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Failure seemed staring the army in the face whichever way it turned. Sherman's assault had demonstrated that Vicksburg could not be taken by direct attack from the river. The failure of the Yazoo expedition and the expedition through Steele's bayou, proved that it could not be approached from the north. The attempt to convey troops around by the William's canal and by Lake Providence had also failed. It therefore now became a question of the most vital importance whether some point below on the Mississippi might not be reached, and to General Mcdemand's corps or rather a portion of it, it was given to test the question. That portion embraced the following Illinois troops: The 113th, 77th, 97th, 108th, 120th, 33d, and 99th infantry regiments; Cos. A, E, F, and K, 3d Illinois Cavalry, a detachment of the 2d Illinois Cavalry, the Peoria Light Artillery and Chicago Mercantile Battery, the whole organized into four divisions commanded by Gens. Osterhaus, A. J. Smith, Hovey and Carr.
On the 29th of March, General McClernand ordered General Osterhaus to send forward a detachment and capture Richmond, the capital of Madison parish. This was accomplished on the 30th by the 69th Indiana, a section of artillery and a detachment of the 2d Illinois Cavalry. The road was then seized and guarded, but progress was slow and painful. The road lay through a vast bog, intersected with bayous. Corduroy roads had to be built, outlets cut for the water, and bridges made for the bayous. In fact the army had to build a road as it advanced. As the troops approached New Carthage, they found that the rebels had cut the levee, so that New Carthage was virtually an island. After ineffectual attempts to bridge the floods, it was found necessary to march further down the river. Not discouraged by these obstacles the army pressed on, and after having made seventy miles of road and two thousand feet of bridges they reached their destination.
A considerable part of the army was now south of Vicksburg, but on the wrong side of the river, and without means of crossing. To effect this it was necessary for gunboats and transports from above to run by the rebel batteries. The first passage of the batteries was effected by eight gunboats and three transports, and the second by eight unarmed transports. Only a few hours before thf
THE ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS. 455
sailing of the latter, their crews declined to accompany them. A recruiting office was immediately opened, and word was sent among the camps that volunteers were wanted to man the boats and carry them past the batteries. The answer was no uncertain one. Men poured in faster than they were wanted. So eager were they, that in less than four hours, over five hundred men had placed their names upon the list. So eager were all to embark that the lists had to be closed, and the lucky ones were chosen by lot. Every man who was chosen, was from the 17th army corps and belonged to General John A. Logan's splendid division. The names of the Illinois soldiers who then sprang forward into the breach when men were wanted, were as follows:
Steamer Tigress—Engineers, E. D. Hunter and Frank Mays of the 81st; Pilot, Lieutenant Smith of the 81st.
Steamer Horizon—Captain, Capt. Geo. W. Kinnard, 20th; mate, Lieut. J. D. Yavney, 11th; engineers, Patrick Vancel, 81st; Lieutenant Roberts, 31st; pilot, John Strong, 8th; firemen, William Walker, J. Roberts, J. Winchester, Wm. Green and E. J. Lewis of the 81st and J. C. Robbins, P. McGrath, J. M. Purriman and John Paul of the 45th.
Steamer X W. Oheeseman—Firemen, Robert Irwin, C. W. Wengfield, Chas. Checoski, Noah Butler, M. L. Baird, J. St. John and E. Hicksey of the 81st, and A. Mapes, H. Casey and W. II. Harrison of the 30th.
Steamer Anglo-Saxon—Mate, Captain W. B. Short, 31st; enginers, D. B. Franklin, E. Briggs and James R. Clarke of the 20th, and A. Snow, Harrison Hines, and A. J. Esping of the 45th; pilots, John Randall and Charles Evans of the 45th; firemen and crew, James Massey, A. B. Turner, E. B. Cunningham, E. Hamilton and Wm. Winsley of the 8th, J. F. Street of the 20th, Thomas Vancell, J. W. Strickland, David Kesler, Sergeant West and John Reynolds of the 31st.
Steamer Empire City—Captain, Capt. G. W. Lisney, 81st; engineers, C. P. Flint, John Graves, W. H. Tripp and E. W. Fulford of the 45th, John Adams and F. J. Gilbert of the 31st; firemen, H. Cassell, R. Tubbs and H. H. Miller of the 20th.
Steamer Moderator—Captain, Cant. M. M. Twist of the 30th; mate, Lieutenant Thomas J. MoClurg of the 8th; engineers, ——— Mayfield, Wm. Beckman, Lieutenant Sutton, Geo. H. Recker and A. Stahl of the 8th, Wm. T. Roberts and Hugh Oliver of the 81st; pilot, Joseph Forest and Patrick McCarty of the 8th.
On the 29th of April, the 13th corps had reached the Mississippi and the 17th was well on the way. General Grant then embarked so much of the 13th as could be got on the transports and barges, and moved to the front of Grand Gulf, the plan being that the gunboats should silence the fortifications, and under their cover the troops should land and carry the works by storm. The attack was commenced on the morning of the 29th, but the works were too strong and the attack failed after several of the gunboats had been crippled. General Grant, therefore, determined to run the enemy's batteries again and to turn his position by effecting a landing at Bruinsburg from which there was a good road to Port Gibson. The gunboats again engaged the batteries and the transports ran by without material injury.
