JULY 2018

JULY 2018
One Hundred Years Later, Same Message. 1916 - 2017


Tuesday, April 29, 2008


At Chancellorsville Clearing, on Virginia's Rapidan River, after a day of tentative fighting, Lee, with just 12,000 men, manages to hold off Hooker’s 70,000 man army. Then, at about 4:30PM Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, leading 28,000 men on a long sweeping march, falls on the left flank and rear of the Union Army like a sledgehammer, taking 4,000 prisoners before they even have time to form a line of battle. Jackson's men drive the Union troops back two miles before darkness finally brings the fight to a close. It is an overwhelming Confederate victory, confirmed even to the confused General Hooker after two more days of indecisive fighting. But the triumph is darkened by tragedy for the South even before the assault begins. As the 18th North Carolina Infantry Reg. prepares to advance they spot what might be Federal Cavalry to their front and challenge them. The reply is unclear and the regiment fires a volley. But it is not Union cavalry to their front but General Jackson and his staff planning his masterstroke. Many of the staff members and their horses are killed, and Jackson is wounded three times. He is carried from the field on a stretcher.

In Mississippi, in the morning, Col. Grierson’s men cross Sandy Creek, where they surprise and capture a small detachment of Rebel Cavalry. Further on they surprise and capture 40 more Confederate cavalrymen. Six miles out side of Baton Rouge Grierson calls a halt for his weary men – and himself. He relaxes by playing the organ in a local church (he was a music teacher before the war), until he is informed of approaching cavalry. It is Union troopers. Grierson has reached the Union lines, and his raid has ended. Over 16 crucial days Grierson’s two regiments have covered 600 miles of Rebel territory, destroyed an estimated 50 miles of RR track, and distracted all of Pemberton’s cavalry and almost a third of his infantry, all at the exact moment Grant is moving to gain the Eastern bank of the Mississippi. And all of this was achieved for a cost to Grieson's men of three dead, seven wounded and nine men missing. The lack of Confederate Cavalry at the battle of Port Gibson allowed General Bowman’s men to be outflanked, and for that reason alone, the raid is an unqualified success. But Grierson also learned a fundamental lesson in the raid, a lesson that Grant was about to learn as well, a lesson that would shape the course of the war over the next year and a half; as Grierson observed upon his return – “The Confederacy is hollow”.

Grant’s troops enter Port Gibson in the morning and immediately begin rebuilding the Bayou Pierre Bridge, dismantling the town’s buildings for wood. Now reinforced to almost two full corps, the troops push ahead eight miles up the road to Grand Gulf by nightfall.

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