, blousing trousers, and gaiters were foreign. The people
were raising units for the defense of their homes; they wanted
nothing foreign in them (this attitude would soon become
drastically modified) . 5
All of this was local business, there was no doubt of that.
Later, when the state finally got some semblance of organization
patched together, the city and the state would work together,
but in the earliest stages of conflict the city moved alone.
These early manifestations of war fervor cannot be attributed
solely to the pressure of the secessionist minority or to the hot-
bloodedness of the young men, though the situation lent itself
to these things. The action of the city council must be taken as
an expression of the will of the majority of the people, for the
council held office at the majority's pleasure. The council
eagerly seized the opportunity to build the arsenal and in the
same meeting they voted to find "suitable Rooms" for the
volunteers to use, and requested the board of police to defray
one-half of the cost. 6 As they did these things the council re-
flected the changing attitude of the city.
H. C. Clark, printer and book dealer, also caught the shifting
of the mind, and in it he saw an opportunity to increase his
profits. With his novels, almanacs, newspapers, and journals,
he now carried a stock of Gilhain's Military Manual, Hardee's
Cavalry Tactics, and McComb's Tactics*
Though talk and rumor of war lay over the city, the patterns
of life were not greatly altered. The men in the volunteer com-
5. Ibid. 6.1bid. r p. 57.
7. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, February 11, 1861.
EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS 39
panics took a few hours out of the week to drill, but the rest of
the time they stayed at their businesses and homes. Paxton's
foundry continued to cast plowshares, the Sisters of Mercy to
teach, Northern steamers to tie up at the wharves, and the city
council devoted as much time to balancing accounts and chastis-
ing property owners for not keeping gutters and sidewalks in
proper repair as it did in making defensive preparations. 8 The
first alarm had passed and the people settled back into familiar
routines of living, x It took Jefferson Davis to remind them of
the new order of things. He was now president-elect of the
Confederate Provisional Government, and he planned to pass
through Vicksburg on his way to his inauguration at Mont-
gomery, the temporary capital.
On the morning of February 11, the city council held a
special meeting to prepare for Davis' arrival in the city. Three
months before they had repudiated Davis and all that he stood
for. Now they bubbled over with welcoming praise: "Resolved:
That the Mayor and City Council of the City extend to that dis-
tinguished Soldier Statesman and Patriot the Hospitality of this
City, and that they will unite with the Military and Citizens in
greeting him with such cordial welcome on his arrival here as
his emenent position and services demand." 9
The council did not have much time to prepare, for Davis
arrived early that afternoon. He stepped off the Natchez before
the crowd that lined the wharves. The volunteer companies
were out in full dress, and their cannon and musket shots roared
over the cheers of the people. Davis spoke briefly, then boarded
the eastbound train for Montgomery. He was dressed in home-
spun, which some people thought was in "good taste" and an
example worthy of being imitated. 10 Expenditures for his re-
ception included gunpowder and music. It was an omen that
twice as much was paid for powder as was spent for music. 11
Davis went on his way and the city followed his actions and
the deliberations of the Provisional Government in the news-
papers. A week after the inauguration the Whig was still carry-
ing details of the Montgomery ceremony, but Marmaduke
8. Council Minute Book, p. 66. 9. Ibid., p. 68.
10. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, February 12, 1861.
11. Council Minute Book, p. 82.
Shannon had already turned his attention back to his own city.
It was probably with a little glee that he juxtaposed the story of
Davis' inaugural with a glimpse into a Vicksburg bedroom.
One column of his paper carried the story of Davis' triumph;
in the next column this was printed:
A few nights since, a resident of this city, moved by the green-
eyed monster, determined to detect an imaginary rival in the affec-
tions of his wife. It appears that the room occupied by himself and
wife was in the rear of the house, the front room, which also opened
into his, being occupied by another family. On the evening in ques-
tion, locking his own door, and triumphantly putting the key in his
pocket, he waits till the "sma 5 wee hours," and proceeds to hunt
up the police. Finding them, he states his suspicions, and stations
them in front of the house, while he arranges that he shall rash
through the front room and detect his unfaithful spouse before her
lover can have time to escape. No sooner said than done, but as he
dashes through the front room, the male occupant taking him for a
robber, springs out of bed, knocks him down and after beating him
severely, hands him over to the police already present, with instruc-
tions to take him to jail. In a few moments, however, he explains
his position, and proceeds to his own rooms, where he finds his wife
quietly reposing alone, it having never occurred to the jealous
husband that by locking the door to prevent his rival from escaping,
he also prevented his entrance. 12
The prosaic mixed with the prominent; one as newsworthy
as the other, and an indication of the mind's inability to sustain
itself at a high pitch of intensity. The course of history was
being shaped in Montgomery. In Vicksburg a jealous husband's
shabby foolishness caught the people's eye. Shannon made a
joke of it. Perhaps he felt the need of comic relief from the
ominous march of events. Or perhaps ho understood his readers,
and knew they relished the earthy as well as the momentous.
A war spirit can be subtle as well as explosive and can lie
seemingly dormant under a calm exterior until something trig-
gers its violent expression. It manifests itself in countless ways.
The Silver Wave brought out grimness; Davis' reception brought
out gaiety. The next explosion mixed violence with frivolity and
carried puritanical overtones.
12. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, February 27, 1C61.
EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS 41
It all started when the girls from Mollie Bunch's gave a ball.
A prostitutes' ball was not uncommon; it had been done before,
and if the city authorities did not sanction it, at least they ignored
it. But this time the girls went too far, for they did not confine
themselves to South Street; they sent invitations to the ministers
and to "the most respectable families" in the city.
On the evening of the ball, fire alarms rang. The alarm was
false; and instead of the firemen, outraged citizens trundled the
engines down to South Street. They drenched Mollie's house
and destroyed the furniture, then went on to the corner of
Mulberry and Crawford streets where the ball was in progress.
They turned the hoses on the dancers, washed the food from the
banquet tables, and were still not satisfied. On they went to
Pat Gorman's tavern. Gorman shot one of the men, but his
bar was demolished and his liquor and lager flowed with the
water in the gutter.
The sentiment of "the most respectable families" was, "As
much as we deprecate mobs . . . we have no words of censure for
the movement on Thursday night." In a masterpiece of under-
statement Marmaduke Shannon called the mob action "A quiet
but determined way of correcting an evil." 13
Mollie Bunch and Pat Gorman petitioned the city council for
"the payment of monies ... for losses of property and valuables
. . . destroyed and stolen from them by a mob." The council
rejected the petition and revoked Gorman's liquor license. They
did nothing to Mollie, 14
Arrests and jailings increased during the spring. Thirty-five
people were in the workhouse in February. The number in-
creased to forty-seven in March, jumped to seventy-three in
April, and seventy-four in May. 15 It seemed as though the city
was purging itself in anticipation of war. The purity of romantic
heroes and heroines was idealized in the city, and a strong strain
of the Covenanter lay in its heritage. War would be a sacred
cause and God would be on the side of the pure and the righteous.
Evil must be extirpated. And perhaps a puritanical war-
13. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, February 22, 1861; Vickshurg Weekly Whig,
February 23, 1861.
14. Council Minute Book, pp. 72, 81-82.
15. Ibid., pp. 72, 85,93,99.
catharsis, as well as honest outrage, boiled up on the night of
Mollie Bunch's ball.
A steamboat, the President of the Confederacy, and a bor-
dello's madam caused spectacular outbursts by the people, but
they did not measure the true extent of the drift of the minds of
the people. The minds moved slowly, and attitudes were still
crystallizing. J. M. Swords felt this and it prompted him, almost
two months after the Silver Wave scare, to write: "The Vicksburg
Citizen is the ONLY TRUE Southern paper published in this
city or county." 16
A week later he lamented the fact that not until March 7
did a volunteer company recruit enough members to make the
unit eligible for mustering into state service. The other com-
panies were still trying to enlist men, and Swords urged "Mer-
chants and Manufacturers" to support the recruiting and to help
equip the units. 17 He thought that the men of influence in the
city had not thrown themselves behind the preparedness move-
ment. He must have spurred the recruiting, for on March 12
the Sharpshooters reached their quota, and on the following
Saturday they and the Artillery Company were mustered into
Though they were the first to be mustered into state service,
the Sharpshooters and the Artillery Company stayed camped by
the city. The first unit to leave to seek adventure and to sustain
honor was the Hill City Cadets. They awoke in early morning
blackness on March 27, fumbled about for their equipment, and
got themselves aligned in ranks. The sun was barely up, but
the town was wide awake. The Cadets marched to the railroad
depot, escorted by the other companies and followed by cheering
civilians. The Cadets broke ranks at the station, gathered in
hampers of food, extra clothing, and embraced families and
friends. They climbed abroad the cars, and at six o'clock sharp
the train pulled out of the station. As the last cheers died away
J. M. Swords looked about him. He saw tears, but thought the
families were brave. The train was gone now, and the people
moved slowly back to their homes and breakfasts. The Cadets
16. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, March 6, 1861.
11. Ibid., March 13, 1861. 18. Ibid., March 18, 1861.
EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS 43
were on their way to Pensacola to join in the game of cat and
mouse being played at Fort Pickens. 19 For a while the city
would turn out to send their soldiers on their way, but finally
the rumbling, loaded trains would become so familiar that they
scarcely caused comment.
A few days after the Cadets left, Mayor Crump took stock
of the situation. He had seen the armed troops leave the city
and before that had heard of the guns which had reached out for
the Star of the West, but he was still not disturbed. In fact, the
Mayor was quite optimistic. On April 1, he told the people:
"The last few months have developed a mighty political revolu-
tion which as yet bloodless, promises to so continue and to result
in placing the Confederate States among the Independent nations
of the earth with every prestige of peace, prosperity and happi-
He thought he had some basis for this optimism since his
financial committee had reported that there were fewer de-
linquent debtors and fewer worthless banknotes in the city than
ever before. This was considered to be especially reassuring
because "financial matters have been in a disturbed condition." 21
Trade was brisk, Northern steamboats still tied up at the city's
wharves, luxury items were plentiful, and one family thought
nothing of running up a bill of $123.04 for yard goods, mostly
The ardent secessionists were not so sanguine as the Mayor.
They had got secession, but they wanted more. They wanted a
complete hold on the minds of the people so they could never be
returned to thoughts of union with the North. The fire-eaters
were not reassured as they saw that only three volunteer com-
panies had been brought up to full strength, and they suspected
that the men of substance were still dragging their feet in the
preparations for war. They needed to whip up a chauvinistic,
hyper-Southernism in Vicksburg. On the first of April their
plans had matured to the extent that they could be made public.
19. Ibid., March 27, 1861. 20. Council Minute Book, p. 84.
21. 1 bid., p. 75.
22. Receipted bill dated April 14, 1861, Phillip Crutcher Collection, Miss.
The rabidly partisan Sun was resuscitated. 23 As before it
"espousefd] the true Southern cause." At the same time the Sun
resumed publication a prospectus for another paper appeared in
the city. This newcomer would be named the "Confederate
States" and the publisher promised that his paper would be
"just the kind of a paper the city of Vicksburg and the Southern
Confederacy, and all the rest of Mankind are in need of." 24
Combined with the Citizen, the fire-eaters would have three
papers to howl down the Whig, which was still, despite Shannon's
protestations to the contrary, regarded with a jaundiced eye.
This move was backed up by an inundation of Confederate
propaganda devices. Several shops in the city now stocked
"Jefferson Davis" letter paper, envelopes, visiting cards, framed
photographs, note paper, rosettes, and badges. Alexander
Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, either because he
was a Whig or because he was of second-magnitude importance,
was allowed letter and note paper. 25
The fire-eaters could have spared themselves the trouble.
In twelve days the Charleston batteries would force the issue
far beyond the point which newspapers and insignated note paper
could carry it. A little more than a week of peace remained for
the city. Inside that time, within a four day span, the pendulum
of human passion would swing in full arc.
On the evening of April 8, two of the city's girls became
novitiates in the Sisters of Mercy. This was the first time the
ceremony had been performed in Vicksburg, and Protestants as
well as Catholics made up an "immense audience" at St. Paul's.
They watched as the Bishop of Natchez, assisted by three of the
Vicksburg priests and eight little girls dressed as angels, con-
23. The Sun failed the previous year when its columns became too violent
even for Vicksburg.
24. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, April 1, 1861. There is no record which
indicates that the "Confederate States" got beyond the prospectus stage. The
Sun resumed its fitful life, then died later in the year.
25. Ibid., April 6, 1861. There is little indication that Confederate sta-
tionery was popular in Vicksburg. Practically every note and letter handled
by the author was written on plain bond paper or on shoddy notebook paper.
Most of the documents written before late 1862 were written on good, heavy
paper. After that time, as the blockade began to take effect, the paper was
of a poorer quality. Very few documents carrying a Confederate device were
seen by the author.
EVERY AVAILABLE MEANS 45
ducted the ceremony. Protestant and Catholic alike "were
deeply impressed with the solemnity and appropriateness" of the
service. They filed out of the church and left Sisters Agnes and
Philomena to ponder their vows of mercy, charity, and useful-
ness, which, they would soon discover, held in war as well as
Very early in the morning on April 12, the Charleston bat-
teries opened fire on Fort Sumter. On the same morning a
cannon at the railroad depot in Vicksburg blew off James
Gilvan's arm. The cannon were firing salutes as the Artillery
Company climbed aboard the outbound train, and the premature
explosion of a piece gave the civilians and the soldiers a minute
glimpse of the battlefield. The crowds were at the depot again,
but this time instead of cheers J. M. Swords heard "shrieks of
distress" as final goodbyes were said. 27 These troops were going
to war and the people who stood beside the cars knew it.
There was little rejoicing or celebration when the news of
the firing upon Sumter reached the city. 28 The inevitable had
occurred, but attitudes shifted by secession and the Silver Wave
still did not coalesce into monolithic solidity. The young men
seemed ready for war, but the men of property and influence
remained reluctant. On the day war broke out J. M. Swords
was prompted to say, "We would suggest that our business men
should encourage [the young men] to go with their corps when
ordered," and not remind them of inconveniences or threaten
to fill their jobs with other men. 29
There were other indications of hesitancy. The Artillery
Company left their cannon in the city when they moved out.
The guns sat there, unused, unmanned. At first there was some
talk of forming a new company, but then interest faded. A week
after the artillerymen had gone, a week after the outbreak of
war, the Citizen stopped appealing to the "ardor" of the citizens
to recruit a new company. The paper took a new approach,
probably one that was closer to the desires of the men who might
26. Ibid., April 9, 1861. 27. Ibid., April 12, 1861.
28. The Citizen reported no celebrations at the outbreak of war.
29. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, April 12, 1861.
make up the unit. It was now suggested that the company be
raised "for home service alone, in case of necessity." 30
The city council took an even more practical view of the
matter. They appropriated five thousand dollars for "placing
the Guns in battery, which are now lying in the City in a useless
state, and of purchasing the ammunition required for their use
in case of an emergency and also of forming and training a
company of artillerists." 31
In other ways the council tried to put the city on a war
footing. They passed a resolution stating that "every available
means of defense should immediately be put in a condition to be
as effective as possible [because] Vicksburg in a military point
of view occupies an important position upon the Mississippi
River whose upper banks are now occupied by declared enemies."
That took care of the rhetoric. The council then appropriated
the five thousand dollars, appointed a committee to discuss
defensive preparations with the governor, appropriated a subsidy
of two hundred dollars for each military company going into
service, and thankfully accepted the gift of 4,700 rounds of
ammunition for the city defenses. 32
The sound of gunfire was not carried by the telegraph or in
the newspaper dispatches. The men charged with the safety of
Vicksburg could see that their city sat at a strategic spot, but
they talked in terms of "emergency" and "in case of necessity."
They saw only the faintest glimmerings of the implications of
the Sumter bombardment, and in their city there was the curious
but natural blending of the ways of war and peace.
30. Ibid., April 18, 1861, 31. Council Minute Book, p. 91.
"WAR IS NEAR US INDEED"
MR. MacMeehan, the proprietor of the Washington Hotel,
stood in the center of his dining room. Perspiration stood
out on his forehead, and he alternately wiped his wet face and
swatted at flies. A look of satisfaction crossed his face as he
watched the packed dining tables. He took another swipe at a fly,
then bawled out in a loud voice, "Now, then, here is a splendid
goose! Ladies and gentlemen, don't neglect the goose and apple-
sauce!" His eye caught another loaded platter, "Here's a piece of
beef that I can recommend! Upon my honor you will never regret
taking a slice of the beef." Then on to another dish, "Oyster-
pie! Oyster-pie! Never was better oyster-pie seen in Vicks-
burg." He mopped his brow and called out again, "Ladies and
gentlemen, just look at that turkey! Who's for turkey?"
He paused for breath and the clatter of voices and silverware
filled the room. Officers dressed in braided grey uniforms and
planters wearing summer linen worked at their filled plates. At
other tables soldiers in privates' uniforms sat and talked with
finely dressed women. At one end of the room a long table was
laden with the joints and dishes that MacMeehan begged his
guests to taste. Negro waiters, men and women, stood by the
loaded table carving the roasts and sending the filled dishes to
the diners. The steamings from the roasts, oysters, and turkeys
mixed in the June heat and lay redolently over the noon-day
William Russell sat at one of the crowded tables. He had
just come to America from England and he felt at home in the
crowded dining room. MacMeehan's loud pleas reminded him
1. Russell, Diary, p. 295.
of London tavern owners as they called out invitations to passers-
by on the streets. But one thing was decidedly not English. As
Russell watched the uniformed men and listened to the con-
versations he caught an undertone of a people at war. When
he put down the day's events in his diary he also noted: "war
fever is rife in Vicksburg." 2
Russell wrote this two months after the editor of the Citizen
had begged the men of property in the city to support enlistments
in the army. The minds of the people had shifted again.
The guns at Fort Sumter had not forged a common spirit at
Vicksburg. No instant sense of outrage coalesced the will of
the people into a single purpose. The news of Sumter had left
the city passive and still divided, just as the news of secession
The outrage came three days later when Lincoln issued a
proclamation calling for troops to suppress "combinations . . .
too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial
proceedings." Here again was naked force, though magnified
a thousand fold, and the people reacted as they had done when
the Silver Wave had threatened them.
For four months the people had lived in a never-never land,
alternating an occasional show of belligerency with the hope that
Horace Greeley's policy of "let the South go in peace" (or
some other peaceful solution) would come to pass. Lincoln's
call for troops on April 1 5 crushed this naive hope. And as it
crushed it also created. A new sense of common purpose sealed
over countless schisms and antagonisms. The Artillery Company,
which languished a few days before, was filled up. New volun-
teer units were raised. Troops from Louisiana and western
Mississippi started pouring through the city.
Marmaduke Shannon took the measure of the people's out-
rage the same Shannon who four months previously had said
that secession was rebellion and that the Union would stand
against the gates of hell. Nine days after Lincoln's call for
troops he printed: "THE SPIRIT OF OUR PEOPLE .... The
history of nations does not present an example of unanimity
among any people comparable to the extraordinary spectacle
2. Ibid., pp. 295-96.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 49
now presented in the Confederate States. We can speak con-
fidently of Mississippi. In the fervor of patriotic feeling, all
devisions about mere details have been completely merged ....
This spirit pervades all sects all classes all ages." 3
"Spirit" and "classes" and "ages" are abstract terms, but
they now took on form and substance. On April 12, J. M.
Swords chided the businessmen of the city for their lack of
enthusiasm in war preparations. Twelve days later he had noth-
ing but praise for them as seventy-one of the city's "oldest and
most prominent" men merchants, physicians, lawyers, and
judges formed themselves into a company named the Old
Guard. 4 As a fighting unit they were not worth much, but as a
symbol they were worth several regiments. They had been the
hard core of conservatism and Unionism; now they were banded
together and armed against the very things they once espoused.
The Old Guard came from one end of the Vicksburg class
structure. Another new military unit came from the opposite
end (all of which lends truth to Shannon's rhetorical generaliza-
tions). In January plans to form a Zouave company had been
dropped because the term smacked of something foreign and
less than reliable. In April this feeling went by the boards.
If there had ever been doubt as to the loyalty of the city's
foreign-born it was now laid to rest. The foreigners were
actively recruited and some of them were officers in the volunteer
units. A language barrier kept others out of the units they
did not know enough English to comprehend the simplest mili-
tary commands. This problem was attacked by the tentative
organization of the "Foreign Legion," which was designed to
gather up all of those men who because of language difficulties
were excluded from the other units. The most significant thing
about the Foreign Legion was that the non-English speaking men
proposed it themselves. They did not want to be left out of the
3. Vickshurg Weekly Whig, April 24, 1861.
4. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, April 24, 1861.
5. Ibid., April 29, 1861. There is no indication that the unit was formed.
Tt surely would not have solved the problem of language barriers because its;
members would still have been polyglot.
When William Russell got to Vicksburg in early June he
found no indications of class distinctions in the war spirit. He
made this entry in his diary: "Irish and German laborers, to the
extent of several hundreds, have gone off to war." 6 One group
of Irishmen formed a unit named the Jeff Davis Guards. 7 The
majority of the foreign-born had identified themselves so closely
with Vicksburg's life and culture that they were as eager to have
it preserved as were the native Mississippians.
William Newman and Henry Lee also identified themselves
and their interests with those of the city and the Confederacy.
They were unable to join a military unit, yet they did manage
to indicate their feelings. When the first Confederate war loan
was offered in Vicksburg, Newman and Lee made it a point to
be among the earliest subscribers. They each bought $250
worth of bonds. Other people in the city subscribed more, but
there was a greater difference. William Newman and Henry Lee
were free Negroes. 8
All of these actions took place within the space of two weeks
the last two weeks of April. Yet they were merely reactions
to a single event. The pivotal point of the tangled ganglia of
hopes and fears, voiced and unvoiced, was April 15, when
Lincoln called for troops. From that moment on everything
the people did was a reaction to external forces. Only one op-
portunity to display initiative was left to them, and when it did
come the people would confirm rather than change everything
that had passed before.
This is not to say that war fever was a blaze which consumed
every doubt, every qualification, and every contrary motivation.
Marmaduke Shannon might extol the "example of unanimity,"
but the city still held unbending Unionists, cowards, and men who
put personal gain before honor and duty. In the first fit of war
these men could be overlooked, though in the long run they would
6. Russell, Diary, p. 296.
7. Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1863, ed. John Q. Ander-
son (Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1955), p. 16.
8. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, April 24, 1861. It is also interesting to note
that the amount they subscribed $250 was no small sum at that time.
Evidently the free Negro in Vicksburg had the opportunity, perhaps greater
than some of the whites, to accumulate wealth.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 51
crop up from time to time and rip at Shannon's bright promise
Nevertheless, at the end of April, Vicksburg was war-minded.
J. M. Swords, as well as Shannon, believed "the spirit of patriot-
ism now so prevalent in our community" permeated practically
every house in the city. 9 As the people talked of war they
thought of only one result victory. "There is but one opinion
upon this subject .... We can and will whip the Black Republi-
can . . . hordes ... if they ever attempt to subjugate the South."
This was Swords's statement, but it fairly well was the opinion
of the city. There could be no other outcome. They were the
outraged, they were on the defensive, they fought not to impose
their will on someone else but for "those birth rights bequeathed
to us by our fathers . . . and . . . inherited from the God of Jacob
and our God." 10 Theirs was the pure cause, theirs was the just
cause, theirs was the God-sanctioned cause, theirs was the in-
War with its justifications, its course, and its outcome was
minutely spelled out by the propagandists; but they did not stop
to mention or to count the cost. Two men named Catching and
Porter did, and they thought they saw some honest profit in it.
They owned a dry goods store and, on May 1, they announced
with pride that "our stock of Mourning Goods was never so
complete." Offered for sale were: black organdie, black silk
grenadine, black mosambique, black silk mitts, black kid gloves,
and black lace veils. 11
Catching and Porter were Cassandras. They would have
done better if they had stocked their shelves with Confederate
grey and material for women's party dresses. In the late spring
nights the city was bright with lights, and the sound of familiar
songs and recently composed music lay over the hills. On May
29, Dr. Morris Emanuel, druggist and president of the Southern
Railroad, gave a dinner for over two hundred people. The 105
officers and men of the Volunteer Southrons were the honor
guests, for they were leaving for camp the next day. Music and
laughter lasted late into the night and grandmothers as well as
9. Ibid., April 29, 1861. 10. Ibid., May 1, 1861.
1 1. Vicksburg Weekly Whig, May 1, 1861.
young belles danced with the troops. The following morning
over two thousand people were at the railroad depot to bid the
Southrons farewell. The troops were doubly honored; not only
were they going to war, they were also the first persons to make
the trip from Vicksburg to Meridian without changing cars.
The troops loaded aboard the cars and as the train pulled out of
the station both the soldiers and the civilians were singing the
"Marseillaise." They also knew other songs of revolution. The
night before they had danced to "Adieu to the Star-Spangled
Banner Forever," "The Banner of the South," "Our First Presi-
dent's Quickstep," and the "Grand Secession March of the
Eight Stars." 12
The railroad depot was used for several purposes. Soldiers
and supplies were gathered there before starting their movement
to the east; less war-like activities went on there as well. One
June afternoon Mayor Crump and some other men took William
Russell to the depot to discuss politics and current events. Rus-
sell thought a railway station was an odd place to hold such a
meeting and he was pleasantly surprised when he saw the ar-
rangements which had been made for the occasion.
One of the rooms was set up with large china bowls filled
with blocks of ice. Decanters of wines and liquors flanked the
ice bowls, and boxes of cigars were placed around the room to
aid the discussions. The men talked until late in the afternoon,
mainly about Chief Justice Taney's protest against Lincoln's
suspension of habeas corpus. The clink of ice against glass
and the blue haze of good cigar smoke reminded one very little
of a railroad station. 13 The memories of goodbye wailings and
of troops singing the "Marseillaise" faded with the afternoon.
The reminders of conflict were countless and not confined
to troop movements and lavish parties of farewell. The post
office stopped delivering letters bearing United States stamps
unless Confederate postage was also paid. Kate Stone, who
lived across the river at thousand-acre "Brokenburn," read
12. Elizabeth Eggleston, unaddressed, undated letter, Roach-Eggleston
Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina; Vicks-
burg Daily Citizen, May 30, 1861. The "Eight Stars" in the last title refer
to the eight seceded states as of April 18, 1861.
13. Russell, Diary, p. 296.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 53
Harper's Weekly and Monthly, the New York Tribune, and even
the Journal of Commerce. Northern journalism, especially
Greeley's Tribune, made her angry, but she read the papers and
magazines anyway and plaintively asked, "What shall we do
when our mails are stopped and we are no longer in touch with
the world?" 14 The Southern Field and Fireside was supposed
to be the answer to Kate's query. If Kate saw a copy of the
magazine she would have thought it a poor substitute for
Harper's, but it found its way into more and more Vicksburg
homes where some people bought it simply as a matter of patriotic
The Warren Artillery, now up to strength after a languishing
beginning, also got involved in a matter of patriotic duty or
perhaps honor, if the two may be separated. A rumor was
circulated in the city that the Artillery was simply a home guard
unit, that it would serve at Fort Hill and no other place. The
artillerymen took this to be a slur on their patriotism and they
printed a resolution stating that there was no truth to the rumor
and that they sought "active service at the seat of war." 16
The martial spirit also caught the women and they were
not content to cheer the troops as they left for war (and then weep
after they had gone) or prepare their men for the field by lining
heavy blankets and sewing pockets in the blankets to hold soap,
combs, brushes, and other sundries. This was not enough.
This war was a struggle to preserve a particular culture, a
culture in which woman was idealized to the extent that she had
become a pedestaled goddess. If the war was lost and the
culture destroyed, woman would no longer occupy her idealized
place in society. Not only could war destroy her men and her
home, but it could also destroy her as woman at least as the
woman that had been created by a slave society liberally laced
with the romanticism of Scott and others. 17 Perhaps the women
were intuitive enough to recognize this threat; at any rate they
plunged into war work.
14. Stone, Brokenhurn, p. 14; Vicksburg Daily Citizen, May 30, 1861.
15. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, May 30, 1861.
16. Ibid., May 16, 3861.
17. With respect to the continued veneration of the Southern woman see
such works as Lucian L. Knight, Stone Mountain (Atlanta, 1923), pp. 60-61.
They banded into sewing societies and made clothing, not
for soldier relatives alone, but for all the volunteers. The wom-
en who needed no income worked without recompense; seam-
stresses working with them were paid for their efforts. Women
got out on busy Washington Street and solicited money and
supplies from passers-by. They organized the Ladies Military
Association to solicit donations from planters who lived out in
the country. Some of them volunteered to follow the army as
nurses. 18 Mary Jane Stevenson also wanted to go with one of
the units bound for Fort Pickens, but she merely wanted to be
with her husband and she thought that the state should furnish
the funds for her to make the trip. 19
Activities such as these are the kind women are always in-
volved with in wartime, but they are not extraordinary. There
was nothing in them in this instance that foretold total war or
indicated that the women had recognized and had responded to
the most basic threat that the war held for them the extinction
of the cultural base which supported the idealization of Southern
womanhood. That recognition and response came in late May
when Captain John Travis came up from Natchez. Travis had
a singular profession, but the ladies in Vicksburg were assured
that he was "a gentleman of very pleasing and refined qualifica-
tions"; and besides that he had been a success with the ladies of
Natchez. Travis came to Vicksburg to teach the ladies "the art
and science of pistol and rifle shooting." 20 Something deep-
seated and elemental had been stirred when it became socially
acceptable for women to meet in a shooting gallery to learn to
load and to aim pistols and rifles.
In the first rush of outrage and patriotism many schisms were
closed over; then as the weeks passed by they widened again,
and as they were laid open the vindictive and intolerant spirit
of a people at war was exposed. The Southern states moved
toward civil war because they had found the wishes of the
majority intolerable. As the beset minority they broke away
18. Mrs. I. O. Smith to J. J. Pettus, September 1, 1861, Governors'
Correspondence, Series E, Vol. LIII, Miss. Arch.; Vicksburg Daily Citizen,
May 8, 15, 1861.
19. Mary Jane Stevenson to J. J. Pettus, May 19, 1861, Governors' Corre-
spondence, Series E, Vol. LIT, Miss. Arch.
20. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, May 27, 1861.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 55
from the Federal Union so they might preserve those things they
held to be dearer than the Union. Yet as they established their
own government, and in doing so became a majority, they be-
came intolerant of the minority. It was a simple case of "If you
are not for us you are against us."
On May 1, even as he spoke of binding patriotism, J. M.
Swords hinted at the rising spirit of fear and intolerance. He
said, "If there are any persons in our midst who refuse to join
us in our cause, they should at once be invited to leave the city
as speedily as possible and relieve us of their presence and the
duty of keeping a vigilant watch on them." 21
By May 11, Swords was so concerned with the possibility
that Unionists might still be in the city that he proposed to mark
every good and loyal citizen. They would wear badges bearing
the motto "Southern Rights For This We Fight," and all
strangers coming into Vicksburg would be given badges, too
after they had taken an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. 22
If any Unionists escaped this measure Swords was sure that the
county grand jury, composed of the "best and most devoted
citizens," would investigate all cases of disloyalty and indict as
traitors all people who spoke against the Confederacy. Some of
the citizens, the city's "best citizens," were not content to let the
grand jury handle matters and formed a vigilance committee
which operated at night making "thorough examinations for
spies, emissaries, and Unionist Sympathizers." 23
This was mostly talk, but it was ugly talk. The Southerner
could scornfully point to Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus
and howl despotism, but the veneer of constitutionalism the
bulwark of secessionist theory lay just as thin in the South and
would be just as easily contravened. The extra-legal vigilance
committee met and threatened. Alexander Arthur bit his lip
and kept quiet as he watched the committee members. He
thought they were a tawdry bunch: "overzealous patriots who
did not want to go to the wars, but [who wanted] to show their
zeal and bring out others." Arthur remained silent he was a
Union man and stored up three years of bitterness. But he
21. Ibid., May 1, 1861. 22. Ibid., May 11, 1861.
23. Ibid., May 14, 1861.
would not be frightened; he stayed in the city and kept his
thoughts to himself. 24
Property rights as well as personal liberties began to feel the
weight of war's intolerances. Late in the summer the directors
of the Vicksburg Gas Company voted to confiscate the dividends
of all stockholders living outside the Confederacy and to invest
the expropriated money in Confederate bonds. 25
Despite the talk of repressive measures and the sequestration
of Northern property there were lingering indications of a lack
of enthusiasm for the Confederate cause. Some of the leading
businessmen still refused to help equip the volunteer units or
donate to the women's fund-raising committee. J. M. Swords
complained that they had "made immense fortunes in business
. . . and . . . are deeply and vitally interested in the main-
tainance of Southern institutions and Southern rights," but they
were "unwilling to make any drafts upon their overburdened
coffers." One ardent Confederate proposed to give the recalci-
trant businessmen a final opportunity to donate; then if they
failed to do so he suggested that a 10 per cent "contribution"
be levied upon their estates. If everything else failed they were
to be hounded out of the city. 26
A civilian's war can be more vicious and ruthless than that
of the line soldier who comes to know and respect his enemy and
share the fear, the wet, and the boredom with him. The civilian
rarely knows the enemy as a man or learns the common bonds
which can make all soldiers brothers, but instead regards him as
something which must be extirpated by whatever means are at
hand. In time the people of Vicksburg would come to learn
the enemy well, and to respect him; but at first they could not,
and investigations in the night, taunts, threats, and coercion
were those means of extirpation. They went hand in hand with
24. Alexander H. Arthur to Joseph Holt, February 2, 1865, Joseph Holt
Papers, Library of Congress.
25. This action, was taken under the authority of an act of the Con-
federate Congress of August 30, 1861, entitled "An Act for the sequestration
of the Estates, property and effects of alien enemies. . . ." Isaac E. West to
John McArthur, December 20, 1863, Records of the Bureau of Refugees,
Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, National Archives, Record Group 105.
Hereinafter records in the National Archives are indicated by the symbol
NA, followed by the record group (RG) number.
26. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, May 10, 1861.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 57
dancing in the night, saluting cannon, and cheering. It was not
a gallant nor an honorable side of war, but it was an inevitable
one because the civilians could not do otherwise. For the most
part the mean and the vicious acts were the result of individual
or small group action; there was no over-all concerted drive
against the slacker and the Unionist, and the city officials made
no record of traitor-hunting thoughts or actions. In fact, im-
prisonments took a decided drop at this time. Only one-third
as many people were jailed during the summer as were in the
The burst of intolerance following the outbreak of hostilities
might have been an emotional catharsis similar to that which
occurred on the night of Mollie Bunch's ball. In time it spent
itself, but it did serve notice that the powerful admixture of pride,
outrage, patriotism, and honor was not so strong that it could
bind a people tightly together and quiet petty jealousies, evils,
and differences of opinion.
This was a fitful period as the city accustomed itself to war,
yet at the same time tried to hold on to the ways of peace. It
was a time of anomaly and paradox. A citizen with a knowl-
edge of the South's industrial capacity (or incapacity) urged the
people to begin to practice economy, especially by saving scraps
of paper and cotton goods to use in the manufacture of paper.
Another person counseled the rationing of eggs in order that
more chickens might be produced. Yet as these persons asked
for economy the merchants of the city advertised a plethora of
goods and begged the people to consume them. There was no
war shortage, for the stores held foods ranging from fish to firkins
of Congress Water shipped from Saratoga. Spices, coffee, and
tea, which soon would become nonexistent, were plentiful. One
merchant offered for sale pepper, cloves, allspice, ginger, nutmeg,
and mace; Rio, Java, White and Brown Mocha coffee; and Im-
27. Council Minute Book, pp. 99, 104. The number of imprisonments
fluctuated sharply during this period and this fluctuation may be of some
significance when related to the sequence of events. There were forty-seven
imprisonments in March, seventy-three in April, seventy-four in May, twenty-
four in June, thirty in July, and twenty-six in August. From August 1861
until the siege the number did not rise above thirty-two, and that was in
December when Christmas spirits became too boisterous.
perial, Gunpowder, and Young Hyson tea. 28 Though the guns
had opened there was no bite of war in Vicksburg.
The Warren Female Academy showed no indication that
war would touch it. Plans were laid for the coming autumn's
session in which the students would acquaint themselves with
Ancient and Modern Geography, English Grammar, Rhetoric,
Belles Lettres, Botany, Astronomy, Geology, Pure Mathematics,
Music, and Ancient and Modern Languages. 29
The churches, like everything else, reflected the mingling of
war and peace. Just before they left the city the Jeff Davis
Guards attended a special mass during which their company flag
was consecrated and blessed. The following Sunday, Father
LeRay celebrated the mass with his civilian communicants. 30
The first rush to war subsided, the volunteer companies left
the city, and the quiet weeks stretched into summer. War was
dispatches printed in the newspapers. War was letters from the
soldiers printed for public consumption or read privately in the
homes. War was Emma Shannon's marriage to William Crutcher
before he left with the King Cotton Guards. War was staying
in the hot city and not escaping to cool lakes in Minnesota.
Only the distant echoes from the guns at Bull Run came to
Vicksburg and the city waited in the summer sun far from the
sounds of war.
Kate Stone became bored at Brokenburn and her mother let
her cross the river to visit in Vicksburg. Kate spent three weeks
in town during the latter part of the summer, but she found little
to do there. The hurried excitement of April and May was past,
and there were few officers to outfit or to dance with. She went
from home to home and found pleasant moments in gardens and
on rides, but most of the men were gone and those who remained
wanted to talk of war news. The girls and women were little
better; practically every one of them had joined a sewing society
and they sat and sewed and talked of war. When Kate returned
to Brokenburn at the last of August she wrote in her journal
that she had had a "quiet" stay in Vicksburg, and she found
28. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, May 11, 24, 1861.
29. Ibid., May 3, 1861. 30. Ibid., May 25, 186L
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 59
much more to write about at home than she did while she was
in the city. 31
Fall was a time of complacency. There was little else of war
in the city but the cannon being cast in Reading's and Paxton's
foundries and the clank of trains carrying Louisiana and Texas
soldiers and supplies toward the east.
In the quietness, and without a clear and pressing threat to
close it over, man's petty nature was at work. The autumn elec-
tions which some of the Unionists had looked forward to were
coming, but there would not be the vigorous campaigning that
they had hoped for early in the year; Bull Run had decided that.
Though the state was sealed in the Confederacy and Unionist
sentiment had been effectively silenced, there was no political
unanimity in Vicksburg. Party politics still operated, and some
men put personal and political advantage before everything else.
The loyalty of the conservatives the editorials of the Whig and
the formation of the Old Guard notwithstanding remained
suspect, and the Davis-linked "ultras" still sought to crush the
power of the men who were the acknowledged leaders of the city.
T. S. Martin, who edited the Sun, had been unable to put his
paper on a paying basis since it had been resuscitated in the
April heat of secession and war. When he learned that the
people of Vicksburg would not buy it, Martin asked Governor
Pettus to let him have the state printing contracts so he might
bolster his paper's finances. If he did not get the contracts the
Sun would collapse, Vicksburg would be without an "ultra"
newspaper, and this, Martin wrote the governor, "would create
as much Exultation among our enemies as the news of the fall
of man caused in Hell." 32
With the outbreak of war Marmaduke Shannon had adopted
a non-partisan editorial policy for the Whig, but Martin still
thought of the Old Whig conservatives as "enemies" and appealed
to Pettus for aid on the grounds "that the Sun ever since it was
established has done as much for the party as any other paper." 33
Shannon might say that war brought unanimity to Vicksburg,
31. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 47.
32. T. S. Martin to J. J. Pettus, October 7, 1861, Governors' Corre-
spondence, Series E, Vol. LIV, Miss. Arch.
33. 1 bid.
but time after time the people would prove the falseness of his
During this time the city council cast its accounts and found
that the city was not as prosperous as it had been the previous
year. The river flowed on, but the boats from Cincinnati,
Louisville, and St. Louis no longer came south on its current.
The first symptoms of economic paralysis began to creep in. 34
When the boats stopped, the heart beat of Vicksburg slowed.
Steamers from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Memphis still
came to the city, but they brought few manufactured goods and
the clatter of the wagons on the wharves had a hollow ring.
Men were laid off from their jobs; not even the absence of the
soldiers created a job market. Reading's and Paxton's foundries
worked full time, but theirs were among the few businesses
which did not feel the slack.
People began to go hungry. Men without work and privates
in the army with scant pay could not feed their families. The
city council did what it could they appropriated money for
food and fuel, though it was just a pittance, for they lived in an
age when the unfortunate had to depend upon the charity of other
people and of God, not of the government. 35
Some of the people, recognizing the plight, organized a
charity named the Benevolent Society which operated a "Free
Market" to care for the jobless and the hungry. Emma Crutcher
joined the Benevolent Society and she took particular interest in
filling the baskets for the families of two men who were in her
husband's company on the Virginia peninsula. As winter came
the Free Market supplied almost one hundred families with meal,
potatoes, sugar, salt, molasses, peas, turnips, cabbage, soap,
and fresh beef. William Crutcher wrote his son that the Free
34. Council Minute Book, p, 120. The assessed valuation of property
decreased one-third of a million dollars from the previous year. Practically
the entire sum was lost in merchandise. The value of slaves also decreased.
Though the number of slaves increased by 140, their average value dropped
$68 per slave. On the other hand, the value of real estate increased $110,000
and money loaned on interest was almost doubled. Cf. City Directory, 1860
35. Council Minute Book, p. 127. The council also created the position
of "Dog Killer." The dog killer was supposed to dispose of the stray and
liungry dogs which had begun to infest the city.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 61
Market was a great boon, for "no one can get work now, and
there would be great suffering if it were not for the [charity]." 36
Those who had jobs had food. Lavinia Shannon had lived
in Vicksburg for twenty-seven years and had never known food
to be so plentiful. Eggs were priced at fifteen cents a dozen,
chickens were twenty cents each, venison was ten cents a pound,
and pork the same. As Christmas drew near, Emma Crutcher
reported to her captain in Virginia that "provisions are . . .
abundant" and asked, "Now doesn't it look like God was pro-
viding for our wants, and taking special care of us?" 37
A more cynical person might have answered that instead of
God, Reading and Paxton were providing for the wants and
needs of the people. As the holiday season opened the foundries'
furnaces glowed long into the night and it became quite proper
for the ladies to visit the factories and watch the cannon being
cast. The women paid close attention to the details of the work
and were pleased that they could talk knowingly of the "sixty
brass cannon and 30,000 bombshells" being cast in their city.
Emma Crutcher told her husband that she was "very much
interested" in the casting, and the afternoon she visited the
foundry she saw several other groups of women there watching
the cannon being made. When she became tired of inspecting
the war work she returned home where she "rattled away non-
sense to Brother Clinton, discussed metaphysics with Brother
Harrington Benevolent Society with Sister Howe, and knitting
with Sister Harrington." 38
Christmas came warm and spring-like. Flowers of every
season bloomed in the city morning-glories, hyacinths, jasmine,
violets, chrysanthemums, roses, and holly were bright in the
sunlight. The Hill City Cadets were home on furlough before
re-enlisting and their uniforms gave the city a splash of color
that had been lacking for several months.
Emma Crutcher thought the Cadets looked strong and
healthy, but she did not care for their "impudent stare." She
wrote her husband: "I should not be surprised if they were a most
36. William Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, January 19, 1862, Phillip
Crutcher Collection, Miss. Arch.
37. Emma Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, December 25, 1861, ibid.
38. Ibid., December 16, 1861.
depraved set, for they are just old enough to feel all the tempta-
tions that allure men, and at the same time, are without the
strength which is an accompaniment of manhood." The city,
however, was glad to have the Cadets back, even if for a short
while, and on Christmas day families gathered together, ex-
changed gifts, and sat down to Christmas dinners.
Emma gave her servants eight dollars, but made no other
gifts. The day dragged by slowly for her: "I cannot say that
there has been much merriment about this [Christmas], but it
has passed, somehow, as all days do." Her family circle was
thinned and when they sat down to dinner Emma thought: "What
a contrast between the condition of this family this year and last,
and how many members it has lost." She became so upset that
she was excused from the table and she had no heart for the
visitors who came to play the piano, sing, have tea, and hold a
long prayer meeting. All she wanted was her captain whom
she imagined was chilled and hungry in Virginia. While the
guests sang she sat in the warm afternoon and dreamed of peace-
ful Christmas-times: "Poor baby, to be pining after the sugar
plums of life, when the substantial bread and meat, in the shape
of religion, love of family, and plenty of work to do, lie around
in such profusion. But I want the sugar plums, and I should die
without them." 39
Later in the day the wind shifted and came whipping in bit-
ter and cold from the north. It streamed into Vicksburg and the
blooming flowers withered in its path. 40
On the same day, hundreds of miles to the north on the
Tennessee line, a Mississippi regiment was in camp where
Christmas was celebrated by "all hands and the cook getting
drunk." 41 The enemy was being held at the Tennessee boundary,
but in Mississippi plans were underway to strengthen the Vicks-
burg defenses (though it had taken the state authorities eight
months to get around to even thinking about the necessity of
defending Vicksburg) .
39. Ibid., December 25, 1861. 40. Ibid.
41. "Civil War Diary of Captain James Litton Cooper, September 30,
1861, to January, 1865," ed. William T, Alderson, Tennessee Historical
Quarterly, XV (June, 1956), 145.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 63
Edward Fontaine, Ordnance Officer for the Mississippi Army,
planned to be in Vicksburg during Christmas to lay out fortifica-
tions. He had asked Governor Thomas O. Moore of Louisiana
to co-operate in the building of defenses along the river. The
governor referred the request to General Mansfield Lovell, Com-
manding General of Department Number One, who replied:
"We [have] no officer of Engineers and no guns to spare, and I
[think] it too late to commence a ... work. If they [Mississippi]
wish to build it, however, let them do it ... but I can give them
no competent officer, no guns, and no powder." 42 In the spring
General Lovell would reverse his decision and send to Vicksburg
the men and equipment he salvaged from the New Orleans de-
bacle. In the meanwhile the people of Vicksburg were undis-
turbed by military preparations in their city.
