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Wisconsin in the Civil War

A Captain Observes Ulysses S. Grant's confidence and calm in Battle

By the summer of 1863, Confederate artillery positioned atop the Vicksburg, Mississippi, bluffs was the main obstacle to gaining Union control of the Mississippi River. General Ulysses S. Grant planned to approach and capture Vicksburg from behind by landing his army a few miles downstream at Port Gibson. Captain James M. Bull of Company E, 23rd Wisconsin Infantry, writes home to Middleton, Wisconsin, describing Grant's behavior while overseeing a battle.

We could see the wreaths of smoke from the guns on either side; could hear their deafening roar, and see the shot of rebels strike — sometimes in the water, sending up fountains of spray, and sometimes striking the boats, but with what effect we could not discern. We could also see our own shells bursting in the woods where their field pieces were and sometimes see our solid shot striking their breastworks.

During this time General Grant was steaming backwards and forwards in his little steam tug, sometimes getting in range of the rebel guns in his anxiety to see how the fight was progressing. He looked as cool and unconcerned as though nothing was going on that could interest him, yet the quick eye could discern that it was not the calmness of unconcern, but of confidence.

"Source: Newspaper Clippings, 1861-1930, Vol. 4", page 65 (from the Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 1863)

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