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Doc. 91.-General Sherman's expedition.

Missouri Democrat account.

Milliken's Bend, La., January 3, 1863, Twenty-five miles above Vicksburgh.
we have met the enemy and they are not ours, but, on the contrary, quite the reverse. It was a favorite axiom of Sam Patch that “some things could be done, as well as others ;” but that is a rule that has many exceptions, and General Sherman's expedition is one of them. Veni, vidi, vici--in a horn. In other words, we came, we saw, and did not conquer. Having failed to take Vicksburgh, the next best thing was to prevent being taken ourselves, and we did it nobly. A dark night is sometimes an excellent institution, especially if it be accompanied with plentiful showers of rain, with a due infusion of fog. Under cover of such a fortunate concentration of events, the right wing of the Thirteenth army corps,under command of Major-Gen. W. T. Sherman, saved its bacon, else your correspondent would now probably be the forced recipient of the hospitalities of the good people of Vicksburgh, and subsisting on “corn bread and common doings,” instead of faring sumptuously every day at the bountifully-spread board of the steamer White Cloud.

But the matter is too grave to treat lightly. A stupid blunder, and an ignoble attempt to forestal another general's laurels, have brought shame and calamity to our country, desolation and woe to more than two thousand households, and peril to the cause of liberty and free government.

When on the twentieth of December last, this noble fleet of over a hundred transports, bearing an immense army, proudly steamed out of the the port of Memphis, with colors flying and drums beating, who could have imagined the humiliating finale of such an immense enterprise, inaugurated under such hopeful auspices? Why these hopes were blasted, and who is responsible for such a gigantic disaster, are questions which the American people will insist on having answered. When they are answered, the causes will be found in the mismanagement, incompetence, and probable insanity of the commanding general, and the intemperance, negligence, and general inefficiency of nearly the whole of the line and field-officers of his command. Facts, of the most stubborn kind, as they are gradually developed, will bear out this sweeping assertion. From notes made on the way, and throughout this expedition, I will endeavor to give your readers a brief but faithful account of all the events of interest attending it. [311]

On Saturday morning orders were issued for all the troops to embark on their respective transports, and be ready to move by nine o'clock on Sunday morning, but from want of system, many unexpected delays occurred, which detained the fleet until late in the afternoon. The scene of confusion which characterized this embarkation was probably never paralleled, except by an army making a precipitate retreat. Companies were separated from their regiments, and officers from their companies; batteries were on one boat, and caissons belonging to them on another; and the horses and artillerymen on still another. The case was just as bad with the cavalry regiments, if not worse. There seemed to have been no places provided for them, and so they and their horses were scattered about on various beats, in little squads, wherever room could be found, and not the slightest attention was paid to putting the men on the same boats with their horses. In case of emergency, to have put a single company of cavalry on shore, mounted and equipped, would have involved the necessity of landing half a dozen boats. Part of this confusion may have been attributable to the fact that on the day previous the army had been paid off for the first time in several months, and men and officers were nearly all lively with drink.

All the transports were crowded to their utmost capacity, and as they had all been hastily pressed into the service without preparation, of course there were no adequate accommodations for the troops, either for comfort or cleanliness. The men were all huddled between decks and on the guards like so many sheep, and at night were compelled to sleep in a space scarcely sufficient for them to stand comfortably in in the daytime. To make a bad matter worse, nearly every soldier had managed to get a canteen of whisky, enough to keep him drunk for two days with what they had already taken, and for that space of time such a scene of riot and filthiness was scarce ever witnessed. I was shut up on a small boat with such a crowd, and never before realized the full force of the expression: “Hell broke loose.” In the cabin, among the officers, affairs were but little better, so far as sobriety was concerned. A large proportion of the officers were drinking and gambling, day and night during the entire trip, and their behavior was unbecoming in the extreme. Their conduct excited any other idea, rather than that of a band of patriots going down to fight the battles of their country. Of course there were many noble exceptions, but neither their example nor influence could restrain their more unruly companions.

Until we got below Helena, wood was so scarce on the river, that it was only to be obtained by cutting it, either entirely green or from the waterlogged drifts which had caught against the banks. Wherever a good placer was discovered, the boats lucky enough to find it landed and all hands went out with axes, and in a few hours enough was obtained to steam on to the next good place.

When the fleet approached Napoleon, Ark., the Post Boy, which is a transportation boat, was in the advance, and as she neared the shore she was hailed by a person bearing a flag of truce, with the information that there was a band of guerrillas just below, waiting to fire upon her. At this time she was the only boat visible, but in a short time the remainder of the fleet made its appearance, and the guerrillas, if there were any, concluded no doubt that we were too many for them. At all events, at this point there was no firing. The houses in the town appeared to be nearly all deserted, but in some of them could be seen persons standing back in the door, as if to escape the observation of their neighbors, and waving their handkerchiefs. Napoleon is the place where the first shot was fired at a Federal steamer on the Mississippi River, but there may be some Union people there nevertheless.


As we reached this point, where a large portion of Gen. Sherman's army was camped, very little of the city could be seen for the long line of tents stretched along the bank. The fleet stopped there for the night and took on the troops that were to accompany the expedition, and next morning started on for Friar's Point, the first place of rendezvous. It lay there all night apparently without any object, and about nine o'clock next morning again started down the river, and reached Gaines's Landing, one hundred and fifty miles below Helena, about two o'clock P. M.., where it stopped to wood. As the fleet approached this point the bank appeared to be lined with negroes, who all started down the shore hurrahing and shouting and jumping, and cutting all kinds of antics. I learned from some of them that they thought the fleet was going down to set all the slaves free.

When the boats landed, a negro gave information of a large store of wood of the best quality, amounting to more than two thousand cords, secreted in the timber near the bank, in a place where it would not readily have been found. This was a great prize, and was instantly levied on for the use of Uncle Sam. Every soldier able to do duty was sent on shore to pack wood, and by nightfall, all the boats were well supplied for nearly the whole trip. Near the wood were some ten or twelve houses, one of them a very fine frame. The negroes said the owners had gone to join the Southern army, and the soldiers, without more ado, burned them all down. Many of the negroes, if not all, came on the boats, and are now under the protection of the army.

At early light the next morning the fleet moved on again, and as General Morgan's division came opposite a little village known as Wood Cottage Landing, some guerrillas, secreted in a clump of undergrowth, fired a volley at one of his transports. To teach them a lesson for the future, Gen. Morgan sent some troops on shore and burnt every house in the neighborhood.

Milliken's Bend.

This was to be the last rendezvous of the fleet before it started out for active operations on Vicksburgh [312] burgh, and we arrived there about dark on the evening of the twenty-fourth December. The next day would be Christmas, and many of the soldiers had the idea that the fleet would sail right in without difficulty, and that they would take their Christmas dinner in Vicksburgh. Many invitations were given among friends for a dinner at the Preston House. They little dreamed of the disappointment in store for them, or that New Year's day would find them on the wrong side of the hill.