The second war year commenced. As the new year opened
the armies were still along the lines of the previous summer,
but suddenly the balance would be tipped and the sound of
cannon would reverberate off the hills of Vicksburg. That would
come; when the new year began Vicksburg was quiet.
Fewer boats came to the wharves, jobs became scarcer, and
Emma Crutcher plunged into her work with the Free Market
it helped to pass the long hours and kept her from being so
lonely. 43 She bought a little dog to give her companionship
but found the animal a poor substitute for her husband. On
New Year's Day she wrote him that she would keep the dog
until he returned and then give it away, because, she said, "I
think that after you get back, I can dispense with any other
companionship for my evenings. Don't you think we can con-
trive to get through the time without any outside help?" 44
Sometimes the loneliness would become unbearable and she
would sit in her room for long hours and write: "To know that
my love, my life, my other self, the dear object round which my
42. War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the
Union and Confederate Armies (Washington, 1880-1?01), Ser. I, Vol. VI,
783. Hereinafter cited as Official Records Army.
43. Emma Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, January 19, 1862, Crutcher
44. Ibid., January 1, 1862.
heartstrings are so knitted that I can never disentangle them . . .
is exposed to the cold blasts of winter blowing colder from the
sea ... is too dismal for a comment." Then, like the Spartan
women of whom she had probably read, she would tell her
husband: "If you get into a battle and are left with no choice
between surrender and death, surrender. Not till the last
moment, not until resistance becomes suicide, for I had rather
see you dead before me than dishonored, but save your life for
me if it can be done short of dishonor." 45 War held little
glamour for this bride of twenty-two, but winter was not all
bleakness and loneliness.
One of her friends had been engaged for two years to a man
who lived in Baltimore. He could not get through the armies'
lines to come to Vicksburg and the Federal naval blockade had
shut off commercial shipping to the southern ports. But he was
a determined man one day in January he arrived in the city to
claim his bride and the people cheered his exploit. He had
disguised himself as an oysterman and had slipped by the
patrolling men of war. 46
The blockade provided the people with another topic of
conversation. The Trent Affair stemming from the forceable
removal of two Confederate diplomats from an English packet
boat was discussed in the city, and some people speculated on
the possibility of England taking punitive measures against the
United States. If this came to pass they believed the war might
soon be over, "for these difficulties with England must seriously
embarrass our enemies." They were not sure that England's
"interference" would be best however they were confident of
the Confederacy's ability to win the war alone and they wanted
the United States "all to ourselves." 47
Suddenly optimism and complacency were jarred by a series
of military disasters. On January 19, the right wing of the
Army of Tennessee was shattered at Mill Springs. Three weeks
later at Forts Henry and Donelson, Grant's army and Foote's
gunboats battered the center of the Tennessee line into submis-
sion. The great screen which had shielded the tier of Gulf
45. Ibid., January 4, 1862. 46. Ibid., January 26, 1862.
41. Ibid., January 10, 1862.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 65
states was now a disorganized and defeated mass and for the
first time the people of Vicksburg felt the shock of catastrophe.
On the second Sunday in February the city "had its usual
round of Sunday School and Church," but beneath the outward
forms of activity there was an air of expectancy and unrest
which had been absent for many months. Emma Crutcher re-
turned from church to write her husband: "The town is ferment-
ing again . . . and everyone is going to war right off." 48 This
pleased Emma, for a month before she had asked J. W. Edwards
to join the King Cotton Guards, but he had begged off. 4Q Three
new companies were being raised and Emma found the re-
awakened tensions rather exhilarating: "Some of the old ladies
think they are going to eat us up right away, but I defy the
Yankees to scare me." 50 She might protest her fearlessness, but
even as she did so the many-pronged attack along the Mississippi,
which would culminate at Vicksburg, gathered weight and
As the Union armies began to press down from the north
and as the Union ships tightened the blockade on the Gulf ports,
the people began to feel the pinch of war shortages.
Scarcity changed Mahala Roach's daily routine. Until
mid-February she had used the time after dinner to sew, read,
and work with her account books. Now she stopped trying to
do much work after dark. In flickering firelight she made this
entry in her diary: "After dinner I ... subsided into utter idle-
ness; because my eyes are weak, and we have not candles enough
to burn, light wood is not good enough to sew or read by, there-
fore I make use of the time after tea only to chat, or doze." 51
A few days later she began to experiment and found that cotton-
seed oil would burn in her lamps. It was not as satisfactory as
candles or oil, but it was better than firelight and she was happy
to be able to read again at night. 52
48. Ibid., February 9, 1862.
49. J. W. Edwards to William O. Crutcher, January 12, 1862, Crutcher
50. Emma Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, February 9, 1862, ibid.
51. Mahala P. H. Roach, Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University
of North Carolina, p. 50.
52. Ibid., p. 56.
Soap became scarce and the experimenters turned to native
ingredients to try to manufacture a substitute. A "splendid
soap" was made with china-balls the fruit of the chinaberry
tree. The berries were soaked and dissolved in a lye solution
to yield "a fine soap." 53
Women's fashions also suffered. Homespun now clothed
the prosperous and the poor alike as women worked at long
unused spinning wheels and looms. Homespun became a badge
of sacrifice and loyalty and the women in Judge Harris' family
were proud to wear it. They solved the problem of new hats by
fashioning them from plaited oatgrass and palmetto. If they
were going to church or to a party and wanted a trim for a hat,
they went out in the garden, cut a flower, and stuck it on. 54
The winter days began to lengthen, but so did the casualty
lists. The people knew that Albert Sidney Johnston was trying
to re-organize his army along the northern border of Missis-
sippi, but it seemed to be a slow job and there was little to
encourage them. An air of melancholy and foreboding seeped
into Vicksburg. Emma Crutcher stopped writing cheery news
to her husband and she let her sagging spirits come out in her
letters. On March 6, she wrote: "It is impossible to enter the
details of little events that fill up my life .... I wanted to make
my letters interesting but there is no use in trying now they will
just have to answer the purpose of letting you know that every-
body is well." Then she added: "I saw Mr. Martin this
evening. His company go into camp tomorrow. Somehow I
have gotten the idea into my head that he will not return." 55 Less
than a month before Emma had defied the Yankees to frighten
her; now she looked at her friends and saw death.
Foreboding and uneasiness were not confined to a single,
lonely woman. On March 13, the city council passed an ordi-
nance prohibiting the storage of cotton within Vicksburg. No
more cotton could be brought into the city and the cotton already
53. [Anonymous], "War Diary of a Union Woman in the South,** ed.
George W. Cable, The Century Magazine, XXXVIH (October, 1889), 938.
Hereinafter cited as "War Diary."
54. Anne Harris Broidrick, A Recollection of Thirty Years Ago, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, p. 13.
55. Emma Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, March 6, 1862, Crutcher
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 67
there was to be moved outside the city so "the Same may be
Safely burned, should it be necessary to do so, to prevent it from
falling into the hands of our Enemies." In the same meeting
the council tried to spur enlistments by authorizing the payment
of two hundred dollars to each infantry company, two hundred
and fifty dollars to each artillery company, and three hundred
dollars to each cavalry company raised in the city. 56
Mayor Lindsay watched the deteriorating situation. On
March 24, he told the council: "The unfortunate condition of
our country, the voice of the people, and the protection to our
soldiers passing through our city, call for the closing of all
houses where liquors are retailed, at an early hour . . . and that
no more licenses be granted to such houses whilst the present
state of affairs exists." He also recommended economy in city
expenditures "keeping in view the decrease in our revenue, and
the imperative necessity from time to time of assisting our
Military Companies, and the Families of Volunteers. . . ," 57
The mayor was especially concerned with the maintenance of
law and order in the city. Martial law had been declared in
Memphis and New Orleans and he expected "a large floating
Population of Thieves, Gamblers, Swindlers, and Suspicious
Persons" to leave those cities and flood Vicksburg. The city
police would not be adequate to cope with this situation;
therefore the mayor recommended that the military companies,
which had previously assisted the police, continue and increase
their activity and that citizens who were not already members
of a volunteer unit be requested to form themselves into squads
further to augment the police forces. 58
The men who governed the city were worried, but they could
(and would) still direct the affairs of the city, though the time
was fast approaching when this would not be so.
Individual citizens continued to do what they could to
help the war effort. Emma Crutcher gave her pony to the army.
This was quite a sacrifice because the animal was her one
remaining pet and she had ridden it out in the countryside during
her courtship days with her husband. She told her husband,
56. Council Minute Book, p. 157. 57. Ibid., p. 160.
when she let the pony go: "Instead of writing a model, patriotic
note about laying the sacrifice on the altar of my country etc.
such as you see in the newspapers, accompanying a pair of salt-
spoons, I wrote the shortest and simplest note possible, merely
saying that I wished to give my pony to the Confederacy . . . ."
But she gained little comfort by making the sacrifice and said:
"If it were not for religion (and it sometimes escapes me for a
moment) life's problems would remain forever unsolved." 59
Other women organized the Ladies Hospital Association.
Money was sent from throughout the state to the Association
and the women used it to care for the sick soldiers in the city's
hospitals. 60 Mahala Roach took her turn nursing the soldiers,
though little did she dream that it was just a trifle compared with
what was to come. On the last day of March she returned home
and made this entry in her diary: "Went early to the Hospital
nursed the sick all day, got home after 7 had many pleasant
moments and am too tired to do anything tonight." 61
The city council also took notice of the men in the hospitals
and of the fact that some of them would not recover. The
council set aside special lots in the cemetery for the burial of the
dead soldiers in order that they might be assured of a "decent
and Christian interment." 62 The lots would soon be filled to
On Mississippi's northeast boundary Albert Sidney Johnston
had pulled together the remains of his Tennessee army. He
organized his forces in a weird battle formation and, on the
morning of April 6, he sent them crashing into unsuspecting
Grant at Shiloh. When the day was over Johnston was dead,
Beauregard had called off the attack, and Grant had managed to
salvage his army and a victory from the tangled battle. Two
hundred miles to the southwest the people of Vicksburg awaited
news of the outcome.
/ April 1 1 was cold and wintry. Rain beat down on the city
and lightning bolts cut the sky. Messengers from Shiloh,
59. Emma Crutcher to William O. Crutcher, March 14, 1862, Crutcher
60. Morris Emanuel to Elizabeth Eggleston, April 9, 1862, Eggleston-
Roach Papers, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State
61. Roach, Diary, p. 86. 62. Council Minute Book, p. 166.
WAR IS NEAR US INDEED 69
more eloquent than any dispatch, lay at the railway depot, their
bandages and blankets sopped with water. The men and women
of Vicksburg were at the station, but this time there were no
cheers for the troops, and throughout the day and into the night
the people worked to move the wounded to homes and hospitals.
Mahala Roach spent the day with the wounded and she was
worn out when she returned to her home that night; but before
she went to bed she made a short entry in her diary: "It was a
sad sight, and makes us realize that the war is near us indeed. 5 ' 63
63. Roach, Diary, p. 92.
"MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW
HOW TO SURRENDER"
GOOD Friday. The churches were open and the ministers
were conducting Holy Week services. Suddenly the whole
town was in an uproar; the courthouse bell rang in alarm and
the congregations were hurriedly dismissed. When Mahala
Roach left her church she heard the bare outline of what had
happened: one of the Carroll Dragoons had shot a woman and
then had resisted arrest. He was not taken into custody until
the militiamen were called to overpower him. 1
Later in the day the city council met in response to the re-
quest of "many citizens." The people themselves wanted martial
law declared in Vicksburg an almost unprecedented occur-
rence. The incident involving the dragoon seemed proof enough
that the civil police were incapable of maintaining the peace and
the city council admitted that they could no longer govern the
city. The council empowered the mayor to appoint a provost
marshal and to establish martial law because "the establishment
of martial law in New Orleans, Jackson, and Memphis, and other
points of easy communication with Vicksburg, has driven many
of the idle, the visions and the profligate of those Places to [seek]
refuge in this City, and ... the City authorities, although ade-
quate to the quiet government of the City under ordinary Cir-
cumstances, are powerless to govern, and control this influx of
vice, and lawlessness." 2 The breakdown of the local government
1. Mahala P. H. Roach, Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University
of North Carolina, p. 97.
2. Council Minute Book, pp. 166-67. Though the people wanted their
local officials to declare martial law, they had ambivalent feelings on the
matter. General Van Dorn instituted martial law in July 1862, much to the
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 7 1
had commenced and the rot of war had begun to sap the city.
Yet on the surface there were few indications of the nearness
of actual conflict.
Tending the wounded from Shiloh was still the closest touch
the people had with war. The wounded, the few militiamen who
garrisoned the small river batteries, and the casualty lists printed
in the newspapers reminded the people they were at war, but
these things were slight and remote from conflict. Martial law
gave a military fillip to the atmosphere, but other than that the
city was placid; and war, real war, was far away.
Farragut patrolled and blockaded the Gulf Coast to cut
off imports and to make cotton pile up in the warehouses, but
there was nothing immediate about that. Halleck was stalled in
front of Corinth with an army sitting in his way, and "Old
Brains" was so slow that it would have taken him five years to
move to Vicksburg if he had gotten in motion. The Northern
fleet on the Mississippi was far above Memphis, and the Con-
federate rams gathered at Fort Pillow blocked its movement
southward. If distance was measured by the sinuous path of the
river, which was the course the gunboats would have to follow
to get to Vicksburg, war was over four hundred miles away, and
the only sound of guns heard in the city was the booming of the
cannon as the gunners computed and checked their ranges.
Then it all changed very quickly. War, which up to this
time was something that happened to people in Tennessee and
Virginia, came flooding into the lower Mississippi valley. The
pincer movement was on again. It had been sidetracked in
Tennessee while Grant cleaned out Forts Henry and Donelson
and pushed Albert Sidney Johnston down the Tennessee River
to Shiloh. That was finished now, and the might of the Union
was hurled up and down the river toward Vicksburg.
On April 24, Farragut stopped patrolling and smashed by
Forts Jackson and St. Philip, the guardians of the approaches
people's displeasure. The reason they bridled against Van Dorn's edict is not
clear. It might have stemmed from the fact that Van Dorn over-stepped his
authority- only the president could declare martial law and too, Van Dorn
had the military force really to enforce the law, while Mayor Lindsay had
only a few volunteer companies, which would make for a much less stringent
to New Orleans. The next day he steamed up to the wharves of
the city to land Federal troops which occupied the city. The
news was telegraphed up the river to shake the towns and cities
from their lull of safety. When the message clicked out in
Vicksburg it stunned the people. Forts Jackson and St. Philip
were the strongest fortifications on the river; there was nothing
left between New Orleans and Vicksburg to hold back the gun-
boats, and New Orleans was less than five days steaming away.
The boats, with gunports yawning black in their hulls, would soon
be up the river to anchor off the city.
Five days grace, then Union gunboats. The shock spread
through the city like ripples made by a stone cast into a mill
pond. The sounds of the business day were muted and the
people "walked the streets aimlessly, as one does when troubled,
with bowed heads and saddened mien. It was like the slaying of
the first born child of Eygpt. Sorrow was in every house." 3
The time had come when the life of the people could not be
separated from the military operations. Though they were
civilians and noncombatants, they were now subject to the same
conditions as were their soldiers: the guns of the enemy threat-
ened them. Like their soldiers, they were both brave and fear-
ful, had fits of dejection and apathy, had moments of supreme
detachment in the midst of crisis; and in the end they made their
way in the face of circumstances as well as they were able. But
they were without one of the greatest comforts of the soldier.
They had no leader. They were not bound to follow orders with
the knowledge or the hope that someone of greater ability knew
what was going to happen and what was best for them. But
though they were not subject to orders, they were no longer
free in the broad sense of the word. All they could do was to
react to the military situation as it ebbed and flowed around
. The news of the fall of New Orleans came early on Saturday
morning, April 26. The shock, with its debilitating after-
math, was severe but brief, and as soon as the thought of being
under Federal guns registered in their minds the people began
a frantic scurrying.
3. Anne Harris Broidrick, A Recollection of Thirty Years Ago, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, p. 12.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 73
Sundays along the Mississippi were drowsy days. In late
April the sun was warm, the woods along the river showed
green, and people went to church and visited one another.
There was no time to enjoy the spring now. The gunboats had
not come yet; but the five days' grace was drawing to a close, and
there was no telling when the boats might arrive. There was no
drowse in Vicksburg no time for worship and leisurely visiting.
People stayed away from church and were in the streets hurrying
to homes, shops, warehouses and the railroad station. Gangs of
workers were in the factories dismantling machinery, packing it,
and carting it off to the depot. Cotton was hauled out of ware-
houses and carried to fields outside the city ready for burning.
Merchants stayed in their stores closing account books and
packing their goods. The clatter of hooves filled the streets as
drivers whipped their horses up the hills and out of the city.
That night Mahala Roach made this entry in her diary: "This
has been a singular Sunday, no Sabbath stillness has pervaded its
air, but bustle and confusion have reigned everywhere!" The
clatter and confusion went on into the night, and the next day the
wagons still streamed out of the city. 4
Until this time war had been a distant thing, touched with
a kind of glory. War had been the Volunteer Southrons singing
the "Marseillaise" as they climbed aboard the railroad cars, eager
for battle; war had been Emma Crutcher's love letters to her
captain in Virginia; war had even been the terribly dirty, bloody
wounded from Shiloh, but it had never been close. It was close
now, and it was different. War was fear, and the people of
Vicksburg were afraid. War was the urge to close up shop, pack
up, and get out of town. Even some who stood aloof from the
confusion and took the time to record the day's events were mak-
ing preparations to leave the city. As they left they began a
movement which was to be an integral part of the story of their
city under attack.
Never before did a civilian population caught in the midst of
military operations have the opportunity or the equipment to
move as did the Southerners in the Civil War. The improved
4. Roach, Diary, pp. 103-5; and Charles B. Allen, Plantation Book, Miss.
Arch,, p. 67.
. t '*"ff'"^Z~ --'- _ __. ___, ',,,"
A Confederate transport bringing cattle to Vicksburg.
Pictorial History of the Civil War)
roads, waterways, and railroads of the mid-nineteenth century
gave the people a mobility they had never before possessed. With
roads clogged and cut up by soldiers, with rivers scoured and
dominated by Federal boats, and with railroads falling into
decrepit disrepair and requisitioned for military use, the South-
erner was still able to move fast and far, though often at the
peril of his person and his property.
Under the threat of attack the people's first inclination was
to leave the city. Though the possession of the river hung in
doubt, Southern shipping still moved between Memphis and
Baton Rouge and up the secondary streams into Mississippi,
Arkansas, and Louisiana. Large troop movements were just
beginning, and the railroads and the roads were open to the
civilians. They could move in any direction, north and south
along the river, or deeper inland to the east and west. But it
was not that easy. Factors other than ready access to transporta-
tion had to be taken into consideration. It was an expensive
proposition to close a place of business and a home, pack
household belongings, load a family into a carriage or a railway
car, and relocate them in the country or in another town. Not
many people were able to do this. Instead they worked out
compromises which gave them the most safety with the least
expense and which took the form of "visiting." In this manner
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 75
the movement followed a loose pattern and was partially con-
fined to a particular socio-economic class and geographic locale.
The threat the people most wanted to escape was gunboat
bombardment land operations were not a factor yet and they
knew that the range of the boats' guns was limited. This meant
that they could move only a few miles into the country and
find safety. Another limiting factor entered at this point. War-
ren County was a rich agricultural county, and most of the land
was held in plantation-sized farms. This would further tend to
limit the type or class of person who could find refuge in the
county. The planters' homes were open to their friends and
social equals, but the laborer-artisan families got short shrift.
Living close by the city also meant that businesses and shops
would not have to be closed. The owner might commute if he
chose, or he might even stay in his town house once he had moved
his family and knew that they were out of gunfire range.
Charles Allen, who lived on the Big Black River, owned a
plantation with the jaw-breaking name "Nanachehaw." Four
days after the fall of New Orleans one of his friends from Vicks-
burg, S. B. Day, came out to inquire if he and Mrs. Day might
visit Nanachehaw. Mr. Day bluntly told Allen that his wife
was "scared about the gunboats" and wanted to leave the city.
Allen replied that the couple would be welcome and they were
soon at the plantation, away from the gunboat threat. 5
Mahala Roach remained cairn during the frenetic week end
and her routine did not differ from that of the previous days;
but in the back of her mind she, too, was making preparations to
leave the city. By May 7, she had her children and their be-
longings packed and they traveled out to "Woodfield," which
was also on the Big Black. Mahala did not relish the prospect
of leaving her house deserted in the city and as soon as she got
the children settled she returned to Vicksburg to spend two lonely
nights in the house. By May 12, she was satisfied that there
was little chance of harm coming to her property and she left
again for Woodfield. During the next three months she would
be in and out of the city. 6
S.Allen, Plantation Book, p. 68. 6. Roach, Diary, pp. 113-14.
The Days and Mahala Roach moved toward the east, the
direction most of the refugees took. They probably moved into
this section because it was more densely populated the little
hamlets of Bovina, Edwards Station, Bolton Station, Clinton,
and Raymond were there and it was easier to find a place to
stay. The Southern Railroad also ran to the east; this made
movement back to Vicksburg easier and quicker than travel by
road and by water, which were the only routes open to those who
moved north, south, and west, but plenty of people moved in
these directions. 7 Across the river at Brokenburn, Kate Stone
watched the refugees pass by. On the first day of May she was
told: "The Yankees were hourly expected in Vicksburg. Num-
bers of people were leaving the city." 8
One of the families who moved in a northwesterly direction
had a different motive from that of most of the refugees. Though
they left town about the same time as the others, they were not
fleeing the gunboats. On the last day of April, in a little village
by a lake in Arkansas, a young bride sat down and made this
entry in her diary: "The last two weeks have glided quietly away
without incident except the arrival of new neighbors Dr. Y.,
his wife, two children and servants. That a professional man
prospering in Vicksburg should come now to settle in this retired
place looks queer." 9
The unexpected arrival of these new neighbors provided the
young woman's family and friends with a new conversational
topic, and they tried to guess the reason which impelled a pros-
perous, established man to pick up and move so far to such a
secluded place. One of the men weighed all of the evidence and
said, " 'that man has come here to hide from the conscript of-
ficers. He has brought no end of provisions, and is here for the
7. At this time the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad, which ran
westward from Vicksburg, was completed only to Monroe, Louisiana, and the
first eighteen miles of it were under water from the overflowed river. Official
Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion
(Washington, 1904), Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 465. Hereinafter cited as Official
8. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 103.
9. "War Diary," The Century Magazine, XXXVIII, 937.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 77
war. He has chosen well, for this country is so cleaned of men
that it won't pay to send the conscript officers here.' " 10
The others did not know it but there was double irony in the
situation because the motivation which was attributed to the doc-
tor was the same for the bride and her husband. They had
fled New Orleans because the husband, though a Southerner,
had no love for the Confederacy and believed "the result will
inevitably be against us." 11 He did not want to fight for the
Confederacy, yet he would not fight against his people. The
only solution was to go into hiding. The irony was compounded
when the spring floods drove the couple out of their water-bound
hideaway and forced them into Vicksburg, where the husband
would not fight for his people but where both of them would
suffer with them.
At the same time the exodus was taking place, a cross-cur-
rent of incoming refugees set in. During the first week in May
a paradoxical situation developed; some people were desperately
trying to flee the city while others were eager to come in. Most
of the ones who were arriving were from New Orleans and the
vicinity already occupied by Union forces they were glad to
exchange life in an occupied territory for the meagre comfort
they could find in Vicksburg, which was only threatened with
attack and capture. 12
Hurried flight was merely one aspect of the people in
alarm, but it was typical of the conditions of the time. Fear
opened a Pandora's box of sudden changes and evils. Property
which could not be moved was changing hands as owners
liquidated real-estate holdings in anticipation of damage and loss
through bombardment and occupation. 13 The old bugaboo of
a Jewish conspiracy a lingering reminder of Know-Nothing
days crept out in the tension and strain. Benjamin L. C.
Wailes wrote Jeiferson Davis: "The shopkeeper Jews in Vicks-
burg are buying up real estate one bought the Washington
I Q.I bid. 11. Ibid. , 936.
12. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 69.
13. The number of recorded real-estate transfers for April and May was
almost four times the number recorded in February and March. Warren
County Deed Book CC, Courthouse, Vicksburg, entries for February-May,
Hotel and other property has fallen into their hands." 14 The
taint of disloyalty was implied in this accusation. 15
Flight and bigotry were indications of the temper of the
people in a time of uncertainty and fear. Those who could,
or wanted to, fled. Some of those who stayed caught up old
shibboleths and flung them about, heedless of the truth. All of
them sought to salvage and hang on to something of their old
way of life in a situation that threatened to strip them bare of
their common culture. In sum, they acted no better nor worse
than anyone else in a similar position. They groped about in
an amorphous situation as individuals, without leadership or di-
rection. As individuals they tried to find a place of safety for
themselves in the face of the unknown, and as individuals they
made a muddle of it. The situation was not altogether their
fault; they were without organized direction. At a time such as
this order and disciplined movement could be restored only by
force of leadership, by an authority who possessed that force and
who was willing to use it. Such power rested with only two
sources the civil authorities and the military officers and
neither was capable of applying it.
The city government was completely unable to cope with the
situation or to offer any rallying point around which the people
could gather, catch their breaths, and make a common guided
effort to stabilize themselves. Problems such as civilian defense
(to apply a twentieth-century term to the situation), the housing
and feeding of refugees, and the preparation for the occupation
of the city by Confederate soldiers were all sloughed off. Only
one meeting of the city council was held during these critical
weeks. There was no leadership from this quarter. The men
who governed the city failed to provide any direction for the
frightened people, and they did not even try to go through the
motions of leadership. Government collapsed into an ignomin-
ious interregnum. 10
14. Benjamin L. C. Wailes to Jefferson Davis, May 6, 1862, Jefferson
Davis Papers, Duke University.
15. There is little indication that this accusation was based upon fact.
William Lum owned the Washington Hotel, and the names of the property
purchasers in the Warren County Deed Book, although inadequate evidence,
do not indicate that many Jews bought property during this period.
16. The news of New Orleans' fall came on April 26; the council did not
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 79
The other potential source of leadership and force was the
military authorities. There was a void here also for the simple
reason that there were no officers in Vicksburg with the rank or
the power to act. Perhaps it was just as well that military force
was not applied because when it was used two months later such
a howl arose that Jefferson Davis had to disavow the action.
The frightened city moved in a leadership vacuum perhaps
it was better that way. The lack of leadership threw the people
back on their own resources and, though for a while they wal-
lowed in the morass of their own confusion, they slowly began
to take the temper which would be required of them to stand
attack and siege. This temper this spirit could not be created
by military edict or by civic regulation; it could not be pressed
upon the people; it had to come from within themselves. At
some time during the first weeks of May the people began to take
the temper. The panic of the weekend of April 27 was spent
with the first mad rush to the country. This cleared out most of
the thewless ones. Those who were left might be afraid, but they
would not be stampeded.
As one day lengthened into the next and Farragut's gunboats
still did not appear, the people began to take heart and their
backbones began to stiffen. There was a new atmosphere in the
city when Charles Allen came in on business on May 3. As he
made his rounds to the wholesale grocers and the commissions
merchants and that the business houses were still open was a
good sign in itself he watched and listened to the people. What
impressed him most was not the flight from the city, but the
fact that large cannon were being emplaced along the riverfront.
He sensed something wholly different from fright in the city.
When he returned home he wrote in his journal that the people
of Vicksburg were "determined to show fight." 17
Allen did not know it, but on the day before, General Mans-
field Lovell, the man who had said in December that he could
meet until May 5, ten days after the first burst of panic and flight. The
minutes of the meeting of May 5 indicate a routine business session. Nothing
is recorded concerning the fall of New Orleans or the threat to Vicksburg.
Then, no further meetings were held until June 16, and at both meetings a
bare quorum (four out of seven councilmen) was present. Council Minute
Book, pp. 166-69.
17. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 69.
not defend Vicksburg, had reported to Beauregard that he had
ordered troops to the city and also had heavy artillery on the
way. 18 Most of the troops were artillerymen and had served
the guns at Forts Jackson and St. Philip and the batteries of the
Chalmette; they knew the gunboats and they wanted another
chance at them. These veterans began to arrive in the city on
May I. 19
At the same time these Louisiana troops were pouring into
the city, more soldiers were coming from the east as reinforce-
ments were ordered from the camp at Enterprise, Mississippi.
The night before the trains started for Vicksburg, the officers
appropriated a school building, decorated it, set up dining tables,
and installed a band for a final ball and banquet.
Little William Hart, whose father commanded a company of
the Eighth Louisiana Heavy Artillery, was allowed to stay up to
watch his parents dance and dine with the other couples. This
was an exciting time for a four-year-old boy far from home; as
the hours passed he remained wide awake watching the uni-
formed officers dancing and laughing with their hoop-skirted
ladies. Occasionally he would look through the windows of the
school and see the faces of the enlisted men who stood outside
peering in at the brilliant display. His young mind was not keen
enough to catch the undertones of brittleness in the laughter or
the current of tension which underlay the party, for the gaiety of
the evening was set against the thought of the morning, when
the men would leave to tend the guns of Vicksburg. The
officers of the Eighth Louisiana had served the guns at the New
Orleans forts; they knew what was in store for them, but all
little William knew when they sat down to eat was that "every-
body was gay and happy because the sound of war had not yet
reached that place." The next day they were on the trains
bound for Vicksburg. 20
The arrival of the troops marked a psychological turning
point for the civilians. Here, finally, was someone doing some-
18. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. X, pt. 2, 481.
19. S. H. Lockett, "The Defense of Vicksburg," Battles and Leaders of the
Civil War, eds. Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel (New York, 1884),
III, 482. Hereinafter cited as Battles and Leaders.
20. William O. Hart, "A Boy's Recollection of the War," Publications of
the Mississippi Historical Society, XII (1912), 149-50.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 81
thing positive. The placement of the guns spoke eloquently and
decisively of what was to be done. Though there were still
people who would leave the city, those who remained caught
something of the resoluteness of the black cannon and the cheer-
fulness of the soldiers.
General Martin Luther Smith, who was placed in immediate
command of the defense, arrived on May 12, the same day that
Natchez was occupied by Federal forces. The weak show of
force and the apathy of the people at New Orleans and the
flaccid collapse at Natchez made him doubtful as to what he
would find at Vicksburg. 21 He was immeasurably heartened
as the people both men and women of all ages sought him
out to tell him that they had made their decisions about them-
selves and their city. They wanted Vicksburg defended and
held. General Smith saw no wavering among the people at
this time; he thought they were ready to stand the gaff. Their
response was so cheering that "the defense became an affair of
more than public interest" to him. 22
The metamorphosis of the mind was completing itself. Two
weeks previously the people had stumbled over themselves in
their fear. Now they were sticking behind the military forces.
This two-week span is the period in which the people were most
brave, braver than when the gunboats finally came and braver
than when Grant locked them in under seige. At this time they
faced the unknown the unknown that is always more frighten-
ing than the reality, and which requires stronger stuff to stand
against it. War had never really touched them and they could
only guess and fear what it would do to them.
The gunboats were the carriers of war and of the unknown.
They had scourged the western waters; Forts Henry and Donel-
son, Island Number 10, and New Orleans had been felled by
them. The unanswered question which preyed on the minds of
21. Brigadier General C. G. Dahlgren, who commanded at Natchez,
reported that he could raise only fourteen men who were willing to defend
the city, and that "the conscripts positively refus[ed] to do duty." Official
Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. XV, 737. Though the author raises the point
of a difference in the condition of mind between the citizens of Natchez
and Vicksburg, he does not, though admittedly he makes an invidious compari-
son, attempt to explain the reason (or reasons) for the difference.
22. Ibid., p. 7.
the inhabitants of Vicksburg was "What will the fleet do when
it gets to our city?" After the gunboat bombardment started,
and later when Grant encircled the city, the gnawing dread of
the unknown vanished. The people learned what to expect;
and as they learned they found that they could stand against it.
Actual attack was a physical thing, and the courage required to
stand up under it became more of a physical exercise than a
solely mental process. From this standpoint the period between
the fall of New Orleans and the onset of actual attack was
the most critical time, at least for the civilians, of the entire,
extended Vicksburg campaign. The whole business pivoted on
these few weeks in which, though there was no military clash,
it was decided that there would be a campaign instead of a quick
Seen in retrospect, the civilians were an inevitable part of
the military operations, but at the onset the military leaders hoped
that they could be kept separate, and General Smith directed
that the artillery batteries should be sited out of the town limits,
sometimes at the expense of not using better locations inside the
city, in the hope that the fight would "be confined to the armed
points, and the city itself, which could have no bearing on the
ultimate issue, be made to suffer as little [as possible]." 23 Later
he would ruefully report that "events did not justify our ex-
Once defensive preparations were set in motion, and the more
elaborate they became, the more they impinged upon the ci-
vilians. There was no clear-cut or consistent reaction on the
part of the people to the inexorable encroachment upon the city
and their lives. The frailty and inconsistency of their nature
were highlighted by the manner in which they would seek out
General Smith to tell him with "great unanimity" that their city
ought to be defended "at all hazards," yet at the same time
disregard pleas for Negroes and tools to work up the defensive
Before the fall of New Orleans the slaveholders were re-
quested to send one thousand Negroes to the engineer in charge
of building the defensive works. They were not sent. Even
23. Ibid., p. 12. 24. Ibid,
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 83
the fall of New Orleans and the immediate naked threat to their
city did not make the owners comply with the request. Finally
the engineer in charge, who had the authority to impress the
slaves and equipment, was forced to use it. 25
When Charles Allen heard that horses as well as Negroes
were being impressed he sent a messenger off in the night to
catch and turn around a wagon and team he had sent to
Vicksburg. 26 Though he lived only a few miles out of town,
and though his fate was closely linked to the military decision
which would be made there, he would have no part of aiding
in the defense. Even when the gunboats lay out in the river,
and after his guests had left his home because they were more
afraid of the possible landing of troops at Nanachehaw than the
gunboats, he remained adamant. Two weeks after he sent out
in the night for his wagon he was still unmoved by the requests
for help. "I have paid," he wrote in his journal, "no attention
to any of their requisitions, thinking more than half are by
scoundrels to get planter's teams to haul private property . . . one
gentleman found his team hauling out a family and their truck
and wanted to know if they were Gov't. stores?" 27 And this
was written after the gunboat flotilla commander had threatened
to blow the city to rubble.
This sort of reaction was not limited to the early weeks in
May as the civilians were feeling the demands of the military
for the first time. Some of them would never adjust themselves
to the realization that they were an integral, though perhaps
unwilling, part of a military struggle and they kept criticizing
sometimes justifiably, sometimes captiously right to the end
of the siege. But this was merely one aspect of the people as
the time of attack came nearer. In other respects they appear
in a more favorable light.
During the period of stabilization the city militia was re-
organized. Up to this time it had been a haphazard sort of
25. Ibid., p. 813.
26. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 70.
27. Ibid., p. 74. In Allen's behalf it must be stated that the requisition
for slaves was for one night only. Allen could see little reason in walking a
gang of slaves on a twenty-five mile round trip for one night's work. Also
there was "no overseer to work them when they got there."
organization and most of the men who would have ordinarily
been a part of it had already gone on duty with either state or
Confederate units. On May 15, an order went out which in-
cluded all men of military age who were left in the city be-
tween eighteen and fifty years old and mustered them into the
militia. They were required to meet in front of the courthouse
the following Saturday morning "when their organization will
be completed." They were further required to bring their own
guns and have them in good order. The brigadier general di-
recting their organization was Charles E. Smedes, who was
better known as a grocer. 28
At first reading this seemed to be a routine announcement,
but there was more to it than met the eye. First, the militia
was a local organization and it functioned under the direction
of local authorities; therefore, at last, some initiative was being
exercised by the local officials. The sweeping inclusion of every
male of serviceable age indicated the temper of the city every-
one wiU turn out and there will be no shilly-shallying about it.
The sorry display at Natchez where only fourteen men could
be dragooned to defend their city was not to be tolerated
in Vicksburg. This was fine. Then, in contra-distinction to
the bold tone of the order, a pathetic note underlined its wording.
Here were men called out to protect their own homes. It had
taken twenty-two days from the first alarm to get them out just
for organization, they had to find their arms by themselves, and
they were commanded by a grocer.
As a military unit the militia was a weak reed, but that was
not the point. The point was this: the militia was a symbol of
the great seethe and reaction which had occurred in the minds
of the people since the time of secession. A year and a half
previously they had fought against secession in every way they
could. They had voted for a Unionist candidate for president;
when that failed they had sent anti-secession delegates to the
secession convention. All of this had been to no avail, and the
guns and blood of battle had pushed them into the arms of the
secessionists. The casualty lists which trickled back from
Virginia and Tennessee had sealed the embrace. In this they
28. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 85
were no different from the people of Natchez, who though
Unionist, also had sent their men to war and had learned that
they had been killed and maimed. But something had happened
in Vicksburg that was not repeated in Natchez. Both cities had
been loyal in 1860; yet when the moment came to make the ulti-
mate decision, Natchez, which pitted fourteen men against five
gunboats, chose complaisant submission while her sister city,
equally Unionist in 1860, volunteered defiance. The militia was
the city's articulated defiance. The change in the mood of the
people was the real significance of the militia gathered in front
of the courthouse on a Saturday morning in May. The final,
irrevocable setting aside of old loyalties was the true meaning
of the old men and young boys who, dressed in whatever they
chose to wear and armed with whatever they could scrape up,
went through military motions under the command of a grocer
This defiance was neither brash nor rash, but considered and
calculated. At the same time the Whig carried the notice to
muster the militia the paper was engaged in a debate with the
Jackson Mississippian concerning the fate of the city. The
editor of the Mississippian, forty miles from the gunboat threat,
had exhorted the citizens of Vicksburg to show their earnestness
in the struggle and to "make a example of heroism and devotion
to the cause" even if it meant putting the torch to the city to
prevent its capture. Across the river at Brokenburn, Kate Stone,
whose mother was burning $20,000-worth of cotton, was also
in an incendiary mood. On May 9, she wrote in her journal
that "it seems hopeless to make a stand at Vicksburg. We
only hope they may burn the city. . . . How much better to
burn our cities than let them fall into the enemy's hands." 29
Kate's private thoughts and the Mississippian 's public urging
were contradicted by the people who would feel the fire.
Marmaduke Shannon, the Old Whig-Unionist, spoke for
the majority of the citizens when he replied to the editor of the
We observe that our patriotic contemporary of the Mississippian
urges the denizens of this 'burg' to consign the city to flames before
29. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 101.
surrendering. We trust that our authorities and citizens will have a
little more discretion than to commit such a rash and impolitic act.
Vicksburg is no Moscow, and its destruction would be of no injury-
whatever to the enemy, but would be a severe blow to the many
families here whose husbands, sons and brothers are now in the
army .... Vicksburg has shown and will 'show her earnestness in
this struggle,' but her people will not destroy the city .... We will
'make a example of heroism and devotion to the cause,' but it will
not be by destroying the city. If the enemy shell it there will not be
a murmur, but we will not apply the torch ourselves. 30
This was written by the editor who had told his readers eight-
een months before that resistance was rebellion. Now he was
doing his best to rally the people to "the cause." War was a
Procrustean bed and few people escaped the stretchings and
shrinkings that the passions and pressures of conflict forced upon
them; but though the citizens' minds were changing and harden-
ing into resistance they would not adopt the tinny heroism that
outsiders tried to foist on them. Shannon's answer to the editor
of the Mississippian was an exercise in quiet courage, and the
only florid phrases in it were quotations from the Mississippian
which would never see the gunboats and only momentarily feel
the weight of Grant's army. 31
A condition of mind is shown in many ways. An editorial is
a more eloquent statement of that condition, but homey, every-
day things sometimes come closer to the true state of affairs.
The editorial printed on the front page of the Whig was one
man's opinion, though it was synthesized from a fair segment of
the people's ideas. The advertisements carried in the inside of
that paper were the statements of many people of the city. They
offered French clocks, velvets, Scotch plaids, laces, French china,
stoves, silverware, and pins for sale. In mid-May the city's
30. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
31. Shannon was not blind in his allegiance to the Confederacy. In the
same issue of his paper lie struck out at the government: "The Government
has lost the popular confidence and heart, never to regain them. ... By gross
neglect and incompetency, we have met with such severe disasters that the
public confidence has been shaken in our leaders. . . . For one long year . . .
has war . . . raged on Southern territory , . . not a southern musket has been
fired beyond Southern limits. ... We are playing the part of the frogs in
the pond, pelted with rocks by cruel boys, and only . . . find safety in
dodging as best we can the dangerous missiles."
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 87
stores were open and luxury items as well as many staples could
be bought in them. On the same page with the advertisements
there were announcements of candidacies for probate judge and
county sheriff in a coming election. 32
These notices the advertisements for pins and plaids and
the election announcements were really better indicators of
the temper of the people than Shannon's editorial. There was
something stolid in these advertisements that lent additional
substance to the higher pitched editorial. Shannon had acted
as their spokesman in the rejection of old loyalties, and the
merchants and office-seekers confirmed their confidence in the
new loyalties, even in the face of attack, by refusing to be
stirred from the everyday course of their lives and activities.
The refusal to be stirred went further than strivings for busi-
ness and political gains. Among those people who remained
in the city, social activities went on much as before. Kate Stone
was again in town during this period visiting a friend whose
home she thought was "delightful." While there she visited
several other friends whom she had known at the Nashville
Female Academy and they "attended a meeting to get up a
Yet beneath the surface of resoluteness and gaiety a different
current ran counter to the outward mood of the city. Specula-
tion and profiteering are ugly words and the practice is even
uglier, but it was inevitable that the sordid business would creep
out in the city. Without regulations of any sort on merchandise
and foodstuffs the public lay at the mercy of the merchants, and
they had to depend upon the fairness and patriotism of the sellers
to pass on their goods at reasonable prices. The temptation to
increase profits through hoarding and price raising was too great
for some of the merchants to resist, and the worst part of the
whole business was that the price pinch went on necessities
rather than luxury items. Stoves and silverware went begging,
but salt became very dear. 34
32. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
33. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 104.
34. The lack of salt in Vicksburg, as throughout the state, became so acute
that in the summer of 1862, Governor Pettus sent agents through the South
to scour the country for it. Ella Lonn, Salt as a Factor in the Confederacy
(New York, 1933), pp. 292-96.
Charles Allen returned to Nanachehaw on May 10, after
buying supplies in Vicksburg. He was still choleric when he
opened his journal to write: "V'burg is now full of men and those
there are [the] oldest merchants in the produce line, who are
playing the game of 'Number One;' I am done with them."
Then he became more specific: "Could not get a sack of salt
offered $100 Duff Green and Company and Rigsby have it,
but won't sell will quit Green and Crump if Duff Green is in
the concern; believe he and Benj. Thomas are partners in
speculation on necessaries of life." 35
Allen could not see that he was a victim of war's poetic
justice. Three days earlier he had refused to let his horses be
used in defensive preparations; now the shoe was on the other
foot and he did not like the way it pinched. But this was of no
comfort to the people who aided with the defenses and still
could not get the precious salt.
Charles Allen was just one of the many who discovered that
some of the merchants were hoarding and profiteering. By
May 15, the practices had become so flagrant that the Whig
printed: "Someone has said: 'All men think all men mortal
except themselves.' How true is this in reference to extortion!
All men think all men extortioners but themselves! . . . They
forget that in the Holy Book . . . extortioners are classed with
murderers, adulterers, and liars, and not with common sinners.
Think of this, ye church members, who are selling articles at
one hundred times their value, and are thus preying upon the
life blood of the people, and seriously jeopardizing the liberties
of the country." 36
This was a mere indication of what was to come when
the city was surrounded by the enemy and there was no way to
get foodstuffs through the lines. The concept of mobilization
and control of civilian resources as well as military resources or
the concept of total war was far in the future; and the hyper-
sensitive attitude which the Southerner held toward the encroach-
ments of a powerful government on his precious liberty the
attitude which goes a long way in explaining secession and the
35. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 71.
36. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 89
subsequent collapse of the Confederacy would have scarcely
allowed city officials to impose and enforce any sort of regula-
tions on the buying and selling of food. When a sense of honor
and humanitarianism failed the merchants, and it surely did, the
people who were hungry had to depend upon the charity of their
fellow citizens and that of the generous people in Mississippi
On the same day Charles Allen vented his spleen on the
profiteering merchants another link in the chain of river de-
fenses broke and the gunboats steamed closer to Vicksburg.
On May 10, Fort Pillow, guarding the approaches to Memphis,
fell and the Confederate rams gathered there were brushed aside.
General Jeff Thompson, who commanded the fort, watched the
fleet as it was being wrecked. When it was done he turned from
the river, said, "They are gone, and I am going," and mounted
his horse and rode off. 37
From the south Farragut's gunboats were moving nearer to
Vicksburg. After holding his fleet back for over a week follow-
ing the fall of New Orleans, he moved northward. On May 3,
he ordered "three or four of the gunboats" to proceed to
Vicksburg under the command of S. Phillips Lee. 38 A week
later he urged Lee to move quickly because he had just talked
with a man from Vicksburg who said that there were only six
guns emplaced at the city, but that more batteries were being
built. He also told Lee to try to get a gunboat up the Yazoo
River to destroy the ironclad ram which was being built there.
The destruction of the ram was "a thing of the first importance." 39
Lee dawdled on the way. He got to Natchez on May 12, but
then it took him six days to move his boats on to Vicksburg.
On Sunday, May 18, three weeks to the day from the
scrambling rush to leave the city, the gunboats steamed into
view. Here finally was war. But it was not the kind of war the
newspapers reported or the wounded from Shiloh told about.
37. Henry Walke, "The Western Flotilla at Fort Donelson, Island Number
Ten, Fort Pillow and Memphis," Battles and Leaders, I, 452.
38. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 465. When Lee finally
started for Vicksburg he had in his flotilla the Oneida, Kennebec, Winona,
Sciota, and Itasca, and two transports loaded with troops. Ibid., pp. 533, 705.
39. Ibid., p. 478.
It was merely several dark, squat shapes lying silently out in the
Noon. The sun stood straight over the river and there was
no activity. Then, twenty minutes past the hour, the Oneida
put a gig over the side; a white flag fluttered above it. The gig
moved in toward the city, a faint movement in the silent scene.
