needful that men should take each other's lives in cold blood.’
Capt. E. K. Russell
Day after day the cannon shelled the works disabling many of the enemy's guns and wearing down the men with fatigue and watching.
' Battery was on the field almost constantly.
In the diary from which we have already quoted we read: ‘Remained in position all day and all night—lead from sharp shooters falling thick around us, relieved at 7 P. M. the next day,’ and again: ‘Our section at the front all day and night,—kept one battery silent,’ and still again, ‘Stretchers are constantly at work bringing in our wounded.’
‘Keep up fire day and night.’
‘First section under Lieutenant Hall
start out with brigade of cavalry under General Grierson
,—engage in battle near Clinton
Cavalry out of ammunition—obliged to retreat to avoid capture, reached camp after march of 50 miles.’
At this time the center section which had been at Barry's Landing for some weeks arrived at Port Hudson
bringing with them four recruits from Boston
The position of the little Union army, which did not number now more than 12,000 men, was becoming critical, hemmed in as it was by intensely hostile inhabitants, and the commander felt the need of a speedy reduction of the post.
Accordingly on June 13 a general bombardment of two hours took place, and at 12.30 General Banks
sent in a flag of truce calling for the surrender of the fort.
's reply was: ‘Under the present circumstances, I am unable to surrender.’
When this answer was received, arrangements were made for a grand storming on June 14. ‘The program of storming was sent by General Paine
to all the officers in his command, that each might know the duty he had to perform, and was as follows: The 8th New Hampshire and 4th Wisconsin regiments were to act as skirmishers in the advance, followed three yards in the rear by the 4th pb id= “p.50” > Massachusetts
and 110th New York with grenades which were to be thrown over, the instant the skirmishers gained the top of the works.
Next in line was the 31st Massachusetts, each man carrying two bags of cotton to be thrown into the ditch, in order to make a road for the artillery.
Then the 3d, 2d, and 1st brigades followed by Nims
At 3 A. M. the line was formed and the march begun.
When within 20 yards of the Fort
and under a heavy cross fire the order was given, clear and distinct: “Charge!”
and after a long hard struggle the skirmishers gained the top of the works.
Here they found bayonets and guns presented to their breasts, the enemy at the same time shouting: “Surrender or die.”
The brave soldiers looked around for their support but it had failed them, and forty brave boys had to surrender as prisoners.
We remained all day under a heavy fire from the enemy and at 9 o'clock withdrew from the field having gained nothing.’
was wounded early in the attack, a ball shattering his leg. He was forced to remain on the field for twelve hours under a heavy fire, while hundreds of others were in like condition for twenty-four or thirty-six hours, until under a flag of truce they were brought forward by the enemy, who would not allow the Union
troops to come near their fortifications.
‘It would not be just to allow this record to become history without mentioning the valor displayed by some of the colored troops engaged with us on that occasion.
After the assault had failed, and the ground in our front was strewn with our wounded comrades, these colored soldiers could be seen by twos crawling on their knees dragging after them a stretcher and on reaching a wounded soldier would roll him upon the stretcher, then, after a moment's rest, they would arise quickly and make a dash for a shelter from the shower of lead that was sure to fall around them.’
E. K. Russell
On the 16th General Banks
issued an order for a thousand