Thursday, November 24, 2016

Diary of Sergeant George G. Smith: July 7, 1863

This was the gloomest day to me I remember since the war begun. But it need not have been so, bad I known the true condition of affairs. As I saw it then the situation was as follows. General Banks had been besieging Port Hudson about six weeks with no better prospect so far as I could see of taking it than when the siege first begun and so far as I knew Vicksburg was in about the same condition. Besides a large army from Texas and Arkansas had occupied all the territory in Western Louisiana and the Red river we had conquered, planted their batteries on the Mississippi river ten miles below cutting off communication with New Orleans and were besieging Fort Butler at Donaldson, threatening to cross the river and attact Banks in rear of Port Hudson. No wonder I felt blue. A steamboat came from Baton Rouge for the four companies of the First Louisiana and they were on board at 10 a. m. We had proceeded about six miles up the river, when we received a volley of musketry from the shore. There was a small six pound mountain Howetzer on the cabin deck with which we opened on them with shells, besides a lively play of musketry. A shell happened to burst inside a house where they had taken refuge and they were last seen fleeing to the cornfields in the rear. Off against, Plaquimine, an ocean steamer, the St. Mary passed and hailed us but we did not understand what she said. She was at Baton Rouge when we arrived. We asked them what they had tried to tell us and they replied “Vicksburg had fallen.” Helo: this was a bright beam of light let in through the dark clouds of our hopes. The soldiers sent up cheer after cheer in the exurberance of their joy. But some felt that it was too good to be true. On arriving at Springfield Landing the news was confirmed. Staid here all night.

SOURCE: Abstracted from George G. Smith, Leaves from a Soldier's Diary, p. 85-7

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