A single shot the first shot fired at Vicksburg toward the
enemy split the stillness. Its echo bounced off the bluffs and
the projectile raised a ruffle in the river. The gig stopped and
a steamer moved out from the wharves to see what message it
carried. 40 The dispatch was exchanged and an agreement was
made that the gig would return at three o'clock for an answer.
The message was addressed to "The Authorities at Vicksburg."
Near Vicksburg, May 18, 1862
The undersigned, with orders from Flag-Officer Farragut and
Major-General Butler, respectively, demand the surrender of Vicks-
burg and its defenses to the lawful authority of the United States,
under which private property and personal rights will be respected.
S. Phillips Lee,
Commanding Advance Naval Division.
The same ultimatum had gotten quick results with the
officials at Natchez. The Natchez mayor had replied that his
city had "no alternative but to yield to an irresistible force, or
uselessly . . . imperil innocent blood." 41 Lee was probably
thinking of the mayor's reply while he awaited an answer from
Vicksburg. Three o'clock came; the gig set off for the answer,
but there was none. Finally, at five o'clock the steamer left
the wharves and met the gig. 42 She carried three messages and
it was well that Lee had addressed his ultimatum to "The Au-
May 18, 1862.
Sir: As your communication of this date is addressed to "The
Authorities of Vicksburg," and that you may have a full reply to
40. Ibid., pp. 782-83. 41. Ibid., p. 491.
42. Ibid., p. 783.
MISSISSIPPIANS DON'T KNOW HOW TO SURRENDER 91
said communication, I have to state that Mississippians don't know,
and refuse to learn, how to surrender to an enemy. If Commodore
Farragut or Brigadier-General Butler can teach them, let them come
As to the defense of Vicksburg, I respectfully refer you to
Brigadier-General Smith, commanding forces at and near Vicksburg,
whose reply is herewith enclosed.
Jas. L. Autry,
Military Governor and Colonel,
General Smith had this to say;
Headquarters Defenses of Vicksburg,
May 18, 1862.
Sir: Your communication of this date addressed to "The Authori-
ties of Vicksburg," demanding the surrender of the city and its
defenses, has been received.
Regarding the surrender of the defense, I have to reply that having
been ordered to hold these defenses, it is my intention to do so as
long as in my power.
M. L. Smith
General Smith and Colonel Autry replied for the military and
for the Confederate government. A third message came from
the mayor; he spoke for the people of Vicksburg:
May 18, 1862.
Your communication of this date addressed to "The authorities
at Vicksburg" has been delivered to me.
In reply, I will state to you that as far as the municipal authori-
ties are concerned we have erected no defenses, and none are within
the corporative limits of the city; but, sir, in further reply, I will
state that neither the municipal authorities nor the citizens will ever
consent to a surrender of the city.
Mayor of the City. 43
43. This series of documents may be found in ibid., pp. 492-93.
If Lee was not satisfied with the replies, at least he was
sure that all of the "authorities" had seen his ultimatum. He
studied their notes, decided that nothing more could be done
at the present, and ordered the Oneida to drop below the city.
The remainder of the flotilla followed him and just about twilight
their anchor chains rattled through the hawse-pipes.
The next day was quiet. During the morning the officer of
the deck on the Oneida saw a large fire above Vicksburg, which
was probably someone's cotton crop going up in smoke. That
afternoon he saw three little river steamers go scuttling into the
city's wharves. That was all and the gunboats remained silent
on the river.
The following day, Tuesday, began quietly, but ended with
gunfire. In the late afternoon the gunners on the Oneida saw
some troops on the bluffs and blasted away at them. 44 Captain
Lee tried to force the issue. On Wednesday, May 21, he notified
Mayor Lindsay that he would commence an attack on the town.
He gave Lindsay twenty-four hours to remove the women and
children "as it will be impossible to attack the defenses without
injuring or destroying the town, a proceeding which all of the
authorities of Vicksburg seem determined to require." He
closed his message with the hope that "the same spirit" which
prevailed at New Orleans would be manifested at Vicksburg,
thus sparing the city from damage. 45
The message got to Lindsay late in the afternoon. He replied
that it was too late in the day to make the public announcement,
and that he would compute the twenty-four hour period as com-
mencing at 8:00 A.M. on the twenty-second.
The next day Lee answered that this was unacceptable. It
was his "option to fire or not ... at the earliest moment." On
the afternoon of May 22, the guns opened in earnest. 46
44. Ibid., p. 783.
45. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. XV, p. 13.
46. Ibid., pp. 13-14.
'WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY
AN eleven-inch naval cannon was a murderous weapon.
Swollen at the breech, long and grey-black, it tapered to-
ward the muzzle where its almost foot-wide bore gaped dark and
empty. A heavy iron and oak carriage, lacings of chains, ropes,
and pulleys, and a number of men were required to pull the gun
into battery, serve its projectile, then haul it back after it was
fired. Its projectile weighed 166 pounds and had a range of
several miles; it could smash through brick walls and dig great
gouges out of the ground. The gun's shock action, the capa-
bility of causing fear, was almost as great as its destructive power.
It was the personification of war with the waiting, the fear, the
moment of clamor and impersonal destruction, then the waiting
Vicksburg shuddered under the naval gunfire. The shell-
ing was not heavy or concentrated, but it was enough to start
a new exodus from the city. Many of the people who had re-
fused to be frightened by rumor and who had remained in their
homes when the first wave of refugees left the city now departed.
They had waited to see what would happen; now they knew,
and a second movement of civilians commenced.
The shelling decided Max Kuner. A friend offered him the
use of an abandoned plantation house about ten miles out in
the country, which he was glad to accept "because all available
shelter for miles around was being rapidly taken up." Finding
a place to stay was one problem; moving there was another, for
all of the serviceable horses and mules had been requisitioned
for use by the artillery and the cavalry. Finally Kuner found an
old, broken-down horse, which cost him ten dollars, and the
tired beast pulled the family out of the city.
When the Kuners arrived at their new home they found the
"walls in tatters" and pigs in the basement. Four other families
joined them and Kuner had to support them all. He even took
in an old Negro and a decrepit mule, but he did not mind for
they were all safe. 1
Doctor William Lord, the Episcopal rector, moved his family.
He would remain in the city to keep his church open and serve as
a chaplain, but he wanted his wife and children to be out of
gunfire range. He buried his silverware in the churchyard,
packed books and clothing into a wagon and a carriage, and sent
the family to a plantation on the Big Black. Mrs. Lord re-
mained on the plantation a few days to get the children settled,
then returned to Vicksburg. She was worried about her husband
and wanted to be with him, even if it meant facing the shelling. 2
Rowland Chambers could stand on his front porch, see a
cottony puff of smoke and hear a dull report from the river,
then hear the snapping rush of air as a shell passed overhead.
He was an itinerant dentist and jack-of-all-trades who had been
in Vicksburg for only a few days. He had brought his family
and servants with him and had just opened his practice when the
shelling started. The cannon fire did not bother him, but as it
frightened his wife and daughter he sent them to the country
with two servants. 3
Emma Crutcher left Vicksburg with a light heart, for her
husband had returned from Virginia. Captain Crutcher had
been invalided out of the army and Vicksburg was manifestly no
place in which to convalesce. The couple moved to Clinton,
found a place to themselves, and Emma began to nurse her
husband back to health. After a while he was strong enough to
be up, and they attended church services held in the Clinton
Hotel because all of the churches were filled with sick and
wounded soldiers. Much of their conversation centered about
1. [Kuner], "Vicksburg and After," The Sewanee Review, XV, 486.
2. William W. Lord, "A Child at the Siege of Vicksburg," Harper's Monthly
Magazine, CXVIII (December, 1908), 44.
3. Rowland Chambers, Diary, May 28, 1862, Department of Archives and
Manuscripts, Louisiana State University.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 95
the attack on Vicksburg, and Emma, with a touch of pride,
wrote her mother: ". . . the country people seem to think it
strange that Father has not moved his printing office knowing,
as they do, that everything else has been taken out of Vicks-
General Smith inspected the city during this period. He
observed that many homes were closed, that the city was "sparsely
populated and somewhat prepared for . . . attack," that other
people were preparing to leave, but also that there were
still "many who had determined to remain and take the chance
of escaping unharmed." 5
Vicksburg was now a garrison and was rapidly becoming a
fortress. The raw slash of earthworks cut across the springtime
green; roads were rutted by wagons and caissons; stores were
closed and some of the merchants who remained had begun to
demand cash for all purchases. 6 Major Winchester Hall looked
about him and decided: "Vicksburg looked as if the simoon of
war already had swept over it, the lowlands were flooded, the
city deserted by all who could leave, [and] business houses that
were not closed were barren of goods . . . ." 7
But life did not cease, values merely changed, and they took
some strange twists. War might be gunboats on the river and
the possibility of death, but it was also merely doing without
some things which were previously considered to be necessary.
Kate Stone thought so, for she was quite as interested in, and
sensitive to, changing fashions as the struggle for possession of
the city. In her diary she briefly noted that she could hear the
sound of the Vicksburg guns, then she wrote:
Clothes have become a secondary consideration. Fashion is an
obsolete word and just to be decently clad is all we expect. The
change in dress, habits, and customs is nowhere more striking than
in the towns. A year ago a gentleman never thought of carrying a
bundle, even a small one, through the streets. Broadcloth was de
rigueur. Ceremony and fashion ruled the land. Presto-change.
4. Emma Crutcher to Lavinia Shannon, June 8, 1862, Phillip Crutcher
Collection, Miss. Arch.
5. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol, XV, p. 7.
6. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
7. Winchester Hall, The Story of the 26th Louisiana Infantry, in the
of the Confederate States (n.p., 1890), p. 13.
Now the highest in rank may be seen doing any kind of work that
their hands find to do. The men have become "hewers of wood and
drawers of water" and pack bundles of all sorts and sizes. It may
be a pile of blankets, a stack of buckets, or a dozen bundles. One
gentleman I saw walking down the street . . . had a piece of fish in one
hand, a cavalry saddle on his back, bridle, blankets, newspapers,
and a small parcel in the other hand; and over his shoulder swung
an immense pair of cavaliy boots. And nobody thought he looked
odd. Their willingness to fetch and cany is only limited by their
strength .... Broadcloth is worn only by the drones and fireside
braves. Dyed linsey is now the fashionable material for coats and
pants. Vests are done away with .... A gentleman thinks nothing
of calling on half a dozen young ladies dressed in home-dyed Negro
cloth and blue checked shirt ....
Then Kate, a member of the planter class, summed it all up:
"In proportion as we have been a race of haughty, indolent,
and waited-on people, so now are we ready to do away with all
forms and work and wait on ourselves." 8
Winchester Hall could have seen the same sight in Vicks-
burg, but if he did it did not register in his mind. He thought
that Vicksburg was a desolate place, for he was an urbane
Louisianian and was accustomed to New Orleans' brilliant face,
but another soldier received an entirely different impression of
the city under attack.
William Chambers had grown up in the piney woods of
Mississippi and his railway trip through Jackson to Vicksburg
had been his most adventurous and lengthy journey. When he ar-
rived in Vicksburg he spent the first Sunday of June, a misty,
rainy day, walking through the city. He thought Vicksburg was
a lovely city. When he returned to camp he opened his journal
and wrote: "The City itself is a study .... The streets are located
and houses are built [along the hills], the side walks of one street
often being on a level with ... the roofs of the houses on the next
street below. The most beautiful yards and gardens I [have]
ever seen [are] here, generally arranged in terraces, with stone
stairways between, and I also saw finer buildings than I [have]
8. Stone, Brokenburn, pp. 109-10.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 97
ever seen before. The court House . . . has a much more im-
posing appearance than the Capital at Jackson." 9
So war, even a focal point of attack, is like all things, rela-
tive. One man arrived in Vicksburg and saw desolation, another
came and found beauty. Both desolation and beauty were in
the city. Empty houses stood dark and shuttered, while behind
them in their gardens flowers and grass were brilliant in the sun.
Simple things such as grass and sunlight seemed to take on added
meaning and interest for some of the people. Perhaps it was
because nature was immutable and its certainty was a pleasant
contrast to the precariousness and pall that the gunboats had
brought. At any event May 25 was warm and bright, and this
in itself was enough to cause comment and pleasure. 10
The same day, on the river, the gunboat captains met with
Farragut and General Williams to discuss the feasibility of land-
ing troops and assaulting the town. Williams believed that
with the number of soldiers he had, he could not success-
fully attack the city. Captain De Camp thought at least a
naval attack should be made, as the Confederates had "insulting-
ly" answered Lee's demand for surrender. Captain Alden al-
ternately voted for attack, then against it, finally hid his face in
his hands, agreed with the majority, and proposed that the vote
should be made unanimous no. Farragut, sick and fidgety,
reluctantly agreed. The risk of running the boats close under
the shore batteries, without troops to attack and spike the guns,
was too great. Instead of assaulting Vicksburg, Williams would
set to work digging a canal which was designed to channel the
Mississippi through a by-pass around the city and away from its
guns. Farragut would send the fleet below the city, blockade
the river, occasionally lob a shot at the town to harass the de-
fenders, and wait for the coming of the northern (or upper) fleet
which was steaming down from Memphis. No mention was made
of the ironclad ram being built on the Yazoo the destruction of
which Farragut had previously said was of "the first impor-
9. William P. Chambers, "My Journal/* ed. Ruth Polk, Publications of the
Mississippi Historical Society, V (1925), 241.
10. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 112.
1 1 . "Private Diary of Commander H. H. Bell," Official Records Navy,
Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, p. 706.
The people of Vicksburg knew of the boat. Rumors con-
cerning the ram had come drifting out of the delta country, but
the people did not take them very seriously. The Navy De-
partment could not even find a crew for the boat and advertise-
ments in the Whig, offering a fifty-dollar bounty and pay of
twenty-five dollars a month for seamen and even landsmen, failed
to attract much interest, though there were experienced rivermen
in the city without work. 12
During the latter part of May a naval lieutenant slipped into
town. He remained for a few days, receiving on May 28 a
telegram from the Navy Department ordering him to his new
command the Arkansas. Isaac N. Brown did not waste any
time; the same day he received the order he boarded a little
river steamer bound for Greenwood, Mississippi. He was paid
little attention and left Vicksburg without fanfare.
When he arrived at Greenwood and saw his ship, Brown's
heart sank. The river was up, backwaters flooded far over the
banks of the Yazoo, and the hulk of the Arkansas floated four
miles from dry land. Brown's command was an unfinished hull
with no engines, no armor, no gun carriages, few crewmen, and
the railroad iron intended to be the armor lay sunk on the bot-
tom of the Yazoo.
The iron was fished up and the Arkansas was towed to
Yazoo City, fifty miles from Vicksburg. Brown had his wits,
his ingenuity, a good executive officer, and very little else to turn
the hulk into a fighting ship. He borrowed over two hundred
soldiers to augument his crew; he scoured plantations for forges
to use with the iron work; he found abandoned and unused
railway tracks to supplement his existing stock; he selected trees
to be used in the construction of gun carriages; and all the while
he kept an apprehensive eye turned downriver, for he feared a
surprise attack on the unprepared vessel.
May slipped into June, then June into July. The summer
sun leached the unprotected workers. When the sun set and
the evening coolness settled on the delta, banks of mosquitoes
rose from the swamps to torment the men; and in the distance
they could hear the guns at Vicksburg. The only consoling
12. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
The Arkansas, being built by Isaac Brown and his crew from scrapped rails
and boilerplate, worked in forges requisitioned from surrounding plantations.
(From Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)
thought Brown could muster was that Oliver Hazard Perry, under
much the same circumstances, had cut a ship out of the forests
in ninety days.
Slowly Brown's masterpiece of improvisation, cajoling, beg-
ging, and inspiration took shape. The deck lay almost at water
level; amidships the superstructure, slant-sided and capped by
a smokestack, arose like a box. The box was made of wood a
foot thick. Iron rails were bolted over the wood and were
supposed to be curved around the rear of the box, but there
was no machinery to bend the rails and the stern was left un-
protected. Ten guns were mounted inside the box, three to a
broadside and two forward and aft. The engines, set deep in
the hull, drove two propellers which had the frustrating habit of
rarely stopping at the same time, thus pushing the Arkansas
round in a circle. There was no paint, but the iron rails took
care of that. Their rust, streaked and run down the sides, gave
the ship some color, and Farragut later described the Arkansas
as being chocolate-hued. 18
13. Isaac N. Brown, "The Confederate Gun-Boat 'Arkansas,' " Battles and
Leaders, III, 572.
While Brown was commencing his work the last link in the
river defense chain above Vicksburg was shattered on June 6,
when Memphis fell to the northern fleet. Now the Union navy
could navigate the river between the Gulf of Mexico and Vicks-
burg, and from the headwaters of the Mississippi south to Vicks-
burg. The city stood alone. Its little arc of cannon and the
rusty boat, still abuilding on the Yazoo, were all that separated
two Union fleets. The pincers had almost snapped shut.
On June 24, 1862, Colonel Alfred W. Ellet, a soldier com-
manding the Union fleet of rams north of Vicksburg, sent his
son, his nephew, and two other men to locate Farragut, who was
south of the city. The little party splashed through sloughs and
swamps, sometimes up to their necks in water, slipped by Con-
federate pickets, and finally got to Farragut. Ever so tenuously
the pincers had closed around Vicksburg. 14
Mortarboats had already been brought up from the south,
and their lazily arching shots were falling into the city. 15 Now
the northern fleet added their weight of metal, and the people of
Vicksburg, no longer uninterested, asked for news of the Ar-
kansas and anxiously awaited the moment when she would come
out of the Yazoo for a try at the Union fleet. 16
The people were also asking other questions. The queries
were chiefly about food, and how to get it. Food became scarcer
and prices climbed. A bushel of corn meal sold for two dollars
and a bushel of field peas was priced at $2.50. Salted fat pork,
the cheapest of meats and formerly used for slave rations, was
forty cents a pound when it could be bought. Yet at the same
time there was waste and carelessness in the handling of food as
large stores of molasses were allowed to ferment and spoil under
the sun. 17
High prices were merely a manifestation of shortage, not the
cause. The cause lay with the bombardment, for the range of
the Union guns marked a line separating scarcity from abund-
14. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 584, 750.
15. Martin L. Smith to Earl Van Dorn, June 2, 1862, Van Dorn Papers,
Library of Congress.
16. Edward G. Butler to Ann Butler, July 18, 1862, Butler Family Papers
(E), Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State University
17. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 69.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 101
ance. In the country early crops were beginning to ripen and
there was plenty of food, yet it remained on the farms and planta-
tions and only an insufficient trickle found its way into the city.
The planters refused to expose their slaves, who ordinarily
brought the produce to market, to the danger of shellfire and the
stores remained partially empty. Even the people who camped
just beyond the rim of the danger zone found difficulty in obtain-
ing enough to eat. In the Whig, Marmaduke Shannon appealed
to the "patriotism and humanity" of the planters to supply food
to the hungry people camped on the edge of the city, as it could
be done "without danger." He did not even attempt to persuade
them to bring their produce into the city and run the risk of
being subjected to "the annoyance we daily experience from the
enemy"; perhaps he thought he would be wasting his ink. 18
Those who remained tightened their belts and went under-
ground. Until the mortarboats came the people had found safety
behind the reverse slopes the sides away from the river of
the hills. The flat trajectoried naval guns could not reach over
the hills and down the far sides. The mortars could. They fired
a shot high into the air, which fell almost perpendicularly and
left no backside hill, gully, or creekbed safe. Now the only
place for shelter was beneath the earth's surface, and the people
started digging. Vicksburg began to be turned into a city of
The caves measured the ebb and flow of war around the city.
In the beginning they were simple affairs, usually a little hole
scooped out of a hillside. There were not many of them as there
were few people in the city and the bombardment was not
severe. Then for nine months, the time between the lifting of
the naval siege and the combined assault of the Union army and
navy, no new shelters were built there was no need for them
and the erosion of wind and water worked on the existing ones.
When Grant with all his fury swept in behind the city, cave
building became big business. Caught in a cross fire between the
artillery and the naval guns, the people honeycombed the hills
with elaborate tunnels in which they could live for days, and in
18. Vicksburg Daily Whig, My 1, 1862.
doing so even developed a cave psychology. But that was all to
come. In June 1862, the simple shelters served the purpose.
The movement underground was just one of the many aspects
of a people changing their way of life to accommodate themselves
to attack. In the early days of June the Sisters of Mercy closed
their convent school. After the students were dismissed the
sisters opened the convent to the sick and wounded, and for a
while stayed to nurse them. At the outbreak of the bombard-
ment the sisters were given the choice of leaving the city or re-
maining to do what good works they could; seven sisters left im-
mediately, but three of the seven soon returned. As June wore
on, and the attack showed no indication of abating, plans were
made to move the order. In late June 1862, all of the sisters
left. They went first to the military hospital at Mississippi
Springs, then to hospitals at Jackson and Oxford. They would
not return to Vicksburg until May 28, 1865. 19
Sick and wounded troops were also taken into the homes of
the citizens. Winchester Hall's Twenty-sixth Louisiana Regi-
ment was hard hit with measles and the military medical service
was incapable of caring for them. By a few discreet inquiries
and hints Hall found places and nurses for the stricken men,
though sometimes they had to be content to lie on bare floors
rather than beds. 20
The military authorities began to clamp travel restrictions
on the civilians. Persons desiring to leave the city had to ob-
tain proper military authorization and passes before they could
move. A provost marshal's office was established in the center
of town to issue the passes, though they were not difficult to ob-
tain and the authorities probably sought merely to keep account
of who was moving rather than seriously to curtail travel. 21
Transportation was more affected by the gunboats than by
Confederate military regulations. It was now risky business to
venture out on the river. A few steamboats still sneaked down
along the Yazoo and the Big Black, then darted into Vicksburg;
but they did not run on schedule, and they came into the city
19. Register, Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, Vicksburg, unnumbered
20. Hall, 26th Louisiana, pp. 14-15.
21. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 15, 1862.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 103
only when their captains thought they might be able to slip by
the Union vessels. Train service was still available to the east,
but it was haphazard, and Emma Crutcher wrote her mother
that "the cars pass [Clinton] irregularly." 22
Despite the strictures the people still moved and communi-
cated, though sometimes not in the direction which appears at
first glance. Some persons found safety in the country; others
fled to the Union fleet. Perhaps they had taken all of the pound-
ing and shortages they were able to absorb; perhaps now that
United States forces were close, latent Unionism could more
safely show its head; whatever the reasons contacts were opened
with the Federal navy.
On the afternoon of June 23, the officer of the deck aboard
the Richmond was surprised by a sight on the riverbank. A
woman stood there with a small boy. She waved a white
handkerchief to indicate that she wished to come aboard; when
she was questioned she said simply that she was a refugee from
Vicksburg. 23 The attackers were able to learn as much about
conditions inside the city as the defenders themselves knew.
Union sympathizers along the river supplied the fleet with Vicks-
burg newspapers one officer on the Richmond reported that
they received the papers every day. 24 Farragut was in constant
touch with refugees, and they gave him detailed accounts of
happenings within the city, though they often exaggerated the
suffering and destruction. 25
The trail of Unionism stretched all the way from Washington
to Vicksburg. On June 25, R. A. Watkinson, an employee of
the Navy Department, wrote to Flag Officer Charles H. Davis
suggesting contacts which might be established inside Vicks-
burg. Watkinson said that he had "lived a long time in the
region," and knew that "there must be in the town a large
element of latent Unionism." He believed that William C.
Smedes and "a Burwell, of Virginia . . . belonged to this class."
He also said that A. B. Reading, one of the foundry owners, was
a "traitor by force of circumstance." 26
22. Emma Crutcher to Lavinia Shannon, June 8, 1862, Crutcher Collection.
23. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 749.
24. Ibid., p. 750. 25. Ibid., Ser. I, Vol. XIX, 81.
26. Ibid., Ser. I, Vol. XXIII, 227.
The implication of Watkinson's letter was this: here is a list
of persons who are Union men, all that must be done to turn
them to use is to communicate with them. But it was not that
simple. In the security of his Washington office the issue of
loyalties might be clear-cut to Watkinson, but in Vicksburg it
was a complex tissue of many considerations the chief one
being living in peace. Smedes had long since given up the strug-
gle and had written a lengthy defense on the right of the Southern
states to secede. 27 Burwell was still a deep-dyed Unionist, but
would remain silent until the city fell; then he would feel safe
to open communication with United States authorities. Read-
ing's foundry continued to cast arms and ammunition for the
Confederacy until Grant marched into the city. Watkinson's
suggestion came to a dead end, and in doing so indicated some-
thing of the Unionists' situation in Vicksburg.
Their position, in a place which was under attack by the
nation they espoused, was manifestly precarious, and silence
was their greatest protection. Alexander Arthur, an unbending
Unionist, kept his own counsel, went about his business, and
was left unbothered. When a young Unionist couple from
New Orleans came to Vicksburg they too remained silent.
They tried to fit themselves into the life of the city, and
gave no outward sign that they were opposed to the Confederacy.
The price of overt opposition was high; a friend of Arthur's
named Wesson found it to be so. He refused to join the army,
talked too much about the strength of the United States, and
was forced to exile himself for a while. 28
The fact that some of the men still refused to enlist in the
army, choosing instead to take membership in the home guard,
rankled some of the women. They took to satire to spur into
field service those whom they considered to be laggards and
circulated this broadside in the city: "To Arms! To Arms!
There will be a meeting of the young ladies of Warren county,
to be held ... for the purpose of forming themselves into a Home
27. William C. Smedes, In Vindication of the Southern Confederacy
(Jackson, Mississippi, 1861), passim.
28. Alexander H. Arthur to Joseph Holt, May 26, 1865, Joseph Holt
Papers, Library of Congress.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 105
Guard, for the protection of those young men who will not vol-
unteer for the country's cause." 29
The city government finally showed a flicker of life when,
on June 16, the council managed to obtain a quorum and held
their first meeting since May 5. The civil affairs of the city
had already passed from their control by default if for no other
reason, but they did manage to appropriate $318.75 to be used
to defray the costs of moving indigent families from the city.
Other than this single action they made no attempt to govern
or care for the people, preferring to leave that responsibility to
the provost marshal. The meeting of June 16 was the council's
sole session while Vicksburg was under attack. 30
The county government, seated in the city, also ground to a
halt. Public officials as well as private citizens scattered before
the enemy, seemingly without a thought or qualm about abandon-
ing their offices. The county clerk's office closed on June 19
and did not reopen until long after the bombardment had ceased.
Yet before the office closed enough people had registered prop-
erty transfers to indicate that the wave of fear-caused selling
initiated by the fall of New Orleans was still strong. 31
Now the city seemed empty and silent. William Allen came
to town, looked about, then returned home and wrote: "Vicks-
burg is deserted ... no one [is there] except soldiers." 32 This
was an overstatement for Shannon still published his paper, a
few shops were open, the post office and depot were open, but
it was as though an air of expectancy, of waiting, hung over
the city. Anyone could look across the river to the Louisiana
shore and see Union soldiers and impressed slaves digging at the
ground, trying to cut a new channel for the Mississippi which
would isolate Vicksburg and render her guns harmless. Anyone
could look out on the river and see the Oneida, the Richmond,
the Brooklyn, the Hartford, the Miami, and the swarm of sup-
porting ships, as they conducted the slow bombardment; and
between the reports of the guns the strains of the "Star Spangled
29. Reprinted in the New York Sunday Mercury, June 18, 1862, quoted in
The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, ed. Frank Moore (New
York, 1867), II, 57.
30. Council Minute Book, p. 166.
31. Warren County Deed Book CC, entries for June, 1862.
32. Allen, Plantation Book, pp. 78, 85.
Banner" came drifting faintly from the boats, which was some-
thing not calculated to improve the morale of the defenders. 33
The initiative rested with the Federal fleet. In Vicksburg all
anyone could do was wait, and watch, and see what would
On June 24, the tempo of action increased. Just before
sundown Ellet's little party of messengers reported to Farragut,
and rockets announcing the approach of the upper fleet blazed
in the night sky north of Vicksburg. An officer aboard the
Richmond noted that "great excitement prevails in the city on
account of the two fleets meeting." 34 The civilians as well as
the military men knew that the only way the two fleets could
rendezvous was for one of them to run the Vicksburg batteries,
which was an entirely different proposition from standing to one
side of the city and haphazardly lobbing shells at fortifications
and homes. When the attempt to pass the batteries was made
every gun on both sides would come into fast and furious action.
The Confederates would have their first real opportunity
to deal Farragut's fleet a crippling blow, for the boats would have
to pass the city broadside, their speed would be cut by the cur-
rent of the river, and their lightly armored decks and cabin
tops would be exposed to the plunging fire of the batteries sited
high on the bluffs.
The best chance for success for the fleet lay in slipping by
the batteries in the dark when it would be difficult for the Con-
federate gunners to see their targets and in bringing every gun
they could to bear on the defenses, thus smothering the batteries
with a blanket of fire. The consequence of this was that the city
as well as the batteries would receive an onslaught of shells.
For two days Farragut worked to prepare his fleet. Splinter
nets were hung over the sides of the ships, barrels of sand were
stacked around the engines, chains and bags of coal were piled
on the decks, and mortarboats were towed into positions which
gave them "a good view" of the city. 35 In the city the people
waited; there was nothing else they could do.
33. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 750.
34. Ibid. 35. Ibid.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 107
June 26: the sky was clear and the sun was hot. In mid-
afternoon the mortarboats opened a rapid fire on the city. They
continued the action until sundown and the Confederate guns
scarcely fired a shot in return. The next morning the mortars
commenced the bombardment at daybreak. Later in the day the
gunboats moved in to add their metal to the shelling. The
firing continued all day and on into the night. No Confederate
gun answered. The pounding began to shake the defenders,
civilian and soldier alike, and the silence of their batteries began
to grate on their nerves. William Chambers was afraid and was
not ashamed to admit it: "I confess I was uneasy and nervous,
in fact was badly demoralized .... One feels utterly defenseless,
unless there is a chance to strike back. . . ," 86
Rowland Chambers' reaction was quite different. After
they had finished supper, he and his brother went outside and
sat unprotected on a horseblock watching the shelling. Cham-
bers, undisturbed, thought it was "a most grand display of
fireworks." At 10:00 P.M. the firing ceased and with nothing
else to see he went to bed. He lay in bed and listened to the
"deadly stillness" which had fallen over the river. 37
There was no moon in the sky; the city sat shrouded on the
blufis, and the dark, silent hours passed by. 38 Then at 3:00
A.M. the sound of anchor chains being raised rattled up the
river. Farragufs fleet was in motion. The Oneida led the way,
the other boats in line behind her with gunports open and can-
non rolled out. Slowly they came abreast of the sleeping city
and there was still no sign of alarm. Then the mortars opened
fire, the captains of the ships ordered full steam, the broadsides
lashed out at the city, and the Confederate cannon began to
The unsuspecting people were routed from their sleep by the
explosions. This was the first night attack and the first con-
centrated bombardment they had experienced, and they tumbled
from their beds groggy and panicked. In the light of the ex-
36. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 240.
37. Chambers, Diary, June 27, 1862.
38. The Confederate States Almanac /or ... 1862 (Nashville, Tennessee,
1862), p. 9.
plosions Mannaduke Shannon watched their terror: "Men, wom-
en and children, both black and white, went screaming through
the streets . . . some dressed and others almost nude .... One
man [carried] his wife in his arms she having fainted with
fright." 39 They stumbled to whatever shelter they could find,
gaining what comfort they could from the sound of their own
guns giving as good as they got.
At first the fight was in the dark; stabs of light were the only
targets. Though he was busy at a cannon, a simile popped into
Hugh Moss's mind: ". . . the shells fell so fast that they looked
like stars falling from the heavens it was a sublime, but danger-
ous scene the flashes of the cannon were that of lightning and
its rumbling was that of thunder." 40 Aboard the Richmond
an officer looked toward the shore and it appeared to him that
the batteries surrounded the city with "one line of flame." 41
But the gauntlet was long, and before the last ships had run
it they lay exposed in the sunlight. The firing was heavy and
sustained, the ranges easier to compute, and on the Richmond
"brains and blood [were] flying all over the decks." Then it was
over. At 5:40 A.M. the last ship passed the batteries, but below
the city the mortars and the Brooklyn hammered away for two
more hours until, at 8:00 A.M., they too fell silent. 42 In the city
one woman was dead and several people were wounded. Shells
had struck homes, and the Methodist and Catholic churches. 43
Swashbuckling Major General Earl Van Dorn, always seek-
ing glory but already defeated at Pea Ridge, was newly appointed
commander of Confederate forces in southern Mississippi. He
had been in Vicksburg only one day when the Federal fleet ran
the batteries. After the action he telegraphed Jefferson Davis:
"Bombardment heavy yesterday and this morning. No flinching.
Houses perforated; none burned yet .... All sound and fury
and to brave men contemptible." 44
Rowland Chambers would never express himself through
words such as Van Dorn's, but he lived the spirit of the general's
39. Vicksburg Daily Whig, July 1, 1862.
40. Diary of A. Hugh Moss (n.p., 1948), p. 19.
41. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XVIII, 751.
43. Vicksburg Daily Whig, July 1, 1862; Allen, Plantation Book, p. 75.
44. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. XV, 14.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 109
report. He did not allow the shelling to interrupt his social
activities, for even on the days of heavy bombardment he made
his way through the city to visit friends and also received them
in his home. On June 30, as the bombardment slackened,
Chambers noted in his diary that there was "occasional feeing,"
but this did not deter him from working in his garden. He
spent most of the day setting out sweet potato slips, unmindful
of the shells which were exploding in the city. 45
The heavy attack did, however, affect some of the civilians.
Dr. Emanuel finally admitted that the danger to his trains and
to passengers gathered at the depot was too great to continue
to bring the trains into the city. He posted notice that for the
duration of the attack the trains would stop two miles outside
the city; both passengers and freight would be loaded and de-
posited at that point, and service was curtailed to one eastbound
train a day. The travelers were also inspected to insure that
they had obtained passes permitting them to leave the city. 46
Two other public services were moved with the railroad terminal.
The telegraph station and the post office were also relocated
outside the city, and as they were moved the people's feeling of
isolation increased. 47
Marmaduke Shannon's printers began to complain of the
danger and the editor was forced to agree with them. On July 1,
the Whig suspended regular publication, because, said Shannon,
"With the enemy's shot and shell falling around us ... we cannot
ask the printers to work." He did not venture to guess the
length of the suspension; perhaps it would be "a few days
perhaps months." At any event, Shannon would not quit en-
tirely; he promised to print a paper when he could manage to do
so, or "publish the news in extra form." 48
Shannon was reluctant to suspend publication of his paper;
for, as he counted them, there were "many families . . . still
living in town," and he thought it was his duty to supply them
with the news. The people who remained fell into three groups:
45. Chambers, Diary, June 29, 30, 1862.
46. Vicksburg Daily Whig, July 1, 1862.
47. Edward G. Butler to Ann Butler, July 12, 1862, Butler Family Papers
48. Vicksburg Daily Whig, July 1, 1862.
those who absolutely refused to be frightened from their homes;
those who could not find a place to which to move; and those who
could not afford to move. Their reasons for remaining to suffer
the bombardment were varied, but they faced common hazards
The scarcity of food became more acute, yet if the inhabitants
so desired they could purchase stoves, wagons, pistols, plows,
carpets, and even Italian marble in the city's stores. 49
The problem of obtaining enough to eat faced the soldiers
as well as the civilians, and as a consequence the soldiers became
almost as unpopular as the Union navy. The vicissitudes con-
nected with being part of a fortress began to multiply as the
people discovered that living in a beleaguered city meant not
only that they should suffer at the hands of the enemy, but also
that their defenders were a mixed blessing, as some of the
soldiers seemed to think that private property should be regarded
as community property. Anything in the city that was eatable
was considered to be fair game. Rowland Chambers' food stock
suffered because of the soldiers. In the space of a few days his
ripening peach crop was looted and a large pig was stolen. 50
Even the loss of valuable food did not sour Chambers, for
he was something of a philosopher at heart. He wasted little
time with recrimination and found pleasure when he could. On
the Fourth of July he wrote: "This is a lovely morning perfectly
cloudless with a gentle breze and not too hot to be pleasant,
everything quiet and a person could hardly Realiz that he was
in the center between two large armies intent on nothing but
death and destruction of every thing within their reach." 51 Little
did he realize as he wrote these words that they would be equally
true a year later.
That afternoon as the bombardment recommenced, William
Chambers counted the shells as they fell into the city. He
tallied 150 explosions, then laconically wrote: "In commemera-
tion of Independence Day, I suppose." That night he and others
watched as the fleets gave a fireworks display. 52
50. Chambers, Diary, July 3, 9, 1862.
51. Ibid., July 4, 1862.
52. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 243-44.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 111
Earlier that day General Van Dorn issued an order which
was as pyrotechnic as the Federal fireworks. In General Order
Number 9, which would be denounced from private homes in
Vicksburg to the capitol in Richmond, he declared martial law
in a band of river and coastal counties. Martial law was defined
as "the will of the military commander" and was imposed to
curb disloyalty. "Disloyalty," the order read, "must and mil
not be countenanced .... The seeds of dissention and dissatisfac-
tion shall not be sown among the troops. Speculation and ex-
tortion upon soldiers and citizens will not be tolerated . . . "
Anyone who attempted to trade with the enemy would be sen-
tenced to death. Anyone who refused to accept Confederate
money, who published information regarding troop movements,
who sought to impair confidence in commanding officers, or
who charged exorbitant prices would be subject to fine, imprison-
ment, and property confiscation. 53 Reaction was violent and
instantaneous, but the Whig, on July 11, circumspectly carried
no mention of the order. George W. Randolph, Secretary of
War, did not wait for Congress to complete the debate concerning
the issue he rushed Van Dorn a countermanding order and, on
September 5, Van Dorn publicly apologized for Ms unauthorized
action. 54 Civilians who had been convicted for violating the
order were released from jail and the people of Vicksburg
retained the right to live under civil jurisdiction.
On July 11, when neither side fired, Shannon kept his promise
to supply the news by publishing an issue of the Whig, The
paper reminded the people that they were fighting a two-front
war casualty lists from the Seven Days Battle in Virginia were
printed with comments concerning casualties at Vicksburg.
Shannon devoted a column to a summing up of almost two
months of attack in which he gave the lie to accounts of wide-
spread destruction: "The terrace[d] hill'd city . . . presents today
a desolate yet ... sublime appearance .... No buildings have
been destroyed, and the city at a distance presents its wonted
appearance. There have been no casualties since [June 28] and
those citizens remaining appear to have become 'used to it.' "
53. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. XV, 771-72.
54. Ibid., Vol. XVIII, Pt. 2, 694.
Though the biddings stood relatively undamaged, the heart had
been cut out of the city: "Our streets which of old teemed with
the tide of business, now echo the tread of the sentinel as he
paces his weary rounds .... Had a simoon fresh from a Upas
grove blown its destructive and poisonous blast over our city,
the effect could scarcely be more appaling than that caused by
the presence of the enemy . . . ." 55
Shannon did find one brief item which he inserted to add
a touch of levity to the somber picture he had painted. He re-
ported the capture of a single sailor, "a real live Yankee," who
was sent through Vicksburg on his way to prison. Shannon
thought the man's political inclination "seem to be of the
Greely school." 56 This was the best humor he could muster.
Though Shannon and other citizens might mourn their
city as being desolate, it nevertheless seemed a haven to some
people especially those who lived in occupied territory. While
the guns pounded away, refugees from Louisiana filtered into
town. Charles Allen saw one man, an old acquaintance, mak-
ing his way toward Vicksburg. He had been three weeks coming
from New Orleans and had walked the entire distance. He
carried a coat, cravat, and carpet bag, which was all that he
had managed to salvage from his estate. Allen told the man
that Vicksburg was under attack, but that made no difference for
he continued on his way. 57
After the ferocious hours of June 28, a certain sameness
characterized the passing days. The fleets returned to their
practice of a harassing bombardment, occasionally answered
by the Confederate batteries. The Fourth of July fireworks and
a complete day of safety, July 11, when neither side fired, stood
out as singular events, but other than that a tedium settled over
As the people became used to the shelling they began to
study their assailants; they learned the names of the individual
ships and the type of guns they carried. In the people's minds the
ships and the fleets began to assume definite human character-
istics. Edward Butler thought that the upper fleet was lazy and
55. Vicksburg Daily Whig, July 11, 1862.
56. Ibid. 57. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 88.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 113
cowardly. Behind the protection of a bend in the river, its ships
indiscriminately peppered the city, and, wrote Butler: "They have
never done anything else since they came and not one of [the
ships] has ever come within sight of any of our batteries." The
lower fleet was quite different. It was considered to be composed
of "brave and daring men [who] fight like brave men. They
have only shelled the town once or twice when they had reason
to believe we were bringing troops through, and their vessels
have twice passed our batteries." 58 In this manner much of the
impersonality of the battle was dissipated and the civilians, like
soldiers, learned to regard their enemies as human beings, rather
than mere fighting machines.
The turning point of the naval siege came on July 15, when
the rusty Arkansas steamed out of the Yazoo. An abortive start
was made on the fourteenth, but leaky boilers blew steam into
the powder magazine and Brown had to stop his ship, lay out
tarpaulins, and spread the powder upon them to dry. Helpless
and only a few miles from the Federal ships, the crew spent most
of the day turning and sifting the drying powder. 59
Early on the morning of the fifteenth Brown was ready to try
again. He hoped to catch the Union fleet at sunrise, but the
Arkansas ran aground and dawn broke long before the enemy
was sighted. As the Arkansas pushed out into the Mississippi
she was twelve miles from the support of the Vicksburg batteries
with at least thirty-seven Union vessels lying in her path.
The Carondelet made the first pass at the rusty boat, fol-
lowed by the Tyler and the Queen of the West. The Carondelet
was disabled, and the Tyler and the Queen fled downstream to
the safety of the massed fleet. The Arkansas followed, with
Brown wounded and the temperature in the engine room stand-
ing at 130. As the ironclad rounded a bend the massed might
of the Union navy in the west, "a forest of masts and smoke-
stacks," confronted her and still Vicksburg was not in sight.
The Arkansas lurched ahead, her wheezing engines aided by the
push of the river current. The range closed and the Union can-
58. Edward G. Butler to Ann Butler, July 18, 1862, Butler Family Papers
59. The following account is based upon Brown, Battles and Leaders, III*
non began to reach out for her. The banging of shells off her
armor was unceasing, and Minie balls and shrapnel slapped
through gunports and cracks in the iron. It seemed to Brown
that he was in the middle of a "volcano."
The sound of the gunfire roused the people of Vicksburg.
They were not able to see anything, but the crescendo of ex-
plosions could mean only one thing the Arkansas was coming.
They stopped whatever they were doing and lined the hilltops,
unmindful of the risks. To the north the sound of gunfire
slackened and after a bit they could see a single ship limping
toward them. Pandemonium broke loose. The people cheered,
they sang, they danced and hugged one another. Edward Butler
said that he would not even attempt to describe their excite-
As the Arkansas tied up, the civilians gathered along the
wharf to welcome the crew. They crowded about the .boat and
pushed aboard, then recoiled when they peered into her gundeck.
Acting Master's Mate Wilson watched them "retreat hastily,"
for when they looked inside the Arkansas they saw "blood and
brains bespattered everywhere], whilst arms, legs, and several
headless trunks were strewn about." Evidently, even in their
beleaguered city, they were not used to the sight of gore; and
the crew were left alone to carry off their dead and wounded and
to patch up the ship. 61 A vicarious thrill of victory was enough
for the people; they would take their naval battles from a vantage
point on the hills. But they wanted more even Charles Allen,
out at Nanachehaw, planned to come in to watch the renewal of
the battle. 62
The battered Arkansas threatened to ruin the Union naval
offensive. She could menace either fleet, forcing them to keep
up steam day and night in order that they might be prepared for
a sudden sortie. Occasionally Brown would have the boilers
lighted and smoke blown through the stacks as though the
Arkansas was preparing for attack, but this was only a ruse be-
cause the boat was so riddled that Brown did not think that she
60. Edward G. Butler to Ann Butler, July 18, 1862, Butler Family Papers
(E). J *
61. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XIX, 133.
62. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 89.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 1 15
would have a chance against the superior Union ships. The
suspense began to eat at the attackers' nerves: maintaining a
constant state of preparedness was wearing; the crews began
to suffer from the heat, which was often 100 in the shade; and
malaria struck both the sailors and Williams' canal diggers.
Farragut decided to make one last try for the Arkansas.
The Essex, fresh from dry dock and with a new crew, had recent-
ly joined the fleet and was given the task of destroying the
Arkansas. On July 22, supported by the Sumter and the Queen
of the West, the Essex dashed in under the batteries to strike at
the ram. Aboard the Arkansas there were men enough to man
only two of her guns and for a while Brown thought that the
Essex would take him, but finally the attackers were driven away.
The next day General Williams wrote Flag Officer Davis
that he was finished malaria had reduced his forces from 3,200
to 800, and besides that the river had fallen so much that it
scarcely trickled through his canal. Davis, in turn, wrote Gideon
Wells, Secretary of the Navy, that he too was in a difficult
situation the crews on the mortarboats were cut from 130
to 30 by sickness, and one-half of the gunboat crews were ill.
And he did not believe that conditions would improve, for "the
most sickly part of the season is approaching; and the Depart-
ment would be surprised to see how the most healthy men wilt
and break down [in] this pernicious climate." But, he continued,
the defenders, were in an equally riddled condition, therefore he
would continue the attack and he did not want Williams to
Farragut, however, agreed with Williams. The navy alone
would never take Vicksburg, especially with the Arkansas
there. The operation must be suspended, but not before the
city was given a final mauling.
On the morning of July 24, the last bombardment com-
menced and the missiles landed so fast that Rowland Chambers
was driven to his cave. He sat in the hole, his diary with him,
as the shells shook the ground. The explosions were so close,
he wrote, "that we can feel the shock very sensibly; this is the
first time I have felt alarmed my nerves are completely unstrung
63. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XIX, 49-50.
