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Monday, May 05, 2008

FRIDAY, MAY 8, 1863

Sherman’s Corp, at last on the Mississippi side of the river, force marches from Grand Gulf all the way to Harkinson’s Ferry, almost 20 miles in a single day. General McClernand’s Corps advances to the Big Sandy Creek. And General McPherson’s Corps is edging toward Utica, Mississippi.

James Birdseye McPherson was a life long soldier, a superb engineer, and universally liked and admired by his peers. He graduated from West Point in 1853, (his roommate was John Bell Hood) and he then designed defenses for New York City and Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. His civil war service began at Forts Henry and Donelson, and after the Battle of Shiloh he was promoted to major General, all under General Grant. He was loved by his troops, and asked no more from them than he himself was willing to risk. A fierce unionist and patriot, McPherson would later answer those who criticized his compassion for suffering Southerners in Vicksburg by saying, “When the time comes that to be a soldier, a man must forget…the claims of humanity, I do not want to be a soldier.”

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