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brow of the hill, and forming in line of battle on the right of Hovey, advanced in magnificent style, sweeping everything before him. At the edge of the woods in front of Logan, the battle was of the most desperate character, but not a man flinched or a line wavered in his division. They bore themselves like veterans, and moved on as if conscious of their invincibility and the certainty of victory.
Driven from his position, and repulsed in his demonstrations upon our right and left, there was no alternative for the enemy but retreat. He moved along the Vicksburg road towards Edwards' Station, under a fearful cannonade and musketry fire from Logan's division. General Stevenson, with a portion of the 13th corps, swung around his left upon the road, cutting off several brigades, which were forced to move across the fields towards the Big Black. The pursuit was given to General McClernand. That General, with his customary vigor, pressed the retreating enemy until he reached a point not more than two miles from Edwards' Station. The column arrived at the Station about dark and bivouacked for the night.
On Sunday morning, March 17th, before daylight, the column was on the march, moving upon the railroad bridge across the Big Black River. General Carr, one of the bravest of brave Illinois officers, had the advance, followed by General Osterhaus, with General Smith as a reserve. General Carr moved up in line of battle with a heavy force of skirmishers in advance. The rebel sharpshooters annoyed him at every turn, so that his advance was frequently delayed, but at 10 o'clock he had reached a belt of timber intervening between the main column and the rebel breastworks. General McClernand, quickly comprehending the situation, ordered General Carr to the riorht of the road. On the left, General Osterhaus was ordered in line of battle. Just behind the line of skirmishers was posted a battery, which, as the skirmishers advanced, threw shot and shell with great rapidity and effectiveness. The enemy briskly replied, their first shot striking a caisson of the 18th Wisconsin battery, exploding its contents and slightly wounding General Osterhaus. Word was brought to General McClernand that General Osterhaus was wounded and he assigned Brig.-General A. L. Lee to the temporary command of the 9th division. After short skirmishing, the enemy fell back
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within his entrenchments, so maneuvering as to have an open field between his position and our points of approach. In the meantime the artillery lire was very heavy. General McClernand ordered the works to be stormed, and General Carr prepared to execute the order. The point selected for the charge was upon the extreme left, where, protected by the banks of the river, General Lawler concealed a portion of his brigade. At the word of command, this brigade, with General Benton's on the left, unslung their knapsacks, threw their blankets on the ground and moved forward in gallant style, the troops wading up to their armpits across a bayou. A murderous fire greeted them, but they paid no attention to it, pressed over the entrenchments, presented their muskets and demanded surrender. The arguments were irresistible and the enemy gave up their position.
The enemy had left behind him after constructing a bridge the preceding night, two brigades to defend the works, while the balance of his force passed over and rested on the northern bank of the river. He deemed the position impregnable, but so furious and energetic was the attack that the position was carried with ease. When the enemy retreated, this bridge was burned and it became necessary to construct another. General Lee was entrusted with this order, and in the face of the rebel sharpshooters, by 8 o'clock in the morning, a bridge was thrown across the river over which his command and A. J. Smith's division, followed by McPherson's corps, crossed in safety, Sherman's corps crossing at Bridgeport.