I can scarcely write." 64 So at last, after sixty-one days, his
nerve cracked and he must have been relieved when he realized
that he had suffered the final bombardment at least for a while.
On the river the mortarboats were unmoored, the gunboats
were turned around, the canal diggers were embarked aboard
their transports, and Farragut cautioned the captain of the
Essex, which was bringing up the rear, to keep a sharp eye open
for the Arkansas At two o'clock in the afternoon the signal
was given to get underway; by five o'clock the Essex had disap-
peared downstream. Van Dorn watched them steam out of
sight, then telegraphed Jefferson Davis: "The whole of the lower
fleet and all of the troops have disappeared' down the river. The
upper fleet [is] in motion . . . ," 66
This was a terse message, shorn of elation, yet interlined
by a note of military triumph. It was sent by a general who
had thwarted the enemy's will and who was justifiably proud of
his success. If there was a corresponding throb of triumph
among the civilians, it is not recorded. They had not won;
they had merely survived. The upper fleet had not moved far
it was now anchored off the mouth of the Yazoo and the ships
could easily slip downstream to recommence the bombardment.
Van Dorn had won, but the people of Vicksburg received only
a breathing space; and they knew it. Rowland Chambers
guessed that the city would be safe "until the yankeys pays us
an other visit." 67
There was no instant quickening of the pulse of Vicksburg.
It had taken months to uproot families and business and to dislo-
cate the patterns of life. It would take longer even partially to
restore them. River traffic was still almost at a halt, though
there was a tenuous reopening of communications across the
Mississippi; houses and stores remained shuttered; and the
64. Chambers, Diary, July 24, 1862.
65. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XIX, 54. Almost immediately
after the naval siege was lifted, while Brown was sick and away from Vicks-
burg, Van Dorn ordered the Arkansas to support an attack upon the Union
forces at Baton Rouge. Just before the boat reached Baton Rouge, with
Brown in hot pursuit, the engines quit for the last time, leaving her helpless
before a Union fleet. At this point the Arkansas was scuttled, less than two
weeks after she had driven Farragut from Vicksburg.
66. Ibid., p. 75.
67. Chambers, Diary, July 28, 1862.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 117
streets were empty. James D. B. De Bow, the peripatetic
editor, visited Vicksburg during the closing days of July and the
city appeared almost lifeless to him. He wrote this report for
his Review: "City deserted and desolate; only sentinels and
darkies to be seen, and very attenuated cats and dogs. Houses
are closed, and though a large number were struck by the shells
... no dwellings seem to be much injured. A few stores, an
engine-house, and the Methodist Church, are the only severe
sufferers, and these may be readily repaired." After the stories
which he had heard describing the destruction in the city, De Bow
was surprised by what appeared to him to be slight damage. 68
Yet at least one of the inhabitants took a different view of
the battered city. Rowland Chambers who, day by day, watched
the mounting destruction wrote: "The principal part of the town
has been much damaged scarcely a house has escaped." 69
There is closer agreement concerning the number of persons
who were killed by the naval guns. Charles Allen was told that
"2 women, [a] negro & a few artillerymen" were casualties.
Alexander S. Abrams, on the staff of the Whig, knew of only
"one female and a negro" who were killed. 70 The July 1 1 issue
of the Whig reported that, up to the time of its publication,
only one woman had been killed. At any event, the number of
casualties was remarkably low, especially when the duration and
the intensity of the bombardment are considered.
As the days passed and the fleets did not return, the scat-
tered refugees began to drift back into the city. The trains
once again unloaded passengers and freight at the depot, wagons
and carriages headed for Vicksburg passed by the outlying
plantations, shutters were taken down, homes and shops were re-
opened. Charles Allen, watching the people passing by Na-
nachehaw, took the stream of returning refugees to be a good
omen. He wrote: "What will they say [in the] North now about
opening the Mississippi River; huzzah for Vicksburg & 9 groans
for New Orleans." 71 Allen's huzzahs for Vicksburg were the
68. De Bow's Review, New Series, II (August, 1866), 193.
69. Chambers, Diary, My 20, 1862.
70. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 93; A. S. Abrams, A Full and Detailed
Account of the Siege of Vicksburg (Atlanta, 1863), p. 7.
71. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 93.
Refugees camped in the woods on the outskirts of the city, just beyond naval
gunfire range. As seen by the special artist for the Illustrated London News.
reactions of the South in microcosm; throughout the Confed-
eracy, editorials, orators, and general orders heaped lavish
praise on the beleaguered city and her defenders. Charles Al-
len himself was in many respects the Southerner, and especially
the Mississippian, in microcosm he cheered success at Vicks-
burg, but he had done absolutely nothing to help insure that
Inside the city Rowland Chambers watched the returning
people, but he was not as jubilant as Allen nor did he think the
refugees augured much good; their presence was no insurance
that the gunboats would not renew the attack, and if they did
Chambers was certain that the people would flee again. 72
There was probably some resentment manifested toward
the refugees by the people who had stayed through the attack.
Their trial had been a singular one and their suffering was a
badge which those who had fled could not claim. The refugees,
in turn, might retort that they too had been subjected tq trials and
tribulations, and they thought that their vicissitudes had been bad
72. Chambers, Diary, July 29, 1862.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 119
One woman said that her railway trip to Jackson was "in-
describable." Instead of fleeing the war she thought that she
"seemed to be right back in the stream [of it], among officers,
soldiers, sick men and cripples, adieus, tears, laughter, constant
chatter, and . . . sentinels posted at the locked car-doors de-
manding passports .... Every moment [she] saw strange meet-
ings and partings of people from all over the South. Conditions
of time, space, locality, and estate were all loosened." Food
was little better or more plentiful than in Vicksburg. In Jackson
she had a meal consisting of "tough steak, heavy, dirty-looking
bread, [and] Confederate coffee," which was made from sweet
potatoes. When she arrived at the home of her friends, deep in
the middle of Mississippi, she found that she had still not escaped
"the trials of war." There were no matches in the house and
when a servant let the fire go out a man had to ride mule-back
three miles to a neighbor's home to get a pan of live coals. The
crockery was broken, even the bottoms of the tin drinking cups
were rusted out, and they made drinking glasses by cutting bottles
in half with a heated wire. Vicksburg was no worse than this
and before the month was past she was traveling back toward
the city. 73
Other refugees did not choose to return to the city and face
the dangers of the inevitable recommencement of attack. Wil-
liam and Emma Crutcher left Clinton when the bombardment
was lifted, stopped at their home long enough to arrange their
affairs and gather their belongings, and then crossed the river
toward the west. They did not stop until they reached Palestine,
Texas, where they leased a ranch and waited out the war. 74
A tense atmosphere still clung to the city; the upper fleet, at
the mouth of the Yazoo, posed a constant threat and the people
were skittish and jumped at every rumor. Some of those who
had returned could not stand the tension of never knowing if
the coming day might bring the gunboats again almost as
soon as they had settled themselves they repacked and left. 75
73. "War Diary," The Century Magazine, XXXVIII, 944.
74. Emma Crutcher to Marmaduke Shannon, February 1, 1863, Crutcher
75. De Bow's Review, New Series,^ II (September, 1866), 324.
The city council, already proven unstable and bereft of
leadership, reflected the difficulties involved in attempting to
reconstitute a semblance of normality in the war-touched city.
A meeting, the first since June 16, was called for August 18.
Those in attendance sat and waited far beyond the appointed
hour, but there was no quorum and they disbanded. They tried
again on September 1, on the second, then again on the fourth,
all with the same results. Finally on September 8, forty-six
days after the last shell had landed in the city, enough members
gathered together to constitute a quorum and the council went
into session. In the meeting they disposed of three items of busi-
ness: two councilmen were given thirty days' leave; the Wash-
ington fire engine was moved from its damaged building; and
property owners were scolded for not keeping their gutters in
repair. While surrounded by a damaged city, homeless people,
and meagre food supplies, the councilmen addressed themselves
to trivia. The chief thing which they did during the meeting was
to re-affirm their uselessness. 76 Alone, the people grouped to-
ward the re-establishment of their lives.
As the people returned, the business of the city slowly in-
creased. When a woman from New Orleans arrived in Vicks-
burg on September 7, she was impressed by two things: the thick
layer of dust that coated the entire city, and the fact that the
stores were open. Though the shops were open the choice of
merchandise was limited, but from time to time a merchant
would put out scarce articles for sale. Pearl buttons, a truly dear
commodity, were available, as were shoes and umbrellas. Slave
trading also continued. Some persons questioned the trade as
being "impolitic," especially at a time in which the capture of the
city was a distinct possibility, but that condition did not prevent
the sale of Negroes. There were, however, new factors to be
taken into consideration when slaves were purchased. One
man said that he would buy only young slaves, preferably fe-
males, as they would be less likely to run away if a Union army
76. Council Minute Book, p. 171.
77. "War Diary," The Century Magazine, XXXVIII, 945.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 121
Food was still another matter. The cessation of attack did
not alleviate the food problem. Prices remained high and the
presence of the large number of troops, competing with the
civilians for supplies, compounded the problem. Butter, for
example, sold in Vicksburg for $1.50 per pound, while in
Clinton, only thirty miles away, it was priced at forty-five cents. 78
The planters, sitting in the midst of plenty, were loath to cut into
their own stores to help feed the city dwellers. Outside Vicks-
burg one planter had an abundance of fruits and vegetables and
plenty of beef, mutton, sugar, milk, butter, honey, and pigs.
Yet he made no effort to ship even a portion into the city. 79 In
Vicksburg one woman said that there were only two topics of
conversation: "the question of food alternated with news of the
Housing, too, was scarce. The Washington Hotel was
jammed, the army had occupied what houses there were for
rent, and the boarding houses had been "broken up." In Sep-
tember only one boarding house was open to civilians, and one
couple looked for a home for two weeks without success. 81
Shortages of food and housing, as acute as they were, were
taken in stride by the citizens. In the lack of food and clothing
the people were not alone there were such scarcities throughout
the South and the knowledge of this gave them some comfort,
however meagre; they shared a common plight with other mem-
bers of the Confederacy. In another respect they were unique
they lived in the midst of an army.
Early one morning Mahala Roach was called to her door
to be told that an artillery battery would be emplaced in her
front yard. She sat in her house and watched the work: fences
were torn down, walks dug up, shrubbery cut away, and before
long she had several cannon practically in her lap. She ad-
mitted that at first she "felt very badly about it" but then decided
that resentment would do no good. By the end of the day she
had come to this conclusion: "I must bear my part of annoyance
and trouble, as much as anyone else." 82
78. William Crutcher to E. C. Crutcher, August 14, 1862, Crutcher Col-
79. "War Diary," The Century Magazine, XXXVIH, 945.
80. Ibid., p. 946. 81. Ibid., p. 945.
82. Roach, Diary, p. 227.
William Merritt lost a fine stand of timber as the ring of
defenses was closed about the city. On his property at the out-
skirts of town the engineers cut down one and a half miles of
hardwood so the cannon might have clear fields of fire. Mer-
ritt wrote his father that his aunt "took it very much to heart to
see the timber cut," but he wasted no ink lamenting the loss it
was necessary. 83 Even Charles Allen relented in his adamant re-
fusal to help with the defense. Throughout October and Novem-
ber he uncomplainingly sent his field hands to work on the
It was difficult to feel much rancor toward something as im-
personal as cannon or hacked-up stands of timber, which were
imposed as regrettable but unavoidable preparations for de-
fense a defense as much to the interest of the individual citizen
as to the Confederacy. The people realized this and they bore
these tribulations with patience. Mahala Roach's reaction was
typical. She did not care to have the cannon in her yard, com-
plained a bit, then finally admitted that she must accept them as
But the depredations of individual soldiers were not im-
personal actions, and they grated on the civilians. Some of the
people could never accept the fact that so long as they lived in
a garrison they would have to expect trespassing and thievery
from the troops. They could not understand that in war, regard
for private property diminishes in direct proportion to the size
of an army and the nearness of the enemy. The people com-
plained first to the local military officials and then to the War
Department. John A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War,
looked at the letters and wrote General John Pemberton, who
had replaced Van Dorn as commander in Mississippi, that the
citizens showed "a good deal of temper and irritation." 85
The military authorities tried to control the troops in the city
a provost marshal's guard of one hundred men was detailed
to do nothing but police the town. But over seventy-five of the
men selected for this duty were Creoles who spoke no English,
83. William Merritt to Alexander Merritt, November 20, 1862, W. H. E.
Merritt Papers, Duke University.
84. Allen, Plantation Book, p. 111.
85. Official Records Army, Ser. I, XV, 864.
WE CAN PEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 123
and the efficiency of the guard probably left something to be
Sometimes the troops could not be blamed for the forays
they made against the people's property. Good drinking water
was difficult to obtain the city depended upon cisterns for its
water supply and the soldiers' supply came from creeks which
had filth in them. Private S. R. Martin readily admitted that he
never drank the creek water if he could help it but instead
"would beg ... or steal Cistern water" when he was able. 87
Pure water was equally precious to the civilians, and petty squab-
bles often erupted when a soldier was caught helping himself
to a citizen's supply.
There was something tangible about stealing a pig or helping
oneself to a bucket of water which made outrage and annoyance
a clear-cut matter. There was no question about thievery: if
something was stolen that was all there was to it and the result-
ing rancor was very logical. Yet there was more to the problem
than that, for the relationships between soldier and civilian were
further colored by factors which were vague and subtle and de-
pended upon the curious twistings of the Southern mind. The
result conflict between civilian and soldier was the same, but
the causes were quite different. It was a: matter of the mind: a
tangled web of parochialism, States' Rights, war-weariness,
and human perversity. Somehow for the wary provincial con-
sciousness there was something unsettling in registering the faces
of the swarming soldiers but not recognizing a single familiar
one. Vicksburg was home, ran this thought train, and it was a
shame that "the old familiar faces are away fighting in Virginia
and Tennessee and strangers are defending their city." 88
A Tennesseean, Captain John J. Blair, felt the sting of this
sentiment and during the cold winter he transferred some of the
venom to his diary: "How ungrateful the citizens of Vicksburg
are to Tennesseans who are defending their firesides for
them .... No accommodations extended to us by Mississippians
86. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 250.
87. S. R. Martin, Recollections of the War Between the States, 1861-65,
p. 46. Owned by John S. Hoggatt, Vicksburg.
88. Stone, Brokenburn, p. 142.
.... Now denied the privilege of sleeping before the fire because
I was a Tennessean." 89 The feeling of exclusiveness was mani-
fested on a larger scale when four thousand paroled prisoners
passed through Vicksburg. No preparations had been made
for their arrival and the soldiers were cast on their own to find
food to eat and a place to sleep; many of them wandered through
the streets begging for meals. Kate Stone commented on the
warmth of their reception: "The ladies of Memphis gave them
a heartfelt and enthusiastic welcome, kisses were as plentiful
as blackberries, but there was nothing of that kind in Vicks-
Yet to write off all of the people as callous and indifferent
is a mistake, for time after time they responded to the needs of
their defenders. The creeks and backwaters were already skim-
med with ice when Winchester Hall went into town to beg.
His men were barefoot and without blankets, and Hall had been
rebuffed by quartermaster sergeants when he requested shoes
and blankets from them. There was only one place to turn: to
the people. Hall spent several days in Vicksburg, going from
door to door asking for shoes and blankets anything which
could be used for protection against the cold. When he finished
there was no doubt in his mind about the generosity of the
people one woman had pulled the carpet up from the floor, a
slave had given him the quilts from her bed. His haul was rag-
tag and motley, but his men were warm. 91
Many of the women worked in the hospitals to supplement
the over-taxed medical service. Lavinia Shannon, unaffected
by the groans and filth, went day after day to the City Hospital
and every once in a while received a note such as this in return:
Kind and Generous Lady
Since leaving the City Hospital and my return to camp I have been
prostrate with chills and fever, and therefore, have been unable to
visit you and return my thanks for the kindness you manifested to-
wards me while confined in the Hospital. Please accept my warmest
thanks and may Heaven bless you . . . , 92
89. John J. Blair, Diary, Tennessee State Library and Archives, pp. 1-2.
90. Stone, Brokenbitrn, p. 142. 91. Hall, 26th Louisiana, pp. 24-25.
92. Philip A. Vanderdoes to Lavinia Shannon, October 8, 1862, Crutcher
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 125
The women's war spirit carried their activities far beyond
nursing and such gentle things. When ammunition supplies
ran low they became munition makers and without hesitation,
once the stores' stock of flannel was exhausted, stripped off
petticoats, tore down curtains, and cut up table linens to roll
cartridges in. 93 Some of them doubled in brass as unofficial
quartermasters as they ransacked tool sheds and closets for saws,
augers, planes, axes, and hatchets to give to the troops. 94
Then there was a lighter side to the business of living in the
middle of an army. There were parties in the officers' homes,
sight-seeing trips to the batteries, and even jaunts to the jail where
the Yankee prisoners crowded at the gate to watch the passers-by,
who in turn stopped and peered and wondered if they were so
inhuman after all. 95
There was not much pattern to the social life in the city;
it was catch-as-catch-can for each individual. Kate Stone,
who visited for three weeks during the autumn, thought Vicks-
burg was "dull ... so deadly dull." Besides that she was
squeezed out of one house and finally found a bed in another
where she felt like a "sardine"; worst of all she knew no eligible
men. 96 Other girls had no difficulty in this respect there were
plenty of officers to go around, and they set up a form of mili-
tary etiquette in which they would receive passes to visit the
fortifications in return for passes which would admit the officers
into their homes. 97
The enlisted men got short shrift. Most of the camps were
on the outskirts of Vicksburg and permission to enter the city
was difficult to obtain. When the men did come into town they
usually sought out persons who kept no records and the soldiers'
activities, except when they were startling enough to cause general
comment, went almost unrecorded. Only an occasional glimpse
93. "Southerner" to Marmaduke Shannon, August 29, 1862, Crutcher
94. Unsigned note to Elizabeth Eggleston, August 29, 1862, Roach-Eggies-
ton Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.
95. Daniel Beltzhoover to Elizabeth Eggleston, October 21, 1862, Roach-
Eggleston Papers; Stone, Brokenburn, p. 150.
96. Stone, Brokenburn, pp. 142-43.
97. Daniel Beltzhoover to Elizabeth Eggleston, October 21, 1862, Roach-
of the enlisted man survives, usually through his own diary or
When he wangled a pass, William Chambers eschewed the
city's flesh-pots and, instead of following his comrades to the
dark places Under-the-Hill, browsed through the tombstones in
the city cemetery where he "saw many things that [were] of in-
terest" to him/* 8 Another soldier, Granville Alspaugh, a private
in the Skipworth Guards, wrote his mother that he thought
Vicksburg was "a very nice place," but he did not explain why."
These things the thievings, the petty bickerings, the un-
stinting, gladly-given gifts, the light kisses in requisitioned homes,
the solitary soldier wandering in a graveyard were all particu-
lars of the whole. The whole was a whetting, shaping, and fitting
of the lives of the people with that of the army. The fall of
1862 was the first time the citizens had really felt the soldiers'
presence, for when the first detachments arrived in May the
people, scattered and frightened by attack, were somewhat in-
sensitive to the tugs and grindings of the troops in the city.
Throughout the bombardment the contentiousness was set aside
in the face of the common danger. Now, however, as the people
refilled the city and the ways of peace were partially restored,
the attitudes of a people at peace were also restored and autumn
was a time in which these attitudes had to be modified to accom-
modate the soldiers. This is the sum of the autumn of 1862 in
Vicksburg and, though the people did not realize it, fall was,
like the summer, a time of preparation for what was to come.
There were other troublesome things that were not neces-
sarily related directly to the army, but which stemmed merely
from the fact that the people lived in a beleaguered land. Mail
service became erratic and some persons began to suspect that
the mails were being robbed. 100 Shortages of clothing, as well
as of food, led to a slave problem. William Merritt wrote his
father in Virginia that his seventeen Negroes had become "a
great annoyance," and he asked for shoes, linsey, and jeans be-
98. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 252.
99. Granville L. Alspaugh to Mrs. A. E. Alspaugh, undated, J. P. Knox
Papers, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State University.
100. William Merritt to Alexander Merritt, October 15, 1862, W. H. E,
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 127
cause he could not buy them in Vicksburg. Most any place
but Vicksburg seemed to offer better opportunities for the use of
slaves, and Merritt toyed with the idea of sending them to
Georgia, to Texas, or to Virginia, but finally admitted that he
was "at a loss what to do." Then to compound his difficulties
he was inducted into the army. He tried to obtain a discharge
but complained that he had "no organic disease"; next he sought
to hire a substitute but wailed: "That can hardly be done in
Miss. Substitutes are very hard to find and $5000 is the com-
mon price." 101 As a result he waited with the Vicksburg garri-
son, his problems unsolved.
A few minutes after six o'clock on the evening of October 4,
a crimson comet streaked across the Mississippi sky, and some
people who saw it thought that it was a portent of victory. 102
For a while it seemed that this was a shallow hope.
On the same day the comet appeared, Van Dorn smashed
into the Union forts at Corinth and reeled back in defeat. A
little later, Grant, up in north Mississippi, worked out the plans
for a two-pronged thrust at Vicksburg. He would move down
the center of the state along the Mississippi Central Railroad,
which would ultimately put him behind Vicksburg, while Sher-
man, with a detached corps from Memphis, came sailing down
the Mississippi to strike at the city's northern flank, a finger of
bluffs lining the Yazoo River.
In Vicksburg the only reverberation felt from the impending
action was the halting of civilian travel on the Southern Rail-
road. This order was immediately protested, for the trains were
the best and fastest way of escape should that become necessary.
After three days of argument, Dr. Emanuel, whose engines and
cars they were, managed to obtain permission to run one train
a day for the civilians. 103 At best, rail travel was now a hazard-
ous undertaking. War's erosion had eaten into the once reliable
Southern railway, and rickety engines, sprung rails, and washed
roadbeds began to take their toll. Engine failures and derailings
101. Ibid., October 15, November 20, 1862.
102. Natchez Daily Courier, October 8, 1862.
103. Morris Emanuel to John J. Pettus, December 2, 1862, Governors'
Correspondence, Ser. E, Vol. LVIII, Miss. Arch.
became common occurrences and once a train jumped the tracks
and killed thirty-one passengers. 104
Brandy was a good barometer for measuring conditions at
the close of the year. On December 3, it was $40 a gallon;
by December 29, when Sherman was knocking on the gates of
the city, the price had risen to $60. 105 Between these dates the
people ran a gamut of emotion from placidity to fear.
Early in the month Kate Stone's mother crossed the river to
shop in Vicksburg. She had no difficulty finding finery in the
stores, and she returned to Brokenburn laden with packages.
Among other things she bought some grey silk, which would
be made into a dress for Kate, though it had "cost a pretty
penny." 106 Even precious salt, long a scarcity, was offered for
sale. 107 With luxury items in the stores, it seemed as though
the city was at last breathing easier.
Then things began to tighten up. H. C. Clarke sensed some
danger, or perhaps it was merely foresight on his part, for he
moved his printing offices from Vicksburg to Georgia. Now
his Diary of the War For Separation and the Confederate House-
hold Almanac carried an Augusta, Georgia, imprint rather
than that of Vicksburg. The women in the city began to feel
uneasy rumors of Sherman's advance had drifted down the
river and they circulated a petition calling for a day of fasting
and prayer. When the city council met on December 20, they
adopted the petition and proclaimed a day of "Humiliation,
Fasting, and Prayer to Almighty God, that Vicksburg may be
spared from the Hand of the Destroyer, that our beloved Home
may be preserved to us, that the insolent invader who would
take from us our Property, our Children, and our Servants may
be driven back, and that we may once more live free from the
Cares and Foes that beset us ... ."
The council also appropriated $3,500 (ten times the amount
they had raised in June) to move the poor families out of the
city in case of bombardment. Their last bit of business was to
104. Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 1, 1863.
105. Stone, Brokenburn, pp. 159, 164.
1^6. Ibid., p. 162.
107. Cobb and Manlove to John J. Pettus, December 9, 1862, Governors'
Correspondence, Ser. E, Vol. LVIII, Miss. Arch.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 129
see to the collection of ad valorem and wharf taxes, which was
a fitting note with which to end the meeting for the city was a
river town and had drawn its strength from the wharves. It
was even more fitting, though touched with irony, that the council
should look to the river in the closing minutes of their meeting.
Just as the river was their strength, it was also the cause of
their destruction, and December 20 was the last time they would
gather together. 108
The next day, December 21, Jefferson Davis, with Joseph
Johnston and his staff in tow, visited the city. The soldiers were
drawn up in ranks to be reviewed, and by the time Davis trooped
the line the men "did not feel as enthusiastic as they did in the
early morning," for they had been standing for seven hours.
Davis' appearance was brief. Apparently he did not even make
a speech, but nevertheless some of the people were anxious to
get a look at him. To one person he appeared to be "a spare
made man, and ... a rather ugly one. His complexion . . .
sallow and his face ... on the 'hatchet' order." 109
This time the city council made no mention of the President's
presence, much less organize a reception for him. Perhaps
they remembered the cost of the music and fireworks after his
last visit and thought that enough gunpowder had been ex-
pended in the city to satisfy any man. Maybe Davis sensed
this; at any event he waited until he had returned to Jackson to
declare the suspension of habeas corpus in Vicksburg and in
"the adjoining and surrounding country to the extent of ten
The military authorities began to clamp a little harder on the
civilians. A notice appeared on December 22 stating that all
persons arriving in the city would be required to register their
names and business at the post headquarters, and there would
be patrols on the streets to arrest anyone who failed to register. 111
All things considered, it looked like a bleak Christmas.
108. Council Minute Book, p. 177.
109. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 253.
110. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XIX, 821. This action was taken
on December 23, 1862.
111. Vicksburg Daily Whig, December 30, 1862.
Sherman made it bleaker. In the early hours of Christmas
morning a bedraggled messenger pushed his way through the
dancers at a ball to inform General Smith that Sherman was
landing at Milliken's Bend and Young's Point, across the river
and somewhat north of the city. As the messenger remembered
it, Smith turned pale, and said in a loud voice, "This ball is at an
end; the enemy are coming down the river." Then he advised
all non-combatants to leave the city. 112
When the news of Sherman's landing reached him, Rowland
Chambers did not even bother with Christmas. He called his
wife and daughter and put them on the train for Clinton. When
he brought his diary up to date he wrote: "After a family con-
sultation we thot prudence the better part of vallor . . and
started to Clinton .... I remained at home to try and take care
of the place as best I could under the circumstances." 113
General Pemberton added the weight of his authority to
General Smith's advice to the civilians to leave the city. On
December 27, he had this notice published:
It is earnestly recommended that all the noncombatants, especial-
ly the women and children, should forthwith leave the city .... The
places of supposed protection with which I am informed many have
provided themselves during the progress of a battle here, may prove
wholly insufficient for their safety. When the city becomes crowded
with the soldiery, it will be impossible to afford the helpless those
aids and facilities which humanity might seem to demand. It is
therefore hoped there will be no delay or reluctance ... to leave the
city, while there is time to ... find places of safety outside the city
Then he became frank: ". . . all . . . persons are hereby noti-
fied that their presence will not be allowed under any circum-
stances to interfere with the defense of the city." 114
The persons who heeded Pemberton's advice (or subtle
threat) were helped by advertisements such as this: "A few nice
persons, who come well recommended, can get board at my
112. Stephen D. Lee, "Details of Important Work by Two Confederate
Telegraph Operators," Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society,
113. Chambers, Diary, [December 26, 1862?].
114. Proclamation dated December 27, 1862, published in Vicksburg
Daily Whig, December 30, 1862.
WE CAN FEEL THE SHOCK VERY SENSIBLY 131
house one mile from Bovina .... Boarders must furnish them-
selves with lights and bedding. Board can be had only while
the enemy threatens Vicksburg . . . ," 115
Sherman was not yet a name that conjured up spectres in
the minds of Southerners, but his name was synonymous with
an army of attackers, and that in turn was equated with fear.
Some of the merchants were so frightened that they dumped
long hoarded stocks of food on the market. One man offered
thirty thousand pounds of salt for sale salt which had become
so scarce that planters had long since dug up smokehouse floors
to try to recover some of the precious stuff which had dripped
from their curing meats. A druggist advertised that he had
"quantities" of quinine and morphine, and they were almost
worth their weight in gold. 116 In his ledger, the county clerk
measured the extent of the fear. In December, he recorded
almost as many property sales as had been entered during the
previous four months. 117
For three days Sherman probed into the Confederate right
flank, and the sound of cannon fire which drifted into Vicksburg
had an ominous roll to it. On December 29 (the day the price
of brandy rose twenty dollars) Sherman tried to break the flank.
It was a difficult position to attack low, swampy, dank ground
overwatched by bluffs on which the Confederates sat with rifles
and artillery. The Northerners wallowed through the muck and
tried to climb the bluffs while the Confederates swatted them
back like flies. When it was over the defenders counted two
hundred casualties and the attackers had lost almost ten times
that number. But Sherman was not finished yet. He pulled
back and waited for the sound of guns at Vicksburg's rear,
which would mean that Grant had carried out his part of the
Grant had never gotten started. Van Dorn had swept in
behind him to destroy his supply center at Holly Springs, and
115. Vicksburg Daily Whig, December 30, 1862.
117. Warren County Deed Book CC, entries for December, 1862. Cf.
entries for August-November, 1862.
118. George W. Morgan, "The Assault on CMckasaw Bluffs," Battles and
Leaders, III, 467-69.
Forrest had swung deep Into Tennessee and Kentucky to lacerate
Ms rearward communications. While Sherman waited for the
sound of his superior's guns, Grant was moving back into Ten-
Shannon's printers were glad to set the type for the December
30 issue of the Whig, for it had exultation written all over it:
Sherman whipped at CMckasaw Bluffs and Grant retreating
out of the state. And there were still victory reports from the
Army of Northern Virginia at Fredericksburg. The paper also
carried Pemberton's notice advising the citizens to evacuate the
city. 119 Some who read it probably snorted.
Sherman made one last try. On January 1 he started his
men around the extreme right flank of the bluffs, but before the
movement was well underway a blanket of fog drifted over the
bottom lands and the column was halted in confusion. That
stopped him he loaded his corps on their transports and
backed out of the Yazoo.
The Confederates following him turned around and went
back to Vicksburg. They marched in the rain, muddy but
happy, playing tricks on one another. William Chambers wrote:
"The whole way was lined with newly arrived soldiers, who
amused themselves, near the real slippery places by calling to
some imaginary person up a tree and seeing some fellow lose
his footing, as he looked upward while walking along." 120 The
people watched this horseplay and were equally elated. It seemed
that those who had looked up at the comet and had seen victory
119. Vicksburg Daily Whig, December 30, 1862.
120. Chambers, "My Journal," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, V, 257.
"HOW CAN WE EVER BE
VICTORY was bittersweet. As Sherman's whipped corps
steamed out of the Yazoo, and the jubilant Confederates
marched into Vicksburg, the cancerous growth eating deep into
the city was laid open. The Southerners wore Union overcoats,
the pockets stuffed with Union money, and some of them, said
Jared Sanders, a Louisiana soldier, carried over $100 in Northern
currency. They had looted the bodies of the dead Federals for
one reason in Vicksburg they could exchange ten Union
greenbacks for fifteen Confederate dollars. And they knew
where the money would go once it left the Vicksburg specula-
tors to "smugglers ... to trade off to the enemy for contraband
goods." 1 Like a malignant organism that gnaws its way into the
tissues of a healthy body and rots it away, scarcity worked in
The city had made its wealth from trade, and once its normal
peacetime trade was ruptured new slender lines of illegal com-
merce took its place. Profit knew no patriotism, and profit lay
in scarcity. Now the Whig's advertisements of flour, salt, coffee,
and sugar were punctuated by exclamation marks. The Unionist
bride from New Orleans wrote: "I got with difficulty two chickens
.... An egg is a rare and precious thing." 2 Yet Vicksburg sat
in the midst of some of the richest farming land in the world
land still relatively untouched by the enemy's armies.
The shortage of food could be laid to cotton, which in turn
pointed in only one direction human greed. The Confederacy's
1. Jared Sanders to "Friend," January 4, 1863, Jared Y. Sanders Papers,
Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State University.
2. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767.
cotton diplomacy had backfired. The government had gambled
that blockaded cotton (and empty mills in England and France)
would bring European intervention on the side of the South,
Instead, it brought hunger to Southerners. The mills of the
North and Europe were slack, there was a glut of cotton in the
South, but the planters kept their broad fields planted in it.
Cotton that could be smuggled through the Union lines was
worth $ LOO per pound, and some of the planters took the chance
that their bales would find an illegal way through the lines. Why,
they asked, should we grow com and vegetables when the price
of cotton stands at $1.00? The planters in the ten counties and
parishes surrounding Vicksburg raised nearly one-seventh of the
South's cotton crop and, with the glittering lure of windfall
profits from smuggled cotton, they would not stop to cultivate
food for their people and their armies. This was "the most
potent of all causes of demoralization and decay of the war spirit
in the river country more effective than all [others] combined." 3
In editorial after editorial Marmaduke Shannon implored
and threatened the planters in an effort to get them to raise food
instead of cotton: "The man who plants anything but grain or
vegetables renders himself liable to be suspected of disloyalty." 4
But Shannon's pleas and threats were lost on deaf ears, and in
the city if there was not actual hunger there was at least want.
"As the spring comes," wrote a woman, "one has the craving for
fresh, green food that a monotonous diet produces .... An
onion salad, dressed only with salt, vinegar, and pepper seem[s]
a dish fit for a king." Yet there was little variety to her austere
diet, and a little bed of radishes and onions, "that were a real
blessing," was raided by soldiers. 5
The shortage of food was the largest area in which the war
rot worked, but other things were equally symptomatic of the
cost of the hollow victory at Chickasaw Bluffs. The hardware
dealers no longer advertised that they had metal products
stoves, knives, axes, plowshares for sale. When wine was
prescribed for a typhoid patient, only six bottles could be found
3.J. S. McNeily, "War and Reconstruction in Mississippi: 1863-1890,"
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, II (1918), 77.
4. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 25, 1863.
5. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 135
in the city and the doctor had to certify that his patient's life
depended upon having two of the six bottles. 6 The druggists
posted notice that they could no longer extend credit "in con-
sequence of our inability to procure supplies, except for CASH
. . . ." 7 There was no question from where their cash purchased
drugs came. Even the Whig refused to credit advertisers. 8
Paper was scarce. Envelopes were made by cutting and folding
sheets of coarse, colored stock. The Whig, said one woman,
"shouts victory as much as its gradually diminishing size will
allow." She tried to buy some books, found only one bookstore
open, and the sole volume in stock was Harriet Beecher Stowe's
Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, which was offered at a dis-
count because the people refused to buy her books. 9
The communication systems began to fail. The postal
service was almost completely broken down. More and more
the practice increased of sending letters by travelers instead of
through the mails, Marmaduke Shannon ceased accepting sub-
scription payments through the postal system at his risk. He
notified his subscribers: "So much is being stolen from the mails
that now the policy is for the subscriber to send [money] at his
own risk." 10 Another communication link failed as the ferry-
boat service between Vicksburg and the Louisiana shore was dis-
continued; now only skiffs plied back and forth across the
river. 11 The Southern Railroad had almost succumbed to the
heavy military traffic on its ramshackle equipment. Dr. Emanuel
admitted that his road was "impracticable" and asked General
Peinberton for permission to stop all trains until they could be
inspected and repaired. 12 The railroad came under severe
criticism from the newspapers. The Whig reported one accident
after another and finally said: "The pen hardly dries in chroni-
cling accidents on the Southern railroad." 13 The Jackson
6. Ibid., p. 767.
7. Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 1, 1863.
9. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767.
10. Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 11, 1863.
11. Ibid., January 13, 1863.
12. C. L. Stevenson to John J. Pettus, February 2, 1863, Governors'
Correspondence, Series E. Vol. LIX, Miss. Arch.
13. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 11, 1863.
Crisis called the railroad the "meanest of them all/' and said
there was "less risk in fighting a battle than in traveling a short
distance on that road." 14 Even Pemberton, while busy trying
to stop Grant's push through the delta, telegraphed Emanuel:
"Nine-tenths of the difficulties I have to contend with are due
to your R. R." 15 This was not very flattering to Dr. Emanuel,
but it was equally uncomplimentary to Grant.
The decay both material and moral had eaten into prac-
tically every facet of the people's life. "A Drunken soldier,"
wrote Rowland Chambers, "went in to Arthurs hooping & yelling
at the top of his voice among the women Run them into the
house he bolted after them and they came [out] again screaming
the man after them and the dog after him he got a club and
roved round until he was arrested . . . and marched off." 16
Robbed dead men, traffic in stolen money, cotton planted
instead of corn, smuggled drugs, looted mails, wrecked trains,
assaulted women this was the price the people of Vicksburg
were paying for the victory at Chickasaw Bluffs and for the
passionate words Jefferson Davis had rolled off his tongue on a
flare-lit night in November 1860. But there was little looking
back and recriminating over what might have been; the present
pressed too hard for attention.
On January 19, Sherman was back across the river and, on
January 29, Grant, patient and unruffled by his previous failure,
joined him. As the winter days passed Grant puffed on his
cigar and worked up one scheme after another to get into Vicks-
burg. He started his troops digging at Williams' abandoned
canal; he sent a corps swinging deep through a labyrinth of
waterways in Louisiana, hoping that they could get south of the
city without being exposed to its batteries; he tried to work
through the web of sloughs and little delta rivers, so he might
ease in behind the city. As spring came he was still trying.
The people could sit in their homes and watch the little
specks that were Union troops across the river. The Whig printed
14. Jackson Crisis, March 9, 1863.
15. John C. Pemberton to M. Emanuel, March 9, 1863, Letters and
Telegrams sent, Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana, Chapt. II,
Vol. LVII, 514. National Archives, Record Group 109. Hereinafter cited
16. Chambers, Diary, March 2, 1863.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 137
daily summaries of the enemy's activities: "The Yankees were
all quiet along the peninsula yesterday," though occasionally a
shell would be lobbed in the city. 17 River traffic was choked off
during the last of January. On January 21, Josephine Clare
arrived in Vicksburg aboard the last boat which came from
Alexandria, Louisiana. She was on her way north to join her
husband who had fled Confederate conscription officers. Weary
and with a sick child, she finally found a room at the Washington
Hotel. There was little comfort in Vicksburg for her. "It was
useless," she said, "for me to plead for attention: the rebs . . .
would sooner administer to the wants of a negro than one whom
they supposed to be their enemy." Yet other travelers did not
think that their reception would be so grim, for, noticed Mrs.
Clare: ". . . refugees from New Orleans are arriving daily." 18
In addition to refugees and transients another group of
people appeared in the city who in the long run would exert a
great amount of pressure on the city's already over-taxed re-
sources. These persons were the families of officers who chose,
even at the risk of being subjected to attack, to join their hus-
bands and fathers. Major Winchester Hall's family his wife
and four children with carriage and horses crossed through
the Union lines in Louisiana and settled in Vicksburg. 19 Hous-
ing, food, and fodder had to be procured for them. As this sort
of situation multiplied, the strain on necessities, already pro-
nounced, was increased.
In mid-February the city's butchers went on half-schedule.
There was no profit to tending the almost empty markets all day,
and they opened them only in the afternoon. 20 But shortened
hours did not mean more food and Rowland Chambers said:
"I went to market but could get nothing." 21 Word of the city's
plight was spread throughout Mississippi and Louisiana, and
private citizens began to send donations for the relief of the poor
and the hungry. One man came to Vicksburg with 375 dozen
17. Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 12, 1863.
18. Josephine Clare, Narrative of the Adventures and Experience of Mrs.
Josephine Clare (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1865), pp. 10-12.
19. Winchester Hall, 26th Louisiana, p. 57.
20. Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 18, 1863.
21. Chambers, Diary, March 6, 1863.
eggs, 400 pickled pigs' feet, 5 dozen chickens, a keg of sausage,
3 boxes of fruit, and 2 barrels of crackers, which were donated
by the women of Shreveport, Louisiana. Another group of
Louisianians sent Marmaduke Shannon $1,300 which was to be
used "for the needy families in your city." 22
Shannon administered the fund, saw that it did not begin to
alleviate the want, and turned to the columns of the Whig to
protest: "We think that Vicksburg has always been neglected in
subsistence, as well as everything else. Notwithstanding the
government had full control of the railroad and steamboat
transportation all last summer and fall, but little provision was
made for a siege, and many of the articles that were brought here
remained exposed to the rain until they were unfit for use." 23
For the first time the critical word "siege" appeared. It was stuck
there, almost lost in the context of complaint, but it was regis-
tered almost in passing, almost as an afterthought.
The county board of police, the governing body of Warren
County, and now the sole operative local civil authority also
turned its thoughts toward the possibility of a siege. The board
was anxious about the city's water supply. A committee was
appointed to advise the military officials of "the insufficiency of
cistern water in the city during the summer months." The
board wanted the tin gutters repaired and the cisterns cleaned
22. Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 13, March 11, 1863.
23. Ibid., March 5, 1863. Shannon's statement concerning the military's
requisitioning of transportation is substantially correct, but it appears that
military use was not absolute. For example, on January 24, 1863, Pemberton
impounded every vessel at Vicksburg, even skiffs, and directed that they could
not leave the city without his permission. Yet the following day, Dr. Emanuel
was authorized to run his trains for civilian purposes upon his "positive as-
surance that it will not in any way interfere with . . . the transportation of
troops or supplies . . . ." Letters and Telegrams sent, Department of
Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Chapt. II, Vol. LVII, 355 NA (RG) 109.
Also, on January 26, the Vicksburg Commissary Officer reported that enough
corn had been shipped to the city to make 1,500,000 rations. Ibid., 354. By
March 31, shortly after Shannon's criticism, the Commissary Officer re-
ported these amounts of rations on hand: Bulk Pork 302,400; Bacon
319,728; Lard 22,720; Wheat Flour 109,139; Rice Flour 12,175; Cora Meal
46,086; Rice 3,003,500; Peas 4,003,500; Sugar 280,500; Salt 3,170,266;
Molasses 120,000. Correspondence Relative to Supplies for Vicksburg,
Commissary Department, Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East
Louisiana, Box No. 7, NA (RG) 109. On the basis of these reports, Shan-
non's criticism seems to be too harsh, probably stemming from a lack of
appreciation of the difficulties facing the military officials and a refusal to
accept the realities of war.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 139
in order that they might be prepared to catch the spring rains,
and they hoped that the "government [would] order" this action
to be taken; but the "government" failed to heed the committee. 24
More and more there was merging and interaction between
the civilians and the soldiers. Occasionally it was of an official
nature, as in the case of the communication between the board
of police and the "government," but usually it was a personal
affair; and these relationships ran the course of human behavior,
from lovemaking to bitter enmity, with accolades, charges, and
countercharges freely given on both sides.
Rowland Chambers had his first bout with military official-
dom when an army surgeon ordered him out of his house in
order that it might be used as a hospital. Chambers refused to
leave until General Smith ordered him to, and then, grumbling, he
moved into his servants' quarters. The experience must have
soured him, for he made this general accusation: "The soldiers
are all the time annoying us in some way." A few days later he
was more specific: "The soldiers came in and stole some of our
cabage last night." 25
The Whig protested the behavior of an officer who went into
a hospital, drank the medicinal whiskey, and reeled out. Then
the paper made the suggestion, a tacit admission that the civilians
themselves were not simon-pure, that the hospitals should be
relocated outside the city in order that "the convalescents would
be out of the reach of the unavoidable temptations that beset
them in the city." 26 From time to time the Whig would rise
from bland protests to righteous indignation: "We regret ex-
ceedingly having to notice the disgraceful conduct of some of
our soldiers .... Yesterday a soldier knocked at the door of a
respectable lady . . . and requested her to give him some milk.
On the lady's replying that she regretted her inability to oblige
him, he abused her in the most obscene language. No male
protector being present ... he escaped the punishment he
richly merited." 27
24. Minutes of the board of police of Warren County, March 21, 1863,
reprinted in the Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 24, 1863.
25. Chambers, Diary, February 10, March 9, 25, 1863.
26. Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 30, February 14, 1863.
27. Ibid., March 26, 1863.
As self-appointed critic the Whig pulled no punches. It
criticized privates and generals alike. The privates were flayed
for their lack of regard for Southern womanhood; the generals
and other officers were chastised for appreciating the company of
the ladies too much. Shannon thought that the officers were
paying too much attention to parties and not enough to war.
On March 7 he printed: "The very night the 'Indianola' passed
our [batteries], some of the high officers were tripping the light
fantastic toe with some of the ladies who have not [left] town
.... Piping and dancing have been the order of the night for
every night this week." 28 Criticism of privates went unanswered,
but Shannon received scalding protests for this article from
both officers and women. 2 ^
This was the contentious side of the people's garrison life,
but the whole was Janus-faced. For every grate and rub there
was a corresponding lilt, which also ran from private to general.
Granville Alspaugh (who must have received his two white
shirts) found a sweetheart. He wrote his mother that his sweet-
heart was a nice girl, and she had given him a ring; but he was
not going to be swept off his feet, and he reassured his mother
that he would never marry Mollie Price. 30
For several months James Brotherton, a second lieutenant
from Georgia, had been complaining about Mississippi. Then
his letters lost their querulousness, and he wrote his father:
"Tell Mat that I have found me a Mississippi Sweet Heart tell
him that she is very pretty and accomplished her name is
Even generals were susceptible. On a rainy day in January,
General Smith sent this note to Elizabeth Eggleston: "I am ...
glad the day is stormy, for she who brings joy and comfort to
28. Ibid., March 7, 1863. The Indianola ran the batteries on the night of
February 13, without suffering a single hit. Official Records Navy, Ser. I,
Vol. XXIII, 403.
29. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 17, 1863.