On the night of the twenty-fourth, Gen. Sherman sent out a detachment of troops, under command of Gen. M. L. Smith, to tear up a section of the line of the Vicksburgh and Texas Railroad, about ten miles west of Vicksburgh. The work was well and quickly done, and the stations at Delhi and Dallas burned. After tearing up about a mile of the road, General Smith discovered that the road was already broken at a point eight miles from Vicksburgh, so that the damage to the enemy was not as great as had been anticipated. If the fleet had landed a little higher up the river, the expedition might have been as easily sent to Richmond — a little town thirty miles from Vicksburgh, and no further from the river than Dallas or Delhi — and by cutting the road there, could give the rebels some thirty odd miles more of hauling to do, and so embarrassed them very much. As it was, the expedition accomplished nothing of any importance, and the delay was a very serious detriment to the main expedition, as, of course, the enemy had ample time and opportunity to learn of our approach, and spies could count every boat as it passed, and take a very approximate estimate of our strength straight to Vicksburgh.

From two refugees and several contrabands, who came to the fleet while we lay at this point, it was learned very satisfactorily that there were no more than fifteen thousand troops at the outside in Vicksburgh; and that, although there were rifle-pits and breastworks in the rear of the city, there were no soldiers posted there or batteries erected. To take the city was thought to be an easy job.

All of Christmas day the fleet lay at Milliken's Bend, with the troops on the transports, in a state of total inactivity. Nobody knew what it meant, and every body was suffering from listlessness and ennui. A few ineffectual attempts were made to get up Christmas festivities; but the usual staples were non est, and the day dragged its slow length along as dismally as can be imagined.

At length, as evening approached, an order was received from Gen. Sherman to prepare to move up the Yazoo early the next morning. Immediately all was life and activity. Long faces disappeared, and the joyful anticipation of at length commencing operations on the enemy was manifested in every countenance.

At daylight next morning all was ready, and the fleet started for its destined port, which it reached on the banks of the Yazoo about noon the same day. Many years ago, about eight miles below the mouth of the Yazoo the Mississippi cut a new channel for itself across a bend, coming into the main channel again just above Vicksburgh. The Yazoo followed the old channel, and the mouth of the river is, therefore, really from twelve to fifteen miles below where it was originally; but from the old mouth to the new the river is known to pilots as “Old River.” Where the fleet landed was about three miles above Old River, where the right rested, and the left extended to within three miles of Haynes's Bluff, the intervening space being about six miles.

On entering the Yazoo, the first object that attracted the attention was the ruins of a large brick house and several other buildings, which were still smoking. On inquiry, I learned that this was the celebrated plantation of the rebel Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, who was killed at Shiloh. It was an extensive establishment, working over three hundred negroes. It contained a large steam sugar refinery, an extensive steam saw-mill, cotton-gins, machine-shop, and a long line of negro quarters.

The dwelling was palatial in its proportions and architecture, and the grounds around it were magnificently laid out in alcoves, with arbors, trellises, groves of evergreens and extensive flower-beds. All was now a mass of smouldering ruins. Our gunboats had gone up there the day before, and a small battery planted near the mansion announced itself by plugging away at one of the iron-clads, and the marines went ashore after the gunboats had silenced the battery, and burned and destroyed every thing on the place. If any thing were wanting to complete the desolate aspect of the place, it was to be found in the sombre-hued pendent moss, peculiar to Southern forests, and which gives the trees a funereal aspect, as if they were all draped in mourning. As on almost every Southern plantation, there were many deadened trees standing about in the fields, from the limbs of all of which long festoons of moss hung, swaying with a melancholy motion in every breeze.

The weather, since the starting out of the fleet, had, up to this time, been very fine; but as evening now approached, a heavy rain commenced, which, from the appearance of things, bid fair to continue for an indefinite period. The Yazoo River was low and the banks steep and about thirty feet high. Along the edge of the water, and reaching to the foot of the bank, is a dense undergrowth of willows, briers, thorns, vines and live oaks, twined together in a most disagreeably promiscuous manner. To effect a landing of the troops and trains, a way had to be cut through this entanglement, from every boat, and this caused such a delay that it was quite dark before all the troops were got on shore. Tents were pitched for the night, pickets sent out, and the army encamped, anxiously awaiting the dawn of the next day.

On the following morning, a scene of confusion ensued which fully equalled that of the embarkation, and, in fact, resulted from it. Companies seeking their regiments, officers seeking their companies; men hunting for missing horses; [313] wagoners seeking their teams, and every body looking for something which could not be found. The first troops got ashore and brought into line, were Gen. Blair's brigade, of Gen. Steele's division, and a brigade each, from Gen. Morgan's and General M. L. Smith's divisions. These were ordered out on a reconnoissance, Gen. Blair on the left, and the other brigades on the right. The brigade from Gen. Morgan L. Smith's division met the enemy's pickets about a mile and a half from the river, and captured two of them. One of them had quite a number of letters and despatches, which from their tone were certainly manufactured for the occasion, and designed to mislead. It was quite apparent, therefore, that it was intended by the enemy that these pickets should be captured. The brigade from General Morgan's division found the enemy with a battery on the right, two miles from the river, and after a slight skirmish, countermarched and returned to the river, as Gen. Sherman had given peremptory orders that no engagement should be brought on that evening.

Vicksburgh is peculiarly situated, being on a hill, with a line of hills surrounding it at a distance of several miles, and extending from Haynes's Bluff, on the Yazoo, to Warrenton, ten miles below it on the Mississippi. The intervening space is low and swampy, and full of lagoons, lakes, quicksands and bayous. There are few points of approach across it to the hills in the rear of Vicksburgh, and these are extremely difficult. The ridge of hills commencing at Haynes's Bluff, follows the course of the river below at a distance of about four miles, and is about three hundred feet high. Just below Haynes's Bluff comes in Chickasaw Bayou from the Yazoo, and strikes across the bottom-land about midway between the ridge and the river, and heading near Vicksburgh.

On Saturday morning, about ten o'clock, the whole army was drawn up in line of battle, and prepared to make assaults on the enemy's works at several different points. General Steele's division was on the left; Gen. A. J. Smith's on the right; General Morgan's on the left centre, and Gen. M. L. Smith's on the right centre.

At Haynes's Bluff, is a very powerful eight-gun battery and fort, supported by a force of several hundred infantry. This fort was the obstacle to our fleet making any farther ascent of the Yazoo, and our gunboats had assailed it unsuccessfully on the twenty-fourth. While the troops were forming in line of battle, several gunboats were sent up to make another attempt on the battery, but after several hours' cannonading, the attempt was abandoned as impracticable. The gunboat Benton was completely disabled in the affair, numerous balls having penetrated her sides. The firing from this battery was remarkable for its accuracy. There were thirty-four shots fired at the Benton, and of the number, twenty-nine struck her, and three balls entered the same port-hole. Her brave commander, Captain Gwin, was severely, if not mortally, wounded by a cannon-ball, which tore the flesh from his breast and right arm. Five of his men were killed and several more wounded, all the latter by splinters.