Early on the morning of the 18th, General Sherman commenced his march by the Bridgeport and Vicksburg road, and when within three miles and a half of Vicksburg turned to the right to get possession of Walnut Hills and the Yazoo River. This he successfully accomplished before night. General McPherson crossed the Big Black above the road to Jackson and came into the same road with Sherman, but in his rear. General McClernand moved by the Jackson and Vicksburg road to Mount Albans, in the rear of Vicksburg, and then turned to the left to get into the Baldwin's Ferry Road. By these movements the three corps covered all the ground their strength would admit of, and by the morning of the 19th, the investment of Vicksburg was made as secure and thorough as could be with the forces at General Grant's command,
There probably has never been an instance during the war, of such rapid marching, such powers of endurance, such valor, and such splendid victories, one treading upon the heels of another. In the march from Bruinsburg to Vicksburg, only five days' rations were issued, and three of these were taken in haversacks and soon exhausted. Twenty days elapsed before supplies could be obtained from the government stores. In the meantime the army had to live by foraging upon a country partially exhausted by the rebels and swarming with their troops. The daring passage of the Vicksburg batteries by our soldiers, a large share of them Illinois troops ill unarmed transports, poorly protected against the pitiless storm which rained upon them from the rebel batteries—a passage which seemed almost a forlorn hope; the splendid march of the 13th corps from Milliken's Bend to New Carthage, through swamps and bayous, making its roads as it advanced; the second passage of the batteries of Grand Gulf, which only a short time previously had defied our iron-el ads; the splendid battles and victories of Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hills and the Big Black, illustrated With such magnificent charges and brilliant movements; the rapidity and unerring certainty with which each corps performed the work allotted to it in securing the final investment of Vicksburg; all these elements of the campaign may safely challenge comparison in the annals of war. The plan of the capture of Vicksburg commenced with nothing but failures, ended with nothing but the most complete success. Sherman had failed at Chickasaw bayou; Grant had failed in the movement from Grenada; the Lake Providence and Williams canals had failed; the expedition through Steele's bayou had failed and led almost to ruin; the first attack on Grand Gulf failed, but never doubting of ultimate success, never disheartened by failure, our troops moved on. If one plan failed another was tried, and each new movement Was worked out with increased courage and determination. While the campaign developed to its utmost the unflinching valor, the exhaustless resources and the determined pertinacity of the ruling spirit—General Grant—it no less developed the abilities and courage of the other Illinois generals in command—McClernand, Logan, Garr, MeArthur and their subordinate officers. To chronicle the feats of valor displayed by the Illinois soldiers comprising the
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commands of these generals would require volumes. It is sufficient that there is no instance of cowardice, not a single occasion where an Illinois soldier faltered, whether he was called upon to run the fearful ordeal of batteries where he could not reply, to hold in check immense odds until reinforcements should come up, or make the final charge in the face of the belching fury of artillery and musketiy. The record is clear, and from Memphis to Vicksburg, in every varying phase of the conflict, the ancient valor of Illinois remained unsullied.
The Investment Of Vicksburg—Incidents Of The Siege—The Charge On The 22d Of May—Gallantry Of Ransom's Brigade—A Terrible Fire—Gen. Ransom Leads His Men—Failure Of The Charge—Splendid Retreat Of The Brigade— Gallantry Of The Mercantile Battery—Gen. Mcclernand Presents Them With Two Napoleon Guns—Death Of Dr. Stevenson And Capt. Rogers—Valor Of The 20th Illinois—Accuracy Of Our Artillerists—A Rebel Sortie Repulsed— The Assault On Fort Hill—The Glorious Lead Mine Regiment—Death Of Lieut.-col. Melancthon Smith—Capitulation Op Vicksburg—Correspondence Between Gens. Grant And Pemberton—Biography Of Lieut.-col. Wright Of The 72d Illinois.
TO present a continuous account of the siege operations around Vicksburg, and the various movements connected therewith, from the 19th of May to its surrender on the 4th of July, or to individualize the instances of patriotism and daring displayed by Illinois soldiers throughout those trying weeks, would require much more extended limits than those of the present work. To enumerate some of the most prominent of these instances will suffice as a sample of the splendid conduct of the officers and men in the great siege of Vicksburg.
Among the brilliant charges upon the rebel works on the 22d inst., that of the lamented General Ransom's brigade shines out conspicuously. In this brigade were the 116th, 11th, 95th and 72d Illinois regiments. General Ransom formed his brigade in line of battle by battalions closed in mass, all under cover of a ravine and within sixty yards of the works. At the signal, the brigade sprang forward with a ringing cheer. He had hardly advanced twenty steps before a most terrible storm of grape and canister swept through his ranks from the rebel earthworks, which, for the instant checked the advanc