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7 Series I Volume XV- Serial 21 - Baton Rouge-Natchez

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Page 7 Chapter XXVII. VICKSBURG, MISS., AND BATON ROUGE, LA.

and its defenses to the lawful authority of the United States, under which private property and personal rights will be respected.

Very respectfully,

S. PHILLIPS LEE, U. S. N.

Commanding Advance of Naval Division.

T. WILLIAMS,

Brigadier-General.

The subjoined reply was returned:


HEADQUARTERS, Vicskburg, May 18, 1862

PHILIPS LEE, U. S. N.,
Commanding Advance of Naval Division:

SIR; Your communication of this date, addressed to the authorities of Vicksburg, demanding the surrender of the city and its defenses, has been received. In regard to the surrender of the defenses, I have to reply that, having been ordered here to hold these defenses, my intention is to do so as long as it is in my power.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

M. L. SMITH,

Brigadier-General, Commanding.

I remark here that the citizens of the town had with great unanimity made up their minds that its possession ought to be maintained at all hazards even though total demolition should be the result. This determination was enthusiastically concurred in by persons of all ages and both sexes and borne to my ears from every quarter. Thus cheered on and upheld the defense became an affair of more than public interest, and the approving sentiments of those so deeply interested unquestionably had its influence on the ultimate result as affairs stand to-day. Our cause probably needed an example of this kind, and assuredly a bright one has been given.

The inhabitants had been advised to leave the city when the smoke of the ascending gunboats was first seen,under the impression that the enemy would open fire immediately on arrival; hence the above demand found the city sparsely populated and somewhat prepared for an attack, although when it really commenced there were numbers still to depart, besides many who had determined to remain and take the chances of escaping unharmed, a few of whom absolutely endured to the end. As bearing immediately upon the defense of this place, measures had also been taken to push the Arkansas to completion. It was reported that the contractor had virtually suspended work; that mechanics and workmen were leaving; that supplies were wanting; finally, that a very considerable quantity of iron prepared for covering her had been sunk in the Yazoo River. Steps were taken to promptly furnish mechanics and supplies, and a bell-boat being obtained and sent up to the spot, the prepared iron was soon recovered. It was considered fortunate that soon after this Captain Brown was assigned to the duty of completing the boat, as after this important work gave me no further concern.

The enemy remained apparently inactive until the 26th during which time the advance division of the fleet was joined by other gunboats, making ten in all. My force had in the mean time been increased by the Twentieth and Twenty-eighth Louisiana Volunteers numbering for duty some 500 each, by five companies of Starke's cavalry, one battery Withers' artillery, Captain Ridley, and four companies Sixth Mississippi Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour; but all new troops, just mustered into service, and indifferently armed. These were thrown forward toward Warrenton, and disposed for disputing inch by the approach by land. This force was subsequently increased by the Fourth and Fifth Louisiana.


Page 7 Chapter XXVII. VICKSBURG, MISS., AND BATON ROUGE, LA.

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