After the line of battle was formed, General Morgan L. Smith's division took the advance, and moved rapidly on the enemy, encountering them about three quarters of a mile from Chickasaw Bayou. Skirmishing immediately began, and was kept up throughout the day, the enemy contesting every inch of the road, but being gradually pushed back toward the bayou. The evening before, a portion of General Steele's division had been reembarked on the transports, and landed above Chickasaw Bayou, for the purpose of attempting to take a battery in the rear, which commanded the only point where a crossing could be made on the extreme right. This was at a place known as Mrs. Lake's plantation, and the rebels had a force there in possession of field and house. Owing to the mud and other difficulties, the landing of this portion of Gen. Steele's division occupied the whole of the day of the twenty-sixth, and it did not reach the scene of operations until the morning of the twenty-seventh. While Gen. M. L. Smith's division was skirmishing with the enemy on the right centre, General Blair's brigade and Gen. Morgan's division had advanced on the left by different routes, and came into position nearly side by side, close by Mrs. Lake's plantation. Skirmishing took place with the enemy's infantry, and at the same time a masked battery opened on General Blair's brigade. He ordered Hoffman's battery to return the fire with shell, and in a few minutes the rebel battery was silenced, and their infantry retreated from the plantation to the cover of a thicket not far off.

By nightfall the enemy had been driven a quarter of a mile from where they were first encountered, and the contest then ceased, both forces resting on their arms, ready to renew the conflict in the morning. During the night silence and darkness prevailed in both camps. Not a fire was lighted, or a sound made by which either would betray its position to the other. In the night a light wind sprung up, blowing toward the river from the enemy's position, and the night became clear and frosty. Amid the prevailing silence, and aided by the wind, the sound of cars constantly running could be heard on the Jackson and Vicksburgh Railroad, no doubt bearing reenforcements to the enemy. During the night, the enemy was no doubt busily engaged in erecting rifle-pits and breastworks, as on the following morning, long lines of them could be seen, where none were visible the night before. Several new batteries were also seen on the heights beyond.

It now became a matter of interest among the troops to know where General Grant was. It had been understood all along that he was to cooperate with General Sherman, and as it was now manifest that the enemy was much stronger than had been anticipated, his presence was anxiously looked for, and all kinds of rumors began to spread in camp as to his whereabouts. Although the reports were very conflicting, it came to be [314] generally believed that he had advanced beyond Jackson, and would join Gen. Sherman on the morning of the twenty-seventh.

A little before daylight on the morning of the twenty-seventh, a large rocket was seen to ascend several miles distant from our right centre in the direction where it was supposed General Grant would come in on the enemy's rear. This was believed by the troops to be the signal of his approach, and the enthusiasm of the men was greatly increased by it.

At daylight on Sunday morning, the enemy commenced the battle by a heavy cannonade on General Blair's brigade and General Morgan's division from the battery across the bayou, which the detachment from General Steele's division had been sent out to flank, and at the same time the conflict was renewed by General M. L. Smith's division, and the enemy in his front, Gen. Smith leading in person. After an hour's hard fighting, he drove the enemy from their position, and seeing that he could drive them across the bayou, started out to the front with his Chief of Staff, Chas. McDonald, Acting Adjutant-General, and two orderlies, to look for a place where he could cross his army in the pursuit, designing to keep the enemy between him and their batteries until he was ready to make a charge on the latter. He discovered a point where a sand-bar had formed in the bayou, and which could be passed without difficulty, and as he was in the act of turning his horse to return to his command, a volley of about seventy shots was fired at him from a force concealed in an adjacent canebrake. One of the shots took effect in his hip, the ball passing in an oblique direction, and lodging in his spine, where it was wedged so tightly that the surgeons could not remove it.

The wound is not supposed to be mortal, but it disables him from further service at present. He evinced great coolness on the occasion, merely turning to his Chief of Staff, and remarking: “Charley, I've got one of them.” He then rode on for half a mile as if nothing had happened, hoping to get to the rear without his men knowing that he was wounded, fearing its demoralizing effect on them. He was unable to proceed further, as he rapidly became faint from loss of blood, and had to be taken in an ambulance to his headquarters on one of the transports. The ball has since been extracted, while he was under the influence of chloroform, and his prospect of recovery is now good. He was wounded at a very inopportune moment, and the result was the loss of the advantage he had gained over the enemy, who now retreated successfully across the bayou and took refuge behind their intrenchments. The command then devolved temporarily upon Gen. Stuart, who seemed somewhat bewildered by the sudden charge which had devolved upon him, but in a short time he recovered his equanimity, and kept up during the day a constant skirmishing with his forces, but without accomplishing any thing of importance. The opportunity of successfully storming the enemy's batteries in that position was lost by the delay necessarily occasioned by the change of commanders, and it could not be regained.

In the mean time General Blair's brigade was busily engaged in building a bridge across the bayou by Mrs. Lake's house, which it succeeded in doing under a very heavy fire, and the brigade passed over in safety, with the loss of but few men. Among these was Col. John B. Wyman, Thirteenth Illinois infantry, who was killed by a ball passing through his right breast, and emerging below the right shoulder-blade. He was an efficient officer and accomplished gentleman, and greatly beloved by all who knew him.

Between General Steele's and General Morgan's divisions there was a long slough, making in from the bayou, and at a point extending into a lake by a few hundred yards extent. During the day it became a matter of importance to establish a communication between these two divisions, and Captains Green, Scammon, and Lokalski, of Gen. Steele's staff, were sent out to reconnoitre for a road. After much seeking, they found a place where infantry could cross, but which was impracticable for artillery or cavalry. As long as they advanced they saw no signs of an enemy, but when they started to return, they found the whole woods full of sharp-shooters, and they had to run the gauntlet for a half-mile amid the constant crack of rifles from foes concealed behind trees. They put spurs to their horses, and by rapid flight managed to escape unharmed.

There appears to have been thus far no general plan of battle, in which each commander was assigned a specific part, but the whole operations of the day seem to have been merely a series of skirmishes in which each division commander acted on his own responsibility. Orders were given promiscuously, and obeyed when they suited the ideas of the officer receiving them. In several cases, parts of brigades were taken in command by officers of other divisions than the one to which they were attached, and in one instance grave consequences very nearly resulted. Gen. Thayer had placed his brigade in line with the intention of crossing the bayou, south of Mrs. Lake's house, and had given orders that when the first regiment moved, the other three should follow. Gen. Thayer moved the first regiment forward, and under a heavy fire succeeded in crossing the bayou with considerable loss, and turned his men on a road through the woods, and was soon shut out from view of the remaining regiments, but naturally supposed they were following.

In the mean time Gen. Steele had sent word to Gen. Morgan that he needed reenforcements at a particular point, and asked for a regiment. Gen. Morgan thereupon ordered away the second regiment of Gen. Thayer's brigade, and the third and fourth followed them according to the orders issued by Gen Thayer. Gen. Morgan sent word to the latter of the chance, but the messenger being killed in crossing the bayou, Gen. Thayer had no knowledge of it, and when he reached the enemy's front, found himself in the face of a superior force without any support. He was compelled [315] to beat a hasty retreat at the very moment when he believed himself on the point of accomplishing an important achievement. The day passed without any considerable results. The rattling of musketry and booming of cannon had been incessant throughout the day, but when evening came all the firing ceased, except an occasional gun fired at night by our batteries, and which met with no response. It afterward appeared that the enemy spent the night in constructing a second line of rifle-pits, about two hundred yards in rear of the first.

