Tuesday, May 14, 2013

High Gold Yields at Placerville. War News: Grant Takes Jackson, Mississippi.

The May 14, 1863 issue of  The Oregonian in Portland said, “At the lowest possible estimate the diggings of Placer District are now yielding $50,000 per day, and the balance of the districts in the county are yielding twice as much more. California Gulch, in Placer District, of itself yields $10,000 of this amount.”

Coincidentally, on that same day, the forces of General Ulysses S. Grant drove the Confederate garrison out of Jackson, Mississippi, and captured the city … the state capital. (Of course, this news took a couple weeks to reach the gold fields.)

Supported by river gunboats, Grant’s army had crossed the Mississippi at the end of April, with relatively light losses. Then Union forces, by a combination of maneuver and superior strength, drove through Confederate defenses to reach Jackson.

Grant stayed in Jackson only long enough to burn or wreck critical factories, warehouses, bridges, and railways around the area. The destruction of vital trackage, in all four directions out of the city, was particularly damaging. Given the Confederate’s limited repair resources, Jackson was severely crippled as a transportation hub, and never truly recovered until after the war.
Union Flag Raised Over Jackson, MS. Harper's Weekly Engraving.
Grant then abandoned the town and marched west, tearing up more railway as he went. By the time news about the capture of Jackson reached Portland, the Union army had settled into siege fortifications around Vicksburg.

References: “The Boise Mines,” The Oregonian, Portland (May 14, 1863).
“The Eastern News,” Evening Bulletin, San Francisco (May 21, 1863).
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, Oxford University Press, USA, New York (1988).

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