his Irish brigade were defeated by the approach of men behind revetted bales of hay, which they rolled before them as they neared the Union ranks — McCulloch expected to gain Milliken's Bend by substituting mules for hay. If so, he nearly set himself down an ass in the estimation of those he proposed attacking. A bale of cotton or hay might make a breastwork of considerable value, but the mules, unless moved forward sidewise — and the animal is known to be stubborn — presented but slight obstacle to the sharp eye of an experienced rifleman. Hence the rebels fell in considerable numbers from the first volleys of our troops. Still they advanced. But now came the turn of the rebels to be surprised. When within a short distance of the works the gunboat, until the moment partially concealed by the smoke of the battle, opened with heavy guns, sending a continuous line of ten-inch shell into the serried columns of the enemy. It was an astonisher. It was worse than the negro reserves of the previous day. It was paralyzing. To make the matter worse, the same negro regiments, taking advantage of their surprise, were again upon them, scaling the works from within, rushing down upon the mules, frightening them out of the little sense nature had endowed them with, and in turn attacking the soldiers with bayonet and clubbed musket, came the black besom of destruction, like unto a small, dark colored, mighty, destructive hurricane. Rebel nerve could never withstand all of this. After a few volleys — after an ineffectual attempt to drive back the negro assailants — after imploring his men in vain to stand up to it and fight or “die in the last ditch,” McCulloch, if it were McCulloch, was compelled to sound the retreat and withdraw, leaving a heap of dead men and mules lying stark upon the field. The colored regiment had thus far not met with any considerable loss. But with great lack of caution their colonel led them forward in pursuit of the fleeing foe, until they were in full range of the guns of the Choctaw, and, sad to relate, a goodly number of the brave blacks, who had literally saved the fortunes of the day for the Federal arms, were cut down and instantly killed by our own shell. A signal stopped the firing as quickly as possible, but not until dreadful havoc had been made. But the rebels were, it is now supposed, most effectually whipped, and so badly crippled by loss of dead and wounded, that they would not return to the attack. Our loss is put down at about one hundred, killed, wounded, and missing, during the two fights. That of the rebels was twice the number. Had it not been for the unfortunate occurrence of the Choctaw, our loss would have been very small indeed. Over one hundred dead were left by the enemy unburied, unattended to, upon the field. They took off nearly all their wounded.
Twenty-Second day in rear of Vicksburgh, June 9, 1863.Two gentlemen from the Yazoo have given me the following particulars of the fight at Milliken's Bend, in which negro troops played so conspicuous a part: My informant states that a force of about one thousand negroes, and two hundred men of the Twenty-third Iowa, belonging to the Second brigade, Carr's division, (the Twenty-third Iowa had been up the river with prisoners, and was on its way back to this place,) was surprised in camp by a rebel force of about two thousand men. The first intimation that the commanding officer received was from one of the black men, who went into the colonel's tent, and said: “Massa, the secesh are in camp.” The colonel ordered him to have the men load their guns at once. He instantly replied: “We have done did dat now, massa.” Before the colonel was ready, the men were in line, ready for action. As before stated, the rebels drove our force toward the gunboats, taking colored men prisoners and murdering them. This so enraged them that they rallied and charged the enemy more heroically and desperately than has been recorded during the war. It was a genuine bayonet charge, a hand-to-hand fight, that has never occurred to any extent during this prolonged conflict. Upon both sides men were killed with the butts of muskets. White and black men were lying side by side, pierced by bayonets, and in some instances transfixed to the earth. In one instance, two men, one white and the other black, were found dead, side by side, each having the other's bayonet through his body. If facts prove to be what they are now represented, this engagement of Sunday morning will be recorded as the most desperate of this war. Broken limbs, broken heads, the mangling of bodies, all prove that it was a contest between enraged men; on the one side from hatred to a race, and on the other, desire for self-preservation, revenge for past grievances, and the inhuman murder of their comrades, One brave man took his former master prisoner, and brought him into camp with great gusto. A rebel prisoner made a particular request, that his own negroes should not be placed over him as a guard. Dame Fortune is capricious! His request was not granted. Their mode of warfare does not entitle them to any privileges. If any are granted, it is from magnanimity to a fellow-foe. The rebels lost five cannon, two hundred men killed, four hundred to five hundred wounded, and about two hundred prisoners. Our loss is reported to be one hundred killed and five hundred wounded; but few were white men.