No accurate estimate could be made of our loss during the day, but from the best accounts attainable it appeared to be small, not exceeding fifty killed and two hundred wounded. The army was still bivouacking, but tents were sent out for the wounded, into which they were conveyed, and received all the attention possible. At sundown, when the firing ceased, General Blair's brigade returned from across the bayou and took a position on Gen. Morgan's right, and to the left of Gen. M. L. Smith's division. At the extreme right was Gen. A. J. Smith's division, where it had remained all day; and Gen. Steele was in the rear on the left, as a reserve.

On Monday morning the enemy still remained intrenched in force on the opposite bank of the bayou, and their line of defences could be seen extending for at least two miles up the bluffs. Batteries were seen planted at every assailable point, and it was evident that the rebels had exerted a most commendable industry during the night and had prepared to make the most determined resistance to our anticipated assault. The position was naturally strong, and all the appliances of military art and skill had been brought into requisition to make it a second Gibraltar. Far back on the highest peak of the hill they had erected a signal station, overlooking all the battle-ground, and far removed from the reach of shot or shell. By the aid of a glass the persons in charge of the station could be easily seen; and, during the entire day, every movement of our troops was signalled to the commanding general. Many spectators were also posted there with glasses, among whom were a number of women.

It had been arranged that at an early hour on Monday morning a concerted attack should be made on the enemy's works, at four different points, and to do this it was found necessary to construct three bridges across the bayou so that artillery could be taken over. Accordingly, by daylight, parties were sent out to undertake this dangerous enterprise. Wherever men appeared with this view, the enemy immediately commenced a heavy cannonade upon them, and their batteries appeared to have been so skilfully placed as to command every point where a bridge was possible. Gen. A. J. Smith, at the extreme right, put a bridge across within two miles of Vicksburgh, but it was not brought into requisition. Gen. Blair had already got a bridge across at Mrs. Lake's house, and Gen. Stuart, commanding Gen. Morgan L. Smith's division, decided to attempt the crossing at the sand-bar, where Gen. Smith had intended to cross when he was wounded. The bank of the bayou, opposite this bar, was about fifteen feet high, and it was further increased by an embankment or levee of three feet in height. This bank was very steep, and the land being sandy, the sides had caved in, so that the brow overhung about a foot and a half. To ascend it was utterly impossible without digging a road, and this would have to be done under a deadly fire from the enemy. The road across the sand-bar was about two hundred yards in length, exposed to a double cross-fire, and the only approach to it was over a flat bottom, covered with fallen trees.

After consultation with Colonel Giles Smith, brother of Gen. M. L. Smith, who had now been assigned the command of the division, General Stuart resolved to attempt the enterprise. The Sixth Missouri regiment, under command of Lieut.-Col. Blood, was detailed to lead the van. It was necessary first to send two companies over to dig away the bank, so that when the brigade came over it could rush up and storm the works. The duty was so perilous, that Colonel Blood was unwilling to detail any companies, and called for volunteers--one company to take picks and spades, and the other muskets. Company F, Capt. Bouton, and company K, Capt. Buck, volunteered for the duty. The plan was to make an excavation under the bank, without breaking the surface through, but so that it could be caved in at any moment. Amid the plaudits of their comrades, the two brave companies started on their perilous march. A perfect storm of bullets met them on the way, and with the loss of more than a tenth of their number, they effected the crossing. No more desperate enterprise was ever undertaken, and none more successfully achieved. Once under the protection of the bank, they commenced plying pick and spade in a manner indicating their appreciation of the fact that they had no time to spare.

In the mean time, to keep down the enemy's sharp-shooters, who were endeavoring to reach over and fire at them down the bank, the Thirteenth regulars were posted on the right, and the batteries from General Steele's and General Morgan's divisions on the left. These kept up a continual fire until the work was completed. Meanwhile, Gen. Morgan prepared to assault the hill from the south side of the bayou, supported by Generals Blair and Thayer, but Gen. Blair having already crossed the bayou, led the assault himself. The signal for Gen. Stuart's brigade to attempt the crossing at the sand-bar was to be heavy firing from General Morgan's division, the assault then to be made in concert. Gen. Blair, being in the advance, led his brigade upon the first line of rifle-pits, and after a hard but brief struggle, drove the enemy to their second line. Between the two lay a sort of ditch or small slough, with mud and quicksand in the bottom. As Gen. Blair advanced, his horse got inextricably mired, and the General coolly slid down his head, and led his brigade the remainder of the way on foot. [316] The other mounted officers seeing the difficulty, abandoned their horses also. On arriving at the second line of rifle-pits another chargee was made, supported by Hoffman's battery, and the enemy was again routed and driven into a thicket, or willow grove.

The Thirteenth Ohio then came up, and in a hand-to-hand conflict drove them from the thicket and took possession of it, but were in turn driven out by a heavy cannonade from the enemy's batteries on the hill. The enemy then commenced retreating up the hill, General Blair's brigade pursuing them, when all of a sudden, the enemy, from a masked battery, opened a most deadly and destructive fire upon them, with grape and canister. In a few minutes, the ground was covered with the dead and dying. The brigade went into the action with less than one thousand nine hundred men, and of this number, six hundred and forty-five were lost in killed, wounded, and taken prisoners. Colonel Thomas C. Fletcher, Thirty-first Missouri infantry, was wounded and taken prisoner, and Lieutenant-Col. Dister was killed. The Thirty-first Missouri lost sixteen officers in killed and wounded, and the Twenty-ninth Missouri, nine. Of the Fifty-eighth Ohio, only one hundred and seventy-five men were left. This ended the assault on the hill at this point, and Gen. Blair, with the remainder of his brigade, fell back to his position on the right of General Morgan.

The heavy firing from Gen. Morgan's division, which was to have been the signal, not being heard, and the excavation under the bank being completed, the men sheltered themselves under it the best they could and waited as patiently as the circumstances would permit for the next move. Our sharp-shooters of the Thirteenth regulars still kept up a fire to prevent firing from the bank, and in some instances their aim was too low, and the consequence was that they shot dead two of our own men. The men sent up a shout, “Fire higher,” and the rebels on the banks attempted to drown their voices by superior numbers shouting: “Fire lower.” The parties were so close together that when the rebels reached their guns over the bank and depressed them, those below could easily have crossed bayonets with them. Conversation could be easily carried on, and one rebel cried out: “What regiment is below?” On being answered that it was the “Sixth Missouri,” he replied: “It is too brave a regiment to be on the wrong side.”

