Doc. 142.-operations at Vicksburgh, Miss.
General Williams's official reports.
headquarters Second brigade, Vicksburgh, July 4, 1862.Captain: Leaving the Twenty-first Indiana, Sixth Michigan, a section of Everett's battery and McGee's cavalry, and taking with me the Thirtieth Massachusetts, Ninth Connecticut, Seventh Vermont and Fourth Wisconsin, regular Nims's battery and two sections of Everett's, I left Baton Rouge on the morning of the twentieth of June; arrived off Elles Cliff in the afternoon of the twenty-second, where I found three gunboats awaiting my approach. To cover the transports in passing the cliffs I landed, so as to occupy all the woods leading from the cliffs to the interior, and cut off two field-guns reported to be in position on the cliffs. The Thirtieth Massachusetts and two guns of Nims's made a touring march of eight miles, while the Fourth Wisconsin, with skirmishers in advance, followed by the Ninth Connecticut and four guns of Nims's and two of Everett's, marched directly forward by the cliff-road leading to the battery and to Natchez, distant eighteen miles, giving time, however, for Dudley's column first to reach this road and cut off the retreat to Natchez. Soon the skirmishers of the Fourth Wisconsin came upon the abandoned battery, abandoned save by a gun-limber left behind in the abandonment. Limber benches, tables, a broken whiffle-tree, some few ears of newly-gathered green corn, from a neighboring field, and the well-trodden earth marked the place of the camp, near the battery, which was spacious, shaded and afforded a clear view of the river, up and down, and was perfectly protected by its height above the river from the fire of the gunboats. The rebel method of using their guns from the cliffs is to run the gun forward till it projects beyond the cliff, depress it, fire and run the gun back out of sight, load and repeat. Negroes afterwards told us that the battery, consisting of two guns and ninety mounted men, left some five hours before our landing; but the fellows had greatly loitered on the way, for Col. Dudley reported he was within an hour of intercepting them. The twenty-third of June Rodney was passed without molestation, but having learned from various sources that resistance to the further advance of the transports would certainly be made by guns in position on the heights of Grand Gulf, we entered Bayou Pierre about three o'clock on the morning of the twenty-fourth, and attempted to reach its point of intersection with the Port Gibson and Grand Gulf Railroad, in order to move from thence on the rear of the town and heights of Grand Gulf. After passing up the bayou some nine miles, and still eight miles from Port Gibson, a raft across the bayou stopped us. We then backed down, for the bayou was too narrow to turn in, to one Colonel Berry's plantation, four miles only by a good wagon-road. Here, at about eleven o'clock in the morning, the troops were landed. The Fourth Wisconsin, Ninth Connecticut and four guns, after marching two miles, taking a branch road by Hamilton's plantation, which led to the rear of the reported rebel camp — some said five hundred, some nine hundred strong, pitched between the Port Gibson Railroad and the road from Grand Gulf to Willow Springs, and which branch road produced the only two roads — namely, the railroad and Willow Springs road leading from Grand Gulf to the interior — took the direct road which cuts the railroad about one mile in rear of Grand Gulf. One of the regiments, the Seventh Vermont, was to cooperate with the Fourth Wisconsin and Ninth Connecticut in the contemplated attack on the camp, and the other, Col. Dudley's, to be held in reserve at the fork of the two roads. The rebels, apprised of our coming, had decamped, leaving some of their sick, a few old tents, numerous booths, some articles of household furniture and a secession flag. (See herewith Col. Paine's report.) The town of Grand Gulf, which our troops, before leaving, burned to the ground, was abandoned by all save a single sentinel on picket, who, left behind, was captured by Col. Dudley's flankers. On the twenty-fifth we arrived here off Vicksburgh, and commenced running and levelling the line of the cut-off canal, and on the morning of the twenty-seventh broke ground. Between eleven and twelve hundred negroes, gathered from the neighboring plantations by armed parties, are now engaged in the work of excavating, cutting down trees, and grubbing up the roots. The labor of making this cut is far greater than estimated by anybody. The soil is hard clay, as far as yet excavated--sixteen and a half to seventeen feet--and must be gone through with, say some four feet more, before the water can be let in; for all concur in this: that we must come to sand before the clay. Yesterday the river fall was only two inches. Drift-wood was seen coming down, and the Missouri Republican of the twenty-eighth of June announces the flooding up of the Missouri River and the rise of the Upper Mississippi. Under the heading of the June rise, with the hard-working twelve hundred negro force engaged, and this prospect of a rise, we are in good heart. The project is a great one, and worthy of success. In the next three days we expect to be ready for the water of the Mississippi. The fleet of Flag-Officers Farragut and Davis are awaiting the result with great interest, seven of Flag-Officer Farragut's vessels having passed Vicksburgh at eleven o'clock on the morning of the twenty-eighth without alarming the batteries of the town, and are anchored with Flag-Officer Davis's fleet of six mortar-boats and four gunboats on the west side of Burney's Point. The mortar vessels of Commodore Porter and the remainder of. Flag-Officer Farragut's fleet remain below Vicksburgh. Captain Davis arrived from Memphis on the first of July. To protect Commodore Porter's mortar fleet, lying close along the east bank of the river, within range of the batteries of Vicksburgh, but concealed  from their view by a dense forest from the enemy's skirmishers, I have despatched some three hundred men, under Major Whitmore, of the Thirtieth Massachusetts, for picket and reconnoitring on that side of the town. In the next five or six days I hope to be in the possession of much information regarding the batteries, their approaches, and the forces in support. Respectfully, your obed't servant,
T. Williams, Brigadier-General Volunteers Commanding.P. S.--Lieutenant Elliott's Brigade Quartermaster goes down for supplies, and can furnish details not given here.