30. Granville Alspaugh to Mrs. A. E, Alspaugh, March 15, 1863, J. P.
Knox Papers, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State
31. James M. Brotherton to Levi Brotherton, February 11, 1863, William
H. Brotherton Papers, Emory University.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 141
all others might well let a ray of sunshine come into my apart-
Most of the people's contacts with the military fell some-
where between the limits set by General Smith's billet doux to
Elizabeth Eggleston and his expulsion order to Rowland Cham-
bers. By now the people had accustomed themselves to the
army, which had begun to withdraw from the camps on the out-
skirts and take up quarters inside the city. Winchester Hall's
regiment was scattered in various places vacant warehouses,
private homes, and Hall himself lived in the Masonic Hall. 33
James Brotherton's cavalry company was quartered in one home:
"... a splendid house," he wrote Ms father, "with 5 rooms and
3 fire places .... We have a table and chairs in fact it's just like
living at home." 34 This movement threw the people and the
soldiers even closer together, and they learned to work together
as well as bicker. For several days the Whig devoted advertising
space to a joint project of the civilians and the soldiers:
GRAND VOCAL AND INSTRUMENTAL
Prof. G. A. Gnospelius and E. H. Baldwin, assisted by several
amateurs, residents, and Col. Withers' Light Artillery Brass Band,
will give a Concert for the benefit of our NEEDY SOLDIERS . . . , 35
Then, too, the civilians worked alone to supply some of the
needs of the troops. The Whig advertised for women volunteers
to knit clothing for the men: "There are a few more socks to
finish yet for the soldiers. All who will assist in finishing them
are requested to call at Mrs. Edwards' .... The yarn is there." 36
And in other ways the citizens and the soldiers found common
interests, purpose, and even objects of derision. Some of the
regimental chaplains began to preach in the city, and they invited
the civilians as well as their men to attend the services. 37 When
32. Martin L. Smith to Elizabeth Eggleston, January 19, 1863, Roach-
Eggleston Papers, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.
33. Hall, 26th Louisiana, p. 58.
34. James M. Brotherton to Levi Brotherton, March 27, 1863, William H.
35.Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 23, 1863.
36. Ibid., February 12, 1863. 37. Ibid., February 28, 1863.
conscripted soldiers arrived in the city their white woolen uni-
forms set them apart from the volunteers and they were treated
contemptuously, their white clothing a badge of reproach. Then
the volunteers were issued white uniforms and it became im-
possible to single out the conscripts for abuse. 38 Yet at the
same time the poor conscripts walked the streets, unsure when a
barbed comment would be aimed at them, there were still men
in the city who sought substitutes for military service they
would pay $5,000 to avoid the white uniform, or any uniform
for that matter. 39
Even with Grant across the river and with the soldiers moving
in their homes and with their city turned into a fortress, there
was a part of the people's life which remained separate from the
military and occasionally seemed almost incongruous when set
inside the war context in which they lived.
Spring came early to Vicksburg. In mid-February the
weather was warm and bright. Peach trees were covered with
white blossoms; roses and spirea were blooming. 40 Rowland
Chambers, his house taken by the army, thought that at least
the yard remained his own and he set out trees in the garden.
They were to be for his daughter. 41 Valentine's Day did not go
unnoticed. Little Grace Shannon received a card, cut from
rough paper and clumsily lettered:
A veil is round thee
And thy heart is like a hidden flower,
But could we see thee, as thou art,
We should confess thy power. 42
Some persons, keenly aware that they were the actors in a
tortured segment of history, kept these little scraps of make-
shift and put them away "to look at when we are old." 43
The clerks in the county offices, probably unaware of what
they were doing, pinned their accretions to the record of a people
38. Hall, 26th Louisiana, p. 58.
39. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 10, 1863.
40. R. L. Howard, History of the 124th Regiment, Illinois Infantry
Volunteers (Springfield, Illinois, 1880), p. 59.
41. Chambers, Diary, March 3, 1863.
42. Unsigned Valentine, Crutcher Collection.
43. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 143
hanging on to the apparatus of peace in a battle situation.
The county board of police, unlike the city council, con-
tinued to function. The board was re-organized early in January,
and later in the month an election for various county officials
gave the local politicians an opportunity to brush up their long
unused vote-getting techniques. The school system, such as
it was by then, was still operative, and by late March the political
structure remained stable enough to allow an election of school
trustees. The county clerk's office was open, though the number
of property transfers recorded in January, February, and March
did not equal the December total an indication of the people's
returning confidence. 44
Francis Clewell, adjutant of a Missouri cavalry company,
thought the people were confident. "The citizens," he wrote his
mother, "are quite contented, and are waiting patiently to see the
next move of the enemy. They do not fear an attack and say if
they should be attacked, they are not afraid of the result. Every
body goes about their business as if there was not a yankee in a
thousand miles of them. In fact Vicksburg is the fastest place
I have been in for two years." 45
The people's resolution stemmed from two sources: from
Grant's seeming inability to move, and from their own knowl-
edge that they had withstood the best that Farragut and Sherman
could throw at them. They had become inured to the "shells
. . . thrown in at intervals." "The slow shelling," wrote the wom-
an from New Orleans, "goes on all the time, and we have grown
indifferent. It does not at present interrupt or interfere with
daily avocations, but," a shadow of apprehension flickered across
her mind, "I suspect they are only getting the range of different
points; and when they have them all complete, showers of shot
will rain on us all at once." 46
Yet at this time the bombardment did not cow or enervate,
it excited and exhilarated. On Sunday, February 22, the gun-
44. Supervisors' Minute Book, 1853-67, Courthouse, Vicksburg, pp. 592-93;
Vicksburg Daily Whig, January 7, 13, March 21, 1863; Warren County Deed
Book CC, cf. entries of March 1863, with those of December 1862.
45. Francis C. Clewell to Mother, February 15, 1863, Gertrude Jenkins
Papers, Duke University.
46. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767.
boats at the mouth of the Yazoo commenced a rapid fire, and
the people thought that an engagement of some sort was begin-
ning. There was "considerable excitement' 5 ; the courthouse hill,
the "Sky Parlor," and Hansford's hill the city's vantage points
were crowded with people. Then the firing ceased. There was
something anti-climactic about the whole thing. "It turned out,"
reported the Whig, "that the Yankees were only celebrating the
22nd of February the anniversary of Washington's birthday." 47
The Sky Parlor, one of the highest hills two blocks from the
waterfront, was the rendezvous for the "upper circle families."
A driveway on one side and a "dizzy flight of wooden steps" on
the other led to the top of the hill. At first there was just a bare
hilltop, but then some officers took up quarters there and a band
and a telescope were installed, and the elite could watch the
shelling in style if not in safety. 48
Mary Loughborough, visiting in Vicksburg, said: "Almost
every day we walked up the Sky Parlor Hill, and looked through
the glass at the Federal encampment," at the gunboats, and at
the steamers. She was at breakfast one morning when the con-
versation turned to the possibility of locating a concealed battery
at the mouth of the canal, and the family spent most of the morn-
ing sweeping the opposite shore with a telescope. Mrs. Lough-
borough also noted: "Crowds of people collected at the Sky
Parlor when any movement was made on the river." 49
On the night of March 19, the Unionist couple from New
Orleans climbed the hill to watch the shooting. The woman did
not care for the Sky Parlor she thought the view was better
from a "quiet" hill nearer her home. Her attention wandered to
the other persons on the hill, and she overheard a woman say to
an officer: "It is such folly for them to waste their ammunition
like that. How can they ever take a town that has such advantages
for defense and protection as this? We'll just burrow into these
hills and let them batter away as hard as they please."
"You are right madam," replied the officer, "and besides,
47. Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 24, 1863.
48. [Mary A. Loughborough], My Cave Life in Vicksburg (New York,
1864), p. 86.
49. Ibid., p. 20.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 145
when our women are so willing to brave death and endure dis-
comfort, how can we ever be conquered?"
"The only drawback," the woman said, looking squarely at
the Union couple, "are the contemptible men who are staying at
home in comfort, when they ought to be in the army if they had
a spark of honor."
The next day when the diarist described the incident she con-
cluded: "I cannot repeat all, but it was the usual tirade. It is
strange I have met no one yet who seems to comprehend an
honest difference of opinion, and stranger yet that the ordinary
rules of good breeding are now so entirely ignored." 50 What
she said was true, but what she forgot was that she was living
in the midst of a people who were fighting for their lives.
The slow shelling which some persons thought exciting and
colorful struck fear in the hearts of others. They gladly would
have left the city, but they could find no place to go. Marmaduke
Shannon commented on their plight: "We learn that several
families are here now who would willingly leave but don't know
where to go. Others can get places but the price of board or the
amount demanded for rent per month is so exhorbitant that they
find themselves unable to pay it." 51 The path to safety was still
paved with depreciating Confederate currency.
Whatever their reasons for remaining in the city, through
choice or circumstance, the people began one activity in com-
mon. They started digging. Cave building became big business,
with set prices depending upon the size and elaborateness of the
excavation. For twenty dollars a simple, one room affair could
be dug. A deeper thick-roofed, several-chambered cave, shored
up by timber and with shelves cut into the earth, cost fifty dollars.
Great single-roomed caverns, which could hold close to one hun-
dred persons, were also hollowed out of the hills. By mid-
March, said a woman in a morbid but descriptive simile, the city
was "so honeycombed with caves that the streets look[ed] like
avenues in a cemetery." 52
50. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767-68,
51. Vicksburg Daily Whig, February 5, 1863.
52. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767; Reed, "A
Woman's Experiences," ibid., LXI, 924; Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 17.
As much as the people tried to improve the caves by bring-
ing in furniture and carpets and lamps they were still utilitarian
affairs, dark and dank, and many of the civilians, especially the
women, avoided them as much as possible. On March 20, after
her first trip to a cave, one woman wrote, "When we went in this
evening and sat down, the earthy, suffocating feeling, as of a
living tomb, was dreadful to me. I fear I shall risk death outside
rather then melt in that dark furnace." 53 Even after Grant
encircled the city and the rain of shells had begun, Emma Bal-
four refused to go underground where "the sense of suffocation
. . . the certainty that there was no way of escape, that we were
hemmed in, caged" bore so heavily on her that she "perferred
to risk the danger" in her house. 54 Yet she would learn to live
in a hole cut out of the earth. It merely took her a little longer
than most people they were learning in February and March.
Grant was also learning during February and March. He
learned that the old canal would not work, that the tortuous
water route through Louisiana would not work, that the delta
sloughs and streams were a horrendous trap. He was at his
In Vicksburg, Jared Sanders had already turned to his Bible,
found an appropriate reference and said: "I think it will long
be a question of old Abe's 'Who will bring me into the strong
city/ " 55 In the March 4 issue of the Whig, Shannon reported
that the crew of the captured Indianola (whose successful pas-
sage of the batteries still rankled him) was lodged in the city
jail, that "our lower batteries sent a number of iron messengers
over to the Yankees," and that the enemy "was all quiet on the
peninsula." 56 He sounded almost smug. The number of proper-
ty sales trickled down to the lowest number since the beginning
of 1862. 57
If there was a growing sense of security, it was not reflected
in an easing of shortage. General Pemberton approved a citi-
53. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 767.
54. [Emma] Balfour, Diary, p. 6.
55. Tared Sanders to "Friend," January 23, 1863, Jared Y. Sanders Papers.
The reference is to Psalms 60:9.
56. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 4, 1863.
57. Warren County Deed Book CC, entries for February 1863.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 147
zens' petition asking that they be allowed to travel into the
TaUahatchie-Yallobusha river region, some 120 miles away, to
seek food. 58 The foundries ran short of coal for their war work,
and not even Pemberton was able to find any. 59 Rowland
Chambers, a dentist, learned to make shoes. 60 But conditioning
had blunted the edge of scarcity, and there was little grumbling.
In fact, the people began to take pride in their ability to turn
scraps and odds-and-ends into usable articles. One woman
I have learned to darn like an artist. Making shoes is now
another accomplishment. Mine were in tatters. H [her husband]
came across a moth eaten pair that he bought me, giving ten dollars
. . . and they fell into rags when I tried to wear them; but the soles
were good, and that has helped me to [have] shoes. A pair of old
coat-sleeves saved nothing is thrown away now was in my trunk.
I cut an exact pattern from my old shoes, laid it on the sleeves, and
cut out thus good uppers and sewed them carefully; then soaked the
soles and sewed the cloth to them. I am so proud of these home-
made shoes, think I'll put them in a glass case when the war is over
as an heirloom. H says he has come to have an abiding faith that
everything he needs to wear will come out of that trunk while the war
lasts. It is like a fairy-casket. 61
The Whig printed instructions for turning hems in order that
worn spots would not show, and the women darned, turned,
mended, and improvised "while the shells . . . leisurely scream[ed]
through the air." 62
James De Bow made his last visit to the city during the
latter part of March. On Sunday, March 29, the telegraph
wires were down, there was no news, and he turned his attention
to church and to the people:
It is remarkable considering the . . . scarcity . . . how well every-
body manages to dress. To look at the ladies bonnets and robes, no
one could imagine that a blockade of two years has shut us off from
the world of fashion. Silks, laces, ribbons, flounces, [and] frills . . .
58. John C. Pemberton to L. Lindsay, March 16, 1863, Letters and Tele-
grams sent, Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Chapt. II, Vol.
LVII, 559, NA (RG) 109.
59. John C. Pemberton to Mr. Paxton, March 10, 1863, ibid., p. 521.
60. Chambers, Diary, February 27, 1863.
61. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768.
have kept wonderfully well. The ladies are good economists and per-
form marvels in cleaning, cutting up, turning inside out and refitting.
Everything looks neat and tidy. Even their feet show no evidence
of neglect. The gentlemen are not quite so well off, but still do very
well. With them there is no motive to dress. Army clothes and
colors are in fashion. The everlasting grey suit [is] everywhere ....
What De Bow saw was Sunday-best. He put his finger closer
to the pulse of the city when he jotted down a few cold facts
and figures. "Prices," he observed, "are still advancing." Board
at the hotels was $8 per day, double the price of two months
previous. Flour was $125 per barrel, meat 75^ a pound,
broadcloth $50 per yard, shoes $30 a pair, boots $75, sugar
$1 per pound, coffee $5 per pound. Furniture was scarce, and
it sold for "fabulous prices." A pitcher and washbasin was
worth $20 and "the most common negro bedstead" cost $25.
Real estate was also caught in the spiraling prices. City property
brought "enormous prices," and the only property which had not
"advanced much" was farm land. It, said De Bow, "may be
bought at 25 to 50 per cent above old prices." 63
Fancying himself an economist, De Bow recorded what he
believed to be the economic aspects of a people two years block-
aded and close to war. Though prices were inflated and food
and consumer goods were difficult to obtain, De Bow, with his
comments and figures, left the impression that all things con-
sidered the people were not doing too badly. But Ms concrete
figures reflected something more than inflation and scarcity.
They pointed up an intangible the working of the mind.
The will to victory was a fragile thing; it could stand just so
much external buffeting and internal doubting before it started
to crack. These destructive bangings and gnawings had begun
with the fall of New Orleans, and they had never really let up,
though they had been momentarily lessened from time to time.
The gunboats had sailed away, but they had returned; Sherman
had been whipped, but he was back with reinforcements; Grant
had been stymied, but he was still across the river; and the people
themselves had already applied the word "besieged" to their
city. Each event did not necessarily vitiate the will to victory,
63. De Bow's Review, New Series, III (January, 1867), 104.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 149
but each left a scar on the people's consciousness, a scar that
deepened and widened with the passage of time. What De
Bow recorded during the last of March 1863 was the accumula-
tion of doubt of ultimate victory. The people, perhaps barely
conscious of it, had begun to hedge their bets on the Confederacy
when they put such premium on real property pitchers, bed-
steads, lots, and houses which would retain their value re-
gardless of the outcome of war. 64
Then, for some persons, the doubt of victory was not un-
conscious, but one which brought certainty and relief. On
April 2, the Unionist couple had to give up their home to the
returned owner, who said that he intended to bring his family
back into the city. "That," said the woman, "means that he has
got tired of the Confederacy and means to stay here and thus
get out of it." 65
But these things worked beneath the surface. The only
widespread, conscious acknowledgement of them was another
day of "Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer," which was proclaimed
by Jefferson Davis to be observed throughout the Confederacy.
Mayor Lindsay thought the situation in Vicksburg warranted
that he "specially call the attention of our citizens" to the day.
On March 26, all of the city's churches held services, and many
prayers must have been uttered for the deliverance of the city
from Grant's grasping army. 66
This quiet day was probably the same day that Mary Liver-
more, a volunteer nurse, stood on the levee opposite the city and
looked across to the beleaguered place. Even with a telescope
she could see "no sign of inhabited homes" no children playing
64. This interpretation is not completely "hind-sight speculation." That
doubts had begun to arise is undeniable for, on March 1, Pemberton tele-
graphed General Carter L. Stevenson: "Prevent today's Mississippian being
circulated in Vicksburg and let not the matter [unknown, but obviously
considered detrimental to the war effort] be published by the Whig ....
Prevent circulation of today's issues of Appeal and Crisis in Vicksburg as
well as the Mississippian." John C. Pemberton to C. L. Stevenson, March 1,
1863, Letters and Telegrams sent, Department of Mississippi and Eastern
Louisiana, Chapt. II, Vol. LVII, 506, 509, NA (RG) 109. Also, property
sales began to edge upward during March (double the February total), and in
April over four times as much property was sold as in February. Warren
County Deed Book CC, entries for March- April, 1863.
65. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768.
66. Vicksburg Daily Whig, March 26, 1863.
in the streets, no women walking or shopping. Vicksburg ap-
peared desolate to her. 67
Mrs. Livermore watched at the wrong time, for there was
plenty of life and gaiety in the city especially at night. A
waxing moon swung high in the night sky; on April 3, it was
full, and officers and their ladies began to take moonlight rides
in the pleasant, quiet evenings. 68 Beneath the moon on dirt
roads the hooves of horses were muffled, and the murmur of
quiet voices was contrasted with the silent, shadowed hulk of
cannon and fortifications. On the bright nights the riders could
push back the present, find peace in the plans and dreams they
wished for, and war was very far away.
Then, too, the secret plans and dreams had a way of back-
firing that provided the entire city with snickers and good belly-
laughs. The Whig reported that several young ladies had
received invitations to a moonlight ride with some officers, then
waited in vain long past the set hour. They later discovered
that "rival belles" had sent the invitations. 69 One officer found
the spring nights ripe for courtship and pressed his suit almost
to success (and pressed his luck too far) wedding plans and
arrangements had been made when the news arrived that the
officer's wife and children were on their way to Vicksburg. "He
hastily departed/' observed the Whig, "leaving the girl to
Oh, that a dream so sweet, so short enjoyed,
Should be thus sadly, cruelly destroyed." 70
Moonlit nights affected enlisted men as well as officers.
Granville Alspaugh told his mother of a conscript who "make[s]
out he is sick [and] lays up all day and runs about at night with
the girls." 71
Grant gave them plenty of time to run with the girls, and in
doing so heightened the illusion of peace. He sat across the river,
67. Mary A. Livermore, My Story of the War: A Woman's Narrative of
Four Years of Personal Experience (Hartford, Connecticut, 1892), pp. 335-36.
68. Clarke's Confederate Household Almanac for the Year 1863 (Vicks-
burg, Mississippi, 1863), p. 8; Vicksburg Daily Whig, April 4, 1863.
69. Vicksburg Daily Whig, April 4, 1863.
7 O.I bid., April 2, 1863.
71. Granville Alspaugh to Mrs. A. E. Alspaugh, April 6, 1863, J. P. Knox
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 151
quiet and seemingly immobile. The Whig's daily summaries of
the enemy took on an almost placid tone. On April 10, the
paper reported: "There was an unusual quietness among the
Yankees across the river yesterday. There was no stir among the
troops, and but one arrival at the landing." On April 14, the
Whig printed: "Dispatches received . . . indicate that the [attack
on] Vicksburg is virtually ended that the majority of Grant's
army and the heaviest of the iron-clads will soon be found on
the Tennessee river." By April 16, the paper was lulled into a
sense of security. It suggested that the streets be repaired "now
that there is no immediate danger here." Even a concentration of
Union shipping was explained away: "We do not regard the
fleet's coming down as at all pointing to an attack here. The
boats are all more or less damaged, the men dissatisfied and
demoralized." The paper made no mention of the waned moon
and the dark nights.
Grant was waiting for the dark moon. He had tried every
way of getting into Vicksburg except a suicidal frontal assault
and a swing south across the river which would put him behind
the city; and he needed the transports to ferry his army across
the Mississippi. He could move the army overland to the point
south of the city, but the boats would have to pass the Vicksburg
batteries to get there. So he waited for a dark night for them
to try to slip by.
On the morning of April 16, the people of Vicksburg picked
up their copies of the Whig and read: "... there is no immediate
danger here." As the day passed Major William O. Watts
decorated his home for a ball planned for that night, throughout
the city women laid out their party dresses, and officers gave
dress uniforms and boots to servants to be cleaned. Several
miles north of Vicksburg, at Millikens 5 Bend, Grant's staff
planned a party too celebrating the beginning of what they
hoped would be the final phase of the Vicksburg campaign, for
that night the first elements of the fleet would run the batteries.
When the sun set the Union ships dropped down to the
"Lower Landing," four miles from Vicksburg. They tied up in
a cluster, thirty boats surrounding the Von Phul which Grant was
aboard. Franc Wilkie, correspondent for the New York
Tribune, was on the Von Phul watching Grant, Mrs. Grant, the
still honeymooning John McClernands, and other officers and
women. Nothing indicated that deadly business was at hand
the couples popped champagne corks, sang, gossiped, and
wandered off for light love-making. In the distance the lights of
Vicksburg twinkled along the bluffs. 72
In the city Major Watts's ball was underway. Mary Lough-
borough was there, dancing with one officer after another, amid
a galaxy of women in silks and laces and officers in dress uni-
forms. The night was placid, starlit but moonless.
About ten o'clock the gaiety subsided aboard the Von Phul.
The party-makers turned quietly to look out on the river as a
line of dark shapes slid slowly by toward Vicksburg. In Major
Watts's home a brigadier general lightly held a young girl in his
arms as they whirled about the ballroom floor.
When the first shell's explosion ripped through the night
the girl clasped her hands and asked: "Where shall we go?"
The brigadier jestingly replied: "To the country for safety."
Out into the dark she ran, falling into the dust, party dress and
all, when she heard a shell whining overhead. Mary Lough-
borough said that there was nothing but "confusion and alarm"
when the shelling started, and there was much scurrying by high
officers to get to their posts.
The fight lasted for over an hour. The Confederates burned
wooden buildings along the waterfront to illuminate the river,
and they sank one transport. But the first wave of the fleet was
past, the second would follow in a week, and Grant had the
transports necessary to cross the river. 73 The noose had begun
The lull was past. On April 28, a woman wrote:
72. The following account is based upon these sources: Loughborough,
Cave Life, pp. 23-24; Hall, 26th Louisiana, p. 60; Franc B. Wilkie, Pen and
Powder (Boston, 1888), pp. 313-14.
73. Harpers' Weekly Magazine, May 16, 1863, p. 315; James R. Soley,
"Naval Operations in the Vicksburg Campaign," Battles and Leaders, III, 566.
Lavinia Shannon thought that the timing of the ball was fortunate because
"the battery officers were all at large party . . . and so were up and ready."
Lavinia Shannon to Emma Crutcher, April 22, 1863, Crutcher Collection.
The first phase of Grant's final move against the city. Union transports run
the Vicksburg batteries, April 1863. (From Harper's Pictorial History of the
For many nights we have had but little sleep, because the Federals
gun-boats have been running past the batteries. The uproar when
this is happening is phenomenal .... One of the batteries has a
remarkable gun they call "Whistling Dick," because of the screeching,
whistling sound it gives, and certainly it does sound like a tortured
thing. Added to all this is the indescribable Confederate yell, which
is a soul-harrowing sound to hear. I have gained respect for the
mechanism of the human ear, which stands it all without injury.
The streets are seldom quiet at night, even the dragging about of
cannon makes a din in these echoing gullies. 74
Rowland Chambers noted: "People are leaveing town,"
then he returned seemingly unconcerned to his garden, where he
was planting cabbage and peas. 75 Yet there was no headlong rush
from the city. Lavinia Shannon wrote her daughter: "A good
many families still remain in town and some have moved back." 76
With Grant on the move there was no telling where he might ap-
pear, and, if a person fled, he might well run right into the Union
army. There were other hazards too. Marmaduke Shannon had
sent eight members of his family to Raymond, where he hoped
they would be safe. Instead, diphtheria struck them all, from
74. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768.
75. Chambers, Diary, April 20, 27, 29, 1863.
76. Lavinia Shannon to Emma Crutcher, April 22, 1863, Crutcher Collec-
mother to baby, and within the space of four weeks Shannon
buried four of his children. 77 The survivors stayed in Raymond
and Shannon remained in Vicksburg to edit the Whig. Once
again the printers complained of the danger, but this time instead
of suspending publication Shannon moved his offices to his home
and the printers set type in Mrs. Shannon's bedroom. The paper
still had to be printed in the pressroom, but the editorial work
and the typesetting were done in Shannon's home "as the shelling
disturbed them so much at the office." 78
The shells interdicted the stretch of railroad that lay exposed
to the river, yet the trains continued to run into the city. The
unprotected depot was shunned, and most of the passengers
boarded the trains in the shelter of hillsides and cuts. 79 A
passenger, James Pugh, long-time resident of Vicksburg who
had fled to Shreveport, was summarily taken from a depart-
ing train, led to the Provost Marshal's office, and searched. His
searchers were seeking $30,000 in gold specie, which Pugh was
alleged to have stolen. Only $2,800 was found, which Pugh
said he had dug up from its hiding place upon the request of
the owner, another Vicksburg refugee living in Shreveport. He
was released and sent on his way, but his arrest was indicative of
a closer scrutiny of the civilians and a mounting incidence of
When the Cobb-Manlove Company warehouse was looted
of three thousand pounds of sugar the authorities suspected a
gang of soldiers and civilians. A few days after the robbery the
Provost Marshal's patrol caught the thieves a slave, two mem-
bers of the patrol itself and several citizens. 81 Some of the
soldiers were also disposing of military stores on the black
market. One man brought a sack of meal home and told his wife
that it was "a case of corruption." He said: "A soldier who was
hauling some of the Government sacks to the hospital offered
me this for five dollars, if I could keep a secret." 82 A tailor
shop was also looted, and the Whig commented: "Stealing seems
77. Ibid. 78. /bid.
79. Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 21.
80. Vicksburg Daily Whig, April 11, 1863.
SI. Ibid., April 9, 22, 1863.
82. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 769.
HOW CAN WE EVER BE CONQUERED? 155
to be carried on here on a pretty extensive scale." 83 The situa-
tion became so bad that the people were warned: "The city is
patroled every night, and both black and white who cannot give
proper vouchers or satisfactory reasons for their being out, will
find themselves in 'limbo' in the morning." 84
A twinge of uneasiness concerning the slaves flicked across
the city. All owners were urged to keep their Negroes at home
after dark; those who were caught out at night were to be jailed.
"Some seven or eight of these 'snuff-colored' individuals," re-
ported the Whig, "were picked up by the police . . . and a little
wholesome admonition, administered to them. This may prove
a warning to others." 85 The system had begun to crack. In
Vicksburg the fissures were just appearing; hard by the city the
slave structure was in shambles.
Across the river Kate Stone's family, cowed by marauding
Negroes, abandoned Brokenburn after "a night and day of
terror." 80 In the delta the slaves were leaving the plantations
by droves and flocking toward the Union army. Franc Wilkie,
aboard the Silver Wave on the Yazoo, saw "throngs of negro
families" waiting to be taken away. Some were already aboard
flatboats and rafts. One raft loaded with Negroes was tied to
the stern of the Silver Wave, then the stern-wheeler began to
move downstream. The paddlewheel threw back waves which
washed over the raft, and, as the Silver Wave's speed increased,
the bow of the raft dipped and bit into the water. Before
Wilkie's horrified eyes the raft sliced under the water. Its human
cargo vanished from sight. Nothing not a single head, rag
or fragment or any kind bobbed to the surface. 87
Within the sight of Vicksburg, Edmund Newsome, an Illinois
volunteer, heard the Negroes sing of their masters:
He saw the smoke 'way up the riber,
What' the Linkum gunboats lay;
He tuck his hat an' he lef berry sudden,
I's 'spec' he's ran away. 88
83. Vick$hurj> Daily Whig, April 22, 1863.
84. Ibid., April JO, 1863. 85. Ibid.
86. Stone, Brokenburn, pp. 194-97.
87. Wilkie, Pen and Powder, pp. 307-10.
88. Edmund Newsornc, Experience in the War of the Great Rebellion
(Carbondale, Illinois, 1879), p. 18.
Tensions began to mount and, on April 28, as Grant readied
his army to cross the river below the city, a woman in Vicksburg
wrote: "I have never understood before the full force of these
questions what shall we eat? what shall we drink? and where-
withal shall we be clothed?" Her first question was double-
edged: a soldier whom she had brought into her house to feed
had robbed her cupboard; and the recipes, all based on rice
flour, which she had copied from the newspapers, resulted "in
brick-bats, or sticky paste." 89
Grant momentarily took her mind from food worries. On
April 30, without opposition, he crossed the Mississippi, at
Bruinsburg, his intentions quite clear to strike for Vicksburg.
Two Confederate armies, hundreds of square miles of hostile
country, and self-severed supply lines separated him from the
city. Yet on May 1, when Grant was many miles away, the
woman wrote: "It is settled at last that we shall spend the time of
siege in Vicksburg." She and her husband laid their beds in
their wine cellar and gathered in what food they could find: a
hogshead of sugar, a barrel of syrup, ten pounds of bacon, four
pounds of wheat flour, a small sack of cornmeal, and some spices.
They ruefully looked at the imbalance a hogshead of sugar
and a small sack of flour and thought that perhaps when the flour
was gone they could "keep alive on sugar." In the flickering,
sputtering light of a home-made candle the woman sat in the
cellar and mused over "the accumulated bottles [which] told of
'the banquet hall deserted,' the spirit and glow of the festive
hours whose lights and garlands were dead, and the last guest
long since departed." Her reverie passed, her mind returned to
the present, and her only consolation was the thought: "a city
besieged is a city taken so if we live through it we shall be out
of the Confederacy." 90
89. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 768-69.
90. Ibid., p. 769.
"THE DAY OF OUR DOOM"
EVENTS had moved full circle. A year before, the people in
their panic had awaited the first approach of Farragut's gun-
boats. Now, a year later, almost to the day, they awaited the
approach of Grant's army. Eighteen days would pass before
Grant would stand before Vicksburg; but, unlike the May days
of 1862, there was little violent fear in the city. Instead, it
seemed that the people knew that Grant must come and that
the intervening hours must somehow be lived and marked off.
Life was confused and incongruous, but not fear-stricken.
Clerks enrolled voters for a coming election, while Rowland
Chambers wrote day after day of "great excitement and alarm." 1
The board of police went through the motions of a meeting, but
conducted no business and for the last time the county clerk
registered and validated property transfers with Confederate
revenue stamps. 2 A. B. Reading telegraphed Jefferson Davis,
urging him to come at once to the threatened city. 3 Junius
Browne, a captured newspaperman, was "lionized" by the people;
at the jail he received "calls every hour in the day," and he left
Vicksburg feeling like an honored guest instead of a prisoner. 4
Somewhere a merchant found a thousand yards of golden lace,
which he offered for sale; and another man dumped sixty-five
thousand pounds of sugar on the market. 5 The Whig tried to
pump confidence into the people, but its columns could not
match the pace set by those of Grant. Two days after the Grand
1. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 2, 1863; Chambers, Diary, May 3-16, 1863.
2. Supervisors' Minute Book, 1853-67, p. 598.
3. Official Records Army, Sen I, Vol. Lit, Pt. 2, 467.
4. Junius HL Browne, Four Years in Scccssia (Hartford, Ohio, 1865),
pp. 243 II.
5. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 5, 1863.
Gulf detachment had been brushed aside the Whig printed:
"The utmost confidence is felt in our ability to defeat this move-
ment on Grand Gulf." 6 The paper would not chart Grant's
progress much further within the week a naval shell blew the
printing office into a smoldering shambles. 7 The post com-
mander published an order (which no one obeyed) prohibiting
everyone except generals and staff officers from congregating on
the hilltops and at the railway depot. 8 The railroad was shuttling
frightened people out of the city and bringing frightened people
into the city. At the Jackson station, Mary Loughborough was
caught in a "living stream that flowed and surged along . . .
seeking the Vicksburg cars." She had joined a family that, in
a supreme sort of irony, was moving to Vicksburg, "as the safest
place," for Grierson's Raiders, taking a leaf from the tactics
book of Forrest and Van Dorn, had cut a swath lengthwise
across the state to throw Pemberton into confusion and to
touch the civilians with a fear of "the rabble that usually fol-
lowed a large army . . . who might plunder, insult and rob."
Grant, in the wake of the confusion caused by Grierson, was
moving swiftly. On the night of May 12, he thrust a column
athwart the railroad at Clinton and, with the railway and tele-
graph cut, there was no more news. 10 Shortly before the tele-
graph went dead Rowland Chambers outlined a heavy, black
rectangle in his diary, and inside the black lines wrote: "Stone-
wall Jackson Died yesterday." 11 As he wrote this he recorded
one of the last bits of information which came into the city.
From then on the people had to rely on the rumors that filtered
in with the refugees.
Grant made plenty of refugees and rumors. Port Gibson,
Raymond, Jackson, and Champion's Hill at each place a vic-
tory, and at each place refugees and stories. Anne Martin, one of
Marmaduke Shannon's daughters, was at Raymond when the
Union army marched past. Unlike some other people, she did
not try to run ahead of the advancing Federals, but instead stayed
6. Ibid., May 2, 1863. 7. Chambers, Diary, May 9, 1863,
8. Vicksburg Daily Whig, May 8, 1863.
9. Loughborough, Cave Life, pp. 26-27.
10. Newsome, Experience, p. 26.
11. Chambers, Diary, May 11, 1863.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 159
in the house and hoped that locked doors would protect her.
Shortly after the army had marched on she wrote her sister:
For a week that immense army continued to pass through . . .
pouring into town, flaunting their star spangled banner, playing
Yankee Doodle, and, oh the desecration! the Bonnie Blue Flag ....
All night the fife and drum was heard as fresh regiments passed ....
I prayed most earnestly for protection during the night for we could
hear them tearing down fences, shooting cattle, shouting and going
on and we expected every minute to be broken in on .... The doors
were locked but they broke them open and took everything but one
sidesaddle, even pulled the curtains down and tore them in strings.
The remaining sidesaddle was taken by one of these fancy yellow
girls, an especial pet of one of the officers. The morning after the
battle [he was] standing in the kitchen door assisting at her toilet by
pouring water on her hands from the sugarbowl .... She was a
dreadfully affected piece. Spying the sidesaddle, she took a fancy
to it and on leaving sent a soldier to get it for her. So she rode off
with the best sidesaddle on the pacing pony and I suppose that hussy
is capering around on it now .... We could see them bringing all
kinds of plunder, showing around silverware and jewelry they had
stolen .... If you are ever invaded, Emmie, don't bury anything.
Everything that has been hidden in that way has been found. Hear-
ing that . . . Mrs. Robinson . . . had buried her silverware, they dug
up every foot of her garden until they found it. Near Vicksburg . . .
Martha Durdcn's baby was buried in the yard and would you believe
it: that child's remains were dug [up] no less than three different times
in search of treasure .... [This is] how we fared at the hands of
the Yankees. 12
Like a great scythe, Grant's army hooked into central Mis-
sissippi, then cut back westward toward Vicksburg. In the city
all the people could do was wait, and they had to wait without
news. They sat there, dumb and frightened, but not without
hope. As Lida Lord remembered it, she was dismayed when
she learned of the loss of Jackson, but she did not "doubt cither
the valor or the wisdom of our generals, but felt confident [of]
the speedy surrounding and utter annihilation of Grant's army." t: *
Rowland Chambers felt the gnawing of ignorance. On May 16,
he wrote: "Great excitement & alarm prcvailes we can get no
12. Anne Shannon Martin to Emma Crutcher (May 15 to July 1, 18637),
Phillip Crutcher Collection, Miss. Arch.
13. Rccd, "Woman's Experiences," The Century Magazine, XLT, 921.
new[s] from the army, Jackson is cut of[f] at this time." 14 The
same day Chambers lamented the lack of news, Emma Balfour
expressed the same thoughts: "All has been uncertainty and
suspense. No news from any quarter not a word from our
army. It is terrible when we know that events so fraught with
deep interest to us, are transpiring . . . ." That night she con-
tinued: "We have just heard that Jackson is in the hands of the
enemy .... This looks ominous, but I still have hope." 15
Her hope was shattered. The following morning Mc-
Clernand's corps broke through the line of the Big Black, the
last defensive position outside Vicksburg. The William Lords,
who had taken refuge on a plantation on the Big Black, were so
close to the action that they could smell the gunpowder. In a
panic, they packed servants and provisions in a wagon and the
family in a carriage, and set out for Vicksburg. They arrived
in the city that night; behind them thousands of campfires twin-
kled and glowed, and Lida Lord thought that it was a beautiful
sight, but the family "did not linger to admire it." 16 They had
to make their way through jammed streets, and when they reached
their house had to pick their way through the soldiers sleeping
on the front porch. They finally got to bed, and Sunday night
ended with the sound of caissons and wagons rumbling through
the streets. 17
Sunday had begun quite differently. It was a pleasant morn-
ing, bright and clear and quiet when Mary Loughborough went
to church. The pastor was at the Big Black tending the wounded,
then as the visiting preacher delivered his sermon the sound of
cannonfire drifted in from the east. He interrupted the service
to ask the women to meet to prepare bandages for the wounded
and the people left the church to the accompaniment of the un-
ceasing cannon. As Mrs. Loughborough walked home she
noticed that the city was very quiet "sullen and expectant." 18
The people were waiting that was all they could do.
14. Chambers, Diary, May 16, 1863.
15. [Emma] Balfour, Diary, Miss. Arch., p. 1.
16. Reed, The Century Magazine, LXI, 921.
17. Journal Kept by Mrs. W. W. Lord During the Siege of Vicksburg,
Library of Congress, p. 2.
18. Loughborough, Cave Life, pp. 40-41.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 161
Mrs. Winchester Hall was one of the first to hear the news
(or rather see it). Before breakfast she watched as some strag-
glers came limping in along the Jackson Road an infantry
squad, a horseman, cannoneers with a single gun; no order, no
About noon the flood started. A lieutenant, tears streaming,
told Emma Balfour that they were whipped. She wept too; but,
she said: "Not only for him, indeed all individual feeling seems
merged in grief and interest for my country. Oh will God for-
sake us now? T cannot believe it. He may chasten us but I will
not be disheartened or discouraged!" 20
A man rapped upon the door of the house of the Unionist
couple from New Orleans. 21 "Well," he said, "they are upon us;
the Yankees will be here by this evening .... Pemberton has
been whipped at Baker's Creek and Big Black, and his army are
running back here as fast as they can come and the Yanks after
them, in such numbers nothing can stop them. Hasn't Pember-
ton acted like a fool?" Then he left to try to find his parents who
had fled to the Big Black.
The couple thought that this was a strange performance for
a Confederate that there "was the absence of that concern to
be expected, and a sort of relief or suppressed pleasure."
Shortly after noon, to some soldiers sitting under her window,
the woman called: "What is the news?"
"Ritreat, ritreat!" they replied in broken English they were
Through the rest of the day and on into the night the army
poured into Vicksburg. Emma Balfour thought that her heart
would break as she watched 'them pass by, and a Unionist wom-
an felt no exultation when she saw the battered troops. Instead
she thought they were a "woeful sight . . . humanity in the last
throes of endurance. Wan, hollow-eyed, ragged, footsore,
bloody, the men limped along unarmed . . . followed by siege-
guns, ambulances, gun-carriages, and wagons in aimless con-
fusion. At twilight two or three bands on the court-house hill
19. Hall, 26th Louisiana, p. 66. 20. Balfour, Diary, p. 2.
2 1. The following account is drawn from: "A Woman's Diary," The
Century Magazine, XXX, 771.
and other points began playing Dixie, Bonnie Blue Flag . . . and
drums began to beat." 22
Emma Balfour put her family and servants to work carrying
pails of water to the street for the men to drink, and she set out
all of the food she had on the porch and invited the men to eat. 28
Other women merely berated the passing troops:
"Where are you going?"
"We are running."
"Oh, shame on you! Why don't you stand your ground." 24
Rowland Chambers, who had lost his house as a hospital,
now lost his shed as wounded were piled into it. Chambers
helped bandage and amputate, and before the day was past de-
clared that he had witnessed "more human suffering than I ever
saw at one site before." 25
Slowly some sort of order was made from the confusion, or
perhaps it was merely that tired bodies and minds refused to be
confused any longer and sank into exhausted sleep. Past the
sprawled figures on the pavements marched fresh troops from
Warrenton, and to the women's entreaties for protection they
dipped their hats and yelled that they would die for them. 26
Finally the noise died away and the city was silent; only the
occasional clatter of hooves or rumble of a wagon broke the
stillness. Yet sleep did not come easily for the civilians. Mary
Loughborough lay awake late into the night, and she said that
many others did too, wondering what would happen to them.
Every defense they had erected had been swept aside, and the
echoing sounds in the night were hollow sounds of defeat. A
crushed army slept in their midst, and the will to victory lay
Rowland Chambers gave up hope: "The day of our doom
appears close at hand, only the God of heavan can save us and
in him I trust." 27 Emma Balfour, who earlier in the day had
declared her dauntlessness, made this last entry before closing
her diary: "My pen almost refuses to tell of our terrible defeat
22. Ibid. 23. Balfour, Diary, p. 3.
24. Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 41.
25. Chambers, Diary, May 17, 1863.
26. Loughborough, Cave Life, pp. 46-47.
27. Chambers, Diary, May 17, 1863.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 163
.... I cannot write more but oh! there will be a fearful reckon-
ing somewhere. This has been brooding, growing and many fears
have been felt for the result. Gen. Pemberton has not the
confidence of officers, people or men judging from all I am com-
pelled to see and hear. I would rather not have heard if I could
have helped it. What is to become of all the living things in
this place when the boats begin shelling God only knows.
Shut up as in a trap, no ingress or egress and thousands of
women and children who have fled here for safety . . . ." 28 She
closed the diary and laid aside her pen. Out in the night were
the sounds of a defeated army shuffling through the streets.
East of the city Grant's army slept by glittering, dancing camp-
The next day things looked little better. There was very
little gunfire, but there was a lot of jostling and movement for
the city had suddenly absorbed over thirty thousand soldiers.
Emma Balfour thought the situation was little better than before:
"Still all seems confusion." 29 If he had known that Mrs. Balfour
thought this, Rowland Chambers would have agreed with her,
He said: "We are almost over run by the soldiers they have
three hospitals on the place and them full of sick wounded and
shirks and lofers . . . the army see[ms] to be more and more
demoralized . . . ." 30 Mrs. William Lord thought that the people,
like the army, were despondent and afraid a fear which
stemmed not so much from a dread of personal harm but, instead,
from a belief that General Pemberton was a traitor. 31 Emma
Balfour's husband was not apprehensive of Pemberton but of
livestock. He watched as the army's horses and mules and "all
of the stock of all kinds for ... twenty miles around" were herded
into the city, and he was afraid of a stampede. His wife was
more practical: "We can live on them, for I fear we have not the
provender to feed them for long." 32
Whatever the reason military defeat, distrust of Pemberton,
personal injury, property damage, starvation, stampede every-
one was afraid, and the only way their fears would be allayed
would be through Grant's defeat; thus countless rumors straws
28, Balfour, Diary, pp. 3-4. 29. Ibid., p. 4.
30. Chambers, Diary, June 1, 1863. 31. Lord, Journal, p. 2.
32. Balfour, Diary, p. 4.
to be eagerly clutched, repeated, and set in diaries darted
through the city. Joseph Johnston marching into Grant's rear,
Bedford Forrest down from Tennessee cutting through Grant's
army, Southern gunboats made in England forcing their way up
the Mississippi these were some of the fanciful hopes that
mounted as the day progressed. 33 Yet the only certainty was set
down by Emma Balfour: "We are cut off from all knowledge of
the outside world." When General Stephen D. Lee asked her if
she had a "rat-hole" (a cave), she replied that it seemed that
they were all caught in a rat-hole. 34
Slowly Grant felt his way toward the high ground surround-
ing the city. Late in the afternoon the people could hear the
sound of firing, and they were told that a battle would be fought
at daybreak. During the night the city was lighted by the lurid
glare of burning buildings homes built along the outskirts, de-
stroyed by the engineers to clear avenues of observation and fire.
Emma Balfour watched them burn: "A grand and awful spectacle
.... It was sad to see. Many of them we knew to be handsome
residences put up in the last few years as country residences . . .
but the stern necessity of war has caused their destruction." 35
As the night passed the wings of Grant's army spread around
the city. The Confederates were locked in, and Grant thought
that he had them trapped. He wanted to get it over with: he did
not have enough troops on hand to invest the city and conduct
wearing siege operations; and in addition he knew the defenders
were worn out and demoralized. He ordered a quick assault
against the Confederate lines and asked Admiral Porter's support
with gunboats and mortarboats. Porter told his captains:
"Fire heaviest charges and long ranges, and scatter your shot
around the forts and town." 36
At daybreak the firing began, then welled up to a crescendo
as the assault was mounted. Anne Harris listened to the swelling
roar. She thought it "resembl[ed] the sound of a vast cane-
break on fire with its crackling noise and rumbling under-tone." 37
Emma Balfour described the attack:
33. Ibid.; Moss, Diary, pp. 25, 36. 34. Balfour, Diary, p. 4.
36. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 18.
37. Anne Harris Broidrick, A Recollection of Thirty Years Ago, Southern
Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, p, 15.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 165
It was terrific! [The assaulted] part of the town is ... veiy
near so we had the full benefit. It is just where the railroad crosses
our lines. I was up in my room sewing and praying in my heart,
oh so earnestly for our cause, when Nancy rushed up actually pale,
exclaiming, "Oh Mistress, the Yankees are pouring over the Ml and
our men are running. Just come to the gallery and you can see!"
It brought before me forcibly what a state of excitement we were
living in when I found that this coincidence did not startle me ....
