GRANT’S OCCUPATION OF MISSISSIPPI.
The Slavery Question.—A Generous Offer.—A
Modesty.—Hopes of the Mississippians at the Beginning of the
War.—Visiting an Editress.—Literature under Difficulties.—Jacob
Thompson and his Correspondence.—Plans for the Capture of
Vicksburg.—Movements of General Sherman.—The Raid upon Holly
Springs.—Forewarned, but not Forearmed.—A Gallant Fight.
The people of Holly Springs were much excited over the slavery question. It was then early in December. The President’s proclamation was to have its effect on all States, or portions of States, not represented in Congress on the first of January following. The slaveholders desired to have the northern district of Mississippi represented in Congress before the first of January.
Three or four days after my arrival at Holly Springs I was with a small party of citizens to whom I had received introduction. The great question was being discussed. All were agreed that Northern Mississippi should be represented in Congress at whatever cost.
“Grant has now been in Mississippi nearly two weeks,” said the principal speaker; “we are clearly entitled to representation.”
“Certainly we are,” responded another; “but who will represent us?”
“Hold an election to-morrow, and choose our man.”
“Who will we send? None of us would be received. There isn’t a man in the district who could swear he has taken no part in the Rebellion.”
“I have it,” said the individual who first proposed an election. Turning to me, he made a somewhat novel proposition:
“You can represent us in Congress. We’ve all been so d——d disloyal that we can’t go; but that is no reason why we should not send a loyal men. Say yes, and we’ll meet to-morrow, a dozen of us, and elect you.”
Here was an opportunity for glory. Only four days in a State from which I could go to Congress! I was offered all necessary credentials to insure my reception. My loyalty could be clearly and easily proved. My only duties would be to assist in fastening slavery upon my congressional district. Much as I felt honored at the offer of distinction, I was obliged to decline it. A similar proposition was made to another journalist. He, like myself, was governed by modesty, and begged to be excused from serving.
The desire of this people to be represented in Congress, was a partial proof that they expected the national authority restored throughout the country. They professed to believe that our occupation would be temporary, but their actions did not agree with their words.
They were greatly mortified at the inability of their army to oppose our advance, and frequently abused the Rebel Government without stint. They had anticipated an easy victory from the outset, and were greatly disappointed at the result, up to that time.