Murfreesboro And The Vicksburg Expeditions, January To May, 1863.
On the 25th of December, Rosecrans began to advance upon Bragg's position at Murfreesboro with a fighting strength of about 60,000 men. General Bragg with 35,000 held a line crossing Stone's river. On the 30th, Rosecrans arrived with part of his force before this line, and upon his failure to attack, Bragg assailed him the next day with very considerable success. Rosecrans then changed his line and awaited reinforcements, and in the meantime several brief conflicts occurred between portions of the two armies, one of them being a vigorous charge by Breckinridge's division. After a week of this desultory fighting Bragg withdrew to Tullahoma.
The Federal plan of campaign in the West, in the winter of 1862-63, embraced an invasion of the State of Mississippi, with the special object of taking Vicksburg. At that point strong works upon the bluffs commanded the Mississippi, and had successfully resisted the attacks of the Federal river fleets, in June and July of that year. In December, General Grant led an army southward through the State, to menace the rear of Vicksburg, while General Sherman attacked with a force transported upon the river. Foiled by the cutting of his own communications and the signal defeat of Sherman by Gen. S. D. Lee at Chickasaw bayou, General Grant embarked in January, 1863, at Memphis, and moved his army to the Louisiana side of the Mississippi river opposite Vicksburg. After various attempts were made to approach the city from the north side, all of which failed, Grant's army crossed below Vicksburg, and after a brief campaign extending over the State as far as Jackson, the siege of Vicksburg was begun May 18th.
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