demonstrated their readiness to fight as soon as they were permitted to reach the field.
But it must also be remembered that two of McClernand
's divisions were threatening the right of the army, and would have cut off its retreat.
alone was sufficient, it appears, to hold them back, but that could not have been known beforehand.
Col. William T. Withers
, commanding the First Mississippi light artillery, and chief of field artillery, was greatly distinguished in the battle; and the companies of his regiment engaged did gallant duty.
Lieut. Frank Johnston
was in immediate command of a section of the guns of Company A, Withers
' artillery, and served them with great effect against the enemy when approaching in overwhelming numbers.
In the early part of the day, at the first of the fighting, Johnston
's section and Ratcliff
's, the latter commanded by Allen Sharkey
(who was subsequently killed in the general assault by the enemy during the second week of the siege of Vicksburg
), were to the right of Champion's Hill.
They were next moved to the left and supported the celebrated charge of the Missouri
Thirty-nine out of forty of the battery horses of Lieutenant Johnston
's section being killed, the guns had to be abandoned, of course, and about nine men, including Lieutenant Johnston
, escaped and reported at Big Black that night.
Of the services of Withers
' First light artillery regiment in this fight, Major-General Loring
said: ‘Upon the approach of W. S. Featherston
's brigade, in rapid march, a considerable force of the retreating army having been rallied behind him, the enemy, who was advancing upon the artillery, fell back in great disorder, Colonel Withers
pouring in a most destructive fire upon him. It was here that we witnessed a scene ever to be remembered, when the gallant Withers
and his brave men, with their fine park of artillery, stood unflinchingly amid a shower of shot and shell the approach of an enemy in overwhelming ’