I went to the back gallery with my glass and [saw] men pouring over
the hill . . . negroes were darting through the shells, [and] a brigade
[was] running past towards this point so I thought it might not be so
bad as she thought and I quieted her a little. I found out that I was
right .... [There was] hot and heavy firing ... all day .... About
nine o'clock in the morning the gunboats towed some mortars into
range, and there was a rushing into caves .... We went into a cave
for the first time .... Just as we got in several machines exploded
. . . just over our heads, and at the same time two riders were killed
in the valley below us by a twenty-four pound shell from the east side,
so ... we were between two fires. As all this rushed over me and
the sense of suffocation from being underground, the certainty that
there was no way of escape, that we were hemmed in, caged for
one moment my heart seemed to stand still then my faith and
courage rose to meet the emergency, and I have felt prepared ever
since and cheerful . . . , 38
The numbing shock of defeat and terror had begun to wear
off, and as the Union assault was beaten back the spirits of the
people began to rise. If the minds of thousands of persons can
pivot on a single point, that particular point came to the people
of Vicksburg on the afternoon of May 19, when Grant called
off his assault. For the first time in three weeks he had been
halted he was not beaten, just stopped, but that was enough for
the people; this slender success was enough to clutch and build
into the hope that somehow they would be rescued.
Two days previously Rowland Chambers thought he was
doomed; now he began to take new hope and he found time to
gibe persons who were more afraid than he: "During the day
it was laughable to see the skulking of some cowardly men they
were hiding in the hollows and behind trees 7 or 8 cralled into
our old cave and lay thair all day just like so many scared
38. Balfour, Diary, pp. 5-6.
dogs." 39 Another man noted: "Everything opened bright and
cheerfully; full and universal confidence was now entertained
. . . that the place could be held until succor arrived." 40 Hugh
Moss, in an ambiguous but truth-laden statement, made the
keenest analysis of the mind of the people: 'The enemy still
continue to sharpshoot us. The people here seem to be in great
suspense, some are sanguine of success, others are exceedingly
doubtful and I think all are hopeful." 41
The fleet continued to pound away and, to the jeering calls
from the soldiers of "rats, into your ratholes," the people went
into their caves for the night; but as they sat there, the shells
shaking the ground, they were no longer bereft of hope.
This hope, expanded by some people into an article of
faith, would last throughout the siege. It would be doubted and
distorted, but it would never be entirely discarded. And a sup-
porting structure of what the people thought to be evidence
rumors of relief; beliefs that God was punishing them, but not
wholly deserting them; reaffirmations of confidence in Pember-
ton was erected to buttress the hope. This hope was born in
the last convulsive shift of thought, and, as the subtle chemistry
of the mind reacted, the legend of Vicksburg began.
Within the framework of that legend lies the real story of
the pounded days and nights at Vicksburg; but the reality was
quite often drab and sullied and far removed from the lustered
legend. Even as most of the people decided to stand fast and
wait for relief, others were passing through the entrenchments
and crossing to the Federal lines, until General Smith ordered
the lines closed to the civilians. 42 As much by the action of their
own generals as by Grant the people were shut up within the
Now they were part of total war. Admiral Porter had
ordered his naval gunners to fire their heaviest charges at the
city, and a correspondent for Harper's said the army would match
39. Chambers, Diary, May 19, 1863.
40. "Diary of a Citizen in Vicksburgh During the War," Rebellion
Record, VII, 163.
41. Moss, Diary, p. 22.
42. M. L. Smith to R. W. Memminger, May 19, 1863, Papers of Various
Confederate Notables, Box 18, NA (RG) 109.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 167
the navy's effort He reported: "General Sherman seems to have
a determined propensity to carry on the . . . war in a manner
most offensive to the rebels. The last instance of his beneficence
is a continued shelling of the 'Virgin City of Vicksburg'!" 43 But
just how close they came to total war the people never knew,
for General Stevenson had requested permission to arm all men
in the city and put them in the trenches. 44
As it was, the people thought they could not get closer to
war. Lida Lord said that her family's troubles began on the
twenty-first. After a quiet night, they gathered for breakfast
around a table set with china and silver; the windows were open
and Lida could smell the scent of roses in the fresh air. "Before
sunset," she said, "a bombshell burst in the very center of that
pretty dining-room, blowing out the roof and one side, crushing
the well-spread teatable like an eggshell, and making a great
yawning hole in the floor, into which disappeared supper, china,
furniture, and the safe containing our entire stock of butter and
eggs." 45 The family moved to the basement of Christ Church,
and little William Lord, Jr., was left with an indelible picture of
that night embedded in his memory. Doctor Lord sat on a bar-
rel, smoking his pipe; the servants were in the coal bin praying
and moaning; and Mrs. Lord and the children were huddled on
a coal heap. As the shells shook the ground, Lida began to cry.
Mrs. Lord, trying to comfort her, said: "Don't cry my darling.
God will protect us."
"But, momma," sobbed Lida, : Ts so 'fraid God's killed
The bombardment became so intense that Emma Balfour
had to stop writing up her diary the explosions made her
"involuntarily jump from [her] seat." Yet she was not frightened
enough to go to her cave. She and her husband "sat or stood in
front of the house until eleven o'clock knowing that it would
never do to go to bed .... We concluded as we had to be up,
43. Harper's Weekly Magazine, May 16, 1863, p. 315.
44. C. L. Stevenson to J. C. Pemberton, May 19, 1863, Papers of Various
Confederate Notables, Box 18, NA (RG) 109.
45. Reed, "Woman's Experiences," The Century Magazine, LXT, 923.
46. William W. Lord, "A Child at the Siege of Vicksburg," Harper's
Monthly Magazine, CXVIJI (December, 1908), p. 44.
it was well to see all that was going on so we went ... to [the
Sky Parlor] and stayed there until one o'clock .... It was not
in the usual way we walked down the street, but [we] had to
take the middle of the street, when we heard a shell . . . and this
was every half minute .... It took both of us ... to keep a
proper lookout." The rule of thumb regarding the shelling
was: "If you see a shell burst above you, stand still, unless it is
very high; if it be the sound of a Parrott, the shot has passed
before you heard it ... and so on." 47
If a person kept a sharp watch, being outside during a bom-
bardment was not exceedingly hazardous. Most of the shells
were set with burning fuzes; in the daylight they left a trail of
smoke and at night a trail of fire. Against a dark sky the flight
of a shell was visible almost from the moment it left the muzzle
of the cannon, and the people could watch its path and have
sufficient time to dodge if it seemed headed toward them. Even
if a shell exploded overhead, they learned, they would be safe,
for the fragments fell forward and ahead of the person beneath.
The only real danger, said Emma Balfour, "is that sometimes
while watching one another comes and may explode or fall
near you 'ere you are aware." 48
On May 22, Grant attacked again, and again his troops
were beaten back. The following day Seth Wells, a private in
the Seventeenth Illinois Regiment, was digging in a trench and
carrying on a "sensible chat" with the defenders, only a few yards
distant. The Confederates called to Wells and told him that
they were confident of holding the city, but that they were tired
of the war and wished "Old Abe and Jefferson Davis had to
fight it out." The chief thing the defenders wanted was coffee.
At this point, said Wells, the "conversation became too general
and our batteries opened and put a quietus on it." 49 "For an
hour or more, as fast as the guns could be worked, [we] pour[ed]
it into them . . . Columbiads, Dahlgrens, Parrotts, Howitzers,
47. Balfour, Diary, pp. 8-9; "A National Account," Rebellion Record.
48. Ibid., p. 9.
49. Seth J. Wells, The Siege of Vicksburg from the Diary of Seth J. Wells
(Detroit, 1915), p. 69.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 169
and James rifles, all mixed together . . . 'Giving them their
coffee/ this was called." 50
The attack of May 22 also put the quietus on Grant's plans
to take the city by assault. Whether he liked it or not he was
stuck with a siege, and the Union army settled in its lines and
began waiting. The waiting, however, was not a passive ex-
ercise. The Columbiads, Parrotts, Dalhgrens, and James rifles
gave the defenders "their coffee" day and night, and Porter
added his naval guns and mortars.
Mary Loughborough summed up the civilians' reactions to
the first days of heavy mauling. To a friend's question of how
she managed to live, she replied: "After one is accustomed to
the change, we do not mind it; but becoming accustomed, that
is the trial." 51
Her statement was a masterpiece of generalization; it rolled
up thousands of particulars and lumped them together under one
word trial. And trial was an ambivalent word it meant the
same thing to everyone, and, at the identical moment, different
things to different people. When it meant inconvenience, dread,
and hope, the word applied to everyone. When it meant that
which touched each person separately, it was singular and un-
repeated. It was Doctor Benjamin Lay begging Elizabeth Eg-
leston to make room in her cave for his two young sons; Lewis
Guion walking into town bearing the body of Felix Gibbs to his
unsuspecting mother; Major Edward Higgins' gentle report to a
mother that her son was neither captured nor killed, but his
whereabouts unknown. It was Emma Balfour's teasing admoni-
tion to General Lee not to allow Grant to shoot so near because
the shells might break her flower pots; and Rowland Chambers'
onomatopoetic observation: "The whurrur of the paret shells is
frightful the whize of the minie ball has an undescrubeable af-
fect where you heer on you know it has passe you, but heave a
dread of the next one." It was a woman's articulated terror:
"We are utterly cut off from the world, surrounded by a circle
of fire. Would it be wise like the scorpion to sting ourselves to
death?" Trial was the sight of bloody Union prisoners carried
50. Howard, History of the 124th Regiment, p. 111.
5 1 . Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 12.
into the city, heads laid open and brains oozing from the
wounds; it was a child playing in the street gathering unburst
shells, extracting the powder, and having one of them explode in
his face; and it was Hugh Moss finding comfort during a Sun-
day morning cannonade as he thought: "How little they respect
the laws of the Great I Am, and it is not reasonable that they
can be successful under such circumstances." 52 Trial was, for
each person, a touch of blood, and death, and raillery, and hope.
And so, as the attackers settled in their trenches and sapped and
mined and bombarded, the people settled in their caves and
homes and accustomed themselves to the ways of siege.
Mary Loughborough said that they did acclimate themselves
to the "trial." But she made her generalization so glibly that it
was as though she had forgotten the intensity that each particular
bore. Perhaps she had forgotten maybe her mind had merci-
fully blotted out the memory of scenes ranging from unpleasant-
ness to stark horror. Yet at the time they occurred there was
no blotting out, only the steady accretion of one day's torment
after another. Somehow, though, the burden was hefted and
shouldered and held to. Even in the early days of the siege the
resilience and tenacity of the human body and mind were ap-
parent. When he thought of sleeping soundly in the midst of the
explosions of the heavy guns, Doctor Balfour said he believed
that people could become inured to anything. Then his wife
punched a hole in his theory: "Poor Mrs. Crump does not get
used to it and it is pitiable to see her at every shell jumping up
and crouching with fear." 53
Mrs. Balfour herself charted the flexibility of the mind.
Within the space of a few hours her thoughts could sweep from
despair to a keen appreciation of beauty (though laden with
paradox). When she saw several thousand horses and mules,
for which there was no feed, driven into the Federal lines, she
believed that it was a sign that they were a lost people. Then
52. Benjamin Lay to Elizabeth Eggleston, May 17, 1863, Edward Higgins
to Elizabeth Eggleston, May 17, 1863, Eggleston-Roach Papers, Department
of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State University; Lewis Guion, Diary,
May 20, 1863, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State
University; Balfour, Diary, p. 15; Chambers, Diary, May 24, 1863; Ephrairn
McD. Anderson, Memoirs (St. Louis, 1868), p. 325; Moss, Diary, pp. 28-29.
53. Balfour, Diary, pp. 12-13.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 171
several hours later she wrote: "In the midst of all this carnage
and commotion, it is touching to see how every work of God,
save man, gives praise to Him. The birds are singing as merrily
as if all were well, rearing their little ones, teaching them to fly
and fulfilling their part in nature's program as quietly and happily
as if this fearful work of man slaying his brother man was not in
progress .... The flowers are in perfection, the air heavy with
perfume . . . and the garden bright and gay with all the summer
flowers .... Nature is all fair and lovely all save the spirit of
man seems divine."
Another woman, however, saw more despair than hope in
nature: "A pair of chimney-swallows have built in the parlor
chimney. The concussion of the [shells] often sends down
parts of their nest, which they patiently pick up and reascend
with .... I think all the dogs and cats must be killed or
starved, we don't see any more pitiful animals prowling around."
The phrase "killed or starved" opened another line of thought
one which constantly preyed upon her mind: "We are lucky to
get a quart of milk daily from a family near who have a cow they
hourly expect to be killed. I send nearly five dollars to market
each morning, and it buys a small piece of mule-meat. Rice and
milk is my main food; I can't eat the mule-meat .... I am so
tired of corn-bread, which I never liked, that I eat it with tears
in my eyes." 54
Yet for many people the specter of starvation still hung in
the distance. Emma Balfour, who had no qualms about the food
supply, delighted in serving meals to visiting officers. On May
25, General Pemberton took lunch with her and assured her that
there was enough food in the city to last sixty days, and even
longer if the rations were reduced, 55 though with mule meat
being eaten, some persons thought that they were already on
starvation rations. The chief complaint, however, stemmed not
from eating mule meat, but instead from the bread made of
pea meal. One man swore that the longer a loaf was baked the
harder it became on the outside and the softer it became on
54. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 771.
55. Balfour, Diary, pp. 13-14.
the inside, and "one might have knocked down a full-grown
steer with a chunk of it." 56
But food was not yet paramount in the minds of the people.
The sense of isolation and the lack of news were the main sources
of complaint and foreboding. Day upon day Rowland Chambers
noted that there was no news from the outside and wished that
some word would come through the lines. 57 J. M. Swords con-
tinued to publish the Citizen, but it was merely "a rehash of
speculations which amuses a half hour." 58 So starved for news
were the people that when the gunboat Cincinnati was sunk
some personal letters found in the debris were eagerly passed
from person to person. 59 The craving for news stemmed not
only from the fact that the people were isolated, but also from
the belief that when news was brought to the city it would be
that Johnston was moving to their relief. But until that informa-
tion arrived (and most people were sure that it would) , they had
to shift for themselves. Emma Balfour said: "Last night Mrs.
Higgins and myself sat up until after eleven o'clock making
cartridges. We get no help from the outside world now and have
to help ourselves." 60
And so they helped themselves, but at the same time anxious-
ly awaited information from Johnston. On May 28 , after being
shut up for ten days, the first courier from Johnston slipped into
the city. Emma Balfour invited General Pemberton and other
officers to come "to lunch and ... a thanksgiving for this good
news and [for] the sinking of the [Cincinnati] the day before."
Previously Mrs. Balfour had chided Pemberton for "being gloomy
and told him the ladies were not despondent." Now Pemberton
told the group that "things look brighter" and said: "The Yan-
kees, if they could look in, would not think that we minded the
siege very much." Mrs. Balfour thought that they were very
merry and hopeful.
They probably were, for the courier's dispatch said that
Johnston, with forty thousand men, and Bragg, with his Tennes-
see army, were marching to their relief, and also that Robert E.
56. Anderson, Memoirs, p. 337.
57. Chambers, Diary, May 27, 1863.
58. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 771.
59. Balfour, Diary, p. 17. 60. Ibid., pp. 7-8.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 173
Lee, giving tit-for-tat, was laying siege to Washington. 61 Now
all they had to do was wait until Johnston's and Bragg's armies
united and assailed Grant in the rear.
But hope was a slender bulwark against the mounting pres-
sures and tensions of siege; waiting became more difficult with
the passage of each day. Even after the arrival of the courier's
heartening message Mrs. Balfour watched Pemberton and
thought: "He is inclined to be rather despondent." Perhaps he
knew the sheer military impossibility of what the dispatch
promised. Other persons were despondent too, and the unceas-
ing pounding and shortages bore heavily upon them. The streets
were now "literally plowed up," the hotels had been requisitioned
and filled with wounded, and many of the homes had wounded in
them. All of the civilians' shovels, spades, and picks were ap-
propriated for military use, fences were torn down for firewood,
houses were rocked "like cradles" by the shock of the explosions,
and living in caves had lost whatever novelty it might once
have held. 62
Lida Lord began to dread the nights in the caves "the
blessed daylight came like heaven." She had spent a night in
a cave with sixty-five other persons, "packed in, black and white,
like sardines in a box." There was not much sleep, just constant
movement, snuffling, moaning, and crying. Three wounded
soldiers lay on the cave floor, a big box lined with blankets held
several babies, and a woman writhed on a mattress, her body
swollen and in labor. Before the night was past William Siege
Green had entered the world. 63
Emma Balfour still refused to go into the caves unless she
was forced, but a night in her home was no better than a damp,
crowded, mosquito infested cave, or so it appears from her diary
entry of May 31:
The shelling from the mortars was worse than usual last
night .... I could hear the pieces falling all around us as the shells
61. Ibid., pp. 16-17.
62. John C. Pemberton to C. L. Stevenson, May 23, 1863; Benjamin Lay
to W. H. McCardle, May 21, 1863; Benjamin Lay to F. M. Stafford, May
25, 1863; all in Papers of Various Confederate Notables, Box 18, NA (RG)
109; Balfour, Diary, pp. 13, 15.
63. Reecl y "'Woman's Experiences," The Century Magazine, LXI, 924; Bell,
"A Girl's Experience," Harper's Weekly Magazine, LVI, 12-13.
would explode, and once I thought our time had come .... The
mortars [fired] all night. We soon perceived that we could not retire
while they fired as they had changed the range and every shell came
either directly over us or just back or front of us so we made up our
minds to sit up and watch, hoping, however, that they would cease
about midnight, as they sometimes do ... but no all night it con-
tinued to add to the horror. At 12 o'clock the guns all along the
lines opened and the parrot shells flew as thick as hail around us!
.... We had gone upstairs determined to rest lying down but not
sleeping, but when these commenced to come it was not safe up-stairs
so we came down in our dining room and lay down upon the bed
there, but soon found that would not do as they came from the south-
east as well as east and might strike the house. Still from sheer
uneasiness we remained there until a shell struck in the garden against
a tree, and at the same time we heard the servants all up and making
exclamations. We got up thoroughly worn out and disheartened and
after looking to see the damage, went into the parlor and lay on the
sofas there until morning, feeling that at any moment a mortar shell
might crash through the roof .... We have slept scarcely none now
for two days and two nights. Oh! it is dreadful. After I went to
lie down [after watching the shells] I could see them just as plainly
with my eyes shut as with them open. They come, gradually making
their way higher and higher, tracked by their firing fuze until they
reach their greatest altitude, then with a rush and whiz they come
down furiously, their own weight added to the impetus given by the
powder . . . , 64
The pounding became too much for some people to endure.
They circulated a petition asking that Pemberton order a cease
fire and allow the women and children to leave the city. Pember-
ton replied that he would not grant the request of a few indi-
viduals, but if a majority of the civilians would sign the petition
he would allow it. Four persons fixed their names to it. 65
One woman told Pemberton that she hoped he would not
comply with the petition as "we had all been sufficiently
warned." 66 Perhaps they had not taken the warning seriously,
but for six months they had been asked, almost ordered, to leave
the city, and most of those who remained were there of their own
volition. This matter of free choice threw another intangible
into the crucible of the collective will of the people it added
64. Balfour, Diary, pp. 19-20. 65. Ibid., p. 21.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 175
another item to the supporting structure that buttressed the faith
in their relief and their determination to survive. This intangible
was a matter of personal honor. The people had elected to re-
main in the city; therefore honor demanded that they not allow
the bombardment to cow them, even if they thought the Federals
were fighting "the garrison in part, but the city mainly." 67
Emma Balfour summed it up: "The general impression is
that they fire at the city . . . thinking that they will wear out the
women and children and sick, and Gen. Pemberton will be
[forced] to surrender the place on that account, but they little
know the spirit of the Vicksburg women and children if they
expect this. Rather than let them know they are causing us
any suffering [we] would be content to suffer martyrdom." 68
Emma Balfour might justifiably be called a member of the
local aristocracy her husband was a successful doctor and she
was on close terms with the leading generals and her statement
might be said to reflect the sentiments of only a portion of the
population. But if it was a reflection of the mind of the upper
class, it was nevertheless valid. The only distinction between
Emma Balfour's determination and that of a woman who lived
in a rough shack along the waterfront was one of degree.
Alexander Abrams, a staff member of the defunct Whig who
was now taking his turn in the trenches, was perhaps in closer
touch with the various segments of Vicksburg society than Emma
Balfour. As he watched and listened to the women, he decided
that class distinctions made little difference in the war spirit:
"Among the poorer classes of women, the feeling of patriotism
was strong, and the desire for a successful defense was apparent
in their conversation, while the feeling among the wealthier class
of women almost amounted to a wild enthusiasm." 69
Though Abrams was given to rhetorical splurges and glossed
the truth from time to time, he was substantially correct in this
assessment of morale. Hugh Moss, who tended a cannon in one
of the river batteries, said: "The women here, although exposed
67. Edward S. Gregory, "Vicksburg During the Siege," The Annals of the
War Written by Leading Participants North and South (Philadelphia, 1879),
68. Balfour, Diary, p. 21.
69. Abrams, Full and Detailed History, p. 48.
to much danger, encouraged the soldiers in their daily duty and
peril, cooking for them and even sending provisions to them on
the battlefield, attending to their wounds and administering
every comfort within their power. May they receive due reward
by seeing victory perch upon their standard." 70 Osborn Oldroyd,
on the opposite side of the trenches, seemed to sense the defiance
that Emma Balfour set into her diary. As he peered over the
top of his trench and studied the city, he was struck by two
things: the courthouse where "there is a Confederate flag
waving . . . defiantly"; and by the sight of women, which brought
from him this unadulterated praise, "The women . . . did not
all leave the city, and I suppose they have determined to brave
it out. Their sacrifices and privations are worthy of a better
cause, and were they but on our side how we would worship
Class and caste distinctions were blurred in the face of
common adversity. Inside one of the large caves which held
several dozen persons, William Lord ate and slept with slaves,
planters, overseers, slave traders, business and professional men
and their families, who lived "side by side, in peace if not in
As slave owners noticed that their servants behaved well
under fire, there was a further lapsing of caste barriers. Mary
Loughborough was one such owner who came to have new
respect for her Negroes. She thought they possessed "more
courage than is usually attributed to negroes," for her "boy"
George slept at the entrance of her cave with a pistol, declaring,
said Mrs. Loughborough, "dat anyone dat come dar would have
to go over his body first." He also had no qualms about carry-
ing food and messages to Mrs. Loughborough's husband, who
was in the trenches; and on one occasion George picked up a
smoking Parrott shell which landed in the mouth of the cave and
threw it outside. 73
As May drew to a close a new quality, timelessness, crept
into the city. Hours and days were no longer measured by the
clocks or calendars. One day merely blended into the next, then
70. Moss, Diary, p. 31. 71. Oldroyd, Soldier's Story , p, 52.
72. Lord, "Siege of Vicksburg," Harper's Monthly Magazine, CXVIII, 46.
73. Loughborough, Cave Life, pp. 65, 74.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 177
that one into the succeeding one until, said one man, "It can
scarcely be said that one day differs much from another." In-
stead of the ticking of a clock, the passage of time was marked
by "the chop, chop, chop, of the sharpshooters . . . which greets
the ear from morning till night, and from night till morning." 74
Events were set in time by the slackening or the intensification
of the bombardment, and the routines of life revolved about the
number of shells dropping in the city.
At the caves, meals were prepared when the shelling abated.
The cooking had to be done outside and the risk was too great
to try to cook in the open with shells landing close by. One
woman described the scene at suppertime: "At all the caves I
could see from my high perch, people were sitting, eating their
poor suppers at the cave doors, ready to plunge in again. As the
first shell . . . flew they dived, and not a human being was
visible." 75 Occasionally the erratic firing meant that some people
went without food for long periods of time. Lida Lord remem-
bered that her family once had nothing to eat for twenty-four
hours, and finally when they did get a meal it was because one
of their servants walked through the explosions to bring in a
"tray of ham and bread and butter." 76 Other people tried to
meet this exigency by baking large quantities of bread and sub-
sisting on it and milk, providing their cows had not been killed.
This was cold, dreary eating, meal after meal, and as a result any
food which was hot was considered to be a luxury, even if it
was cornbread and fat pork. Sleeping depended somewhat upon
the shelling, not upon the coming of night. Though some persons
learned to sleep even in the heaviest bombardment, others did
not, and a night during which there were few explosions was also
regarded as a luxury. The time for washing and bathing was
dictated by the shelling and not by dirt or passage of time. One
woman complained that she had not been able to change her
clothes for two weeks. 77
After two weeks of bombardment only two events remained
fixed in people's minds. One was Sunday and the other was
74. "Diary of a Citizen," Rebellion Record, VII, 168.
75. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 771.
76. Reed, "Woman's Experiences," ibid., LXI, 923.
77. Lord, Journal, p. 4.
Life in the Union trenches surrounding Vicksburg, as seen by the special
artist of Harper's, while waiting for "General Starvation" to defeat the
defenders. (From Harper's Weekly)
relief. Even the shells would not deter the people from their
worship. (Some persons, like their medieval ancestors, clung
to the belief that a church was a sanctuary and therefore im-
pervious to, or at least safer from, direct hits. ) On Sunday, May
31, the church bells pealed amidst the sound of the cannon.
As she walked to Christ Church, Emma Balfour thought:
"It is comparatively quiet . . . how like and yet how unlike
Sunday. All nature wears a Sabbath calm, but the thunder of
artillery reminds us that man knows no Sabbath Yankee man
at least." There were only thirty people at the service; they had
to pick their way through brick and rubble and sweep shattered
glass from the pews before they sat, and at times the responses
were obliterated by cannonfire, but they found comfort and were
determined to continue the services. 78 Most of the people, how-
ever, held religious services in the caves. In the large shelters
prayer meetings were conducted daily, and white man and
Negro alike uttered pleas "for a swift deliverance from the perils
of the siege." 79
78. Balfour, Diary, pp. 19, 23. It appears that only the Episcopal and
Catholic churches held regular services throughout the siege.
79. Lord, Harper's Monthly Magazine, CXVIII, 46.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 179
Rowland Chambers, who attended no church, got himself
closer to God. For the first time since he arrived in Vicksburg
he made entries in his diary which indicated that he acknowledged
the existence of God. Perhaps he was frightened and, like many
of the people, found succor in intensified religious activities.
He thanked "the Lord for [H]is great mercies," and allied Him
with the relief of the city. "It is believed that we will be able to
hold the place with the help of God the decider of all battles." 80
Now a new factor was added to the problem of survival. It
had been brooding in the background since the day the siege
began (and even before) but, by the first of June, it was thrust
full blown and danger-laden into the beleaguered city. This new
factor was the mounting threat of starvation, a peril which came
closer with the passage of each day. It sapped the will to victory
more than any other single hardship with which the people had
to contend. Its vitiating effect was not only measured by the
gnawing at empty bellies, but also by the erosion of morale and
temper as the hungry people found themselves turned into
objects of profit by black marketers and hoarders. As prices
spiraled upward and early relief by Johnston failed to come, the
people struck back at the profiteers.
On the night of June 1, a fire swept through the business
center of the city. Before it was brought under control an entire
block of buildings had been gutted. Thus from a single stroke
the city suffered more damage than it would throughout the
remainder of the siege, and the destruction came not from Grant's
artillery or Porter's mortars, but from the matches of some out-
raged citizens. The gutted block contained several of the city's
grocery stores, owned by merchants suspected and accused of
profiteering, and it was common knowledge that the fire was
set by persons who were incensed by the merchants' speculation
on food. 81
Yet in the long run there was no effective retaliation against
speculation. Those who held surplus food and who were inclined
to do so squeezed and squeezed. As the profiteers went about
80. Chambers, Diary, May 27, June 4, 1863.
81. Half our, Diary, p. 23; James H. Pepper, Diary of Vicksburg, Miss.
Arch., pp. 5-6; William H. Turmard, A Southern Record: The History of the
Third Regiment Louisiana Infantry (Baton Rouge, 1866), p. 244.
their sordid business they left ineradicable loathing in the minds
of some of the civilians and soldiers which lasted far beyond
the war years. When William Tunnard wrote his reminiscences
of the siege he saved his most vitriolic words not for the enemy,
but for the Vicksburg merchants: "During the siege . . . there
was a class of non-combatants who distinguished themselves in
a marked manner. These were the speculators, embracing nearly
every merchant within the limits of the city, without distinction of
nationality [an oblique way of lumping Christians with Jews
who, according to popular belief, would naturally be engaged
in profiteering]. These bloodsuckers had the audacity to hold
their goods at such prices that it was an utter impossibility to
obtain anything from them .... Some of these, worse than vil-
lains, refused to sell to the soldiers at any price . . . ," 82
By June 1, food prices reached their highest level since the
war began. 83 Yet for those persons who had money or who
were close to a source of supply there was no dearth of food.
William Drennan ate "good beef, mutton sometimes, ham, flour,
rice flour, rice, molasses, etc.," and he rather complacently said
he was "well off." He was able to eat well because he lived
with a commissary officer who declared that he would "have
some [food] and that ... of the best kind." 84
The commissary officer made this statement at the same time
the troops in the trenches were calling over to the Yankees "to
. . . look out as [we have] a new General .... General Starva-
tion." 85 What Drennan did when he recorded the statement of
the high-eating commissary officer was in effect to record the
attitude of many of the people, soldier and civilian alike, which
amounted to "Them that has, gits!"
Charity remained an individual matter and became a relative
virtue. Mrs. William Lord said that she would "have been badly
off" if it had not been for the "kindness" of a lieutenant. The
82. Tunnard, A Southern Record, pp. 141-42.
83. G. R. Elliott, Diary, June 1, 1863, Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Some of the items were (per pound): flour $1.50; sugar, 75$; coffee, $5.00;
tea, $15.00; and rice, 40tf.
84. William Drennan, Diary, Miss. Arch., II, 21.
85. Wells, The Siege of Vicksburg, p. 75.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 181
lieutenant's kindness consisted of selling her a gallon of molasses
for six dollars and "a miserable steak" for three dollars. 86
Other persons were not able to afford kindness, and they
were hungry. On June 6, a group of women and children left
the city and crossed the river to the Union-occupied Louisiana
shore. Their food supplies exhausted, they "were compelled
to seek quarters somewhere else." Hugh Moss, watching as the
refugees climbed the opposite bank, breathed the hope that they
would "meet with good treatment," which was more than their
compatriots in Vicksburg had accorded them. 87
Summer heat comes quick and searing to Vicksburg. By
early June the sun was beating down into the trenches and streets,
its heat lending more tarnish to the record of a people struggling
for survival. The May rains, thought by some persons to be
caused by the heavy cannonade, had ceased and the days marched
by, sultry and thirsty. 88 The water supply, as the board of
police had apprehensively warned, trickled away as thirty
thousand people tried to drink from a water system built to
accommodate five thousand. People began dipping water from
ditches and mud holes, and other persons, always ready to
capitalize on the need of their neighbors, sold fresh water by the
bucketful to those who could afford it. 89 One woman, whose
house contained two underground cisterns, gave the water from
one to the soldiers, but kept the other for her personal use which
included nightly baths of cold water as a "nerve-calmer that sends
me to sleep in spite of the roar." 00
The roar continued day after day, night after night. The
shelling, said Emmanuel Gebhart, "puts me in mind of the
barking of a lot of dogs; the big dogs do some furious barking,
but when they stop for breath then you can hear the little
86. Lord, Journal, p. 7.
87. Moss, Diary, p. 34. This is the single recorded instance in which
women and children successfully passed out of the city. Several other at-
tempts were made, but the refugees were turned back by both the Con-
federate and Union forces. Men, both soldiers and civilians, came and went
by floating on logs. Anne Shannon Martin to Emma Crutcher, June 17, 1863,
88. Jenkins L. Jones, "An Artilleryman's Diary," Wisconsin History Com-
mission Original Papers, Number 8, entries for June, 1863.
89. Reed, "Woman's Experiences,'* The Century Magazine, LXI, 926
90. "A Woman's Diary," ibid., XXX, 772.
Fiste." 91 But the barking of the cannon and rifles had become
so familiar that the people began to joke about it. Even when
Admiral Porter ordered "Greek Fire" hurled into the city there
were, instead of cries of "barbarian," facetious comments about
this new instrument of war. O. S. Holland sent his compliments
to Elizabeth Eggleston and called her attention to the Greek Fire:
"The shells used by Trofessor Porter' in his 'Grand pyrotechnic
exhibitions' gratuitously given for the benefit (?) of the women
and children of Vicksburg." 92
This was the indomitable side of the people. Here was no
pettiness, no sordidness, no gap in the human soul. Here was
the lambent side of their nature, burnished bright by adversity.
As the grind of privation and horror brought out the worst in
some people's nature, it polished and honed the opposite quali-
ties of generosity, humor, and courage in others.
Accustomed to keeping himself protected as much as possi-
ble when he was in the trenches, William Drennan thought that
some of the civilians were almost foolhardy in their dauntless-
ness. "You can see," wrote Drennan, "women gaily dressed
promenading the streets if there is a slackening of shells and
men would give any price for a drink of whiskey so much do
they wish for extra excitement. I saw Mrs. Lum walking the
street with a gold laced official and she appeared as thoughtless
as any one could be." 93 Behavior such as this also brought ad-
miration from the enemy./ A northern newspaperman filed this
account of the people of Vicksburg: "One of the most wonderful
things of the siege is the fact that ladies, following the example
of the men, have actually promenaded the streets in numbers
during the bombardment, priding themselves on their ability to
dodge the shells .... Indeed, the coolness of these people
under the terrible fire is most astonishing .... No men in the
world have ever been called upon to endure so heavy a
91. Emmanuel M. Gebhart to Noah L. Gebhart, June 11, 1863, Noah L.
Gebhart Papers, Duke University.
92. O. S. Holland to Elizabeth Eggleston, June 8, 1863, Eggleston-Roach
Papers. Concerning the use of Greek Fire see Porter's report, Official Records
Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 518; cf. Rebellion Record, VII, 61.
93. Drennan, Diary, II, 18.
94. "A National Account," Rebellion Record, VII, 164.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 183
The people would have agreed with the newspaperman. A
captain's wife was in her dining room with her two children when
a thirteen-inch mortarshell struck the house. The woman pushed
the children under the table, dived on top of them, then, after
the shell exploded, calmly brushed the dust and debris from
herself and the children and went about her business. 95 Another
woman was lying in bed reading the Citizen when a shell ex-
ploded beside her bedroom window. Shell fragments flew into
the room and cut plaster from the wall and ceiling. As she was
"crawling out of the plaster" another shell exploded close by
and she ran to the cellar, but not before she had picked up her
brush and comb. She combed and brushed all afternoon before
she got the debris from her hair because, she said, "my hands
were rather shaky." 96 ^
This was a rather inverse attempt at humor, though probably
the best she could summon at the moment. Other people's
humor was more open and heavy-handed. Atop one of the
hills there was a deserted house on which someone had char-
coaled the sign: "For Rent: Inquire of Davis & Pemberton."
One night a mortarshell ripped through the building; in the
morning the first sign was marked out and a new inscription put
in its place: "Rented, by Grant and McPherson." 97
The long hours had to be whiled away and some of the
more inventive brains created the "Hotel de Vicksburg," on
which they lavished the memory of better days, the want of the
present, and a fey humor. Cards advertising the Hotel were
written in longhand:
The proprietors of the justly celebrated Hotel de Vicksburg,
having enlarged and refitted the same, are now prepared to accommo-
date all who may favor them with a call. Parties arriving by the
river or Grant's overland rout[e], will find Grape, Cannister & Go's
carriages at the landing or any Depot on the line of entrenchments.
Buck, Ball & Co take charge of all baggage. No effort will be spared
to make the visit of all as interesting as possible.
95. L T. Hogane, "Reminiscences of the Siege of Vicksburg," Southern
Historical Society Papers, XI (July, 1883), 296.
96. U A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 773.
97. Thomas C. DeLcon, Belles, Beaux and Brains of the 6Q's (New York,
1907), p. 274.
A long menu, emblazoned by the head of a mule, was drawn
up, which spoke of an acquaintance with good restaurants, but
also of a firai sense of reality:
Mule Bacon with Poke Greens
Mule Ham Canvassed
Mule Rump Stuffed with Rice
Peas and rice
Mule head stuffed Ala mode
Mule Beef Jerked Ala Mexicana
Mule Ears fricasseed ala Gotch
Mule Hide Stewed New Style Laid on
Mule Spare ribs plain
Mule Liver hashed
Mule hoof soused
Mule tongue cold ala bray
Pea Meal Pudding blackberry sause
Cotton Seed Pies
China berry tarts
White Oak Acorns
Blackberry leaf Tea
Genuine Confederate Coffee
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 185
Mississippi Water vintage 1492 Superior $3.00
Lime Stone Water late importation very fine 2.75
Spring Water Vicksburg brand 1.50 98
Other inventive and idle minds turned to music, or at least
the writing of new lyrics for old music. "Listen to the Mocking
Bird" was made into " 'Twas at the Siege of Vicksburg":
'Twas at the siege of Vicksburg,
Of Vicksburg, of Vicksburg,
'Twas at the siege of Vicksburg,
When the Parrott shells were whistling through the air
Listen to the Parrott shells,
Listen to the Parrott shells,
The Parrott shells are whistling through the air.
Oh, well will we remember,
Through mule meat, June sans November;
And the minie balls that whistled through the air
Listen to the minie balls,
Listen to the minie balls,
The minie balls are singing in the air."
William and Lida Lord were taught another song by some
Missouri officers who occupied a nearby cave. To the tune of
"Then Let the Old Folks Scold if They Will," they sang:
Then let the big guns boom if they will,
We'll be gay and happy still,
Gay and happy, gay and happy,
Well be gay and happy still.
The officers, usually off duty in the evenings, spent many
hours with the children teaching them songs, playing games,
and improving the cave by cutting niches into the clay walls for
books, vases and candles. Older girls knitted socks and hemmed
handkerchiefs for the Missourians, and put blossoms in their
buttonholes before they set out for the batteries. There was also
time for whist, candy making, and flirtation by candlelight,
98. Thomas K Waul Papers, Duke University; Rebellion Record, VII, 5L
99. William H. Tunnard, "Reminiscences," in Oldroyd, Soldier's Story f
which made the cave's "gloomy recesses echo with songs and
laughter." One of the favorite pastimes was carving bas reliefs
of the children's heads in the walls of the caves, though oc-
casionally the shock from a near-miss would shake the ground
and cause the knife to slip and ruin the sculpting. Laughter
and songs might veneer it, but war was never more than a few
feet away. 100
This was perhaps more apparent to those people who did
not desert their homes for the caves. Anne Harris' home was
filled with wounded, and the women gave up their beds and
slept on the floors. Then healthy troops crowded onto the
porch "many of them disliked tent life" and Anne said that
it was not safe to venture out of doors at night for fear of step-
ping on some sleeping soldier. She admitted that her family
"found it anything but agreeable to be in the midst of so many
men," but they did not have the heart to forbid the use of their
Yet there were other people who did not begrudge the
soldiers' presence. Private S. R. Martin and a friend named
Peers were prowling through the city seeking something to eat
when they heard the sound of a piano. Peers walked to an open
window and saw a young girl seated at the piano. At his request
she continued playing, then invited them both to come in. Peers
then sat at the piano and played for over an hour, much to the
delight of the entire family, and the two soldiers left the house
with full stomachs and full haversacks. 102 Another person who
shared her slender food stock with the soldiers was the Unionist
woman from New Orleans. As she looked at them she could
feel no animosity: "Poor fellows! my heart bleeds for them ....
They come into the kitchen when Martha puts the pan of corn-
bread in the stove, and beg for the bowl she mixed it in ....
When I happen in, they look so ashamed .... I know we saved
the lives of two by giving a few meals." 103
100. Lord, "Siege of Vicksburg," Harper's Monthly Magazine, CXVIII,
47; Reed, "Woman's Experiences," The Century Magazine, LXI, 925,
lOl.Broidrick, A Recollection, p. 12.
102, S. R. Martin, Recollections of the War Between the States, 1861-1865,
p. 57. Owned by John S. Hoggatt, Vicksburg.
103. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 772.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 187
Then, too, the giving was not always on the part of the
civilians. When a cave was struck by a direct hit, a captain gave
the frightened survivors "his cave, bunk & Bedding, [and] con-
soled them to the best of his ability." James Pepper, who
watched as the exchange was made, thought the captain "might
strictly be termed a gentleman," but also thought that there might
be a secondary motive for his kindness as one of the destitute
persons was a "very fine looking young lady." 104
There was always time for gallantry, but as such it was an
empty form unless it was accompanied by a hole in the ground, a
piece of bedding, or a scrap of food. The forms of life had long
since been discarded and everything was reduced to the most
simple terms. There was a time when the acceptance of a
stranger's grimy bedding or the begging of an unwashed mixing
bowl would not have been thought of. Now it was possibly the
difference between living and perishing, and the people scrimped
and improvised in every way they knew. Corn cobs were
used as a substitute for soda, "Confederate Dye" was made from
elderberry juice, strings were dipped in mutton suet to make
candles, raspberry and blackberry leaves were used to make
tea, and corn beer was brewed, which was said to be "superior
to any Cider or Beer [and] innocent for a child, if taken as soon
as the gas forms and not permitted to sour." 105
J. M. Swords improvised and managed to publish the
Citizen, though no one could predict its size from one day to
the next. The June 13 issue was one and a half feet long and
six inches wide, and the issue of the eighteenth was printed on
wallpaper, which became Swords's standard newsprint. The
only thing which remained constant in the Citizen was the faith
it pinned on Johnston. Issue after issue promised that relief
was close by: "The utmost confidence is felt that we can maintain
our position until succor comes from outside. The undaunted
Johnston is at hand"; then later, "But a few days more and
Johnston will be here"; and still later, "Ho! for Johnston! The
most agreeable news now-a-days is to hear from General John-
ston. But we have nothing to record of his movements, except
104. J. H. Pepper, Diary of Vicksburg, p. 17.
1 05. Clarke's Confederate Household Almanac, for the Year 1863, pp.
that we may look at any hour for his approach. We may repose
the utmost confidence in his approach within a very few days.
We have to say to our friends and the noble army here that relief
is close at hand. Hold out a few days longer, and our lines will
be opened, the enemy driven away, the siege raised, and Vicks-
burg again in communication with the balance of the Confed-
eracy." Some people copied these empty words and set them into
their diaries letter for letter, as though the transcription of the
words would reinforce their hopes. 106
Rumor was the stuff that hope was made of. Each day
brought a new supply of rumors, stories which were nurtured in
hearts and which quickened hopes because the people wanted
nothing so much as to believe them. Then as the promised
thing, whatever it might have been, failed to materialize the
particular rumor passed into oblivion, but its place was quickly
filled by another fanciful hope. However flimsy the stories, they
supported hope, and as long as there was hope there was tenacity
and defiance. Even the wildest fantasies were eagerly clutched
at and, as the days passed without the sound of Johnston's
guns, they gave comfort to the people. "We are all," wrote
Doctor Joseph Alison, "in good spirits and look for help one
of these days. Our friends outside suffer more in mind, much
more than we do. It would surprise anyone not accustomed to
shelling to see how cooly we take it." 10T
The Northerners, in much closer touch with fact than the
besieged people, ran their own rumor mills. A "mysterious and
dreadful beacon that rose out of the earth" was reported to exist
in the city, though its purpose was unexplained; one hundred
women were said to have been killed during the first day of the
siege; and most inexplicable of all, the Harper's correspondent
reported that the city had been abandoned on May 24, 108
There was something harmless and pathetic about most of
the rumors which seethed in the city and swept through the Union
106. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 772; Pepper,
Diary, p. 12.
107. Joseph D. Alison, Diary, Southern Historical Collection, University
of North Carolina, p. 16.
108. Gregory, Annals, pp. 126-27; Harper's Weekly Magazine, May 30
1863, p. 339.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 189
trenches, but there were other stories which were vicious and
malign, and which would haunt minds long past the time the guns
ceased. These were the tales of atrocity, passed, like the stories
of Johnston's advance and the mysterious beacon, from home to
home and from trench to trench.
Some of the Yankees had come boiling toward Vicksburg
eager to extirpate it as a viper's nest. On the outskirts of the
city, so went a story widely circulated in the North, was the
plantation of a Mrs. Gillespie where
Flogging with a leather strap on the naked body is common;
also, paddling the body with a hand-saw until the skin is a mass of
blisters, and then breaking the blisters with the teeth of the saw ....
Another method of punishment, which is inflicted for the higher
order of crimes ... is to dig a hole in the ground large enough for
the slave to squat or lie down in. The victim is then stripped naked
and placed in the hole, and a covering or grating of green sticks is
laid over the opening. Upon this a quick fire is built, and the live
embers sifted through upon the naked flesh of the slave, until his body
is blistered and swollen almost to bursting. With just enough life to
enable him to crawl, the slave is then allowed to recover from Ms
wounds if he can, or to end his suffering by death ....
There was a middle-aged [slave] in the family, named Margaret,
who had a nursing child. Mrs. Gillespie ordered Margaret to wean
the child. The babe was weakly, and Margaret did not wish to do so.
Mrs. G. told her that she would examine her breast the next Monday,
and, if she found any milk in it, she would punish her severely.
Monday came round, and ... at night the promised examination
took place, and the breast of Margaret gave but too convincing proof
that, in obedience to the yearnings of a mother's heart, she had
spurned the threat of the inhuman mistress. Mrs. G. then ordered
the handsaw, the leather strap, and a wash-bowl of water. The
woman was laid upon her face, her clothes were stripped up to around
her neck .... Mrs. Gillespie then paddled her with the handsaw,
sitting composedly in a chair over her victim. After striking some
one hundred blows she changed to the use of the leather strap, which
she would dip into the wash-bowl in order to give it greater power
of torture. Under this infliction the screams of the woman died away
to a faint moan, but the sound of the whip continued until nearly 1 1
o'clock. "Jane" was then ordered to bring the hot tongs, the
woman was turned over upon her back, and Mrs. Gillespie attempted
to grasp the woman's nipples with the heated implement. The
writhings of the mother, however, foiled her purpose; but between
the breasts the skin and flesh were horribly burned. 109
The Confederates countered with their versions of atrocity.
