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Thomas W. Knox
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about Camp-Fire and Cotton-Field.

The history of that first siege of Vicksburg can be briefly told.  Twenty-five hundred infantry, under General Williams, accompanied the fleet from New Orleans, with the design of occupying Vicksburg after the batteries had been silenced by our artillery.  Most of the Rebel guns were located at such a height that it was found impossible to elevate our own guns so as to reach them.  Thus the occupation by infantry was found impracticable.  The passage of the batteries was followed by the bombardment, from the mortar-schooners of Admiral Farragut’s fleet and the mortar-rafts which Flag-Officer Davis had brought down.  This continued steadily for several days, but Vicksburg did not fall.

A canal across the peninsula was proposed and commenced.  The water fell as fast as the digging progressed, and the plan of leaving Vicksburg inland was abandoned for that time.  Even had there been a flood in the river, the entrance to the canal was so located that success was impossible.  The old steamboat-men laughed at the efforts of the Massachusetts engineer, to create a current in his canal by commencing it in an eddy.

Just as the canal project was agreed upon, I was present at a conversation between General Williams and several residents of the vicinity.  The latter, fearing the channel of the river would be changed, visited the general to protest against the carrying out of his plan.

The citizens were six in number.  They had selected no one to act as their leader.  Each joined in the conversation as he saw fit.  After a little preliminary talk, one of them said: 

“Are you aware, general, there is no law of the State allowing you to make a cut-off, here?”

“I am sorry to say,” replied General Williams, “I am not familiar with the laws of Louisiana.  Even if I were, I should not heed them.  I believe Louisiana passed an act of secession.  According to your own showing you have no claims on the Government now.”

This disposed of that objection.  There was some hesitation, evidently embarrassing to the delegation, but not to General Williams.  Citizen number one was silenced.  Number two advanced an idea.

“You may remember, General, that you will subject the parish of Madison to an expenditure of ninety thousand dollars for new levees.”

This argument disturbed General Williams no more than the first one.  He promptly replied: 

“The parish of Madison gave a large majority in favor of secession; did it not?”

“I believe it did,” was the faltering response.

“Then you can learn that treason costs something.  It will cost you far more before the war is over.”

Citizen number two said nothing more.  It was the opportunity for number three to speak.

“If this cut-off is made, it will ruin the trade of Vicksburg.  It has been a fine city for business, but this will spoil it.  Boats will not be able to reach the town, but will find all the current through the short route.”

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