It was now nearly evening, and the men had tasted no food since before day, and one of them called out: “Have you got any thing to eat up there, I'm hungry?” Immediately a large loaf of cornbread was thrown on the bank to them, and was welcomed heartily. The signal for the assault still being unheard, and a heavy rain coming up, it was deemed advisable by Capt. Bouton to send back a messenger for further orders, and private Mallsby volunteered to undertake the dangerous exploit. He crossed in safety, and in a few minutes the remainder of the gallant Sixth, led by Lieut.-Col. Blood, started over to their assistance, amid a renewed shower of bullets, and made the passage with the loss of one sixth their number. Col. Blood was wounded in the left shoulder by a ball, which, striking against a memorandum, glanced, or it would have passed through his body. His wound is not dangerous. Lieutenant Vance was the only officer killed. By the time Lieut.-Col. Blood got his regiment across, the day was hopelessly lost by the repulse of the army at other points, and about dark he received orders to retire at discretion. Under cover of the rain and darkness he brought his regiment back, a company at a time, until all were over, without the loss of a man, and only two wounded slightly.

Not until the night was pitchy dark did the firing all cease, and floods of rain were now descending as if we were to have a second edition of Noah. The ground where the fighting was done was all low and marshy, and soon the water and mud were several inches deep. No preparations, whatever, had been made for the wounded, all the accommodations having been exhausted on the wounded of the day before, and all that pitiless night and all the next day, the wounded lay in their agony on that oozy bed, under a soaking rain, uncared for, and many who had fallen on their faces and were unable to turn themselves, smothered in the mud, and many more died from the exposure. It was horrible to think of.

The only means I had of arriving at any idea of our loss is by common rumor, which places it at about two thousand in killed, wounded, and captured. That is the estimate, made in the rough by the Commanding General, according to common report. I know of nothing to lead me to think the number under-estimated. The heaviest loss was in Gen. Blair's brigade, consisting of the Thirteenth Illinois infantry, Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth and Thirty-first Missouri infantry, and Hoffman's Ohio battery. This brigade acted most heroically, and Gen. Blair showed himself an able and brave commander.

Where all acted so bravely, it seems almost invidious to mention individual cases, but there were several instances which came to my knowledge, which should not be passed over. Sergt. Bailey, of company F, Sixth Missouri infantry, did himself great credit by placing himself at the head of his company, when the commissioned officers were unaccountably absent, and leading them across the bayou under the enemy's heaviest fire. Private Mallsby, company F; Sergt. Mark Anthony, company D, and B. F. Ingram, Lieutenant-Col. Blood's orderly, also distinguished themselves by acting as volunteer messengers to cross the bayou with despatches, when to do so was apparently to rush on certain death. Each of these brave men crossed three times during the day, and Anthony and Mallsby were both severely wounded.

Private F. W. Taylor, of Belleville, Ill., was promoted for bravery on the field during the last day's action. While the two companies of the Sixth Missouri were crossing the sandbar, five of their number were shot down, and in the hurried advance their picks and spades were not taken up. After they got under the bank it was found very important to have those implements, and private [317] Madison, company K, went out and got them, and although several hundred shots were fired at him, he was unharmed.

Gen. Sherman expressed himself as well satisfied with the behavior of all his troops, but said the Sixth Missouri deserved to be immortalized. General Stuart said he never read of more heroic conduct in the annals of warfare.

The heavy rains of last night and the consequent condition of the law, swampy ground, prevented the possibility of any military operations on this day, by land. General Sherman sent out parties with flags of truce, to bury the dead and bring away the wounded, and the whole day was consumed in the discharge of this melancholy duty. It was discovered that the enemy had carried off all the slightly wounded as prisoners of war, leaving only those who were unable to walk. All the dead had been robbed of their haversacks, and many of the bodies stripped of their outer clothing. During the day, many rebel soldiers came down to the flags of truce and manifested a disposition to be quite friendly, and in some instances, assisting in burying the dead. They also brought a few Vicksburgh papers of that morning, containing a glowing account of the battle, and jubilating over the repulse of the Yankees. They estimated the numbers engaged in the battle, at three thousand on the part of the rebels, and fifteen thousand on the part of the Federals. The weather had cleared off as suddenly in the morning as the rain had come up on the evening before, and the beauty of the day, with its soft and languid air, illy harmonized with the mournful work in which our army was engaged. By night, the last sad office of burying the dead was completed, and the wounded were borne from the field to the hospital-boats.

The condition of the ground was still such as to prevent any operations on the Yazoo swamps, and Gen. Steele proposed to Gen. Sherman that a division be sent up the Yazzo on the transports, as near to Haynes's Bluff as they could get without coming within range of the guns from the battery, and that the troops then land and assault the works in the rear while the gunboats engaged the batteries in front. After consultation with the other division commanders, General Sherman approved the plan, and detailed General Steele's division to carry it into execution. At an early hour in the afternoon, the troops designated were embarked on the transports, reenforced by the Sixth and Eighth Missouri regiments from General Morgan L. Smith's division. The expedition was ordered to sail at daylight on the following morning, but when daylight came it was accompanied by a dense fog which did not clear away until nearly noon. The expedition was then abandoned.

After the fog cleared away, the troops were again landed, and during the remainder of the day remained idly and listlessly in camp, in momentary expectation of receiving an order for a movement of some kind. Toward evening a horseman was seen riding along the shore distributing orders to the various boats, and soo the roll of the drums along the lines indicated the reading of an order. Groups of anxious listeners gathered around each regimental commander as he read the order, which proved to be an order for every regiment to embark on its original transport, and be ready to move by daylight in the morning. Soon all was hurry and bustle, loading on horses, teams, batteries, and stores, and mustering the men on board, and long before midnight every thing was on the transports except the hospital teams and ambulances, and a few pickets.

Up to this time the soldiers, although they knew they had been repulsed, had no idea they were defeated; and the construction they put on the movement was, that it was a ruse to induce the enemy to advance from their intrenchments into the bottom-land. But why, it was asked, if that is the case, put all the wagons and heavy batteries on board at the expense of so much labor and inconvenience? The answer was, that there were a great many secession sympathizers along with the expedition, and that it was necessary to deceive them also, lest they give information of the ruse to the enemy. Daylight came, and the expedition did not move, and noon came and the fleet was quietly moored to the shore. That it was a ruse was now no longer doubted, and the pickets brought in word that the enemy was advancing toward us by the left. An order was immediately given for the fleet to sail, while a small force was sent out to hold the enemy in check, assisted by the gunboats.

By three o'clock in the afternoon the last boat passed out at the mouth of the Yazoo, where just one week before it had sailed in so triumphantly. The expedition which was to have taken Vicksburgh so easily, ingloriously and igominiously fled, leaving the exulting foe in undisputed possession of the battle-ground.

At the mouth of the Yazoo the fleet was met by the steamer Tigress, having on board General McCkernand. General Sherman reported to him, and in a short time issued the following order:

headquarters right wing army of the Tennessee, Steamer Forest Queen, Milliken's Bend, January 4, 1863.
General order, No. 5.