Long after the war such stories remained in the people's minds,
and they carried them to their graves, but not before they had
transmitted them to a new generation; thus the tendrils of hate
were grafted onto uninjured minds so that almost one hundred
years later the wounds have not completely closed. Ida Trotter,
who lived on the outskirts of the city just within the Federal
lines, liked to dwell on the stories of horror:
Two most horrible atrocities . . . took place in our section. Mr.
Cook was a planter who was said to be cruel to his slaves. It seems
that his negro's had left their Master and gone in a body to the
Yankees as most all of them did over the whole country.
It is supposed they reported their Master's cruelty to them and
the result was, a squad of soldiers went to the Cook home and over-
powered the entire family except one little girl who hid under the
house. The father was most horribly mutilated, both arms and legs
were cut off a candle was put into a gun and shot into the Mother
a bayonet was thrust through one child pinning her to the wall.
After the soldiers left the child under the house heard her father's
groans and went to find him together they made their way to the
nearest neighbors the man just rolling along with both feet and
hands gone and lived a short time.
The Watsons were an old couple and he was a paralytic. They
had several sons in the . . . army who were noted for their bravery.
The Yankees were supposed to have heard this and sought revenge on
the parents. They rolled the old gentleman out on his gallery in his
rolling chair they then set fire to the house. The mother they took
in the yard took her own feather bed and cut it open while some
were doing this others went into her own smokehouse and rolled a
barrel of molasses into the yard after removing all the woman's
clothing they put her in the feathers and emptied the molasses on
her leaving her thus to watch her husband burned to death sitting
on his own gallery. 110
These stories were part of the mind of Vicksburg; that they
were unfounded made no difference, the mind believes what it
109. Harper's Weekly Magazine, July 4, 1863, pp. 429-30.
110. Ida B. Trotter, The Seige of Vicksburg, and Some Personal Experiences
connected therewith, Miss. Arch., p. 5.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 191
chooses to. Some people dearly wanted the horrors to be true for
they buttressed the notion that the enemy was ruthless and
inhuman. Other people, more critical and appreciative of
truth, found it difficult to know where fact crossed the hairline
into fantasy. The mind as well as the body was bludgeoned by
the shelling and sometimes the thin line separating truth from
fiction was blurred and fuzzed. William Drennan was doubtful
of most of the tales, whether they were rumors of succor or
atrocity; but he, like most persons, found it comforting to be-
lieve some of them. He said: "A man knows nothing. What he
hears cannot be believed, as rumor, with her thousand tongues
is more busy than ever. A new report is [constantly] in circula-
tion .... Of course there is no foundation for any of it yet I
find myself unusually credulous believing some things that I
usually would not think bore a semblance of truth. So much for
being enclosed in the fortifications of a city." 111
Yet the flimsy structure of rumor had to be erected to ease the
unceasing grinding. Sometimes the abrasion stemmed from
within as well as without. There were little things such as
Pemberton's order requisitioning all large pots and kettles to be
used in preparing the troops' meals (some people probably
wondered what was going to be cooked in the utensils); or the
razing of unoccupied houses to obtain lumber to build hospital
bunks; or the City Guard's raid on Bazsinky's store to seize sixty-
nine bottles of whiskey to send to the hospitals for medicinal
use, but which instead got the City Guard drunk; or the continual
petty thievery by the troops. 112 Then there were other actions
which impinged upon everyone. At the suggestion of a citizen
who believed "that a considerable quantity of flour and [other
foodstuffs] held by speculators may be hid away," the military
forces conducted a house to house search for food. Some
persons bore the search with equanimity, others thought that it
was an insufferable indignity. Even in the most desperate hour
111, Drennan, Diary, II, 20-21.
112. Thomas H. Taylor to R. W. Memminger, June 13, 1863, Papers of
Various Confederate Notables, Box 18; Letters and Telegrams sent, Depart-
ment of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana, Chapt II, Vol. LX, 669; both in
NA (KG) 109.
common adversity and suffering could not seal over man's petti-
ness and greed. 113
Sometime during the last days of June a final, subtle shift
occurred in the people's minds. Perhaps, it was not even a
shift, maybe merely a dividing line, or the accumulation of
nagging doubt. There was no specific event to pin it upon, for
the days characterized only by their sameness slipped by one after
the other. Yet it was undeniably there a lessening of the hope
that had sustained the people during the days of battering. As
the month lengthened and there was still no sign of Johnston,
a plaintive note of anxiety began to creep through the city. The
certainty of relief an article of faith from the beginning of the
siege began to be qualified and doubted. As the siege moved
past the fourth week there was a waning of hope which could be
halted only by a positive, heartening answer to the question,
"Where is Johnston?"
Now the wallpaper Citizen began to make excuses for him:
"The absorbing question now is where is Johnston, and what
time will he be here. All are satisfied he is coming, but seem
anxious to know when his victorious columns will march into
our city with the 'stars and bars' floating triumphantly before
them .... Be patient, then, and don't give way to paroxysms of
gloom. [Johnston] is a strict believer in the Greek proverb,
'Hasten slowly.' " 114
James Pepper was not given to "paroxysms of gloom," but
he had almost reached the end of his tether: "My patience, as
well as many others, are almost worn out. I have been faithful,
113. M. L. Smith to I. C. Pemberton, June 2, 1863, Papers of Various
Confederate Notables, Box 18, NA (RG) 109; Chambers, Diary, June 3,
1863. The only indication that foodstuffs were actually confiscated appears
in Tunnard, A Southern Record, p. 245: "All surplus provisions in the city
were seized, and rations issued to citizens and soldiers alike." -This statement
is not reconciled with his abuse of the merchants. No contemporary document
examined supports Tunnard's statement. The author's conclusion is that no
systematic attempt was ever made to pool and ration civilian resources.
Pemberton's attitude and policy toward the civilians seem to have been those
of laissez faire, except when he deemed something necessary for military use,
e.g., liquor. It appears that the only civilians who received authorized al-
lowances of government rations were sixteen employees at Paxton's foundry.
Letters and Telegrams sent, Department of Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana
Chapt. II, Vol. LX, 670, NA (RG) 109.
114. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, June 25, 1863.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 193
and am as yet in the belief that [Johnston] would be here in due
time. I would like very much to have more reliable news of his
approach soon, for [the army's rations are reduced again],
wich begins to look very suspicious." 115
Mrs. William Lord had exhausted her patience and she felt
only despair as she wrote: "Sunday, June 28th, Still in this
dreary cave. Who would have believed that we could have borne
such a life for five weeks? The siege has lasted 42 days and
yet no relief every day this week we have waited for the sound
of Gen. Johnston's guns, but in vain." 116
Yet there was no sign of relief; and Grant gave no relief
either. Like a bulldog which had its prey by the throat, he
tenaciously shook and shook. The cannonade, a Union soldier
at Hayne's Bluff wrote his wife, "Is awful It fairly jars the
Ground here 14 miles off." 117
If a soldier at a distance of fourteen miles thought the
bombardment was awful, then the comment of Joseph Alison,
who was inside the city, may be accepted at face value. He said:
U I have read of besieged cities and the sufferings of the inhab-
itants, but always thought the picture too highly painted. But
now I have witnessed one and can believe all that is written
on the subject." 118 As Alison looked about him, he saw the sum
of trial by fire and privation.
Practically every building bore the sign of the whining frag-
ments which had been (lung into the city. Nothing was spared.
A Parrott shell struck the Catholic Church during mass and
laid figurines and worshipers alike on the rubbled floor. The
ycllow-flag-markcd hospitals were hit (there were almost one
hundred of them in the city, so they would have been difficult
to miss). One shell landed in a ward of amputees, and men who
had had their feet taken off now lost their legs, and men who
had lost one arm now had the other cut off. The streets were
filled with rubble and a thick coat of dust and powdered mortar
covered everything. In the cemetery graves were laid open by
the cut of hooves and wheels, allowing corpses to peer out
115, Pepper, Diary* p, 40, 116. Lord, Journal, p, 6.
117. A, ML Gregory to Wife* June 7, 1863, A. M. Gregory Papers, Old
Courthouse Museum, Vicksburg.
118. Alison, Diary, p, 16.
through the exposed glass-covered caskets. The reek of death
hung over the city.
Dead livestock were "hawled" to the river and thrown in.
(When his mare had been missing for several days, James Pepper
wryly guessed that "she's at Port Gibson by now.") But the
sanitary details could not match the rate of attrition and the work
of the June sun. There was a human element also. Green field
peas, the main ration staple, were scarcely affected by the
soldiers' weakened digestive tracts, and behind the trenches
mounds of undigested peas added to the stench. One man said
the peas were so thick that if the ground could be plowed they
"would have seeded the land for a crop." 119
The days of privation and pestilence had sapped the bodies
of the defenders. Doctor Joseph Alison watched the spread of
erysipelas (a highly contagious inflamation of the skin, which
with patients' resistance low developed into suppuration and
even gangrene) . Without drugs, and helpless to treat it, he said:
"Where that will end, none can say." 120 An epidemic of
measles broke out, first among the children and then among the
Negroes. The only treatment consisted of doses of corn whiskey
which, thought Anne Harris, who took the treatment, were
"frightful in strength and effect." 121 With little opportunity
to wash, clothes became vermined, and the people had to ac-
custom themselves to living with lice. Yet some people remained
clean and fastidious for, mused James Pepper, "If I had some
cooked clothes, what a nice time I could have with the girls." 122
There was, however, little fastidiousness about diet. "Green"
pork was a delicacy at two dollars a pound, and moulding rice
sold for one dollar a pound. "An ordinary sized piece of corn-
bread," noted William Drennan, "sells for $2^." 123 As June
came to an end food supplies were almost exhausted. The eating
of mule meat became prevalent, and some people who had the
choice preferred it to the spoiling remains of beef and pork. 124
119. Howard, Illinois Volunteers, p. 130.
120. Alison, Diary, p. 17.
121.Broidrick, A Recollection, p. 15.
122. Pepper, Diary, p. 19. 123. Drennan, Diary, IT, 39.
124. Though there are a few recorded instances in which mule. meat was
eaten earlier, it appears, according to most sources, that the practice did not
become widespread until the latter part of June.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 195
Mary Loughborough's husband sent her a note: "Already I am
living on pea meal, and cannot think of your coming to this."
His wife thought that she had almost reached that point, for she
asked him to send her some mule meat. He refused, saying
that he did not want her reduced to that until it was absolutely
William Kyle, sitting on the Sky Parlor, watched as an
officer rode up, dismounted, and tied his horse to a hitching
post. A moment later, after a shell fragment wounded the
animal, the rider walked into a blacksmith's shop, picked up a
sledge hammer, and killed the horse. After the officer had gone
Kyle "saw a private soldier stop at the carcas . . . wait a moment
and then deliberately commence to cut him off a large chunk." 126
Other soldiers were promising mutiny unless they were fed,
and they sent Pemberton a threatening petition: "We are actually
on sufferance .... We are ... not allowed to forage any at all,
and, even if permitted, there is nothing to be had among the
citizens." 127 But the citizens thought that foraging was permitted,
or at least condoned. Anything eatable that could be found' was
gobbled up "fruit, vegetables, chickens etc." William Porter-
field became so incensed that he picked up his rifle, killed one
soldier, and wounded two others, "in protecting his property." 128
Rowland Chambers was also shooting at thieves, and he stripped
his unripened peach crop to keep the trees "from being broke to
Hungry soldiers claiming to be acting in an official capacity
began to search homes for food. On June 29, "an officer with a
gard came out and serched" Rowland Chambers' property;
"but," he said, "took nothing as yet." That night they returned.
But now, according to Chambers, they were "a party of armed
Ruffians [who] commenced brakeing open the stable .... they
had an officer [who] said he was acting under authority if so it is
125. Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 117.
126. "Memoirs of William D. Kyle," Vicksburg Daily Herald, May 4, 1906.
127. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 118.
128. Vickshurg Daily Citizen, July 2, 1863.
129. Chambers, Diary, June 24, 1863.
a bad state of affairs when Robery is carried on by authority of
the government officers." 130
Robbery was a matter of definition. When Chambers sold
five pigs for $430, or when a barrel of flour brought $400, or
when a turkey sold for $50, it was not robbery, just honest
profit. The Citizen, to its last issue, railed at the profitmakers:
"If aught would appeal to the heart of stone of the extortioner
. . . the present necessities of our citizens would do so .... We
assert our belief that there is plenty within our lines .... We are
satisfied there are numerous persons within the city who have
breadstuffs secreted, and are dolling it out, at the most exorbitant
figure." 131 But money, not humanitarian importunings, was
the stuff which lured the food from its hiding places.
However, the price paid for food was no indication of value
or worth. William Drennan made a fine distinction between
"sells for" and "worth." He said: "Money here is worthless when
it comes to buying food and to say that such a thing is worth
so much, only implies that some man is willing to part with it
for that; for it is worth much more if this siege holds out ten days
Robbery and extortion were merely synonyms for hunger,
and its signs were everywhere. Anne Harris' mother caught her
arm to whip her, felt its thinness, burst into tears, and cried:
"Oh, I cannot [punish] my poor little half-starved child; it is not
naughtiness, it is hunger." 133 A soldier brought Mary Lough-
borough's daughter a "jaybird" to keep as a pet, but before the
day was past the bird was part of a watery gruel. 134 And in the
market beside the mule meat hung freshly skinned rats. 135
Somewhere there was a breaking point. When a soldier had
had enough he could slip over to the Union lines, where, one de-
serter told Seth Wells, he could die a well-fed coward instead of
130. Ibid., June 30, 1863. There is no record which indicates that the
military authorities ordered such search and seizure at this date.
131. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, July 2, 1863.
132. Drennan, Diary, II, 39.
133. Broidrick, A Recollection, p. 14.
134. Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 137.
135. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 774; Tunnard,
A Southern Record, p. 263. Tunnard, whose accuracy with respect to some
points is doubtful, makes the sole first-hand claim which the author has seen
concerning the actual eating of rats. He states that he ate fried rat on June 29.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 197
a starved martyr. But there was no escape for the civilians.
The lines were closed to them, so was the river. One man and
his wife attempted to pass through the lines, but were turned
back by a politely worded refusal. They then tried the river,
but were forced back by gunfire, and returned to their cellar
with the "shells flying as thick as ever." 136 Mary Loughborough
admitted that her nerve was cracked. When her cave suffered
a near-miss by a mortar shell she was seized with "extreme terror
and . . . was many days recovering the equanimity" she had
struggled so long to attain. She knew other women who had
become "utterly sick through constant fear and apprehension." 137
In her diary another woman gave a personal case study of the
June 25th Horrible day. The most horrible yet to me, because
I've lost my nerve. We were all in the cellar, when a shell came
tearing through the roof, burst upstairs, tore up that room, and the
pieces coming through both floors down into the cellar .... This
was tangible proof the cellar was no place of protection from them.
On the heels of this came Mr. J to tell us that young Mrs. P
had had her thigh-bone crushed. When Martha went for the milk
she came back horror-stricken to tell us the black girl there had her
arm taken off by a shell. For the first time I quailed. I do not
think people who are physically brave deserve much credit for it;
it is a matter of nerves. In this way 1 am constitutionally brave, and
seldom think of danger till it is over; and death has not the terrors
for me it has for some others .... But now I first seemed to realize
that something worse than death might come; I might be crippled,
and not killed. Life, without all one's powers and limbs, was a
thought that broke down my courage.  must get ... out of this
horrible place; I cannot stay; I know I shall be crippled.
Then her terror, like Mary Loughborough's, subsided and she
said: "I must summon that higher kind of courage moral
bravery to subdue my fears of possible mutilation." 188
Most of the people must have reached the breaking-point,
slipped over into an abyss of terror, then somehow struggled
out of it. Somewhere they found a reservoir of sustenance that
enabled them to stand the pounding. For some it was an intel-
136. u A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 774.
137. Loughborough, Cave Life, p. 132.
138. U A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 773.
lectual exercise, a summoning of "that higher kind of courage,"
a final screwing up of moral fiber. For others it was a sheer
animal will to survive, a crawling into a hole in the ground and
lying there, with frenetic scurryings to find something to fill
their bellies. For most it was probably a mixture of blind
animal will and conscious moral strengthening. Whatever the
sources, the people managed to grub up enough tenacity to lead
them reeling and staggering into the month of July the forty-
fourth day of siege.
They looked tougher from the outside. Commodore James
Palmer, who was having his troubles at Port Hudson, wrote
Porter: "I am sorry to hear the Vicksburgians are living on
mule meat ... if it be true, that diet assimilates them wonderfully
to the animal that is said to sustain them, for to my mind they
have become more stubborn and obstinate than ever." 130
Palmer was at least partially correct. The stubborn, tena-
cious fiber was frayed and shredded, but not snapped. Even
the sick and wounded had not quite given up. At one of the
hospitals those who could walk wrapped themselves in bed
sheets and gowns and paraded through a mock wedding cere-
mony. Civilians as well as soldiers were there, and they thought
the satire "was conducted with great magnificence." A blacking-
daubed Prince Imperial of Ethopia, swathed in robes made of
sheets and bandages, claimed the hand of "the lovely and ac-
complished . . . Arch Duchess of Senegambia." The spectators
laughed and applauded, though, said J. M. Swords, "as is usual
in troublesome times the sabler element was predominate." 140
This was quite an admission from Swords, who did his best
to switch up flagging morale. Maybe the gaiety was a hollow
shell, form without substance and meaningless so far as being
an indication of mind. Perhaps it was merely a conditioned
reflex that must occur until the battering ceased. Maybe. Al-
ready there was talk that the city's days were numbered. On
June 28, the defenders intercepted a message from Porter to
Grant which said deserters reported only six days' quarter rations
remained in the city and that the city would be surrendered on
139. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XX, 254.
140. Vickshurg Daily Citizen, July 2, 1863.
THE DAY OF OUR DOOM 199
July 4, "after the rebels fire a salute." 141 A check with a calendar
showed that the food would be exhausted on July 3. Perhaps
there was something to the story.
Inexorably the fourth day of July grew nearer. A woman
looked at her food supplies, found that she had only a barrel of
sugar remaining, and confided to her diary that "a few more days
will bring us to starvation indeed." 142 William Drennan scrawled
a short entry in his diary: "Everything wears a dull hue, and in
my own mind I have given out." 143 J. M. Swords, in the July 2
issue of his newsless, wallpaper Citizen, set the type for a comer
box: "The Great Ulysses the Yankee Generalissimo, surnamed
Grant has expressed his intention of dining in Vicksburg on
Sunday next, and celebrating the 4th of July by a grand dinner
. . . Ulysses must get into the city before he dines in it. The
way to cook a rabbit is 'first to catch the rabbit.' "
The rabbit was almost caught. On the night of July 2, Pem-
berton called his major generals to his headquarters. He re-
viewed the situation, then asked for opinions. From memory
the generals repeated Johnston's dispatches. They thought his
last message was cheery, but of no hope. General Bowen said
that they might as well get it over. The others agreed. They
drew up some terms with which they could begin to bargain
with Grant, and selected Bowen to open negotiations. The staff
secretary read the minutes he had jotted on a scrap of paper;
everyone agreed that they were correct, and the conference was
over. The next day while the guns roared, the negotiators ma-
neuvered and backed and filled.
As word of the conference reached the civilians, there were
howls throughout the city that Pemberton was a proven traitor.
When Mrs. Lord learned that General Bowen was one of the
group she wished that she could rip out the embroidered wreaths
she had sewn about his collar stars. Even as the last hours
trickled away the defiance was not dead. 144
But a woman's vehement wishes could not shore up a sagged
and starved army. Finally, after stickling over form, Grant
} 41. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 119.
142. " A Woman's Diary,"' The Century Magazine, XXX, 774.
143. Drennan, Diary, 'H, 48, 144. Lord, Journal, pp. 7-8.
and Pemberton came to terms; or more precisely, Pemberton met
Grant's demand: surrender. At five o'clock on the afternoon of
July 3 the last shot rang out from the river batteries. 145 That
night rockets arched and exploded over the city in a myriad of
holiday colors, and just before daybreak there were a few rattling
shots along the lines. 146 Then, after the sun came up, Lewis
Guion opened his diary and wrote: "Not a gun [can] be heard
. . . this morning," 147
Now there was only silence. And, a thousand miles away,
over the green fields and orchards at Gettysburg there was silence
too. High noon had struck and passed for the Confederacy, and
the shadows began to lengthen.
For over two years the sounds of the struggle for life had
roared over Vicksburg, ringing in the people's ears and hearts.
So long as there were the sounds of violence the inadequate
bark of the little field pieces dragged up to Port Hill to halt the
Silver Wave, the high-velocity crack of Farragut's naval guns,
the tortured scream of Whistling Dick, the apologetic cough of
Porter's mortars, and the conglomerate roar of Grant's massed
artillery there was defiant life and invincibleness. Now there
was only silence.
In one of the battered houses a man leaned back in his
rocking chair. He rocked a bit, savoring the silence, then said
to his wife: "It seems to me I can hear the silence, and feel it,
too. It wraps me like a soft garment; how else can I express
this peace?" 148
145. Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 123.
146. Ibid.,, p. 103; Rockwood Manuscript, Old Courthouse Museum, Vicks-
burg, pp. 1-2.
147. Guion, Diary, July 4, 1863.
148. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 774.
"AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 1
THE general was hot, very hot. His shirt was stuck to his
body, and when he shifted his weight his blue trousers slid
easily over the soaked saddle. His horse's hooves kicked up little
spurts of dust which rose and added their bit to the cloud hovering
over the snaking column of troops. The afternoon sun blazed
down and the dust was choking, but it did not matter. The band
was playing "Hail Columbia," "Yankee Doodle," "Home Sweet
Home," and when the head of the column reached the courthouse
square the soldiers broke into cheers. A division commander
climbed to the courthouse's east portico to urge the cheers from
the troops. Someone ran up the stairs to the battered cupola and
set the stars and stripes flying above it; down in the street the
band struck up "The Star-Spangled Banner." The general
pulled at the reins and moved off to find a cool spot. He was
not an army commander, nor a corps commander, nor even a
division commander, and he did not have to be ceremonious.
His eye caught a pleasant sight a lush yard and a fine house
over which a British flag floated and he decided to camp there.
He reined in his horse and slid out of the saddle. He was very
tired, but very happy. 1
To the civilians there was nothing tired or worn about the
sweaty, dusty, blue columns. One woman, as she watched them
march by, thought, "What a contrast [they are] to the suffering
creatures we [have] seen so long .... Sleek horses, polished
1. "Civil War Letters of Brigadier General William Ward Orme 1862-
1866," eel. Harry E. Pratt, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society,
XXM (July, 1930), 289; Rockwood Manuscript, Old Courthouse Museum,
Vicksburg, p. 2; Gregory, Annals, p. 129.
The rabbit is caught. A Union division marches past the courthouse, which
already flies the United States flag, as the people of Vicksburg "celebrate"
the Fourth of July, 1863. (From Frank Leslie, The Soldier in Our Civil War)
arms, bright plumes . . . the pride and panoply of war." Though
she was a Unionist, her heart groaned as she thought of "the
worn men in gray, who [are] being blindly dashed against this
embodiment of modern power." 2
If he had known he was being characterized as an embodi-
ment of modern power Seth Wells would have snorted. At the
moment he was only hot and tired, and besides that he thought
the Confederates were "a good looking set of Rebel troops as
we have seen." After cheering at the courthouse he stacked his
rifle and sprawled out on the ground until the sun dipped west-
ward and lost some of its heat; then he got up and, like thousands
of other Union soldiers, wandered through the city. 3 They had
hammered for months and had left comrades buried all the way
from the Tennessee border trying to get inside Vicksburg. Now
that they were there they wanted to see the formidable city and
savor the taste of triumph.
For some triumph was not enough; they wanted obliteration.
A newspaper correspondent filed an account of his first impres-
sions of the city: "We expected to see awful havoc from shells
and the mortar-bombs. The first sight is a disappointment.
2. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 775.
3. Wells, Siege of Vicksburg, p. 88.
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 203
The place is not damaged so much as might have been expected,"
He said practically every house had a hole in it ("but a hole
made by a cannon-ball is ... a small matter"), that the streets
were cratered, and there was not an unbroken pane of glass
in the city; yet to the correspondent this seemed an easy escape
from the thousands of shells which had been hurled into the
As they picked their way through the rubbly streets other
Union men looked about and decided the city had suffered
enough. Seth Wells thought the buildings "were torn to pieces/'
and Charles B. Tompkins, a surgeon, wrote his wife, "Vicksburg
has been a very nice city one day but the houses are either
injured by our cannon or delapidated & everything looks as if
the city had been deserted years ago." 5
The long sought prize was a different thing to different men.
For some it was a blasted shambles, for others it was a disap-
pointment; for Nathan Dye it was a wonder. Vicksburg, he
wrote his parents, is "the roughest place that I ever saw ....
Some places it is bridged 30 or 40 feet high ... to make the
road some houses are up on the top of bluffs so that it takes 40
or 50 steps to go up to the house and some houses you can walk
right into the 3rd story from the road. I should call it a den
for wolves and other wild beasts." 6
Throughout the afternoon and into the night the soldiers in-
spected the city. Seth Wells made his way to the river battery
in which Whistling Dick was emplaced; he thought it was a
"beautiful" gun, and he sat and listened while the Confederate
4. "A National Account," Rebellion Record, VII, 162. The navy fired
over 22,000 shells at the city, Official Records Navy, Ser. I, Vol. XXV, 104-5.
The author has been unable to locate a report which would indicate the number
of shells fired by the army, but it is reasonable to assume that it would be
several times the navy's total. Material damage was excessive, but the number
of civilian casualties, as in the attack of 1862, was surprisingly small. Con-
temporary accounts differ with respect to the number of people killed, but it
appears that not more than five to ten persons died as a result of the bombard-
ment. The number of wounded civilians would be considerably greater. Cf.
"National Account," Rebellion Record, VIII, 164; "Diary of a Citizen," ibid.,
p. 170; Gregory, Annals, p. 119; Abrams, Full and Detailed History, p. 48.
5. Wells, Siege of Vicksburg, p. 88; Charles B. Tompkins to Mary G.
Tompkins, July 10, 1863, Charles B. Tompkins Papers, Duke University.
6. Nathan G. Dye to Parents, August 1, 1863, Nathan G. Dye Papers,
gunners told him its history. Some drunk staff officers climbed
the iron stairway of the courthouse, singing the "Star-Spangled
Banner" and waving a captured signal flag. One of them saw
the name of a Cincinnati foundry cast into the metal and
"damned the impudence of the people who thought they could
whip the United States when they couldn't even make their own
staircases." 7 Max Kuner returned to his house, found a general
setting up his quarters there, and asked, "By what authority, sir,
do you take possession of another man's house?"
"That's none of your damned business. Who are you?"
"I'm the owner of the house."
"Are you a loyal citizen?"
"That is none of your damned business."
The general started to kick at him so Kuner backed out and
went to Grant for redress. Grant gave the order for the general
to leave, but Kuner had to find him another place to stay. 8
Charles Wilcox, a Union captain, saw "Rebel officers and
Union officers . . . riding together through the streets, and in
some instances both parties were so drunk they could hardly
sit on their horses." To Wilcox, the women seemed to be most
affected by the occupation. They passed by him, heads held
high, but with tears in their eyes. 9
Mrs. William Lord, heartsick from the surrender, climbed out
of her cave and went home to find some soldiers rummaging
through a basket of clean clothes on her back porch.
"What do you mean," she asked, "by such a liberty? I
should think soldiers would have too much feeling in this hour
of distress to intrude even to the privacy of a lady's home." The
rummagers pointed to her shell-struck house. "Do you call this
a lady's home? You ought to keep it in better order."
This exchange evidently put her in an even worse humor,
7. Gregory, Annals, p. 130. This was one of the two "offenses" which
Gregory thought were committed by the Union soldiers. The other was the
selling of copies of Harper's Weekly, which carried a cover illustration de-
picting the execution of two Confederate spies.
8. [Kuner], "Vicksburg and After," Sewanee Review, XV, 493.
9. "With Grant at Vicksburg: From the Civil War Diary of Captain
Charles E. Wilcox," ed, Edgar L. Erickson, Journal of the Illinois State
Historical Society, XXX (January, 1938), 496.
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 205
for she wrote in her journal: "All . . . day they were streaming
through town and in and out of my yard and so drunk." 10
Lewis Guion saw some looting along Washington Street,
but there were as many Confederates involved in it as there were
Northerners. Hogsheads of sugar were rolled out in the street,
the barrels were knocked open, and soldiers from both armies
helped themselves to it. Seth Wells was with a group that broke
into a store and took "a large quantity of tobacco and other
things," and there were Confederates with him. Ephraim Ander-
son, a Confederate officer, said the homes were left almost un-
disturbed except for those which were unoccupied, and practical-
ly the only things stolen from these houses were mirrors, which
the Yankees took to their camps "to survey themselves . . . with
evident complacency and [a] most nonchalant air." 11
They were pleased with themselves, and they wanted to look
at their reflections and say to themselves that they were the ones
who had cracked the toughest nut the Confederacy had to offer.
A good many of them were drunk and they raised the ire of some
of the people by "passing rough jokes" with the Negro women.
They stole a little, and they trampled through yards and even
rummaged through a woman's laundry basket; but there was
little wanton destruction of the sort for which General Peter J.
Osterhaus' division was noted as it had slashed up through Port
Gibson and Raymond. Instead it was as though all the heat
and passion were gone. For the most part the soldiers merely
wanted to look to see the mule meat hanging in the markets, to
visit the gun emplacements and the caves, to look at the battered
homes and earth and know that at last the city was theirs.
They had won they liked the flavor of victory and they took
mirrors to look at themselves in, but they did not rub the victory
to the marrow. They had fought the defenders to a frazzle in
10, Lord, Journal, Library of Congress, p. 10.
11. Guion, Diary, July 4, 1863, Department of Archives and Manuscripts,
Louisiana State University; Wells, Siege of Vickshurg, p. 88; Anderson,
Memoirs, pp, 358-59. A Provost Marshal's guard was posted as quickly as
possible, and such looting as had occurred was soon brought to a minimum.
The general impression which the civilians received of the Yankees, con-
sidering that after all they were conquerers, was expressed by Gregory,
Annals, p. 129: "The Federal army . . . conducted itself in an exemplary
a fair fight Richard Howard, a volunteer from Illinois, could
not find "a rugged looking person in the city" but they re-
spected the losers and they liked their spirit Howard said the
people "stoutly maintained that we had done them very little
if any damage" and they were willing to call it quits. 12 They
shared their rations with the soldiers and the civilians, and their
doctors treated both the docile and the vengeful. After he had
bandaged a girl's gunshot wound, Charles Tompkins wrote his
wife, "She has a brother here who is Sergt. in the 22 Miss. He
is a fine young man & I like him but his sister is as revengeful
towards the Yankees as she can be. I plague her by telling her
. . . that her foot will be well in time for the Yankee balls we
will have here. But she declares she will never dance with a
The summation for the Northerners appeared on a piece
of wallpaper. Someone who could set type and operate a press
went in the Citizen office, found the forms still set for the July 2
issue, changed only the box set in the corner, and printed the
famous Fourth of July edition: "Two days bring about great
changes. The banner of the Union floats over Vicksburg. Gen.
Grant has 'caught the rabbit'; he has dined in Vicksburg, and he
did bring his dinner with him. The 'Citizen' lives to see it. For
the last time it appears on 'Wall Paper' .... This is the last wall-
paper edition, and is, excepting this note, from the types as we
found them. It will be valuable hereafter as a curiosity." 14
For the victors, Vicksburg and everything for which it stood
pounding artillery, mule meat, wallpaper newspapers, and even
rebellion and death was now only a memory and a curiosity.
The fleet put into the wharves, holiday flags flying, and that
night still more fireworks arched and burst over the city. Con-
federates as well as Federals set them off, and when they ran out
of rockets they made roman candles by taking hollowed cane-
stalks and filling them with alternate charges of wet and dry
powder. One Confederate soldier said there were thousands of
12. Howard, 124th Regiment, p. 130.
13. Charles B. Tompkins to Mary G. Tompkins, My 10, 1863, Charles
B. Tompkins Papers.
14. Vicksburg Daily Citizen, July 4, 1863.
Admiral Porter's fleet, holiday flags flying, puts in to the Vicksburg wharves,
as former slaves wait to greet the sailors. (From Harper's Weekly)
the improvised roman candles and that he, after forty years,
"never saw a display ... to equal it." 15
In her home a woman sat at a table and wrote up her diary:
"It is evening. All is still. Silence and night are once more
united. I can sit at the table in the parlor and write. Two
candles are lighted. I would like a dozen. We have had . . .
wheat bread once more." 10
Another woman listened to the band and watched the fire-
works. She later made this simple statement: "We cried." 17
So far as the Union soldiers were concerned Vicksburg was
done and past and remained only as a memory to compare
with other battles and other campaigns in the reminiscing of
years to come. Already they were thinking of moving on
dreaming, wrote a general to his wife, of "that sweet time when
we shall meet again to part no more on earth." 18
But to those they were leaving "a terribly reduced" people
15. S. R. Martin, Recollections of the War Between the States, 1861-65, p.
81. Owned by John S. Hoggatt, Vicksburg.
16- "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 774.
17. Rockwood MS, p. 2.
18. Orme, "Civil War Letters," Journal of the Illinois State Historical
Society, XXIII, 290.
Vicksburg and everything it meant stark, shattered defeat
was not finished; in some respects it had only begun. The
Northerners did not seem to understand that a light hand and
doles of food could not put everything right again. General
William Orme wrote his wife of a woman he had met. He had
given her and her family some food and wondered why, though
"she is evidently a woman of wealth & fine education, [she]
wears a small dagger at her side . . . carries a pistol in her trunk
[and] talks fierce .... What do you think of that." Later he
sought out Winchester Hall, whom he had known before the war.
He found HaM, his wife and four children in "destitute circum-
stances"; but when he asked if he might help, all he received
was a polite refusal. He shrugged his shoulders, and when he
wrote his wife of the incident he said, "They are proud people
though, I guess; and do not like to appear asking for anything," 19
Pride was almost all that remained to them. The moment
the last shot from the Confederate batteries fell spent to the
ground a way of life crumbled and toppled. Late on the after-
noon of July 3 Vicksburg had died. The hills and the houses
still stood, and people still ate and slept in them; the river still
flowed, and for the first time in almost three years the wharves
were crowded with ships; somewhere there was even a laugh and
a song but despite these things the city was a gutted shell.
The heart and core of the city its political, economic, and
social structure which was built and supported within the
cradling framework of hills, homes, and river had ceased to
exist. Though terribly worn and eroded in spots, this system
had functioned to the moment Pemberton bowed his head and
nodded acceptance of Grant's demand to surrender; in that
split second the system was obliterated and there remained only
19. Ibid., p. 291. There were others who were not too proud to take
anything they could get. On the afternoon of the Fourth there was a stampede
to the wharves to obtain food brought in by the steamboats. One woman
who had a requisition for a dozen hens asked General John McPherson if she
might be given at least one rooster. McPherson asked her why she wanted
the rooster, and she replied it was because "I [have] not heard a rooster
crow in such a long time." The general gave her a rooster. Rockwood MS,
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 209
Four days after the surrender Jefferson Davis was still trying
to learn what was happening at Vicksburg. He telegraphed
Governor John Pettus, "What is the State of affairs at Vicksburg
. . . ." 20 Pettus, hiding in central Mississippi, had no more idea
than did Davis, but someone in Vicksburg might have answered
for him: We are a defeated people. We live in a conquered land,
yet at the same time it is a limbo-land, for the fighting continues,
and thus we are between war and peace. We are subject to the
orders of a military governor. Our property is subject to con-
fiscation. Our slaves are freed. Our way of life as we created
it is demolished. We live amidst shambles, and on the founda-
tion of shambles we will build again. We do this not willingly,
but of necessity, for necessity bears heavily upon us.
Physical wounds scar over quickly. As soon as the shooting
stopped workers began shoveling plaster and broken lumber
from the houses, caves were closed, shell holes were filled, and
grass began to cover the raw earth thrown up before the
trenches. 21 A few weeks after the surrender a woman sat in an
easy chair, her diary in her lap, looking out at the green slopes.
She wrote: "I have looked over this journal as if in a dream
.... I feel as if an angry wave had passed over me .... This
book is exhausted, and I wonder whether there will be more
adventures ... to cause me to begin another." 22 She closed the
cover and put down her pen, but around her a new struggle was
underway, one which would measure the temper of a people
as much and as well as did the trial by fire and starvation.
The end product of this new struggle survival was the
same as the old, but there was a great difference between the
contexts in which the two took place. The first was accompanied
with all the romantic and glorified trappings of the Confederacy.
However shabby and tawdry these overtones and nuances, they
20. Jefferson Davis to John J. Pettus, July 8, 1863, Governor's Military
Telegrams, Ser. E, Vol. LXII, Miss. Arch.
2 1 . Jones, Wisconsin History Commission Original Papers Number 8, p.
79. This does not imply that the city was repaired overnight. In September
a visitor described the interior of one of the churches. There were no pews,
no altar, no floor. Negroes were living in the church, and they cooked on the
remains of the floor. Dishes and bodies were washed in the marble font.
Unsigned letter* September, 1863, quoted in Moore, Anecdotes, p. 218.
22. "War Diary," The Century Magazine, XXXVIII, 956.
were nevertheless a vital and compelling part of the minds of
the people, for they were the things which were cherished and
refurbished until ultimately they became the sum and substance
of the entire conflict.
The second struggle for survival was more primeval and cruel
than the first, for it was stripped of the veneer of honor and
idealistic romanticism which surrounded the battle years. It was
a rough, brutal shouldering and grubbing to gain or regain those
things which had been swept away in defeat. There was little
in it which found a pleasant resting place in the memories of
the participants. In the distant years the memories of muted
drums would call back a flood of wartime reminiscences, but
that segment of the mind which harbored the thoughts of the
first years of defeat was almost a locked book, and the people
who lived through the period scarcely tampered with the lock.
Perhaps, if they had a sense of dramatic tragedy, they believed
that during the cruel months their story had reached its climax,
that they were all somehow touched with a bit of glory,
and that the denouement, without glory, should be brief. Per-
haps they did not realize that the years of defeat were a time
of transition between war and reconstruction, and were as im-
portant as the periods they connected. Or perhaps they did not
care. Whatever the reasons, when the time came to summon
memories of the war years the mind remained curiously reticent
when it reached the period immediately following the surrender.
But the shards of contemporary evidence remain, and perhaps
within them lie the reasons.
The new way of life was rapidly outlined the day the Federals
occupied the city. As the troops marched into Vicksburg a new
social and economic order was rising from the shambles. An
old Negro man, his face split with a grin, provided the keynote
for the new social order: "De long-looked-fer done came at lass."
Negroes, dressed in the brightest colors they could find, lined
the streets to welcome their liberators. Black men lounged at
street corners, laughing and jeering in their new-found freedom
some of the people complained they could not speak to the
Negroes "for fear of being called a rebel, or some other abusive
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 211
epithet" and black women walked arm-in-arm with Federal
soldiers. Alexander Abrams said their behavior would have
been ludicrous if it had not been so galling. 23
Now a free man and a free agent, the Negro lost no time
asserting his liberty. A cook who asked her mistress for wages
and was turned out of the house for her pains, quickly found
employment with another woman, though, said the woman, "I
am thoroughly pulled to pieces in Vicksburg circles." 24 Most
of Marmaduke Shannon's servants left, not to loaf and subsist
on government rations, but to work. Two of them joined the
Federal army; one became a hack driver, and one worked on a
Alexander Abrams, who took special interest in the Negro's
behavior, thought the reaction of the Vicksburg Negro ran
counter to the stereotype set in the white man's mind. It was
generally believed that the city slave or house servant was more
attached to his master than the country slave or field hand,
probably because he was in closer contact with his master and
received better treatment. Yet in Vicksburg, the city slaves
more readily deserted their masters and were "abusive," while
the Negroes brought in by planters were more loyal and more
Though the people sustained a tremendous property loss
in the freeing of the slaves, there was little recrimination. Ex-
plaining the slave situation, Alexander Arthur said: "I have
some family servants but more have left me, and I have no
anxiety on that subject, for ... it would be more their loss than
mine." 27 In some instances there was actual relief that at last
the burden and responsibility of maintaining slaves was past.
Marmaduke Shannon, who had already lost his more ambitious
Negroes, drove away two servants "because they would do
23. Bell, "A Girl's Experience," Harper's Weekly, LVI, 13; Abrams,
Full and Detailed History, p. 64,
24. "A Woman's Diary," The Century Magazine, XXX, 775.
25. Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, May 18, 1864, Crutcher
Collection, Miss. Arch,
26. Abrams, Full and Detailed History, p. 65.
27. Alexander H. Arthur to Joseph Holt, July 12, 1863, Joseph Holt Papers,
Library of Congress.
nothing but eat"; and a woman positively breathed satisfaction
as she wrote: "I have been rid of the negroes ... & it is a great
comfort to be once more alone." 28
During the months following the surrender, the Negro, poorly
equipped to assume his new role of freedman, moved in an ill-
defined world of freedom. Some slaves clung to their masters,
content with the established paternalistic role; others merely
shifted their allegiance and source of support from their masters
to the Union army. Still others struck out boldly to seek to
make a place for themselves in the new order, while some,
whatever their inclinations, were simply shoved into the moil of
a free society by masters glad to be quit of their responsibility.
In time the Federal government, first through the machinery of
tactical army units, then through the Freedmen's Bureau and
private philanthropic organizations, would seek to rehabilitate
the black man and shepherd him to a secure place in society;
but initially the Negro had to shift for himself, and he was in
many respects no freer than when he was a slave.
By the end of August the first halting steps were taken to
grapple with the mountainous problem of the Negro. Lumped
with cotton, drugs, salt, and gold, the Negro was categorized as
contraband goods, and a makeshift arrangement was established
within the army to care for him. Grant selected John Eaton,
a Messianic soldier who was long on fanciful dreams (though
he protested he was not) and short on a sense of reality, to
organize the Negroes in Vicksburg. After he had looked at the
Negroes, Eaton sent letter after letter to his friends in the North
begging aid: "The work is to immense for description. It is run,
drive, consult, think, write to the end of my strength ....
Impractical romancing ideas have little place here [he found
time to court and wed a Vicksburg girl], good strength sound
common sense a thorough Christian spirit of self sacrifice are
essentials .... [If people would] apply patriotic common sense
to the new questions, arising prejudices will give way, Social
28. Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, May 18, 1864, Crutcher
Collection; Mary L. Blake to Marshall McDonald, August 3, , Marshall
McDonald Papers, Duke University.
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 213
problems will settle themselves and the country will arise from
the bloody ordeal of war to a higher and more glorious career." 29
Night after night Eaton sat at his letter book, spinning his
dreams; yet upon the advent of winter he had somehow found
clothes for his contrabands, had organized them into squads
under the leadership of "men like all Sgts," and had established
a school in which 250 adults and children were learning to read
and write. During the autumn of 1863 he held high hopes for
his black people, and for the settlement of problems and preju-
dices through "patriotic common sense." Little did he realize
that in his well-intentioned way he was helping to reinforce a
legacy of suspicion and hate, for when young Alice Shannon
learned of the Negro school she wrote her sister: "Oh the impu-
dence of these Yankees. I hate them worse every day." 30
Eaton and his glittering, gossamer fancies were long departed
from Vicksburg when his faithful lieutenant, now charged with
the responsibility for the welfare of the Negroes, wrote up his
reports. Samuel Thomas did not hurriedly scrawl messages of
"run, consult, think"; his reports were slow recitations of stark
reality, written as though the pen was reluctant to record the
admission of crumpled dreams:
The reasons why I think the negro has so little chance for justice
at the hands of Mississippians is, that into whatever place I go the
street, the shop, the house, the hotel, or the steamboat I . . . hear
the people talk in a way that indicates that public sentiment has not
come to the attitude in which it can conceive of the negro having any
rights at all. Men . . . cheat a negro without feeling a single twinge
of their honor; to kill a negro they do not deem murder; to debauch
a negro woman they do not think fornication; to take property away
from a negro they do not consider robbery.
The reason for this is simple and manifest: they esteem the
negro the property of the white man by natural right .... Other states
may, in this matter, be in advance of Mississippi. I suspect they are.
Jf justice is possible, I feel sure they are.
The people . . . boast that when they get ... affairs in their own
29, Letters Sent by General Superintendent Contrabands, from Memphis,
Tenn., and Vicksburg, Miss., 67, 70, 88. NA (RG) 105; John Eaton, Grant,
Lincoln and the Preedmen (New York, 1907), p. 85.
30. Alice Shannon to Emma Crutcher, November 19, 1863, Crutcher
hands, the negroes, to use their own classic expression, "will catch
Thomas was an aggrieved and disillusioned man. He had
expected what would have amounted to a miracle, and when it
failed to materialize he withdrew into a shell of pessimism
concerning the fate of his Negroes. What he failed to see, though
he lived and worked in the midst of it, was a society uprooted
and turned topsy-turvy; and while his charges bore the brunt of
the violent change and adjustment, they were not the sole
Paralleling the formation of a new social structure, and bear-
ing the same bitter fruit, was the creation of a brawling economic
system, which defied every effort to regulate and control it.
Had not Vicksburg been the entrepot for a vast, rich cotton
area, the backwaters of war, with all of the flotsam they carried,
would have quickly washed past and the people would have been
left more or less to their own devices. But as it was, the city
became the base for swarms of men who smelled the lush scent
of gigantic profits. Regardless of who they were Yankee
speculator, Union soldier, Vicksburg merchant, or private citizen
scarcely anyone was left untouched in the no-holds-barred
scramble for wealth.
