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Siege of Jackson, Mississippi
July 10 to 16, 1863
as described by the New York Times, August 1, 1863
Web Author's Notes:
The following is an article from The New-York Times, dated August 1, 1863, describing the siege and fall of Jackson, Mississippi, July 10 to 17, 1863

The New York Times

THE CAPTURE OF JACKSON.; Particulars of the Brief Siege--Our Forces at Work Destroying the Railroads--Gen. Lauman's Blunder.
Published: August 1, 1863

Correspondence of the Chicago Times.

JACKSON, Miss., Friday, July 17, 1863.

The siege of Jackson, if such any may term it, was brought to a sudden termination about daylight this morning, by the discovery by our advance skirmishers that the batteries which frowned from the enemys' works the evening before had been removed. A reconnaissance revealed the fact that, under cover of the night, Gen. JOHNSTON had evacuated the place, taking with him his sick and wounded, his artillery, and almost everything else of value. The work of evacuation was commenced about dark on the evening of the 16th, and conducted noiselessly and rapidly until about 3 o'clock this morning, when JOHNSTON's rear guard withdrew across the river, and set the three floating bridges on fire.

The stand of JOHNSTON at this place was probably made to give time for the removal of large quantities of Government stores. Ever since our army commenced moving eastward from Vicksburgh every train has been loaded to its utmost capacity. JOHNSTON was probably informed of the arrival of SHERMAN's ammunition train last night, and consigned the remainder of the Government stores to the flames. The large brick block almost west of the State House, and adjoining to the north the block destroyed by our forces at the previous occupation of the city, was filled with stores of the Confederate army. As the rear guard left the city it fired this block of buildings in two or three different places. The burning buildings made it as light as day in our camp. Nearly every one surmised that JOHNSTON was evacuating, and the opinion prevailed that he was destroying the whole city.

As soon as it was rendered certain that the place was evacuated, crowds of soldiers marched into the city, despite orders against straggling, and commenced plundering the houses and stores of citizens. Most of the officers endeavored to prevent this indiscriminate plundering, and soon succeeded in comparatively putting an end to it.

The only pieces of artillery left by JOHNSTON in his retreat were two 64-pound rifled siege guns. One of them was uninjured, but the other had been dismounted by our batteries and a trunnion knocked off. It had been propped up, however, in the capacity of a "Quaker," in its old position. But the "religious silence" it maintained, however, for some days, led our boys to suspect that something was wrong with it.

Some forty or fifty railroad cars and a small quantity of cotton were left in the city, and fell into the hands of our forces.

The rebels bad been busily at work in the construction of a temporary bridge across the Pearl River. The timbers for the purpose had all been framed, and half of the structure already put up. The piers of the old bridge were being used in the construction of the new one. The work was left just as the mechanics had discontinued it.

All the railroad track inside the city limits, which had been torn up by our troops on the occasion of their visit in May last, had been relaid.

The rebel works for the defence of Jackson consisted of a very formidable line of rifle-pits around three sides of the city, and at about a mile's distance from it. At intervals along this line splendid turf-works had been constructed, which were pronounced models of engineering. These forts were embrasured for a large number of field-pieces, and two or three contained, en barbette, large 64-pound rifled siege guns. One of these was located in the works on the north of the city, and the other on the west, commanding the regular Vicksburgh road. It was the latter gun which was dismounted, and permanently injured in the loss of a trunnion, by our batteries. The line of rifle-pits was constructed in that zig-zag course which brings the approaches to almost every part of the line under an enfilading fire from those parts not assailed. The timber and undergrowth had been removed for several hundred yards in front of the rebel lines, in order to give them a sweeping fire for a long distance. These trees were left lying where they fell, presenting an obstruction which would have rendered the approach of an assaulting party quite slow, and crowded the men much together. The ground was greatly undulating, as I wrote you before. But, although not steep, the ascent could not have been carried without a terrible loss of life. They were so near level as to obviate all danger of over-shooting, and the peculiar hardness and formation of the ground were particularly favorable to ricochet shots. The batteries and long lines of rifle-pits could have enfiladed and swept the wide, open space in front with a murderous fire. It is well that an assault was not ordered.

JOHNSTON, in retreating, took the road to Meridian, the junction of the Mobile and Ohio with the railroad running east from Jackson. Here a stand can be made, or he can fall back on Mobile or Montgomery. Meridian is six miles south of Marlon, which you will find laid down on all the old maps; it is about one hundred miles east of Jackson, and twenty from the Alabama line. This is a virtual surrender of Mississippi to our forces, even if JOHNSTON withdraws no further than Meridian.

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