Pursuant to the terms of General Order, No. 1, made this day by Gen. McClernand, the title of our army ceases to exist, and constitutes in the future the Army of the Mississippi, composed of two “army corps,” one to be commanded by General G. W. Morgan, and the other by myself. In relinquishing the command of the army of the Tennessee, and restricting my authority to my own “corps,” I desire to express to all commanders, to the soldiers and officers recently operating before Vicksburgh, my hearty thanks for the zeal, alacrity, and courage, manifested by them on all occasions. We failed in accomplishing one great purpose of our movement, the capturing of Vicksburgh, but we were part of a whole. Ours was but part of a combined movement, in which others were to assist. We were on time. Unforeseen contingencies must have delayed the others. [318]

We have destroyed the Shreveport road, we have attacked the defences of Vicksburgh, and pushed the attack as far as prudence would justify, and having found it too strong for our single column, we have drawn off in good order and good spirits, ready for any new move. A new commander is now here to lead you. He is chosen by the President of the United States, who is charged by the Constitution to maintain and defend it, and he has the undoubted right to select his own agents. I know that all good officers and soldiers will give him the same hearty support and cheerful obedience they have hitherto given me. There are honors enough in reserve for all, and work enough, too. Let each do his appropriate part, and our nation must in the end emerge from this dire conflict, purified and ennobled by the fires which now test its strength and purity. All officers of the general staff not attached to my person will hereafter report in person and by letter to Major-General McClernand, commanding the army of the Mississippi, on board the steamer Tigress, at our rendezvous at Gaines's Landing, and at Montgomery Point.

Very apolegetic, and very boastful is the above order. I once read of a boy, who quarrelling with another boy said: “Dern you, if I can't lick you, I can make mouths at your sister.” Perhaps the reader may fail to see that General Order No. 5, is an amplified parody of that transaction, but I think not.

It is an old and very true saying, that straws show which way the wind blows. Perhaps I can furnish the public with a straw or two, which will not only show the way it blows, but why it set so strongly in a particular direction. When I was at Holly Springs, just after Gen. Sherman had returned from there, I overheard a conversation at the Provost-Marshal's office, in which one soldier said to another: “I was lying in my tent when Old Bill was here, (meaning Gen. Sherman) and he and General Stuart came by my tent and talked. I heard him say to Gen. Stuart: ‘It will never do to let General Grant get to Vicksburgh at the same time we do, or he will take all the credit. If I can get a division from him, it will not weaken him much, and will strengthen me greatly. Then with what forces I can pick up at Memphis and Helena, we can go in kiting.’ ”

This may possibly account for why he was “on time,” and so much ahead of Gen. Grant, who, I presume, was one of the “others” who were “to assist.” It was also known to General Sherman that the President had selected and designated Gen. McClernand as “his agent” to command the expedition. This may account for the haste in which Gen. Sherman started from Memphis before he got the expedition half organized. He no doubt expected to take Vicksburgh quite easily, and so confident was he of reaping all the glory, that on the way down he was quite hilarious over the conceit, and wondered “what Mac (meaning General McClernand) would think of it when he found how he had got the start of him?” Alas for human vanity! The bladder is punctured and the wind let out, and it is to be hoped never to become so inflated again.

All the principal New-York, St. Louis and Chicago papers had correspondents with Gen. Sherman's army, and from time to time, as despatch-boats went up the river from the fleet, sent to their respective papers full and detailed accounts of all matters pertaining to it, that could interest the public, without giving information to the enemy. These accounts were obtained with great labor and at great personal risk, especially the accounts from the battle-field. Gen. Sherman not only detained these accounts, but committed the heinous crime, punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, of violating the seals and perusing the contents. That he will escape all punishment due to his crime, except the condemnation of public opinion, no one can doubt; but nevertheless, he is morally just as guilty as though he had been tried by a jury of his peers and convicted. The outrage is inexcusable in any aspect. If he feared information being given to the enemy, he would have been justified as a war measure in detaining the correspondence, and no correspondent would have complained, although he might have felt unreasonably annoyed; but the violation of the sanctity of a private seal admits of no palliation.

Only two motives suggest themselves for this tyrannical act of surveillance--one, a pitiful inquisitiveness as to what correspondents said of him; and the other, a design of using their notes to assist in making out his official report, in the absence of any adequate arrangements made by him for getting details expeditiously. Major J. H. Hammond, his chief of staff, and in charge of the postal arrangements, lent himself as the pliant tool of Gen. Sherman in this nefarious business, by pretending a great desire to facilitate the transmission of correspondence, but no sooner had he inveigled the unsuspecting victims into trusting their despatches to his care, than he immediately turned them over to his master. Two days before the expedition sailed, Gen. Sherman issued an order, very ingeniously worded, so as not to mention correspondents, but yet placing it in his power to hold them under his thumb when he had once got them in a position where they could not help themselves. Extraordinarily enough, this order was not promulgated until the very moment when the fleet left Helena, and there was no opportunity for any one to return if so disposed. With no possibility of stopping or of returning, the poor correspondents were completely at his mercy. The order was as follows:

headquarters right wing, Thirteenth army corps, Memphis, Tenn., December 18, 1862.
General order, No. 8.

I. The expedition now fitting out is purely of a military character, and the interests involved are of too important a character to be mixed up with personal and private business. No citizen, male or female, will be allowed to accompany it unless employed as part of a crew or as servants [319] to the transports. Female chambermaids to the boats, and nurses to the sick alone, will be allowed, unless the wives of captains and pilots actually belonging to the boats. No laundress, officer's, or soldier's wife must pass below Helena.

II. No person whatever, citizen, officer, or suttler, will, on any consideration, buy, or deal in cotton or other produce of the country. Should any cotton be brought on board of any transport going or returning, the brigade quartermaster, of which the boat forms a part, will take possession of it, and invoice it to Captain A. R. Eddy, Chief Quartermaster at Memphis.

III. Should any cotton, or other produce, be brought back to Memphis by any chartered boat, Capt. Eddy will take possession of the same, and sell it for the benefit of the United States. If accompanied by its actual producer, the planter or factor, the Quartermaster will furnish him with a receipt for the same, to be settled for, on proof of his loyalty, at the close of the war.

IV. Boats ascending the river may take cotton from the shore, for bulkheads, to protect their engines or crew, but on arrival at Memphis, it will be turned over to the Quartermaster with a statement of the time, place, and name of its owner. The trade in cotton must await a more peaceful state of affairs.

V. Should any citizen accompany the expedition below Helena, in violation of these orders, any colonel of a regiment or captain of a battery will conscript him into the service of the United States for the unexpired term of his command. If he show a refractory spirit, unfitting him for a soldier, the commanding officer present will turn him over to the captain of the boat as a deck-hand, and compel him to work in that capacity, without wages, until the boat returns to Memphis.

VI. Any person whatever, whether in the service of the United States, or transports, found making reports for publication, which might reach the enemy, giving them information, aid, and comfort, will be arrested, and treated as spies.

By order of Major-General Sherman. J. H. Hammond, Major, and A. A.G.

Notwithstanding General Sherman's pretended zeal to prevent information being given to the enemy, it is a well-known fact that scores of rabid secessionists accompanied the expedition, and generally in Government employment. For instance, many of the pilots, engineers, mates, and captains of the transports were openly avowed Southern sympathizers, and whenever the boats landed, these persons were allowed to go on shore, and communicate with any one they pleased. Especially was this the case at Milliken's Bend, only twenty-five miles from Vicksburgh, where the fleet lay for thirty hours.

