WILLIAM L.B. JENNY
In attempting to assail Vicksburg, Union commanders were faced with numerous difficulties; the swampy terrain made any assault down from the North an almost complete impossibility and the Confederates blocked most of the landings on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. The quandary of how to get around Vicksburg in order to take the town occupied Federal planners for months. An eyewitness to these and subsequent events, William Jenny wrote an account of the attempts to take the Confederate stronghold entitled Personal Recollections of Vicksburg.
The division under A.J. Smith proceeded to destroy the railroad running from the west to Vicksburg, over which the Confederates under General Pemberton were receiving supplies. On December 26 the other three divisions, under command of General Sherman, ascended the Yazoo about thirteen miles, and were landed on the low bottom-lands between the Yazoo and the Walnut Hills. The troops moved forward with little opposition along Chickasaw Bayou until it turned and ran parallel with the bluffs, on which the enemy were posted in great numbers and in strong position. An assault which was immediately made demonstrated that the ground was too difficult and the enemy too well fortified to be dislodged. The only passage across this bayou was in front of General Morgan's division, and this passage was much in the nature of a breach, admitting only a few men at a time, and was swept by numerous guns of the enemy. The way was then across a broad and gently sloping bottom without cover to the foot of the hills, which had to be scaled under the fire of an enemy so securely posted that almost every man amounted to an army on his own account. It was then determined to try a night attack higher up the river at Haines's Bluff, which was also protected by a bayou at its foot known as "Skillet Goliah," and beyond which the troops must