previous next

[541] which I was guided by Captain----. In the mean time the intervening line of troops had been withdrawn, and the troops I was ordered to support had fallen back to the crest of the hill, to which position, by order of General Ransom, the regiment also fell back, having lost during the movement several men; also Captain C. A. Burns, who was instantly killed by a musketshot in the head. At this point, Colonel Brown, as ranking officer after the fall of Colonel Vance, took command of the brigade; and General Cameron, in place of General Ransom, who fell severely wounded just as the regiment reached the top of the ridge, took command of the detachment of the Thirteenth corps. After holding the position for some time, the regiment, together with the whole line, was forced to fall back over the crest of the ridge, where it was supplied with ammunition. My regiment and the Ninety-sixth Ohio, under the immediate command of Colonel Brown, commanding the brigade, then changed front perpendicular to the line of battle, and moved out about three hundred yards to the right of the right flank, to oppose a flank movement of the enemy, and threw forward skirmishers, who had advanced but a few yards when they were engaged with the enemy, who were concealed by the dense undergrowth. Nearly the same time the enemy, who had been lying concealed in line of battle, arose and opened fire upon our line, the left flank of which was not more than fifty yards distant. The line whose right we had advanced to protect in the mean time had fallen back, and the two regiments exposed to the fire of the enemy in front, in rear, six and on the left, to avoid being surrounded, fell back, with considerable loss, including Captain Waldo, missing, and Captain Cummins, wounded in the arm and side. From the fact that the regiment was nearly surrounded, I hope that many of the missing will prove to be uninjured. After falling back, a line was immediately formed, but was soon broken by retreating cavalry. The same attempt was repeated, but with little success, until a portion of the wagon-train, which choked up the only road not occupied by the enemy, and the line of the Nineteenth corps, which had formed in line of battle about one and a half miles from where my regiment first engaged the enemy, were passed. This was about six o'clock. In rear of the Nineteenth corps a line was formed of men from my own and other regiments, and moved to the left and remained in position until about eight o'clock, when the regiment assembled at division headquarters, and at ten o'clock P. M., by order of General Cameron, moved toward Pleasant Hills.

The loss of the regiment in killed, wounded, and missing is three officers and twenty-six men. To the coolness and fearlessness of the officers, and the bravery and strict execution of orders of the men, is due the comparatively small loss sustained by the regiment.

I have the honor to be, Captain, your obedient servant,

W. H. Baldwin, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding.

Private letter from the Eighty-Third Ohio.

headquarters Eighty-Third regiment O. V. I., Grand Ecore, La., April 17, 1864.
A boat is to leave in a short time, and I will write until the last moment. I have been writing to the friends of killed and wounded. Captain Waldo is wounded in the left arm and left hip. I have written to his father. He is at Mansfield, in the enemy's hospital, doing well.

The battle was shockingly managed. It was no doubt a surprise upon the General commanding. He endeavored to charge the enemy with a baggage-train, but it didn't work. It was some eighteen miles from Pleasant Hills, where we encamped the night before, that a portion of our division, after skirmishing all day, (our brigade marched out at three o'clock A. M.,) were brought to a stand by the enemy. The Eighty-third, some ten miles back, guarding an ammunitiontrain, was sent for and arrived at a rapid march, partly upon the double-quick, at about two o'clock, and after two or three changes of position became hotly engaged at three o'clock. Our line was stretched just as long as possible. The enemy outflanked us on both flanks, and massed in front. When we engaged the enemy there were nine thousand, perhaps, of our division engaged; not a man in reserve. The Third division came up and went in as it arrived; but we were opposed by some twenty thousand troops, according to the best information we can get, and they were reinforced by five thousand during the engagement. Our little force fought the enemy in a regular pitched battle from three to o'clock, after skirmishing all day, under every disadvantage. There was but one road, leading into an open field and passable wood. This wood and field were surrounded by ravines and tangled swamp, so that there was no ingress or egress but by the one road, and that road was choked up by wagons. There is a great deal of bitter feeling against our leaders. It is very much like “Grand Coteau,” where one brigade of our corps was left to be gobbled up by the enemy. Generals Banks and Franklin did not believe that there was any force but a few skirmishers in our front, and by their incredulity lost the day.

The Nineteenth corps came up to within one and a half miles of the field, and formed a line in a favorable place. They that night checked the enemy, but we all fell back to Pleasant Hills, eighteen miles, where we met General A. J. Smith. Upon meeting the fragment of the old Tenth, (now the Fourth,) he wept. He told General Banks, I am informed, that he had sacrificed the best fighting division in the army. The enemy followed us up and got a severe punishing at the hands of General Smith. General Banks said to him: “General Smith, you have saved my army.” Smith's reply was characteristic--“By God! I know it, sir.” When told that reinforcements were coming, Smith said he was very sorry. Before being asked the reason, he said: “The fellow has more men now than he knows how to use.”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 17th, 1864 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: