The Fearful Squadrons and the Decrees of Providence

On May 10, 1863, as Ulysses S. Grant moved his army into the Mississippi interior on his eventual way to Vicksburg, the the newspaper in the state capital, Jackson, attempted to bolster the flagging spirits of residents. “The prospect in Mississippi grows more encouraging from moment to moment,” The Mississippian proclaimed, more with gusto than with evidence.

“Every hour of delay and hesitation renders Grant’s situation the more precarious,” the paper wrote.

His very number embarrass him. Where is he to obtain his supplies? . . . Memphis is really his remote, his precarious base of supplies. His transports must steal down the Mississippi, like midnight thieves, past the grim and ever-watchful batteries of Vicksburg. . . .

Whilst he delays, General Starvation, General Disease, General Despondency, will marshal their fearful squadrons, and league with Confederates soldiery to carry out the decrees of Providence.

Two days later, on May 12, Grant would defeat a Confederate force in Raymond, and two days after that, on May 14, he would capture the state capital itself.

So much for the “decrees of Providence.” Starvation, disease, and despondency, though, would all make appearances in the days and weeks to follow, although those “fearful squadrons” would take a greater toll on Mississippians than on the Federals—as the siege of Vicksburg would demonstrate.

1 Response to The Fearful Squadrons and the Decrees of Providence

  1. The logistics must have been challenging to address and overcome. It is difficult for us to envision the needs of tens of thousands of troops and accompanying animals deep in remote and hostile lands.

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