Monday, 18 May 1863
SIEGE OF VICKSBURG BEGINS
One of the great campaigns of military history came to an end as Grant’s triumphant Federal army moved across the Big Black River, took Haynes’ Bluff, and began to invest Vicksburg. Confederate Major General Pemberton was ordered by General Johnston to evacuate the city. Considering the problems related to getting out with the effect of losing such a position and after council with his officers, he decided to stay. The siege had begun.
Gunboats under Rear Admiral Porter and troops under Generals Grant and Sherman assaulted Confederate works to the rear of Vicksburg.
Minor fighting elsewhere included affairs at Hog Island, Bates County, MO and near Cheneyville, LA. Skirmishes broke out near Island No. 82 Above Greenville, MS and on Horn Lake Creek, TN. Operations lasting a day or two occurred around Fayetteville, WV and near Merritt’s Plantation on the Bayou Sara Road, LA.
President Davis called for civilians and militia to join General Joseph E. Johnston in Mississippi. He urged Johnston to link up with Pemberton and attack the enemy.
In Britain’s House of Lords, debate on decisions of the American prize courts brought demands that Britain actively defend the rights of her ship owners. Lord Russell said that the Crown found no objections to the prize courts’ proceedings and that Britain had no wish to interfere in the American Civil War.
The West Florida Seminary of Tallahassee has procured the services of a man as principal for next fall. The school will open about the first of October. In making this announcement, “the Florida Sentinel says the cause of education, in common with other enterprises, must necessarily languish during the continuance of the war, but no matter to what extremities we may be driven, we sincerely hope that the doors of the School House will under no circumstances be entirely closed. However, hard the pressure may be, however, imperious the necessity, there are other sacrifices which we can afford to make better than the School House. We are, therefore, for the sake of the youth of our city and adjacent country, anxious to see the doors of the Seminary reopen, and happy to learn the trustees have consummated arrangements in regard to it, which promise better things for the future.” The paper says the legislature at its next session must make it one “of the primary objects of its policy and deliberation to provide ways and means to educate the poor children who have been made orphans by this cruel and unnatural war.”
The Clerk of the Tallahassee Council announces that henceforth “no citizen will … be allowed to remove slaves who are ill, to any premises located out of town at the expense of the City without permission from the Intendent.”
The USS Huntsville today captured the blockade running Spanish steamer Union in the Gulf of Mexico west of St. Petersburg. Her papers show that she is out of Havana bound for Mexico, but from every indication she was planning to run the blockade into Mobile.
The USS DeSoto today captured the Confederate schooner Mississippian with 187 bales of cotton and four barrels of turpentine in the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard were six persons, “not one of whom would acknowledge himself to be her master, not one among them at first would admit he spoke or comprehended English.” She is enroute to Key West for adjudication.
USS Linden escorted 5 Army transports down the Mississippi River. The lead transport was fired on by the Confederates. Linden returned fire and drove off the artillerists.
USS Shepherd Knapp ran aground at Cape Haitien and had to be abandoned.
Boat crew from USS Cuyler captured and burned schooner Isabel near Fort Morgan, Mobile Bay, AL.
USS Octorara captured the British blockade runner Eagle near the Bahamas.