fleet up the river if necessary, Vicksburg
could not be taken without a land force of 12,000 to 15,000 men. Accordingly, on July 24, Farragut
's fleet, together with the transports bearing General Williams
' Brigade, started down the river leaving Vicksburg
and his troops debarked at Baton Rouge
for the purpose of permanently occupying it.
Of this entire movement Irwin
says: “No casualties occurred but the troops returned July 26 to Baton Rouge
after having for more than three months undergone hardships such as have seldom fallen to the lot of soldiers in a campaign whose existence is scarcely known and whose name is well nigh forgotten.”
During the stay near Vicksburg
many of the men contracted fever and on July 19 occurred the first death among the members of the battery—that of Theodore H. Price
Others followed in quick succession until by August 8, six of the battery had fallen victims to the soldier's worst foe, disease.
These were: Theodore H. Price
, died July 19; J. S. Haven
, died July 31; Alvin Lovejoy
, died August 2; Cyrus Davidson
, died August 5; E. L. Leavitt
, died August 5; M. F. Tate
, died August 8.
Nor was this all, for at the grand review and inspection by General Williams
on July 31, of the 140 members of the battery only 21 were present for duty, the remainder, including Captain Nims
himself, being in the hospital.
The same condition naturally prevailed among the other members of the brigade, one regiment (the 7th Vermont) mustering but 48 men and other regiments averaging 150; so that not one half of the entire number was reported as ready for service.
When this state of affairs was made known to Major Van Dorn
of the Confederate Army, he organized an expedition to capture the post.
It was composed of about 5000 men under Gen. J. C. Breckenridge
who expected to be aided in