At this point, four large Parrott guns on the General Anderson, which was the ordnance-boat, were found to have balls rammed home without powder in them, and the supply-pipe to the boilers was cut in the hold. With great difficulty the balls were gotten out by putting powder in at the touch-hole, a few grains at a time. I did not learn that any investigation had been instituted as to who were the guilty parties, but as two engineers were found missing, it is safe to infer that they were the ones.

On the evening of the seventh the fleet reached the mouth of White River, and for nearly two days lay at its rendezvous at Montgomery Point, just above it. It was understood that a portion of it would go up White River and the remainder up the Arkansas, for some purpose not stated On the morning of the ninth the steamer White Cloud left the fleet for St. Louis with the mail, and the City of Memphis with the sick and wounded; and on the former boat I took passage as bearer of my own despatches and a multitude of letters from the soldiers to the “loved ones at home.”


Colonel Williamson's report.1

headquarters Fourth Iowa infantry, battle-field near Vicksburgh, Miss., December 30, 1862.
Captain: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken in the battle before Vicksburgh, on the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth inst. by the Fourth Iowa infantry.

Early on the morning of the twenty-eighth, I took the position assigned me on the right of the brigade. In obedience to the orders of the General commanding the brigade, I detailed thirty men from my regiment, under command of First Lieutenant E. C. Miller, of company G, to act as pioneers and skirmishers.

Of those thirty men, one was killed and five wounded during the day.

The regiment remained in position on the right of the brigade all day, at intervals under fire of the enemy's artillery, without becoming generally engaged.

Late in the evening the regiment fell back with the brigade to the transports, and reembarked during the night, and moved down the river two or three miles.

At daylight on the twenty-ninth, the regiment again debarked, and took the advance of the brigade, marching about two miles to a point near where General Morgan's division was engaging the enemy.

At this point, the regiment was commanded to halt, where it remained until about half-past 3 o'clock, when I received orders from the General commanding the brigade to charge the enemy in the intrenchments, about a half-mile distant, near the base of the hill.

There is, near the base of the hill, a slough, or more properly, a swamp, which could only be crossed at one place, (a narrow causeway which had been constructed,) and at that only by the flank of the regiment. As the head of the column emerged from the crossing, it became exposed [320] to a terrific fire of musketry from the intrenchments in front, and also to a fire from the enemy's batteries on the right and left flanks. These batteries were so situated as to perfectly command this point.

After effecting the crossing, the head of the column filed right, the left coming forward into line, the right resting on and inside (the side next the enemy) of a strong abattis which had been formed by the enemy for his own protection.

Here I was informed by the General commanding the brigade, that contrary to his orders the regiment was not supported by others, and that <*> should hold the position I then had, until he could ascertain if support was coming, provided I could do so, leaving me to judge of that matter for myself; I held the position for about thirty minutes, under a fire which cannot be described. At the end of this time, seeing that I had no support, and that none was coming; that my regiment was the only one on the field; that my officers and men were suffering dreadfully from a fire that could not be returned effectively, I gave the order to fall back, which was accomplished in good order, though with great loss. The regiment went into the action with four hundred and eighty men and officers, of whom one hundred and twelve were killed and wounded.

Among the killed was Lieut. E. C. Miller, of company G, who had command of the thirty men on the twenty-eighth. No braver officer has fallen in his country's cause.

It would be invidious to speak of individual acts of bravery, as all did well. Every officer and man did his whole duty, and regretted that he could do no more.

Under any circumstances the loss of so many brave men is a matter to be deeply deplored, but in this instance it is doubly painful, as no advantage commensurate with the loss was obtained.

The officers and men of the regiment join me in tendering the General commanding the brigade our heartfelt thanks, both for the part he took in the charge — going as he did at the head of the column — and for the manner in which he spoke of the action of the regiment on the field.

Hereto attached, you will find a list of the killed and wounded.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. A. Williamson, Colonel Commanding Fourth Iowa Infantry. Captain blacker, A. A. General, Third Brigade, Fourth Division, Thirteenth Army Corps, Right Wing.

Louisville Journal account.

Camp young's point, La., January 27, 1863.
gentlemen: Doubtless you and your readers have seen the unjust and false account published in the Chicago Times of the sixteenth instant, of the “Chickasaw Bayou and Bluffs” affair of December twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth. As I was a participant in the affair, I have concluded to give a plain statement of the facts. It is true I will not be able to use the flowery language of “W. E. W.,” of the Chicago Times, but I can and will tell the truth, something which he is not willing or able to do. Colonel De Courcy's brigade is composed of the following regiments, namely, Sixteenth Ohio, Lieut.-Col. P. Kershner; Twenty-second Kentucky, Lieut-Col. G. W. Monroe; Forty-second Ohio, Lieut-Col. Don A. Pardee; Fifty-fourth Indiana, Colonel Mansfield. The brigade disembarked on the twenty-sixth, on the south bank of the Yazoo River, and made a reconnoissance through a belt of woods to Mrs. Lake's plantation, to discover a practicable road to Chickasaw Bluffs; exchanged a few shots with the rebel pickets, neither side doing any damage. On the twenty-seventh a general advance was ordered. Generals A. J. Smith on the right, Morgan L. Smith next, G. W. Morgan the centre, Steele the left. In crossing the large open fields known as Mrs. Lake's plantation, the enemy opened fire on us from a dense woods on the other side of the bayou, parallel to our left. Colonel De Courcy changed front toward the woods with the Twenty-second Kentucky, Fifty-fourth Indiana, and part of the Forty-second Ohio, opened fire with these regiments, and Foster's twenty-pound battery. After an engagement of two hours the enemy was driven from the woods, and as night had set in, the brigade bivouacked on the ground. The Forty-second regiment worked all night throwing up a work for the protection of the battery. The casualties in this affair were two killed and twelve wounded. Among the wounded was Sergt. John peterson, company G, Twenty-second Kentucky, whose parents reside in Ironton O. On the morning of the twenty-eighth operations were resumed early. The enemy had taken position in our front and right, the infantry were ordered forward, and, with Lampkins's Michigan battery, opened fire, which was kept up briskly the whole morning, the enemy contesting stubbornly every inch of ground. About two o'clock the Forty-second and Fifty-fourth regiments, supported by the Sixteenth and Twenty-second regiments, were ordered to charge through the woods. Bayonets were fixed and these regiments starting with a cheer, the enemy gave way and retired hastily to his first line of rifle-pits. The brigade followed and was formed in line of battle on the edge of the woods in front of the enemy's first line of works, and an incessant fire of infantry and artillery was kept up until dark. The brigade biouvacked on the ground and threw up a long rifle-pit during the night. The loss in our brigade in killed and wounded was over one hundred. That is what W. E. W. calls a slight skirmish. I think if he had been in front instead of the rear, he would have found it warm enough to call it a pretty well contested fight. General Steele, finding natural obstacles in his front, was ordered to fall back, leaving the enemy's right clear, and thus enabling him to mass his troops on the centre, the point which we attacked next day.

