For two days more the tide of battle ebbed and flowed; but always against the Federals in the end, till, broken, bewildered, and disheartened, they retired as best they could. Lee was unable to pursue. Longstreet's men were still missing; and so were many supplies that should have been forwarded from Richmond. There the Government clung to the fond belief that this mere victory had won the war, and that pursuit was useless. Thus Lee's last chance of crushing the invaders was taken from him by his friends.
At the same time the Southern cause suffered another irreparable loss; but in this case at the purely accidental hands of Southern men. Jackson's staff, suddenly emerging from a thicket as the first night closed in, was mistaken for Federal cavalry and shot down. Jackson himself was badly wounded in three places and carried from the field. He never heard the rebel yell again. Next Sunday, when the staff-surgeon told him that he could not possibly live through the night, he simply answered: "Very good, very good; it is all right." Presently he asked Major Pendleton what chaplain was preaching at headquarters. "Mr. Lacy, sir; and the whole army is praying for you." "Thank God," said Jackson, "they are very kind to me." A little later, rousing himself as if from sleep, he called out: "Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front! Tell Major Hawks--" There his strength failed him. But after a pause he said quietly, "Let us cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees." And with these words he died.
CHAPTER VII. GRANT WINS THE RIVER WAR: 1863
We have seen already how the River War of '89 ended in a double failure of the Federal advance on Vicksburg: how Grant and Sherman, aided by the flanking force from Helena in Arkansas, failed to catch Pemberton along the Tallahatchie; and then how Sherman alone, moving down the Mississippi, was defeated by Pemberton at Chickasaw Bayou, just outside of Vicksburg.
Leaving Memphis for good, Grant took command in the field again on the thirtieth of January. His army was strung out along seventy miles of the Mississippi just north of Vicksburg, so hard was it to find enough firm ground. The first important move was made when, in Grant's own words, "the entire Army of the Tennessee was transferred to the neighborhood of Vicksburg and landed on the opposite or western bank of the river at Milliken's Bend."
Grant, everywhere in touch with Admiral D. D. Porter's fleet and plentifully supplied with water transport of all kinds, thus commanded the peninsula or tongue of low land-round which the mighty river took its course in the form of an elongated U right opposite Vicksburg. His farthest north base was still at Cairo; and the whole line of the Mississippi above him was effectively held by Union forces afloat and ashore. Four hundred miles south lay Farragut and Banks, preparing for an attack on Port Hudson and intent on making junction with the Union forces above.
Two bad generals stood very much in Grant's way, one on either side of him in rank--McClernand, his own second-in-command, and Banks, his only senior in the Mississippi area. McClernand presently found rope enough to hang himself. Our old friend Banks, who had not yet learnt the elements of war, though schooled by Stonewall Jackson, never got beyond Port Hudson, and so could not spoil Grant's command in addition to his own. Fortunately, besides Sherman and other professional soldiers of quite exceptional ability, Grant had three of the best generals who ever came from civil life: Logan, Blair, and Crocker. Logan shed all the vices, while keeping all the virtues, of the lawyer when he took up arms. Blair knew how to be one man as an ambitious politician and another as a general in the field. Crocker was in consumption, but determined to die in his boots and do his military best for the Union service first. The personnel of the army was mostly excellent all through. The men were both hardy and handy as a rule, being to a large extent farmers, teamsters, railroad and steamboat men, well fitted to meet the emergencies of the severe and intricate Vicksburg campaign.
Throughout this campaign the army and navy of the Union worked together as a single amphibious force. Grant's own words are no mere compliment, but the sober statement of a fact. "The navy, under Porter, was all it could be during the entire campaign. Without its assistance the campaign could not have been successfully made with twice the number of men engaged. It could not have been made at all, in the way it was, with any number of men, without such assistance. The most perfect harmony reigned between the two arms of the Service. There never was a request made, that I am aware of, either of the Flag-Officer or any of his subordinates, that was not promptly complied with." And what is true of Porter is at least as true of Farragut, who was the greater man and the senior of every one afloat.