Thayer's Approach to the Confederate Line

From the Siege of Vicksburg Official Reports of Capts. Frederick E. Prime and Cyrus B. Comstock, U.S. Corps of Engineers, Chief Engineers Army of the Tennessee. New York City, November 29, 1863

The following were the principal approaches made during the siege, beginning at our own right, some of them being begun after the siege was half over, viz: 1st, Thayer's; 2d, Ewing's; 3d, Giles A. Smith's 4th, Ransom's; 5th, Logan's; 6th, A. J. Smith's; 7th, Carr's; 8th, Hovey's; 9th, Lauman's; 10th, Herron's.

These approaches derived their names from the brigade or division commanders who furnished the guards and working parties. The 2d of these was along what was called the Graveyard road; the 5th along the Jackson road; the 6th along the Baldwin's Ferry road; the 7th along the railroad; the 9th on the Hall's Ferry road, and the 10th on the Warrenton road. The 2d, or Ewing's approach, was directed against the northeast angle of the enemy's line, where that line, bending around the ravines at the head of a small stream, takes the form of a bastion. This approach, early begun, was the principal one in front of Sherman's corps, and with collateral work was that on which he expended most labor.

On the Jackson road, where it enters the enemy's line of defense, is a commanding hill, quite strongly salient, which had on it a redan for several guns. The ridge along which the Jackson road runs offered fair ground, and along it McPherson pushed his main approach--the one earliest begun and on which his corps did most work. A.J. Smith and Carr pushed approaches toward salient works, called by the Confederates Forts Pulaski and Beauregard, one to the right, the other to the left of the railroad. Hovey's approach on the square redoubt was not begun until late in the siege. The three last approaches were in front of McClernand's (afterward Ord's) corps.

There was another approach begun by Colonels Woods and Maurer to the right of Thayer's, and near the river. After the work had been energetically pushed by these officers, it met a deep ravine, precluding farther progress. As this approach would not have been used in an assault, it has not been mentioned in the previous enumeration. A brief history of the approaches above mentioned may be of some interest.

This approach commenced near the crest of a ridge, ran down the slope which was toward the enemy, and then up the opposite slope of the ravine, toward the ridge on which the salient approached was situated. As it was difficult to defile this approach, blinding was resorted to. Fascines made of cane were used; these, being placed across the trench, which was about 6 feet deep, formed a roof which hid the movements of our men, and, where well constructed, was impenetrable to musket balls. Artillery, of course, would have soon destroyed it, but the enemy did not use this arm against it. This approach was sharply resisted by the enemy, who came Outside of their line, and had to be driven from the ground they occupied before the work could be pushed forward. When near the salient approached, the officer in charge of the approach thought he heard the enemy's miners at work. Accordingly, work in the sap was stopped, and a mine begun, which was not yet complete when the place surrendered. This approach was under the superintendence of Captain [Herman] Klostermann, who commanded the efficient pioneer company of Steele's division.  Top of page

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