If the men charged with the responsibility of controlling the
commerce had been as sensitive and idealistic as those responsi-
ble for the Negro, they too might have retreated into somber
disillusionment; but they were not, and if they had ever pinned
3 I.Samuel Thomas to O. O. Howard, September 28, 1865, Letters Sent,
Office of the Assistant Commissioner, Vicksburg, Mississippi, January 22-
November 4, 1865, NA (RG) 105. The problem of the Negro was further
complicated by the fact that immediately following the close of the Vicksburg
campaign, Negroes from the entire region flocked into the city. In April
1865, it was estimated that there were between 20,000 and 25,000 Negroes in
Vicksburg. (Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, May 2, 1865, Crutcher
Collection.) This estimate seems somewhat excessive in the light of census
returns compiled eighteen months later (November 1866), which reported
3,793 Negroes living in Vicksburg. (Warren County Census, 1866, Scr.
F, Vol. CX, 101, Miss. Arch.) It must be remembered, however, that by
November 1866 much of the farm land had been restored to production, and
this would tend to drain away a large number of the unemployed Negroes
who had come to the city during 1863-65. At any event, even accepting the
relatively low figures of 1866, the number of Negroes living in Vicksburg
after they were freed was more than triple the number who lived there as
slaves. The implications of this increase are obvious.
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 215
any hopes on "patriotic common sense," the hopes had long
since evaporated into thin air, and in their place was a knowing
cynicism. Ten months after the surrender one Treasury agent
who had given up the struggle of trying to regulate commerce
reported: "We are having gay times here, the town is full of
Sechesh Spies, and I think corruption has become corrupted." 32
While the bases of the economy still rested upon the cotton
trade and the businesses clustered about it, the economic life of
Vicksburg following the surrender bore as much resemblance
to that which had existed before the capitulation as a vicious,
flooding river bears to a stagnant millpond. It had taken two
years of strangling warfare and months of direct attack to choke
off the business life of the city, but when the fighting ceased the
flow of trade was revived in less than a month's time. Even as
the occupation troops marched into the oity, merchants were
unbarring doors. Almost like magic, signs appeared advertising
fruit and candy, and, not missing a trick, metallic coffins, which
were guaranteed to preserve bodies. 33 By the first of August
most of the stores were open; and, said Mary Blake, who had
been without such things as coffee and tea for over a year, "you
can buy anything you want." 34
During the months immediately following the surrender
business sprang back to life; yet it was a haphazard type of
operation, depending upon the ability and scruples of the indi-
vidual and the rulings of the army commanders. (Even Grant
was pressed into service as an arbiter and a recorder of deeds,
and he probably asked himself if there was no end to the tasks
a major general was called upon to perform.) 35 But it was a
thriving, opportunity-laden situation and no avenue of profit
was left unexplored. Even the scrap from destroyed mills,
gins, and factories attracted the profit-seekers; and like vultures
descending on a carcass they swarmed into Vicksburg, eager to
32. C. A. Montross to William Burnett, April 14, 1864, quoted in Robert
F. Fulrcll, "Federal Trade With the Confederate States, 1861-1865: A Study
of Governmental Policy," unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of
History, Vandcrbilt University, 1950, p. 306.
33. Abrams, Full and Detailed History, p. 46.
34. Mary L. Blake to Marshall McDonald, August 3, , Marshall
35. Warren County Deed Book CC, entry for August 29, 1863.
pick the bones. 30 If a man was lucky, and able, and not too
scrupulous, fortunes waited for the taking.
Max Kuner was one of these men. As soon as the lines were
opened he returned to the city to find his jewelry store in ruins, his
safe blasted open and looted. All that remained of his once
prosperous business was a single watch. But Kuner had a nose
for profit. From a friend with whom he had once shared some
precious coffee, Kuner got the option on a cotton crop. Though
he had no money, within an hour he raised $32,000 by stepping
into the street and borrowing it from a young man who "had
plenty of money at his call." He managed to convert Confeder-
ate currency (even after the surrender it was worth fifteen cents
on the dollar) into Union greenbacks, somehow got the cotton
to New Orleans, and cleared $20,000 in the transaction. 37
But this was merely the bare outline of the business, for
Kuner scarcely hinted at the amoral jungle in which the profit
hunters operated. William Crutcher, traveling south of Natchez
seeking cotton, set the search for profit within its proper moral
context as he wrote his daughter, "I expect to close out my cotton
matters here in a few days .... Our contract will be ... 2,500
Bales I hope to make some $15,000 to $20,000 in Sterling
or Gold .... What a State of morals we find in the land now.
Every man is for himself and what watching we have to do to
hold our own." 38
Colonel Charles Gilchrist would have agreed with him. The
colonel had marched his Negro regiment from Vicksburg to
Grand Gulf and back again hunting recruits and abandoned
cotton, and when he sat down to write his report he was still
boiling: "The General and the Treasury agents and cotton spec-
ulators, by the general's consent or order, took possession of all
the cotton I brought in .... To sum up, we marched 250 miles,
injured our transportation . . and as far as ending the war is
concerned, we did just nothing at all; but, if anything, served to
prolong it by assisting a lot of rebels and thieves to sell and get
36. John H. Smith to C. A. Montross, August 7, 1863, Letters Received,
Special Agent, Treasury Department, Vicksburg, Mississippi, unboxed, NA
37. [Kuner], "Vicksburg and After," Sewanee Review, XV, 494-95.
38. William Crutcher to Emma Crutcher, August 9, 1864, Crutcher
Washington Street, Vicksburg's main street, shortly following the war. Ladies
complained that the sidewalks were so crowded that they were endangered by
flying tobacco juice. (From Harper's Weekly)
to market about 1,515 bales of ... cotton, and a lot of specula-
tors, whose loyalty I very much suspect, in making fortunes." 3 '*
Complaint also arose from the Confederates. The country
beyond the Big Black, rich in cotton, was a shadowy land
neither the Northerners nor the Southerners effectively controlled
it and both sides tried to get the cotton. Dispatches marked
"Private" were sent to Jefferson Davis informing him of a "very
active trade, carried on between the people of the area and the
Federals." When the Confederate cavalry withdrew from Jack-
son, Davis' informant counted twenty-three wagon loads of
cotton passing through the city, bound for Vicksburg; and, he
lamented, they added insult to injury by moving "on the Sabbath
... in view of the whole community." He also reported that
women of "good reputation" rode horseback from plantation to
39. Official Records Army, Ser. I, Vol. XXXII, Ft. 1, 395-96. Melvin
Grigsby, a cavalry trooper, was in a regiment supposed to be hunting Con-
federate guerillas; but the regiment spent most of its time convoying cotton
from plantations into Vicksburg, and, said Grigsby, every officer and man in
the unit was "coining money in the cotton business." Melvin Grigsby, The
Smoked Yank (n.p,, 1888), pp. 47-49,
plantation buying cotton to sell to the Yankees. 40 Cotton
brought money, and money bought clothes, shoes, and coffee.
If the question of disloyalty was raised in the minds of those
people engaged in the trade, it was quickly shunted aside. After
two years of scarcity the tenuous bonds of a faltering cause were
fast falling loose.
Cotton brought other things as well as wealth. It brought
to light cases of informers, and traitors, and brothers attempting
to cheat sisters of their share of the lucrative trade. 41 Vicksburg
was the hub of an entire region in which spiny fingers grasping
for greenbacks and gold reached out in every direction, and the
city did not remain unsullied.
In September 1863, Grant relinquished the whole perplexing
jumble of commercial regulation to the Treasury Department.
On paper the Treasury agents appeared to have a sound plan
for the regulation of business. Everyone connected with trade
was required to take the oath of allegiance, licenses certifying
loyalty were to be awarded before anyone could engage in any
business operation, and the number of licensed businesses was
to be strictly limited. (The plan called for the establishment
of only two drugstores, for medicines were highly prized by the
Confederates, and unless their distribution were carefully con-
trolled the drugs would find their devious way through the
lines. 42 )
The plan was doomed from the beginning. Six months
after he had arrived in Vicksburg, one agent complained, "I
have no blanks and no instructions . . . have ever come to this
office. Nor have any of the laws of the U. S. relating to the
collection of customs , . , . This place is so far off that it is
difficult to know how to do anything right or ascertain if done
whether it is done rightly or not." 43
40. T. J. Wharton to Jefferson Davis, April 16, 1864, Jefferson Davis
Papers, Duke University.
41. J. H. Stephenson to T. C. Callicot, October 1, 1864; Maria Buck to
T, C. Callicot, November 18, 1864; both in Letters Received, Special Agent,
Treasury Department, Vicksburg, Mississippi, unboxed, NA (RG) 56,
42. Futrell, "Federal Trade With the Confederate States," pp. 306-7.
43. John A. McDowell to David G. Barnitz, March 5, 1864, Correspondence
Sent, Assistant Special Agent, Vicksburg, Mississippi, NA (RG) 56, Book
123. The agent must not have taxed his brain too severely deciding whether
his business was conducted "rightly or not." Approved for shipment into
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 219
The trading licenses, reserved for loyal citizens and disabled
Union veterans, were juicy prizes, worth any deceit or treachery.
The permits for disabled soldiers were issued in many northern
cities. Thomas Callicot, who was trying to bring some order
to the mess at Vicksburg, said: "The only persons who have
[had] authority issued at Cincinnati . . . have been three strong
and healthy German Jews not one of whom was ever in the U. S.
Army in his life, and at least one of whom is not even a natural-
ized citizen." 44
The struggle for trade permits by Vicksburg citizens was
equally marked by deception. Max Kuner, who swore he had
been awarded a license by Grant for helping map the Vicksburg
defenses, was accused of disloyalty by his apprentice. Kuner
retaliated by accusing the apprentice of dishonesty and ingratitude
(and incidentally throwing in the charge that he was the son of
an uxoricide), and both parties brought up witness after witness
to rebut the other's claims. The prize was, of course, Kuner's
trading license. Before the case was settled even the Treasury
agent was charged with corruption, and the military governor
who heard the conflicting tales threw up his hands in despair.
He refused to render a decision, only an opinion: ". . . present
loyalty is influenced entirely by ... personal interests . . . ," 45
As time passed the situation was unrelieved; if anything it
was worsened. Arthur Burwell, a broadsword-tongued Unionist,
said, "I dare not go to any place in the interior, (would be shot,
hung or imprisoned if I did). Yet I find men and women going
and coming, buying and carrying goods to points over which
the United States have about as much control as they have over
Japan. This might be allright, but my opinion is, that in time
Vicksburg, between December 23 and 29, 1863, as a "military necessity" were:
"1 barrell of Scotch whiskey, 30 cases of champagne, 20,000 cigars, 50 dozen
white gloves, 420 dozen women's shoes, 15 yards of green velvet, 15 yards of
red velvet, 1 pound of silver spangles, 100 barrels of whiskey, 5 barrels of
Brandy, 1 case of gin, 50 baskets of champagne, and 100 cases of 'assorted
liquor.' " Special Permits to Bring Goods to Vicksburg, unboxed, NA (RG)
44. T. C. Callicot to William P. Mellen, October 4, 1864, ibid.
45. Depositions of Valentine F. Vogh, September 6, 1864; Max Kuner,
September 8, 1864; B. F. Reamer, September 9, 1864; and others, including
letters of T. C. Callicot, and General N. J. T. Dana; all in Letters Received,
Special Treasury Agent, Vicksburg, Mississippi, unboxed, NA (RG) 56.
of war trade is more likely to betray than defend the flag ....
[The army is] encumbered with women and plunder, with pianos,
glassware, silverplate, costly silks . . . [and] I hear well authenti-
cated tales of wrong and fraud." 46 Almost a year after she had
returned to the city, Lavinia Shannon wrote her daughter in
Texas, "Vicksburg is not the place it once was, neither is home." 47
In the summer of 1864, a new litany of names was stitched
into tattered battleflags. Beneath the tarnished silver threads
that spelled out names with a victory ring Bull Run, Front
Royal, Cross Keys, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville were new
names, harsh names the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Dalton,
Atlanta names of brutal poundings and sidling flankings which
cut bloody trails deeper into the faltering South.
During the Indian summer of the Confederacy the people of
Vicksburg waited for the casualty lists to be printed in Swords's
revived newspaper. After each battle they picked up the paper,
glanced at the reports, then painfully counted down the roster
of dead and wounded, hoping against hope. Even those who
read through the lists unscathed were touched by what they had
seen "Vicksburg has lost heavily in the battles around Rich-
mond and in Georgia." 48 There seemed to be something futile
about the deaths and maimings now; each battle report was a
report of defeat, and each defeat was a strengthening proof of
the proposition that Vicksburg was back in the Union to stay.
There were still those who refused to take the oath of al-
legiance, but their defiance carried a note of despair, as if they
must continue to be hostile, though they were without hope. 40
46. A[rthur] Burwell to Joseph Holt, December 20, 1863, Joseph Holt
47. Lavinia Shannon to Emma Crutcher, July 1, 1864, Crutcher Collection.
49. Federal treatment and punishment of overt Confederate sympathizers
appears to have been moderate. The chief punishment was banishment from
Vicksburg, and this was evidently severe enough to control the people ef-
fectively. (Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, May 18, 1864, Crutcher
Collection.) On November 23, 1864, five women were banished from the
city. Elizabeth Eggleston was one of them. Her offenses were: "general
busy-body with rebel interests, philanthropist, mail receiver, carrier of
smuggled goods to prisoners in jail, etc. etc." General Orders No. 82 of
Major General N. J. T. Dana, November 23, 1864, Eggieston-Roach Papers,
Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Louisiana State University.
AN ANGRY WAVE HAD PASSED 221
Many other people had long since recognized the futility of
defiance and rancor, and they made the best of their situation.
Alice Shannon, who her father said was difficult to keep "with-
in bounds of propriety," caught both positions in a letter to her
Of course you have heard that we are back in the old place again.
I never thought that I would feel so bad at having to come back as
I did. I had enough of the Yankees at Raymond .... You do not
know what a blessing it is to live in the Confederacy where you see
nothing but grey. I dont think I shall wear blue any more I hate
the very sight of it. It would surprise you to see how mean some of
the Vicksburgers are. A great many of them seem to be turning blue
.... Mrs. West has had several large dancing parties in her house and
she invited all the young ladies and yankee officers in town. Lizzie
West goes to all the parties given by the Yankee women. I cant call
them Ladies .... You remember how Miss Lucy Rawlings wore the
secesion cockade now she tells the yankees that she always was for
the union . . . [She] was . . . shot in the ankle by a ball. I wish it
had shot her foot off .... Mrs. Cook has had a good deal of trouble,
but she says she is ready to take the oath so I dont feel much for her
.... When we first came in Mrs. Hansford was trying to get up a
Sunday school The first Sunday the Cooks went but Miss Lucy said
it was a secesh school and she would not go again. But she did go
[only] because there was a yankee who taught the boys whom she
wanted to captivate. The yankees have taken the sunday school in
their own hands so we have given it up .... This is a dull rainy day
I am sitting by the window and evry time [I] raise my eyes I see that
hateful flag flying from the courthouse .... A little while ago two
officers came here to invite Babe and I to a ball .... Ma [told] them
that we never went out socially [but] they told her that we might as
well commense . . . , 50
Many people were dancing now. A theater was open, a
showboat was tied up at the wharf, the gas lights were on once
again, and public notice was posted cancelling contracts for
all secret Union agents. 51 As the Fourth of July drew near,
J. M. Swords, who a year before had taunted Grant to try to take
the city, printed in his Herald: "No city in the Union has so good
a reason to celebrate the fourth of July as Vicksburg, and we
50, Alice Shannon to Emma Crutcher, November 19, 1863, Crutcher
51. Vicksburg Daily Herald, June 7, 8, 1864.
trust it will be an occasion of a cordial greeting among the citizens
and soldiers of a common country." 52
The holiday was met with stony silence. 53 Like the day
more than three years past when the people learned they were
out of the Union, they marked the day, knew what it meant for
them, but refused to celebrate it. There was, even for those who
were "turning blue," a thin line which separated dancing and
doing business with the Yankees from celebrating a holiday
which was really a mockery of their surrender and of their men
still in the field. Regardless of what Swords said, there was no
holiday less suited to be commemorated in Vicksburg, and four
generations would have to pass before the time was ready for
"an occasion of a cordial greeting among the citizens and soldiers
of a common country."
Perhaps, as the people refused to celebrate the Fourth, they
looked deeper into their city, past the Northern gold and the
fraternizing soldiers, and saw things which restored commerce
and dancing parties could not mask. Women and children were
begging in the streets, hundreds of homeless were living in tents
and in caves, some persons were selling silver spoons to buy
food, miscegenation was openly laughed at, an unrelieved suc-
cession of robberies and attempted rapes took place, and from
the south end of Washington Street came the rattling sound of
firing squads. 54 These were the swirling backwaters of war.
Only time would end it, but the time was drawing close.
52. Ibid. 53. Ibid., July 6, 1864.
54. Ibid., June-October, 1864, passim. With respect to the incidence of
lawlessness, the author's conclusion is that the occupation army was fairly free
of physical crimes against the civilians. Other than complaints of petty
thievery, the only record (seen by the author) of a major crime committed
by soldiers appears in a letter written by Marmaduke Shannon, the editor:
"I just learned that John H. Babb was . . . killed today. [He] drove some
negro soldiers out of his garden and struck one of them with a brickbat for
his impudence they went to their camp, got their guns and . . . shot him
dead," Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, May 18, 1864, Crutcher
ON the ninth of April 1865, Marmaduke Shannon wrote his
daughter in Texas the latest news: "Selma . . . has lately been
captured and burned and I suppose every other place held by
the rebels will soon follow." 1 He had moved full circle. Four
years previously he had called the secessionists rebels; then
while Vicksburg was in the Confederacy he had done his best to
make the Confederacy work; now, on this ninth of April, the
Confederates were rebels again. As Shannon wrote, Lee was
surrendering the Army of Northern Virginia.
Northern travelers began to come down the river, eager to
inspect the city. When they looked for Grant's canal, they had
difficulty finding it. "It's a little small concern," said one visitor.
The "hiding-holes" were filled, the streets were busy with bur-
dened carts and wagons, the wharves were crowded with steam-
boats, returning soldiers were claiming their welcome, and be-
yond the city the cotton fields opened in every direction. The
fortifications were difficult to identify cotton plants bloomed
in "every little valley"; and, with a gentle irony, the blooms were
red and white. One man looked over the fields, then turned away
with the thought that "even cotton wore the Rebel colors." 2
Mahala Roach was living in her house again. After she had
settled her family she had some unoccupied hours, and she took
out her stack of diaries and began to leaf through them. Yet
she did not much care to do it, for, she thought: "The task will
1. Marmaduke Shannon to Emma Crutcher, April 9, 1865, Crutcher
2. John T. Trowbridge, A Picture of the Desolated States, and the Work of
Restoration (Hartford, Connecticut, 1868), p. 356; Whitelaw Reid, After
the War: A Southern Tour. May 1, 1865 to May 1, 1866 (Cincinnati, 1866),
be a sad one to me, for I will have to turn back my glances to
a happy life, now alas! passed away forever." 3
Though she dwelled on the instability of life and society, she
would have done better to have turned her thoughts to the river,
flowing broad and ceaselessly, a river which rises in a sudden
start in northern Minnesota, then rolls south, swollen by count-
less other rivers and streams that draw off the rain-glut of half
a continent. Beneath her home, the loamy soils of Iowa, Kansas,
Illinois, and Ohio washed in the great river. There they mixed
and tumbled with earth swept from Tennessee, Alabama, Ar-
kansas, and Mississippi. As the river surged past, there was no
telling one particle from the other. It had always been that way.
It always would.
3. "Christmas Days," Roach-Eggleston Papers, V, 1.
Duke University Library:
Jefferson Davis Papers.
Nathan G. Dye Papers.
Noah L. Gebhart Papers.
Gertrude Jenkins Papers.
Electus W. Jones Papers.
Marshall McDonald Papers.
William H. E. Merritt Papers.
Charles B. Tornpkins Papers.
Thomas N. Waul Papers.
Emory University Library:
William H. Brotherton Papers.
Division of Manuscripts, Library of Congress:
Joseph Holt Papers.
Robert E. Jameson Papers.
Journal Kept by Mrs. W. W. Lord During the Siege of Vicksburg.
Earl Van Dorn Papers.
Louisiana State University, Department of Archives and Manuscripts:
Butler Family Papers (E).
Rowland Chambers, Diary.
Lewis Guion, Diary.
J. P. Knox Papers.
Jarcd Y. Sanders Papers.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History:
Charles B. Allen, Plantation Book.
[Emma] Balfour, Diary.
Phillip Crutcher Collection.
William A. Drennan Papers.
Governors' Correspondence, Series E.
J. H. Pepper, Diary of Vicksburg.
Returns for Presidential Electors, 1860, Series F, Volume
Ida B. Trotter, The Seige of Vicksburg, and Some Personal
Experiences connected therewith.
Warren County Census, 1860, Schedules 1 and 2.
Warren County Census, 1866, Series F, Volume CX.
Record Group 56. General Records of the Treasury Department.
Record Group 105. Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freed-
men, and Abandoned Lands.
Record Group 109. War Department Collection of Confederate
Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina:
Joseph D. Alison, Diary.
Anne Harris Broidrick, A Recollection of Thirty Years Ago.
Samuel H. Lockett, The Defense of Vicksburg Notes and
Sketches from an Engineering Point of View.
Mahala P. H. Roach, Diary.
Tennessee State Library and Archives:
John J. Blair, Diary.
G. R. Elliott, Diary.
City Council Minute Book, 1860-69. City Hall.
Goodrum Collection. Old Courthouse Museum.
Gregory Papers. Old Courthouse Museum.
John Hughes, Diary. Old Courthouse Museum.
S. R. Martin, Recollections of the War Between the States, 1861-
65. Owned by Mr. John S. Hoggatt.
Register. Convent of the Sisters of Mercy.
Rockwood Manuscript. Old Courthouse Museum.
Supervisors' Minute Book, 1853-67. Courthouse.
Warren County Deed Book CC. Courthouse.
Anecdotes, Poetry and Incidents of the War; North and South, I860-
1865. Edited by Frank Moore. Boston: Boston Stereotype
Brokenburn: The Journal of Kate Stone, 1861-1867. Edited by
John Q. Anderson. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Chambers, William P. "My Journal," Edited by Ruth Polk. Publi-
cations of the Mississippi Historical Society, Centenary Series,
V (1925) ,227-386.
"Civil War Diary of Captain James Litton Cooper, September 30,
1861 to January, 1865." Edited by William T. Alderson. Ten-
nessee Historical Quarterly, XV (June, 1956), 141-173.
"The Civil War Letters of Brigadier General William Ward Orme
1862-1866." Edited by Harry E. Pratt. Journal of the Illinois
State Historical Society, XXIII (July, 1930), 246-315.
The Confederate States Almanac for . . . 1862. Nashville, Ten-
nessee: Southern Methodist Publishing House, 1862.
Clarke's Confederate Household Almanac, for the Year 1863. Vicks-
burg, H. C. Clarke, Publisher, 1863.
The Diary of A. Hugh Moss. [No publisher, no place of publication],
General Directory for the City of Vicksburg. Vicksburg: H. C.
Clarke Publisher, 1860.
Jones, Jenkins L. "An Artilleryman's Diary." Wisconsin History
Commission Original Papers, Number 8. Democrat Printing
Company [no place], 1914.
Journal of the State Convention and Ordinances and Resolutions
Adopted in January, 1861 With an Appendix. Jackson, Mis-
sissippi: E. Barksdale, State Printer, 1861.
Ncwsomc, Edmund. Experience in the War of the Great Rebellion.
Carbondalc, Illinois: Printed by the Author, 1879.
Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the War of
the Rebellion, 30 vols. and index. Washington: Government
Printing Office, 1894-1922.
Proceedings of the Mississippi State Convention Held January 7th
to 26th, A.D. 1861. Including the Ordinances, as finally Adopted,
Important Speeches, and a List of Members. Jackson, Mississippi:
Power and Cadwalladcr, Book and Job Printers, 1861.
Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events. Edited by Frank
Moore. 1 1 vols. New York: D. Van Nostrand Publisher, 1867.
Reid, Whitclaw. After the War: A Southern Tour. May 1, 1865
to May 1, 1866. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach and Baldwin,
Russell, William H. My Diary North and South. Boston: T.O.H.P.
The Siege of Vicksburg from the Diary of Seth /. Wells, Detroit:
William H. Rowc Publisher, 1915.
Trowbridge, John T. A Picture of the Desolated States, and the
Work of Reconstruction. Hartford, Connecticut: L. Stebbins,
"The War Diary of a Union Woman in the South." Edited by
George W. Cable. The Century Magazine, XXXVIII (October,
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of
the Union and Confederate Armies. 69 vols. and index. Wash-
ington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.
"With Grant at Vicksburg: From the Diary of Captain Charles E.
Wilcox." Edited by Edgar L. Ericksen. Journal of the Illinois
State Historical Society, XXX (January, 1938), 441-503.
"A Woman's Diary of the Siege of Vicksburg" Edited by George
W. Cable. The Century Magazine, XXX (September, 1885),
Newspapers and Periodicals
De Bow's Review.
Grand Gulf Advertiser.
Natchez Daily Courier.
Vicksburg Daily Courier.
Vicksburg Daily Evening Citizen.
Vicksburg Daily Herald.
Vicksburg Daily Times.
Vicksburg Daily Whig.
Vicksburg Weekly Whig.
MEMOIRS AND REMINISCENCES
Abrams, Alexander S. A Full and Detailed History of the Siege of
Vicksburg. Atlanta: Intelligencer Steam Power Press, 1863.
Anderson, Ephraim McD. Memoirs. Saint Louis: Times Printing
Battles and Leaders in the Civil War. Edited by Robert U. Johnson
and Clarence C. Buel. 4 vols. New York: The Century Com-
Bell, L. McRae. "A Girl's Experience in the Siege of Vicksburg/'
Harper's Weekly, LVI (June 8, 1912), 12-13.
Bevier, Robert S. History of the First and Second Missouri Con-
federate Brigades 1861-1865. Saint Louis: Bryan, Brand and
Browne, Junius H, Four Years in Secessia. Hartford, Ohio: D.
Case and Company, 1865.
Clare, Josephine. Narrative of the Adventures and Experience of
Mrs. Josephine Clare. Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Pearsol and
Geist, Printers, 1865.
DeFontaine, Felix G. Marginalia; or Gleanings From an Army
Note-Book. Columbia, South Carolina: F. G. DeFontaine and
DeLeon, Thomas C. Belles, Beaux and Brains of the 60's. New
York: G. W. Dillingham and Company, 1907.
Dorsey, Sara A. Recollections of Henry Watkins Allen, Brigadier
General Confederate States Army, Ex-Governor of Louisiana.
New York: M. Doolady, 1866.
Fulkerson, Horace S. A Civilian's Recollection of the War Between
the States. Edited by Percy L. Rainwater. Baton Rouge: Otto
Gregory, Edward S. "Vicksburg During the Siege," The Annals
of the War Written by the Leading Participants North and South.
Philadelphia: The Times Printing Company, 1879.
Grigsby, Melvin. The Smoked Yank. 2nd edition. [No publisher,
no place], 1888.
Hall, Winchester. The Story of the 26th Louisiana Infantry, in the
Service of the Confederate States. [No publisher, no place], 1890.
Hart, William O. "A Boy's Recollection of the War," Publications
of the Mississippi Historical Society, XII (1912), 148-54.
Hogane, J. T. "Reminiscences of the Siege of Vicksburg," Southern
Historical Society Papers, XI (July, 1883), 291-97.
Howard, Richard L. History of the 124th Regiment Illinois Infantry
Volunteers. Springfield: H. W. Rokker, 1880.
[Kuncr, Max]. "Vicksburg and After: Being the Experience of a
Southern Merchant." Arranged by Edwin L. Sabin. The
Sewanee Review, XV (October, 1907), 485-96.
Lee, Stephen D. "The Siege of Vicksburg," Publications of the
Mississippi Historical Society, III (1900), 55-71.
. "Details of Important Work by Two Confederate
Telegraph Operators," Publications of the Mississippi Historical
Society, VIII (1904), 54.
Livcrmorc, Mary A. My Story of the War: A Woman's Narrative
of Four Years of Personal Experience. Hartford, Connecticut:
A. D. Worthington and Company, 1892.
Lord, William W., Jr. "A Child at the Siege of Vicksburg," Harper's
Monthly Magazine, CXVIII (December, 1908), 44-53.
[Loughborough, Mary A.]. My Cave Life in Vicksburg. New
York: D. Appleton and Company, 1864.
Ncwcomb, Mary A. Pour Years Personal Reminiscences of the
War. Chicago: H. S. Mills and Company, 1893.
Oldroyd, Osborn H. A Soldier's Story of the Siege of Vicksburg.
Springfield, Illinois: Printed for the Author, 1885.
Reed, Lida L. "A Woman's Experiences During the Siege of
Vicksburg," The Century Magazine, LXI (April, 1901), 922-28.
Stevenson, Thomas M. History of the 78th Regiment O.V.VJ.
Zanesville, Ohio: Hugh Dunn, 1865.
Tunnard, William H. A Southern Record: The History of the Third
Regiment Louisiana Infantry. Baton Rouge: [No publisher],
Wilkie, Franc B. Pen and Powder. Boston: Ticknor and Company,
Woods, Thomas H. "Sketch of the Mississippi Secession Conven-
tion Its Membership and Work," Publications of the Mississippi
Historical Society, VI (1902), 91-104.
Barber, Bette E. Vicksburg: Home Town Gibraltar. MS. Missis-
sippi Department of Archives and History.
Bettersworth, John K. Confederate Mississippi. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press, 1943.
Black, Robert C. Railroads of the Confederacy. Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press, 1952.
Dickey, Dallas C. Seargent S. Prentiss: Whig Orator of the Old
South. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1945.
Encyclopedia of Mississippi History. Edited by Dunbar Rowland.
2 vols. Madison, Wisconsin: Selwyn A. Brant Publishers, 1904.
Futrell, Robert F. "Federal Trade With the Confederate States,
1861-1865: A Study of Governmental Policy." Unpublished
Ph.D. dissertation. Department of History, Vanderbilt University,
Halsell, Willie D. "A Vicksburg Speculator and Planter in the Yazoo
Delta," Journal of Mississippi History, XI (October, 1942), 231-
Lonn, Ella. Salt as a Factor in the Confederacy. New York:
Walter Neale Publisher, 1933.
McNeily, J. S. "War and Reconstruction in Mississippi: 1863-1890;*
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Centenary
Series, II (1918), 165-535.
Matthies, Virginia P. "Natchez-Under-The-Hill," Journal of Missis-
sippi History, VII (October, 1945), 201-21.
Rainwater, Percy L. Mississippi: Storm Center of Secession 1856-
186J. Baton Rouge: Otto Claitor, 1938.
Abrams, Alexander, assesses destruc-
tion, 117; mentioned, 175, 211
Alison, Joseph, doctor, 188, 193, 194
Allen, Charles, takes in refugees, 75;
refuses cooperation in defense, 83;
mentioned, 79, 88, 112, 117, 122
Alspaugh, Granville, 126, 140, 150
Arkansas, action of, 113-16; men-
tioned, 98, 115
Arthur, Alexander, 34, 55, 104, 211
Attitudes, toward secession, 17, 24;
toward war, 24-48; toward Lincoln's
election, 26; toward raising troops,
42; pre-siege, of fear, 55, 56; war
sentiment, 59; of soldiers, 62. See
also Blair, John J.; Clare, Jose-
Autry, James L., 91
Balfour, Emma, rejects cave life, 146;
makes cartridges, 172; mentioned,
8, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164, 167,
168, 169, 171, 173, 175, 178
Blair, John J., observes hostility, 123
Blake, Mary, 125
Brooke, Walker, speech by, 30; men-
tioned, 27, 29
Brotherton, James, 140
Brown, Albert Gallalin, 23, 24
Brown, Isaac N M assigned to Ar-
kunstifi, 98. See also Arkansas
Bunch, Mollic, 41
Burwell, Arthur, called Unionist, 103;
Butler, Edward, II 2, 11 4
CalHcot Thomas, 219
Campbell, John A., 122
Canal, dug by Grant's forces, 136,
Carroll Dragoons, 70
Caves, description of, 101-2; built by
civilians, 145; used during siege,
173; life in, 185-86
Chambers, Rowland, dentist, 94; and
gunboats, 107; food stock of, 110;
in cave, 115; house used for hos-
pital, 139; makes shoes, 147; re-
ligious fervor of, 179; mentioned,
109, 116, 117, 130, 136, 137, 142,
153, 157, 158, 159, 162, 163, 165,
169, 172, 195
Chambers, William, arrives in city,
96; reaction to gunboats, 107; men-
tioned, 110, 126, 132
Charity, organized, 60; Free Market,
63; of Louisianians, 138; of indi-
Chickasaw Bluffs, 131
Churches, 10. See also Religion
Civilians, post-siege treatment by Fed-
Clare, Josephine, 137
Clarke, H. C., moves printshop, 128
Clewell, Francis, 143
Clinton, Mississippi, Grant at, 158;
Coal, scarcity of, 147
Communications, description of, 11-
12; system breaks down, 135; dur-
ing siege, 172
Companies, volunteer fire, 10; vol-
unteer military, listed, 38; Warren
Artillery, 53; Jeff Davis Guards,
58, 59; Hill City Cadets, 61; Carroll
Dragoons, 70, See also Conscrip-
Compromise of 1850, 23
Conscription, avoided, 76-77, 137;
soldiers held in contempt, 142.
See also Enlistments
Conservatives, 27, 34
Cooperationists, 27, 34
Cotton, storage prohibited, 64; smug-
gling of, 134-35; sought by both
sides, 217; speculation in, 218
Council, city, declares martial law,
70; aids indigent families, 105;
ceases to function, 128-29; men-
tioned, 37, 39, 46, 60, 66, 120
Crump, mayor of Vicksburg, 43, 52
Crutcher, Emma, leaves city, 94;
moves to Texas, 119; mentioned,
60, 61, 65, 67. See also Shannon,
Crutcher, William, 60, 216
Currency, value of Union, 133; post-
siege value of Confederate, 216
Davis, Jefferson, visits city, 129; pro-
claims day of prayer, 149; men-
tioned, 77, 79, 108, 209, 217
Day, S. B., 75
De Bow, James D. B., on economic
condition of city, 147; mentioned,
Defense, of city, 46, 62; lack of
civilian cooperation in, 83
Destruction, by gunboats, 108, 117;
of printing office, 158; of homes,
164; by fire during siege, 179; of
buildings, 193; of city appraised,
Disloyalty, Jews accused of, 78; de-
fined by Van Dorn, 111. See also
Drennan, William, 180, 182, 191,
194, 196, 199
Dye, Nathan, 203
Eaton, John, 212
Economy, pre-siege, 20; products of,
21; manufacturers, 2 In; slave, 22;
influence on politics, 25; in 1861,
43; and war effort, 56; affected by
war, 60, 77; after first bombard-
ment, 120; affected by Sherman,
131; condition of credit, 135; post-
Education, city system, 9; Warren
Female Academy, 58; of freed
Negro, 213. See also Eaton, John
Eggleston, Elizabeth, 140, 169, 182
Elections, of 1860, 23-24, 87
Ellet, Alfred W., colonel, commands
Union rams, 100
Emanuel, Morris, and railroads, 127;
seeks permission to stop trains,
135, 136; mentioned, 51, 109
Enlistments, subsidized, 67; for Navy,
98; substitutes hired, 127. See also
Farragut, David, suspends attack, 115-
16; mentioned, 106
Fashions, women's wartime, 95; dur-
ing siege, 147-48
Fontaine, Edward, ordnance officer,
Food, supply of during siege, 147,
177, 180, 191; begged by soldiers,
186; confiscated by military, 191,
192n. See also Scarcity
Foote, Henry S., 22
"Foreign Legion," 49
Fort Donelson, 65
Fort Henry, 65
Fort Pickens, 43
Fourth of July, celebrated in 1945,
xii; ignored in 1864, 222.
Free Market, 63
Gebhart, Emmanuel, 181
Genella, Auguste, 20
Geography, of Vicksburg, 4
Gilchrist, Charles, 216
Government, city, exercises initiative,
84; Confederate inaction, 86; coun-
ty, ceases to function, 105, 129;
single operative civil authority, 138;
county police function, 143, 157
Grant, U. S., joins Sherman, 136;
crosses Mississippi River, 156; at
Clinton, 158; mentioned, 151, 204,
212, 215, 218
Green, Duff, merchant, 8, 19
Green, William Siege, birth of, 173
Guion, Lewis, 200, 205
Hall, Winchester, major, finds place
for sick, 102; requests supplies
from civilians, 124; joined by fami-
ly, 137; mentioned, 95, 141, 208
Harpe, Little, outlaw, 6
Harris, Anne, 22, 164, 196
Hart, William, 80
Hill City Cadets, 61
Holt, Joseph, postmaster-general, 28,
Hotels, in Vicksburg, 10; the Wash-
ington Hotel, 47, 121, 137
Incorporation, of city of Vicksburg, 6
Jeff Davis Guards, 58
Jews, accused of disloyalty, 78
Johnson, W. H., 27
Johnston, Joseph, visits city, 129
Kuner, Max, merchant, 15, 20, 93,
Kyle, William, 195
Lamar, L. Q. C, leads Breckinridge
rally, 24; at secession convention,
Law, pre-siege maintenance of, 67;
martial, 70n, 78; Provost Marshal's
office established, 102; in river
counties, 110; civilians register,
129. See also Government
Lawlessness, pre-war, 11, 41; vigilance
committees, 7, 55; pre-sicge, 57n,
70; during siege, 136; and soldiers,
139-40, 156; mounting crime in-
cidence of, 154; post-siege, and
troops, 205; appraised, 222
Lay, Benjamin, 169
Lee, Henry, 50. See also Negro, free
Lee, S. Phillips, 89, 90
Lee, Stephen D., 164, 169
Lincoln, Abraham, election of, 26;
calls for troops, 48; suspends
habeas corpus, 52
Lindsay, L., mayor, 67; refuses sur-
render, 91; mentioned, 92, 149
Livermore, Mary, volunteer nurse, 149
Lord, Lida, cave life of, 173; men-
tioned, 159, 160, 167, 177, 185
Lord, Mrs. William, 163, 180, 193,
Lord, William, rector, 17, 94, 160
Loughborough, Mary, 144, 152, 158,
160, 162, 169, 170, 176, 195, 196,
Lovell, Mansfield, general, 63, 79, 80
Loyalty, of conservatives, 32-33; of
Jews, 78. See also Unionism
Lum, William, 19
Magazines, listed, 53
Mails, robbed, 126; raided, 135
Map, Vicksburg communications net-
Marshall, Thomas A., 27, 29, 37.
See also Unionism
Martin, Anne, 158
Martin, S. R., 123, 186
Martin, T. S., editor, 59
McCardle, William H., 27
McNutt, Alexander, ex-governor, 8
Meat, scarcity of, 137
Merchants, listed, 9. See also Econo-
Merritt, William, 14, 122, 126
Migrants, to Vicksburg, 6, 15, 112
Militia, of city, reorganized, 83; as
Military, quartered in city, 141;
confiscates food, 191, 192n
Milliken's Bend, 130
Moore, Thomas O., governor of
Moss, Hugh, 108, 166, 170, 175, 181
Murrell, John, outlaw, 6
Naval warfare. See Warfare
Negro, free, 15, 50; slave, 16, 17, 22;
slaves impressed by Confederates,
83; slave trade continued, 120; pro-
visions for slaves, 126; uneasiness
concerning slaves, 155; slaves' loyal-
ty, 165; slaves' conduct during
siege, 176-77; provisions made for
by Union, 212; reactions to free-
dom, 210-13, 214n
Newman, William, 50
New Orleans, fall of, 72
Newspapers, listed, 10; at secession
convention, 29; in war effort, 44;
Sun, 59; Whig, 59; Whig and Mis-
sissippian debate, 85; denounce
profiteering, 88, 196; printed on
wallpaper, 187; revived after siege,
Nullification, reaction in Mississippi,
Oldroyd, Osborn, 176
Orme, William, 208
Parties, political, Constitutional-Un-
ionist, 24; Conservatives and Co-
operationists, 27, 34
Pemberton, John C., replaces Van
Dorn, 122; asks civilians to evacu-
ate, 130; and railroad, 135-36; al-
lows travel, 147; lack of confidence
in, 163; soldiers threaten, 195;
called traitor, 199; surrenders city,
200; mentioned, 171, 172, 173, 174
Pepper, James, 187, 192, 193
Pettus, John J., governor of Missis-
sippi, 23, 59, 209
Political parties. See Parties
Population, origins, 13; immigrants,
15; in 1860, 18; movement, 74-75,
77, 93; movement restricted, 102;
migrants from Louisiana, 112; refu-
gees to and from city, 117-18, 119;
requested to evacuate city, 130;
last exodus, 181
Porter, David D., 164
Porterfield, William, 195
Prentiss, Seargent $., 9, 13
Profiteering, by merchants, 87, 179,
180; denounced by newspapers, 88,
Propaganda, devices of Confederates,
44. See also Rumors
Property, valuation of, 20n
Provisions, civilian shortage, 65-66;
lack of, in summer of 1862, 100;
shortage after bombardment, 121.
See also Scarcity
Pugh, James, detained by authorities,
Railroads, listed, 11; use of, 52;
Southern, 76; terminates outside
city, 109; civilian use prohibited,
127; permission sought to stop.
135; mentioned, 154. See also
Randolph, George W. countermands
Van Dorn, 111
Rawlings, Lucy, 221
Reactions, to Fort Sumter, 45; to
Forts Henry and Donelson, 65; to
Shiloh, 69; to fall of New Orleans,
72; to Confederate military policy,
82; to scarcity, 110; to conscripted
soldiers, 142; to Grant's attack,
169; to siege, 174; to end of siege,
200; to fall of city, 208-10; of
slaves to freedom, 210-13, 214n;
of Union Army to city, 202-8; of
civilians to freed Negroes, 213-14
Reading, A. B., 103, 157
Real estate, value increases, 148.
See also Property
Refugees, to and from city, 117-18;
officers' families, 137. See also
Religion, pre-siege, 61; during siege,
146, 149; observance of church
services, 178; influence of siege on,
Roach, Mahala, 14, 15, 65, 68, 69,
70, 73, 75, 121, 223-24
Rumors, of atrocity, 188-91
Russell, William, 47, 50, 52
Sanders, Jared, 133, 146
Scarcity, of pre-siege provisions, 65-
66; of meat, 137; of coal and food,
147; of food during siege, 177, 191;
of water, 181
Secession, state convention, 27-34;
reaction to, 31; secessionists 1 ac-
Shannon, Alice, 213, 221
Shannon, Emma, marriage of, 58;
mentioned, 19, 26. See also
Shannon, Lavinia, works in hospital,
124; mentioned, 153, 220
Shannon, Marmaduke, appeals for
food, 101; suspends publication,
109; implores planters to raise food,
134; servants leave, 211; mentioned,
24, 25, 48, 50, 59, 85, 108, 153,
Sherman, William, at Milliken's Bend.
130; at Chickasaw Bluffs, 131;
nears city, 136
Siege, of city, begins, 107; cave life
during, 173, 185-86; of city, ends,
Silver Wave, on Yazoo, 155; men-
tioned, 35-36, 37, 40
Sisters of Mercy, convent of, 8;
novitiates of, 44; close convent, 102
"Sky Parlor," 144
Smedes, Charles E., 84
Smedes, William C, called Unionist,
Smith, Martin Luther, general in
charge of defense, 8 1 ; refuses sur-
render, 91; inspects city, 95
Smith, Mrs. I. O., 14
Smuggling, of contraband, 133; of
cotton, 134-35. See also Profiteer-
Society, strata of, 20
Soldiers, conduct of, 134, 139-40;
entertainment of, 125; rob civilians,
156; beg food, 186; foraging by,
195; looting by Union, 205
Songs, popular, 55; of slaves, 155;
taught children by soldiers, 185
Southern Railroad, 76, 127
Stephens, Alexander, 44
Stevenson, Mary Jane, 54
Stone, Kate, 52, 58, 85, 95, 124, 125,
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 135
Surrender, of city, 200
Swords, J. W., 16, 28, 42, 45, 51, 55,
56, 172, 187, 198, 199, 221
Taney, Roger B., 52
Thomas, Samuel, 213
Tompkins, Charles B., 203, 206
Transportation, railroads listed, 11;
ferry, 11; for emigrants, 76; ef-
fected by gunboats, 102; railroads
forbidden civilians, 127; military
use of, 138n; mentioned, 12, 154
Travis, John, captain, 54
Treatment, of Confederates, post-
Trotter, Ida, 190
Tunnard, William, 180
Unionism, reasons for, 26; and mass
meeting, 27; in state convention,
28n; wanes, 31; newspapers sup-
plied to fleet 103; sympathizers dis-
cussed, 103-4; mentioned, 23, 25,
29, 55, 57, 59. See also Arthur,
Alexander; Burwell, Arthur; Wilkin-
son, R. A.
Van Dorn, Earl, major general, com-
mands in southern Mississippi, 108;
declares martial law, 110; publicly
apologizes, 111; telegraphs Davis,
Vick, C. W., 13, 14
Vick, Newitt, death of, 6; mentioned,
Victory, celebrated by Union, 104-7
Volunteers, 42, 45, 49-51
Wailes, Benjamin, L. C., 77
Warfare, naval, Trent, 64; canal dig-
ging, 97; Arkansas, 98, 113-16;
Union rams listed, 105; bombard-
ment begins, 107; Indianola, 140
Warren Artillery, 53
Warren Female Academy, 58
War spirit, pre-siege, 48, 51, 59, 66,
79, 81; decay of, 134; doubt of
victory, 148-49; analyzed, 166; dur-
ing siege, 172-73, 175-76; daunt-
lessness of civilians, 182; break-
down of, 197-98; mentioned, 143
Washington Hotel, 47, 121, 137
Water, scarcity of, 181
Walkinson, R. S., points out Union-
Watts, William O., 151
Wells, Gideon, 115
Wells, Seth, 168, 202, 203
Wliig, debate with Mississippian, 85;
Wilcox, Charles, 204
Wilkie, Franc, correspondent, 151,
Women, as servants, 19; war work of,
53-54; as nurses, 54; in war effort,
68; spur enlistments, 104; in hos-
pital, 124; war spirit of, 125, 160,
175-76; make cartridges, 172
Woods, Thomas, 30
Yazoo, opened to settlers, 6; flooded,