Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Siege of Port Hudson

(Note: this will be my last entry for a while. Thanks for your interest)

For 48 days in 1863, Confederate troops defended a fort that stood on top of a bluff above the Mississippi River; for all of those 48 days, Federal soldiers pummeled the Southerners with cannon shot and rifle fire.

Finally, just five days after the Confederates were defeated at Vicksburg, Port Hudson surrendered to the Union. With these two victories, the North could finally claim undisputed control of the Mississippi River.

Here is a letter from Sgt. Maxson after that battle:

Camp Parapet
July 10th 1863

Dear Father,

Port Hudson is ours! General Gardner surrendered to his old school mate General Banks on the morning of the 8th of July, and on the morning of the 9th we made our triumphal march into the rebel stronghold, and took possession of the fortifications, prisoners and everything therein. I can't tell exactly the number of prisoners or the number of guns, as General Banks has not issued the orders to us yet, but as near as we can judge there is about 3500 fighting men and citizens and all included, and about 60 pieces of artillery and 10 siege guns, a greater part of which are disabled.
The enlisted men are to be paroled, but the officers are to be sent north and held as prisoners of war.

They surrendered just in time to save us another desperate charge as there would have been another assault made on the 9th led by the volunteer storming columns. We should have taken it without doubt but there would have been a very heavy loss.

But you better believe me we're satisfied to have the privilege of marching in uncontested. They might have held out 10 days longer if we had left them alone, but their rations were gone.

Vicksburg surrendered on the evening of the 4th of July. The Great Father of Waters is free. One mighty stride toward crushing the rebellion has been taken, and now I can go home satisfied, feeling my time has come."

Note: Sgt. Maxson, was promoted to Lieutenant after that battle, returned home, and died on
March 16, 1864 " age 22, of a disease contracted in that memorable siege.


Ginnie said...

Your postscript gave me chills, Bud. It's just another example of the loss of so many of our brave youngsters who step up to fight for all the poor decisions that their elders make. I HATE war in all it's dimensions and wonder how much this young man could have accomplished had he had the opportunity to live!
Thanks for sharing these very personal letters.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Again, another wonderful letter that you so generously shared with us..! THak you Bud for posting these really amazing letters.

I hope you are okay...I was disturbed to read that you won't be posting for a while and also that you have been out of touch. Is everything okay? Do let me know if you can.