Illustrations of the War in AmericaThe Illustrated London News, vol. 43, no. 1219, p. 215.
August 29, 1863
The country for forty miles round Vicksburg is covered with small encampments of women and children who have been driven from their homes by predatory bands of Northern soldiers. Ladies who have been reared in luxury are now reduced to the discomforts and hardships of a bivouac, which they bear uncomplainingly, being willing to suffer in a cause for which their husbands, lovers, and brothers are fighting. With nothing but a few yards of canvas to protect them from the frequent thunderstorms which burst in terrific magnificence at this season of the year over Mississippi, they support with dignity their heavy trial. A cavalry soldier has just come into the camp with letters, and has given animation to the Illustration.
During the investment of Vicksburg regular communication between the garrison and the Confederate forces outside was put a stop to. Still there were bold spirits to be found who were willing to brave the danger of passing the enemy's lines; and the sketch I send you has for its subject an adventure of this kind. It had been reported to General Johnston that the troops in the beleaguered city were beginning to run short of caps, the frequent assaults of the enemy upon the trenches having necessitated a continuous fire from the garrison, which had much reduced the stock. Volunteers were immediately called for to carry in a fresh supply; and of the first twelve who made the attempt every one of them was either captured or shot. Subsequently, however, numbers succeeded in getting into the town, and even returning to our camps; and of the party illustrated in my sketch all were fortunate enough to evade the vigilance of the Yankee guards. I accompanied them some distance on the way, and saw them enter the ravines and gorges at the outer lines of Federal pickets. This was at a point some twelve miles from Vicksburg; and as I lay on the ground in the calm, quiet night I could distinctly here [sic] sounds of musketry between the loud booming of the mortars. Probably a sortie was taking place, the Confederates
Page 217having made one or two at that time which were brilliantly successful. These scouts lay in the woods during the day, and when night came they crept on their hands and knees through successive lines of the enemy's pickets, choosing the roughest paths and taking advantage of the ravines. In my drawing a group of Yankees are seen on the embankment on the right, listening to a sound which they cannot explain, while those who are disturbing them are crawling along in the dense shadows, avoiding every gleam of moonlight, and prepared at any moment to use the revolver or the knife.