At daylight on the morning of the 30th, the work of ferrying the troops across the Mississippi was commenced. The 13th corps, Gen. McClernand's, as soon as landed, was pushed on toward Port Gibson. About 1 o'clock on the morning of the 18th of May, when four miles from Port Gibson, Gen. Carr's division leading the advance was met with a light fire of the enemy's infantry and afterwards of artillery. Harris's brigade was drawn up in line of battle and the enemy's fire was speedily silenced. At day-break, General Osterhaus moved his division to the left to relieve a detachment of Gen. Carr's division. In executing this movement, he encountered a strong force of the enemy and a sharp struggle lasting over an hour ensued, resulting in driving the enemy from his position. Gen. Osterhaus then pressed forward until insurmountable objects in the nature of the ground and his exposure to the enemy's fire arrested his progress. What could not be accomplished by an attack in front, however, was easily effected by a flank movement which resulted in the rout of that portion of the enemy and the capture of three cannon. While Gen. Osterhaus was thus pursuing the enemy on the right, Gen. Carr attacked on the left, and a furious battle ensued, and continued for several hours, terminated by a magnificent
THE VICTORY. 457
charge made by Gen. Hovey, which resulted in the capture of four hundred prisoners, two 12-pounder howitzers, three caissons and a large amount of ammunition. Determined to press his advantage, G<«-n. McClernand ordered Generals Carr and Hovey to push the enemy with the utmost vigor, which they did, beating him back seven miles.
The second position taken by the enemy was a very strong one. It was in a creek bottom covered with trees and underbrush, the approach to which was over open fields and exposed hill slopes. Having advanced until they gained a ridge overlooking the bottom, Generals Carr's and Hovey's divisions were again exposed to the enemy's fire. A hot engagement ensued. The enemy massed a heavy force against our right front with the evident design of forcing it back and turning the right flank. Gen. Smith was sent forward to support that flank, and Gen. Hovey massing his artillery on the right opened a most destructive fire upon the enemy, wnich forced him back with considerable loss upon his center. Concentrating a large number of troops, the enemy directed another attack against our right center, but the attack was met and returned with great vigor by Gen. Carr. Troops from Generals Smith's and Hovey's divisions came up, and after an obstinate struggle, the enemy was again beaten back until night ended the battle. The next day, the 13th corps entered and occupied Port Gibson, the enemy having hastily fled the night before over the Bayou Pierre, burning the bridge in his rear.
Instances of the daring and valor of Illinois soldiers are not wanting in this well-fought battle. The reports of division and brigade commanders teem with them. On that day so full of heroic deeds, none was more heroic than that of Captain I. C. Dinsmore of the 99th Illinois, who sprang upon one of the enemy s howitzers, in Gen. Hovey's gallant eharge, claimed it as his own, turned it upon the enemy and fired at them. Major L. H. Potter, with onty four companies of the 33d Illinois, engaged the enemy on the left in the morning, and obstinately held him in check until the arrival of Gen. Osterhaus' division. Gen. Osterhaus having come up, the 33d Illinois commanded by the fearless Col. Lippincott was moved forward along a high ridge, and successfully explored the ravines intervening between our lines and those of the enemy. A brigade was ordered up, the 99th Illinois forming the reserve. After a sharp contest and while the brigade was changing front, the 99th led by "Old Rough and Ready number two," Col. Bailey, came up with cheer upon cheer and on the double quick, and took its place in the line. Three times the rebels charged upon the line and were hurled back by the troops of Indiana and Illinois, fighting side by side in generous emulation. For at least two hours that single brigade held back three brigades of the enemy until reinforcements from Hovey came up, when a charge was made with the wildest enthusiasm, resulting in the rout of the enemy. The 18th Indiana and 99th Illinois were equally gallant in the charge, and are mentioned with equal honors in the official reports. The 118th Illinois in Gen. Garrard's brigade was also mentioned with especial honor for the part they took in the battle, conjointly with the 120th Ohio.
Of so much importance was this victory deemed by Gen. Grant, that he issued the following congratulatory order:
"Headquarters Army Op The Tennessee, ) "In the Field, Harkinson's Ferry, May 1. )
"Soldiers of tfie Army of the Tennessee:
"Once more I thank you for adding another victory to the long list of those previously won by your valor and endurance. The triumph gained over the enemy neai Port Gibson, on the 1st, was one of the most important of the war. The capture of five cannon and more than one thousand prisoners, the possession of Grand Gulf and a firm foothold on the highlands between the Big Black and Bayou Pierre, from which we threaten the whole line of the enemy, are among the fruits of this brilliant achievement.
"The march from Milliken's Bend to the point opposite Grand Gulf was made in stormy weather and the worst of roads. Bridges and ferries had to be constructed. Moving by night as well as by day, with labor incessant and extraordinary privations endured by men and officers, such as have rarely been paralleled in any campaign not a murmur or complaint has been uttered. Atfew days' continuance of the same zeal and constancy will secure to this army crowning victories over the rebellion.
"More difficulties and privations are before us; let us endure them manfully. Other battles are to be fought; let us fight them bravely. A grateful country will rejoice at our success, and history will record it with immortal honor.
"U. S. Grant, Major-General Commanding."
The possession of Grand Gulf, alluded to in General Grant's order, was the result of these movements. Admiral Porter made a move