I wrote this letter to my wife, Ellen:
TO ELLEN EWING SHERMAN
Walnut Hills, June 11,1863
We have now been before the very gates of Vicksburg for over 3 weeks and I have heard from you but once and that a short letter of introduction brought me by Mr. Carrier Priest. What is the matter, or rather what is the matter with the mail carriers all others get their letters and I get none? I have to go to Hugh & Charley for news. By Mr. Carrier also I got letters from Willy and Minnie. I feel sure you are all well and nothing particular has happened but I miss your letters very much.
I don’t believe I can give you an idea of matters here. You will read so much about Vicksburg and the People now gathered about it that you will get bewildered, and I will wait till maps become more abundant. I miss Pitzman very much. I feel his loss just as I did that of Morgan L. Smith at Chickasaw, both wounded in the hip, reconnoitering. So far as Vicksburg is concerned, the Same great features exist. The deep washes and ravines with trees filled makes a network of entangled abiattis all round the city. If we had a Million of men we would be compelled to approach it by the narrow heads of columns which approach the concealed trenches & casemates of a concealed and brave and desperate enemy. We cannot carry our men across this continuous parapet without incurring fearful loss.
We have been working making Roads & paths around Spurs, up hollows until I now have on my front of over two miles, three distinct ways by which I can get close up to the ditch. But still each has a narrow front and any man who puts his head above ground has his head Shot off. All day and night continues the sharp crash of the Rifle and deep sound of mortars & cannon hurling shot & shells at the doomed city. I think we have shot 20,000 cannon Balls, and many millions of musket Balls into Vicksburg, but of course the great mass of them bury into the earth and do little harm. We fire 100 shot to their one, but they being scarce of ammunition take better care not to waste it. I rode away round to McClernands Lines the day before yesterday, and found that he was digging his ditches & parallels further back from the enemy than where I began the first day. My works are further advanced than any other but still it will take some time to dig them out.
The truth is, we trust to the Starvation. Accounts vary widely. Some deserters say they have plenty to eat, and others say they are down to pea bread and poor beef. I can see horses and mules gently grazing within their Lines and therefore do not count on Starvation yet. All their soldiers are in the trenches & none know anything but what occurs close to them. Food is cooked by negroes back in the hollows in rooms cut out of the hills & carried to them by night. The People, women & children, have also cut houses under ground out of the peculiar earth, where they live in comparative safety from our shells & shot. Still I know great exertion must have been done, & Vicksburg at this moment must be a horrid place. Yet the People have been wrought up to Such a pitch of enthusiasm that I have not yet met one but would prefer all to perish rather than give up. They feel doomed but rely on Joe Johnston. Of him we know but little save we hear of a force at Yazoo City at Canton, Jackson and Clinton. We have received some reinforcements which are at Haines Bluff.
Weather has been intensely hot, but yesterday it rained in torrents in the midst of which I rode to my pickets to the rear, viz. 3 miles back on the Ridge Road and above Chickasaw Creek in the Valley a Yazoo City Road. No steamboat has come down for two days and I fear Price has reached the River at some point but I take it for granted this will be attended to. We are well camped & comfortably provided, and can afford to let Time work for us. We are all well.
W. T. Sherman