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Doc. 190.-the battle at Raymond, Miss.

Cincinnati commercial account.

Raymond, Miss., May 13, 1863.
the battle fought yesterday within three miles of the town of Raymond, Mississippi, ought to be called the battle of Farnden's Creek, from the stream near which it commenced, and whose banks last evening bore witness to the dreadful struggle, by the number of dead and wounded that lay strewn along them.

As a battle, the engagement of yesterday is, of course, not entitled to rank with such bloody contests as Shiloh and Donelson, but many who participated in it, and some who witnessed it, agree in pronouncing it, what an officer called it this morning, “one of the heaviest small battles of the war.” I was attempting to narrate the leading events of the day this morning, but had made only a very little progress when the special messenger, on whom I relied for the transmission of my letter to Milliken's Bend, compelled me to close, as he was about to start for the river, and could not wait on me even half an hour.

Skirmishing commenced early in the morning. Our cavalry advance exchanged shots with the enemy soon after daylight. The rebels had their cavalry thrown out several miles from their main body, as is their invariable custom in the South-West, and one which we might imitate with great advantage to ourselves.

At about nine o'clock, Captain Foster, in command of our advance cavalry, came back from the front to meet General McPherson, to whom he communicated the condition of affairs, giving it as his opinion that there was a body of rebel infantry ahead, which it would be dangerous for cavalry to attempt to penetrate. After pretty heavy firing by the cavalry, in which the Second Illinois lost two killed and several wounded, the Twentieth Ohio, Colonel Force commanding, was ordered to advance in line of battle across a couple of fields toward some heavy timber, where it was supposed the rebels had their infantry force. Shortly afterward the Seventy-eighth and Sixty-eighth Ohio and Thirtieth Illinois were ordered forward in a similar manner. These regiments constituted the Second brigade of General Logan's division.

The Twentieth Ohio kept steadily on its way forward, followed by the other regiments of the Second brigade. As they approached the woods the rebels sought to check their advance by a heavy fire from the timber, but our men stood their ground nobly, contending against the almost concealed foe at great disadvantage, never yielding an inch, but pressing steadily forward. General Logan, on ascertaining the condition of affairs in his front, sent word to the First and Third brigades of his division to close up their ranks and push forward as rapidly as possible. Meantime the Second brigade was holding its own against a vastly superior force. It was soon reinforced by the brigades under Generals John E. Smith and John I). Stevenson.

Shortly after the opening of the fight, Captain De Golyer's battery, Eighth Michigan, was ordered to the front, and took a commanding position for the purpose of dislodging the enemy from the woods, the infantry having proven itself inadequate to the task. The James rifled guns of De Golyer's battery opened and commenced pouring a heavy fire of shell into the rebel columns. The enemy now, for the first time, opened artillery upon us. His aim was good, succeeding in making our infantry change position. But his purpose was to silence the Eighth Michigan battery, and he failed in that. Finding it impossible to silence the guns with artillery, the rebels attempted a charge upon the battery. A regiment of men essayed the hazardous undertaking. While they were removing a fence, preparatory to making the decisive dash, the battery opened on them. )Our men fired two shells into their midst, both of which burst among them, killing and wounding a large number, and causing the entire column to fall back in disorder. At their inglorious withdrawal, our infantry sent up a few rousing cheers, which had the effect of accelerating the speed of the fugitives, and inspiring our whole command with a new zeal and determination to press forward to a victory of which they felt certain, even when the fortunes of the day seemed to turn against them.

The rebels, defeated in their attempt to capture our battery, found themselves compelled to fall back to a position immediately in the rear of Farnden's Creek. There was but a few inches depth of water in the creek, and its very abrupt, deep banks rendered it more favorable to them than the best rifle-pits they could have dug. General McPherson had no sooner ascertained their new position than he ordered an advance upon it. General Dennis's brigade had the lead, and his brave men went forward with a will. General Smith's brigade supported them. A large open field lay between them and the enemy, and to march across it, exposed to the fire of an ambushed foe, was their dreadful task assigned. Not a man flinched, not a soldier evinced a spirit of fear or reluctance. Forward they went, unmindful of the galling fire in their front. When within good range, they opened on the rebels, and a more terrible conflict than that which followed, for more than five minutes, has seldom occurred between two opposing forces of [613] equal size. The Twentieth Ohio, Twentieth Illinois, and Twenty-third Indiana lost heavily, but the rebels were forced from their ground.

During the desperate struggle above alluded to, the rebels attempted to turn our left flank, and very nearly succeeded in doing so. The Twentieth Ohio and Twenty-third Indiana had advanced too far from their support, and were in great danger of being cut off. A regiment of rebels suddenly emerged from a thick undergrowth, and marched daringly forward toward the left of the Twentieth. Colonel Force saw the danger he was in, and gave the order to fall back upon the main body. In the execution of this order, the regiment suffered greatly, as its mortality list will show. Among the commissioned officers wounded at this time, was the acting Major, Captain Kaga, from Sidney, Ohio. Two balls struck him near the shoulder, breaking the collar-bone, and inflicting such injuries as, it is feared, will prove fatal. The Twenty-third Indiana, when ordered to fall back to the main column, found itself on an elevation between two ravines. Their commander, Colonel Davis, extricated them from this position in an admirable manner. Any but veterans would have scattered in confusion, on finding themselves so totally at the mercy of an enemy three times their numerical strength, but the Twenty-third were undismayed, and retreated without showing their backs to the enemy. The casualty list of the Indiana boys in this battle is very great.

