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In Their Own Words

July 10, 1863

Civil War News Recorded in Journal

From Columbus, Ga., John Banks - who had seven sons fighting on behalf of the Confederate cause - recorded in his journal news of the loss of Vicksburg, as well as an incorrect rumor that Lee had won the Battle of Gettysburg:

“The war news is exciting at this time. On the 4th of July inst. Vicksburg capitulated with Grant, who had our garrison under Pemberton besieged for more than two months. Pemberton was cut off from supplies and communication. General Johnston was this side of him near Jackson and could not reach the city. Pemberton surrendered 17,500 men as prisoners of war. Son Elbert with Nelson’s Ranger could not reach Vicksburg and were cut off. Had been about Jackson or near for some time, where the Rangers still are.

“Simultaneous with the surrender of Vicksburg, our army under General Lee had a great fight in Pennsylvania at Gettysburg. Lee proved the victor and took 40,500 prisoners, with stores, ammunition, guns, mules, wagons, etc., which counter-balances the Vicksburg loss.

“About the same time Rosecrans, in Tennessee, at the head of the Yankee army, made a dash upon General Bragg, whose army was at Shelbyville, Tenn. Bragg was not prepared for the assault and retreated in great haste to Chattanooga. Lost much of his baggage, wagons, mules, etc. Willis [one of four of Banks’ sons in Confederate service] was in the retreat, and from his letter just received, dated at Chattanooga, the army had a hard time of it, marching day and night burning bridges behind them and Rosecrans in hot pursuit, so near as to be seen sometimes and slight skirmishing. Willis and Elbert [another son] thus far are safe. Eugene [another son] still at home, waiting for his commission.

Cotton has gone up to the fabulous price of 50c.”

Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 28-29.