headquarters Second brigade, below Vicksburgh, July 6, 1862.Captain: The Tennessee left here last evening with the mail, but hearing the beating of drums at Grand Gulf, proceeded no further, and returned this evening for an additional gunboat to protect her in passing that point. Her return enabled me to supply an omission in my report of the fourth instant. It is that the eight long-ranged rifled guns of Nims's and Everett's batteries, from their position behind the levee at Burney's Point, distant seven eighths of a mile from the enemy's nearest battery on the upper side of Vicksburgh, cooperated gallantly and effectively with the fleet in the cannonade and bombardment of the twenty-eighth ult. Everett's battery lost one man and one horse killed. The fall of the water in the river is nearly at a stand-point, and the drift of logs and brush foreshadow what the newspapers promise, namely, a June rise. The work of the negro force on the cut-off, they being organized into squads of twenty, with an intelligent non-commissioned officer or private to each, superintended by officers, is satisfactory. The Flag-Officer and his fleet are most sanguine and even enthusiastic. I regard the cut-off to be my best bower. Should it fail me, I shall resort to the next best — to seize and hold the enemy's batteries, or at least spike their guns. Respectfully, your obed't servant,
T. Williams, Brigadier-General of Volunteers.P. S.--The reconnoissance of to-day has shown how we ought not to approach the batteries; that of to-morrow will probably give the affirmative side.
Running the Vicksburgh forts.The annexed letter was written by a young participant on board the United States steamer Hartford, the flag-ship of Commodore Farragut.
Vicksburgh, and are now anchored above the city some three miles, in company with four of the advance boats of Flag-Officer Davis, of the Upper Mississippi Flotilla. The project of silencing and capturing the batteries at the city of Vicksburgh, Miss., had been in contemplation for some time, in order to effectually open the river, and it was at first thought that the squadron under Commodore Farragut could accomplish this end alone, but a reconnoissance made a month since induced the belief that we could not attain a sufficient elevation with our guns to reach the rebel batteries located on the bluffs. Accordingly the mortar fleet of Commodore Porter, which was then lying at Pensacola, was sent for, and after the lapse of a month all the vessels of the fleet were towed up the river and anchored below the city of Vicksburgh. This ship, together with the Richmond and Brooklyn, arrived some three or four days previous to the fight. The navigation of the river with large ships had to be made with extreme caution, and rendered it necessary to come to anchor at night, so that our progress up the river was very slow. A part of our fleet was left at New-Orleans and Baton Rouge, but a majority of the vessels were brought up the river. On the twenty-sixth instant the bomb-flotilla opened fire on the batteries, but met with very little response. Their labors, however, only continued during daylight. The nature of the country in and around Vicksburgh rendered it admirably adapted for defensive operations, and the rebels seemed to have taken advantage of it, and mounted guns in every commanding position. Their increased strength was apparent, and indicated that no time had been thrown away since our first reconnaissance was made. The city of Vicksburgh is located on the side of a hill which slopes gradually down to the water's edge. Guns were mounted in front of the city, back of the city, to the sides of the city, in fact, in the city. No thought seemed to be given to the safety of the place, their desire to bar the passage of vessels up the river predominating over all else. Just as day began to dawn on the morning of the twenty-eighth, the rebel batteries opened on us. The Richmond, Scioto and Oneida preceded us, while the Brooklyn and the gunboats brought up the rear. By the time we had got in complete range it was fully daylight, and an immense shower of solid shot was poured into us. The fire seemed to come from columbiads, and was particularly directed on the flag-ship. Our starboard battery was belching forth a fearful hail on the rebels, whilst we were going at such a slow rate of speed as to scarcely give us steerage-way. Most of their batteries mounted one or two guns, and were scattered over the whole surface of the hill. Some were mounted behind earthworks, whilst some were protected by solid rocks. We were so close to the batteries that the men could be seen working the guns and waving their hats in defiance. Most of their shots were too high to disable us, but completely tore our rigging to pieces. They also cut off about seven or eight feet of our maintopsail yard, but the toplift prevented it from falling. A solid shot struck us just at the water's edge, and lodged  in a room filled with sand-shell, or shell containing sand, which we used as solid shot in case of emergency. Our mizzen rigging was torn in shreds, and had only been left by Flag-Officer Farragut about two minutes before it was struck. It will be necessary for us to have new knees in some parts of the ship, which are cut in two by shot. During the engagement the mortar-fleet was firing rapidly, as also the steamer of the mortar-fleet, which came up near enough to send their rifle-shot into the batteries. When our fire was directed on any particular battery, the rebels would desert their guns until our attention was directed to others, when they would return and open on us again. After being under fire for about two hours in front of the city, and finding that we could not bring our guns to bear any longer, we started ahead fast, the shot still dropping around us, and soon came to anchor out of range of their guns. We lost only one man killed, but had several slightly wounded. The sloop-of-war Brooklyn, after engaging the batteries for nearly two hours, dropped below again. Captain Craven had orders not to leave any batteries behind without silencing them, and finding it impossible to effectually silence them, fell back again, and now lies below the city in company with the Kennebec, Katahdin, and Commodore Porter's mortar-fleet. We used six-second shrapnel during the entire fight, and must have killed a great many of the enemy, though they had no more men exposed than were necessary to work the guns. General Williams is in command of the Federal forces, and has some four thousand men here, including Nims's Boston battery, and his army will soon be increased by ten thousand men from Gen. Halleck's army. We will then attack them again, and with the aid of the army, take possession of the batteries at all hazards. The casualties in the fleet are few, and I escaped uninjured, and am well and ready and willing to try it again. Your affectionate son,
Albert.P. S.--I annex the following official list of the killed and wounded during the engagement: official list of killed and wounded.
flag-ship Hartford, above Vicksburgh, Miss., June 28, 1862.Sir: I have the honor to report the following list of killed and wounded in that portion of the fleet which passed above Vicksburgh in the engagement this morning: killed, seven.--Flag-ship Hartford--Edward E. Jennings, seaman, from Massachusetts. Richmond — George Allstrum, ordinary seaman; Thomas Flarity, seaman. Oneida — Stephen H. Randall, seaman. Pinola — William H. Thomas, quarter-gunner; Thomas Graham, landsman. Scioto — Augustine Ellsworth, ordinary seaman. wounded, thirty.--Flag-ship Hartford--Chas. Allen, seaman, slightly; Alexander Cafrau, landsman, slightly; Lawrence Fay, boy, slightly; Patrick Roach, coal-heaver, head; Philip Roberts, seaman, severely; Sylvester Beckit, landsman, slightly; Alfred Stone, landsman, slightly; John H. Knowles, quartermaster, slightly; John Hardegan, landsman, slightly; Joseph Lands, ordinary seaman, slightly; Nathan Salter, ordinary seaman, contusion; Capt. John L. Broome, marine, contusion; Flag-Officer D. G. Farragut, slight contusion. Richmond — Howard F. Maffat, master's mate, amputated arm; James Noonan, ordinary seaman, contusion; Thomas Nolan, marine, do.; George W. Harris, marine, do.; James Reddy, seaman, severely; James Mohegan, landsman, do.; George Millard, seaman, do.; Wm. Nicholas, landsman, slightly; Charles Howard, ordinary seaman, do. Oneida — Richard M. Hodgson, assistant engineer, severely; Wm. Cowell, seaman, do.; Henry Clark, boatswain's mate, slightly. Pinola — John Brown, ordinary seaman, severely; Wm. H. Shucks, landsman, slightly. Scioto — Edward Hathaway, seaman, amputated arm; Wm. Arne, landsman, slightly; Clarence Miller, ship-steward, severely. killed; eight.--Mortar flotilla--Six scalded, one killed, one drowned. Total — Killed, fifteen; wounded, thirty. Returns have not yet been received from Capt. Porter's mortar flotilla, and that portion of the fleet below Vicksburgh. I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,