The fight on the left was growing desperate. The Twentieth Illinois had fired forty rounds of cartridges, and still the enemy held them at bay. Colonel Richards, of the Twentieth, had been mortally wounded while urging his willing heroes forward. At this critical period General Stevenson's brigade came to the rescue. The Eighth Illinois, Lieutenant-Colonel Sturgis commanding, came up, with fixed bayonets, and with a wild yell, which the rebels wisely interpreted as a premonition of death to the foe, drove them from the creek in wild disorder. This was one of the most brilliant feats of the day. It made the assurance of our victory doubly sure.

The rebels were by this time thoroughly defeated, though they still kept up an outward show of willingness to continue the battle. Nothing occurred after the charge by the Eighth Illinois that deserves especial mention. The rebels retreated gradually toward Raymond. General Logan advanced cautiously, until receiving no reply to his fire, he became convinced that the enemy was “on the wing.” We were in the town of Raymond about an hour after the departure of the routed rebels.

The most reliable estimate we can make places the rebel strength at six thousand men. Citizens tell us they had but three thousand, but there were prisoners captured from ten different regiments--Tennessee, Alabama, Texas and Mississippi. They were under command of General Gregg, of Texas. We fought them with General Logan's division, of McPherson's army corps, between five and six thousand strong. General Crocker's division came up in the afternoon, but not in time to participate in the fight. It is fair to say the forces were very nearly equal — the rebels having the great advantage of position and topographical knowledge, however.

The official list of killed and wounded on our side has not yet been made up. Officers disagree in their estimate of casualties. Our loss in killed and wounded will not exceed two hundred and fifty, I think. The burial party report having buried forty of our men on the field; to these may be added ten who died on the evening of the engagement. There were one hundred and sixty wounded Union soldiers carried to hospitals. A number were slightly wounded, and either did not enter the hospitals at all, or were cared for in their own regiments. The rebel loss was much heavier than ours. We buried sixty-one confederates on the field, and twelve died at our hospitals before the morning of the thirteenth. We picked up nearly a hundred of their wounded on the field, and found nearly fifty in the hospitals at Raymond. All their slightly wounded were carried off; of those left behind by them, more than one half will die. On their side, Colonel McGiffick, from Nashville, of the Tenth Tennessee, was killed; also several captains and lieutenants. We lost but one field-officer killed, Lieutenant--Colonel Richards, of the Twentieth Illinois. Colonel McCook (brother of Major-General McCook) was wounded in the foot. We lost a number of line-officers. I sent a partial list of our casualties by a special messenger yesterday. If he is not captured on the road, it will reach the North in good season.

We took between two and three hundred prisoners during the day.

During the engagement yesterday, General McPherson rode along our lines in the thickest of the fight, encouraging his men, and directing their movements. He behaved with remarkable coolness all day. He had several narrow escapes from cannon-shots.

General Logan was, as usual, full of zeal, and intoxicated with enthusiasm. His horse was shot twice. If you ever hear that Logan has been defeated, make up your mind that he and most of his men have been sacrificed. He has stricken the word “retreat” from his military lexicon.

The Seventh Texas met the Eighth Illinois on the field, and was repulsed by them. The same regiments faced each other at Donelson. The Seventh Missouri (Union) and Tenth Tennessee, (confederate,) both Irish regiments, had a close-range contest, in which they exchanged compliments with genuine Hibernian accent. The Missouri boys were victorious.

We arrived here last evening. Raymond is a small town — an exact copy of all Southern burgs of its size. It is the county-seat of Hinds County, and contains a population (in peace times) of about one thousand five hundred. It is distant eighteen miles from Jackson, and eight from the Jackson and Vicksburgh Railroad, with which it is connected by a branch road. Of course we did not expect to find Unionists in a Mississippi village, [614] and were, therefore, not disappointed at the coolness of our reception in Raymond.

We obtained Jackson papers of the eleventh (the day previous) in the town, and were a little amused and a good deal instructed, to learn by them that the Yankees had been whipped at Grand Gulf and Port Gibson, and were falling back to seek protection from their gunboats.

We were told by the citizens that the confederates had fallen back only a couple of miles, and would give us a big battle when we advanced upon them; that Gregg had been strongly reenforced, and would prevent us from reaching the railroad at all hazards.

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Logan (6)
McPherson (4)
C. R. Stevenson (2)
John E. Smith (2)
Peter Richards (2)
Robert L. McCook (2)
Stonewall Jackson (2)
Maxcy Gregg (2)
De Golyer (2)
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Sturgis (1)
Raymond (1)
McGiffick (1)
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William S. John (1)
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Frederick Crocker (1)
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May 13th, 1863 AD (1)
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