Monday, December 26, 2011

May As Well Lose Them Here

The opening engagement of the Vicksburg Campaign, the Battle of Chickasaw Bayou was fought December 26th through the 29th of 1862.

Union Major General Ulysses S Grant started a campaign in November 1862 to capture the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He spilt his army of 70,000 men into two wings, commanding one himself and placing the other under Major General William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman wing was authorized as the XV Corps of the Army of the Tennessee on December 22nd 1862.  He organized his troops into four divisions under Brigadier Generals George W Morgan, Andrew Jackson Smith, Morgan L Smith and Frederick Steele.  Sherman’s men disembarked on the Yazoo River at Johnson’s Plantation on December 24th 1862

On December 26th 1862 Sherman deployed three brigades to make a reconnaissance of the Confederate defenses around Chickasaw Bayou.  The ground was ruff and swampy.  They skirmished with Confederate Stephen D Lee’s men.

Sherman ordered an artillery attack on December 29th 1862 to weaken Confederate defenses.  It went on for about four hour, but didn’t do much damage.  At about 11 am the Union troops deployed into lines of battle.  Sherman knew it was going to be hard fighting and said, "We will lose 5,000 men before we take Vicksburg, and may as well lose them here as anywhere else."

The assault started at noon.  Union troops crossed water barriers and other obstacles, moving forward against the Confederates by the force of sheer numbers.  Once they reached the main Confederate line and came under heavy fire the Union line began to crumble.  Sherman’s men fell back on a corduroy bridge.  Confederate General Lee made a counterattack, capturing a number of battle flags and 332 Union soldiers.

After another day of fighting Sherman decided fighting more in the same location would be pointless.  The Union saw 1,776 casualties.

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