Twenty-ninth.--The plan of attack for this morning was as follows: The hills on the right were to be taken, and when in our possession, the signal for the advance of the centre was to be a general [321] volley of artillery. The hills on the right were not taken, but yet the signal for the centre to advance was given. Our brigade was formed, the Fifty-fourth and Twenty-second deployed in line of battle, the former on the left, supported by the Sixteenth in double column, the Forty-second supporting the Twenty-second. At ten minutes before twelve o'clock the brigade was moving forward, the right wing led by Col. De Courcy, and they had advanced but a short distance when we found ourselves in the toils of an almost impassable “abattis” of fallen timber, where it was impossible to preserve our formation in line of battle; the gallant labor of these regiments was of no avail for the object in view, as part of the Twenty-second Kentucky and the Forty-second Ohio. came into a deep and wide bayou which separated them from the open ground in front of the enemy's works. The Sixteenth, Fifty-fourth, and part of the Twenty-second having a much easier road to traverse, had dashed across the bayou and commenced the charge over the open ground. Officers and men of the Twenty-second seeing the splendid advance of the Sixteenth, remarked to Colonel De Courcy: “There is the effect of discipline.” Not being able to cross the bayou immediately in front of the right wing, the order was given, “By the left flank,” and at “double-quick.” We now traversed once more, though in another direction, the “abattis,” and by a comparative easy slope rushed down and across the bayou, and soon reached, notwithstanding a heavy fire of shell and musketry, the open ground, too late, however, to afford assistance to the brave men in the advance. They had reached the foot of the enemy's works; the Sixteenth, Fifty-fourth, and Twenty-second planted their colors there, but were compelled to fall back. Batteries in front, right, and left, and indeed there were batteries so placed as to command even our rear, (after an advance of one hundred yards over the open ground,) and rifle-pits in every conceivable place filled with men which vomited one sheet of flame on the approach of our men. No troops could stand such an amount of concentric fire, and our men retired. The Forty-second was halted and deployed in line of battle to cover the retreat of repulsed regiments. This regiment performed this duty well, reentering our lines in perfect order. Gen. Blair's brigade got as fair as the enemy's first line of rifle-pits, and moved not beyond them. Colonel D)e Courcy's brigade did go beyond them, and got up to the main line of the enemy's works; and when this brigade had to retreat, Blair's brigade had already left. Much has been said about Gen. Blair's bravery. I do not wish to detract from it, but I can assure you he did nothing that day to merit the ridiculous encomiums heaped upon him. When I got to the bayou I found said General Blair safely ensconced (and very excited) under the high bank. W. E. W., not content with bespattering Blair with indiscreet praise, proceeds to bespatter De Courcy's brigade with mud. But it is the oily, dirty stuff of a liar; for he lies when he says that D)e Courcy's brigade was late in coming up; that it was the reserve; that Blair's men cried out for the reserve, and saw it not coming to their help. Why, De Courcy's men were started for the charge by the same signal which moved Blair's, and though the distance they had to go over was greater, they advanced far beyond the rifle-pit where Blair's men had stopped, and out of which they did not move until they retreated, many of them throwing away their arms, and nearly all their colors. Why does W. E. W. suppress the fact about the loss of so many colors? De Courcy's brigade brought all theirs back, torn to pieces by shot, shell, and rifle-bullet. What was the state of De Courcy's brigade after the charge? A statement of the losses will alone suffice to show the world how nobly it attempted to do its duty. In short, it is apparent that W. E. W.'s intentions is to make a hero of Blair and his men at the expense of De Courcy and his brigade. The question must be put, Why is this attempt made? Is it to make capital for the politician at the expense of the soldier, whose non-promotion proves so clearly that the latter has no friends near the White House, whatever the reason? I am one among the many who are ready to prove that W. E. W. has put that in print about De Courcy's brigade which is false, and which will do injury to their fame unless distinctly denied, and suppressed that which will do it honor. That he has put in print supremely ridiculous and exaggerated accounts of Blair's doings, suppressing in toto that which would certainly injure him. This attempt will fail, and fail with a tremendous recoil, for there can be no comparison between the two men. Blair is notoriously ignorant of all matters appertaining to his present profession, and it is well known that he has not the most distant conception of the simplest manoeuvres.

Whilst Col. De Courcy is as well known for his theoretical and practical knowledge of the soldier's art and science, and as a tactician has given proof of the facility with which he can handle any number of regiments — handle them, I mean, in a technical manner. As to bravery, I know not what General Blair's may be. Its quantity and quality may be all that W. E. W. says it is; so be it, for I wish not for a moment to detract from it. But Col. De Courcy I have seen often under fire, and it is his bearing on such occasions which has given him the great hold which he has acquired, notwithstanding the severity of his discipline, over all ranks of the regiments in his brigade. Under fire this officer's tactical perceptions appear to be as clear as on the peaceful drill-ground. His manner is there always cool, and if any confusion takes place, he can, and he always has restored good order. But two things above all. First: He is always under fire whenever and however small a portion of his brigade may be engaged. Second: He never, when danger is in front, orders his men to “go on,” as some do, but giving the example, he leads with a “come on.”



Richmond Dispatch account.

Vicksburgh, Tuesday, December 30, 1862.
On Saturday the enemy made four desperate attempts to force our lines on the Chickasaw Bluffs, with heavy loss. The Seventeenth Louisiana greatly distinguished itself, repulsing, unaided, the assault of three full regiments of Yankees.

On Sunday morning the enemy again advanced on our lines, and were repulsed with heavy loss. All the troops behaved gallantly, but special mention is made of the Twenty-eighth and Seventeenth Louisiana regiments, the former regiment maintaining the ground all day against superior forces. Our loss on Sunday was one killed and two wounded; Eighth Tennessee, four killed and six wounded, Captain C. A. Gently among the killed; Seventeenth Tennessee, two killed and two wounded; Eighty-first Tennessee, one killed, none wounded. One of Gen. Lee's couriers had his leg shot off. Wofford's artillery lost one sergeant killed. No particulars of the casualties in other regiments.

On Monday afternoon eight thousand of the enemy advanced upon our regiments upon the right wing of the Chickasaw Bayou, to storm the works, but were mowed down in large numbers, and upward of four hundred prisoners taken, with five stands of colors. The enemy were driven back to their boats, and afterward sent in a flag of truce for permission to bury their dead, under which some of the prisoners escaped. Fighting still continues, with no important results. The fighting of our troops was splendid. The Twenty-eighth Louisiana again immortalized itself for the gallant manner in which it acted during the battle. The Yankee prisoners say that Morgan is their General commanding.

Severe fighting is going on now. The enemy have destroyed the Vicksburgh, Shreveport and Texas Railroad as far as Delhi, a distance of thirty-three miles. They are also said to have burned the town of Delhi, which is reported to be totally destroyed.

Our casualties in yesterday's fight were small. This morning firing is heard in the same direction, and it is supposed the enemy are again advancing to storm our works. The soldiers are eager to meet the enemy, and are determined to conquer or die.

1 further reports of this battle will be found in the Supplement.

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