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Gen. Sherman Opens Upon Vicksburg.


January and February 1863

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 5, 1863.


Gen. Steele and Gunboats Attack Rebel Batteries on the Yazoo.



[Special Correspondence to the Missouri Democrat.]

HELENA, ARK., Dec. 27, 1862.

The Rocket, sent down last week with dispatches from General Curtis to General Sherman, has just returned. General Gorman sent a guard with the boat, commanded by Captain Cairn, of the 11th Indiana volunteers. Lieut. Dickinson was the bearer of dispatches from General Curtis, and seems to be a man who would face danger fearlessly.

It appears that the Federal fleet ascended “Old river” eight miles to the mouth of the Yazoo, and advancing up the Yazoo three miles, debarked immediately in the rear of Vicksburg. General Sherman opened the attack on Saturday, driving the rebels before him for some distance. A bayou and swamps intervening, about one mile and a half from the town, somewhat delayed our advance, but pontoons were prepared and the attack was renewed with great spirit on Sunday morning. Lieut. Dickinson reports that as the Rocket descended the river on Sunday morning the fire of musketry and cannon was incessant. It commenced as early as four o’clock and continued as long as the boat remained within hearing. It is believed that Gen. Sherman succeeded in entering the town on Sunday.

General Steele, with our gunboats, it appears, was sent further up the Yazoo to reduce a fort which the rebels have erected upon the river. Nothing satisfactory was heard from General Steele up to the departure of the Rocket.

Captain Gwinn, of the Benton, was sent in command of the gunboats to co-operate with General Steele. Owing to the narrowness of the stream, the Benton was the only boat that could be brought within range of the rebel battery. While on deck in front of the pilot house, looking through his eye-glass, Captain Gwinn was struck in the breast by a solid shot, and is supposed to be mortally wounded.

On Sunday morning he was, however, reported “cheerful,” and hopes were entertained of his recovery. We can illy spare officers like Capt. Gwin[n]. He is a brave and efficient commander, and his death would be universally deplored by his host of friends and admirers in navy and army. There seems to be no attempt upon Vicksburg from the river as yet. It is reported here this morning that Fort Hudson had been reduced. An Ohio regiment is reported to have suffered severely in the Saturday fight before Vicksburg.


The Blue Wing and Home were sent down the river last week with ordnance stores, mail, and two coal barges for our fleet.

At Napoleon they were fired upon by guerrillas, and the Blue Wing immediately cut loose from her barges and ran into shore and surrendered.

It is reported that this boat was manned by “secesh sympathizers” and was a willing captive. She was taken up the Arkansas with her stores and sixteen bags of mail for Sherman’s army. The Home was burned.

Why these boats were not guarded, or by whose authority they were sent, I am not informed. It is probable that they were ordered by General Sherman to follow on after the fleet. It appears that they followed at two [sic] great a distance.

General Gorman returned last night from his jaunt down the river. He was interrupted by rebel batteries upon the river near Laconia, and did not succeed in reaching Napoleon. He picked up several of the crew of the Blue Wing, who had escaped from the hands of the rebels. These men reported that the rebels have removed several guns from the “Arkansas Port” to points on the Mississippi River, with a view of blockading the river.