A Woman's Diary of the Siege of Vicksburg
The Siege, July
July 1st,— Some months ago, thinking it might be useful, I obtained from the consul of my birthplace, by sending to another town, a passport for foreign parts. H—— said if we went out to the lines we might be permitted to get through on that. So we packed the trunks, got a carriage, and on the 30th drove out there. General V— offered us seats in his tent. The rifle-bullets were whizzing so zip, zip from the sharp-shooters on the Federal lines that involuntarily I moved on my chair. He said, ”Don't be alarmed; you are out of range. They are firing at our mules yonder.” His horse, tied by the tent door, was quivering all over, the most intense exhibition of fear I'd ever seen in an animal. General V—— sent out a flag of truce to the Federal headquarters, and while we waited wrote on a piece of silk paper a few words. Then he said, “My wife is in Tennessee. If you get through the lines, send her this. They will search you, so I will put it in this toothpick.” He crammed the silk paper info a quill toothpick, and handed it to H——. It was completely concealed. The flag-of-truce officer came back flushed and angry. "General Grant says no human being shall pass out of Vicksburg; but the lady may feel sure danger will soon be over. Vicksburg will surrender on the 4th."
"Is that so, general?” inquired H——. “Are arrangements for surrender made?”
“We know nothing of the kind. Vicksburg will not surrender."
“Those were General Grant's exact words, sir,” said the flag-officer. “Of course it is nothing but their brag."
We went back sadly enough, but to-day H— says he will cross the river to General Porter's lines and try there; I shall not be disappointed.
July 3d.— H— was going to headquarters for the
requisite pass, and he saw General Pemberton crawling out of a cave, for
the shelling has been as hot as ever. He got the pass, but did not act
with his usual caution, for the boat he secured was a miserable, leaky one
—a mere trough. Leaving Martha in charge, we went to the river, had our
trunks put in the boat, and embarked; but the boat became utterly
unmanageable, and began to fill with water rapidly. H— saw that we could
not cross in it and turned to come back; yet in spite of that the pickets
at the battery fired on us. H— raised the white flag he had, yet they
fired again, and I gave a cry of horror that none of these dreadful things
had wrung from me. I thought H— was struck. When we landed H—— showed the
pass, and said that the officer had told him the battery would be notified
we were to cross. The officer apologized and said they were not notified.
He furnished a cart to get home, and to-day we are down in the cellar
again, shells flying as thick as ever. Provisions so nearly gone, except
the hogshead of sugar, that a few more days will bring us to starvation
indeed. Martha says rats are hanging dressed in the market for sale with
mule meat,— there is nothing else. The officer at the battery told me he
had eaten one yesterday. We have tried to leave this Tophet and failed,
and if the siege continues I must summon that higher kind of courage—
moral bravery— to subdue my fears of possible mutilation.
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Page last edited 06/27/2009