The Civil War Letters of William J. Srofe
On To Vicksburg
"April 15th, we received marching orders, and left with the Corps on our way through Louisiana, to the rear of Vicksburg...
...April 30th, at 1 P. M., the 48th Ohio and 77th Illinois, leaving wagons and all baggage behind, embarked on the U. S. gun-boat Louisville, of which Acting Ensign Frank Bates was the executive officer, and landed ten miles below, at Bruinsburg, Mississippi. We remained there until 11 o'clock that night, when we moved forward with the army to Port Gibson. We marched all night, and on account of the heavy firing in front, did not halt for breakfast in the morning, but hastened forward on double-quick until 10 o'clock A. M., when we reached the battle-field of Magnolia Hills, near Port Gibson. This name was derived from the magnolia trees, which were in full bloom.
We crossed an open field and entered a thick cane-brake, through which we penetrated in line of battle, with great difficulty. We were now in range of the enemy's fire, and their musket-balls came crashing through the cane thick and fast."
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880
"They fired grape and canister at us but did not kill or wound a man in the company."
W. J. Srofe
ENLARGEMENT NOT AVAILABLE
FOR THIS LETTER
Encamped near Rocky Springs Miss
May 9, 1863.
Once more I attempt to inform you of my whereabouts through the medium of the pen. We left Millikins Bend La. on the 15th day of April after a forced march of forty five miles. We crossed the Mississippi River at or 8 miles below Grand Gulf. We crossed the river about 3 O'clock P.M. rested till 10 O'clock & marched during the remainder of the night. We halted at sunup only long enough to make coffee & eat a meal of the soldiers best (hard bread & coffee). During this rest, we had heard firing in front at no great distance. We rushed forward as rapidly as possible. About nine O'clock we came up to a newly established hospital [paper torn here slightly]. Surgeons were performing their awful duty of amputating [torn here also]. We hurried onward & soon found ourselves on a contested disputed field. Knapsacks were walking immediatly. We advanced in double quick. Our Co. (K.) and Comp. A were deployed as skirmishers and sent to the front to bring on the engagement on the left. Everything that could possibly impede our progress appeared to be thrown in our way by nature. Notwithstanding the many obstructions we finely succeeded in percetrating[?] our way through heavy [?] breaks over almost perpendicular bluffs then into deep ravines &c. &c. We at last came upon their skirmishers supported by a battery. They fired grape and canister at us but did not kill or wound a man in the company. Fighting was kept up all day but was principally cannon adding and sharp shooting. We lay on our arms at night. We advanced early the next morning on to where we supposed the enemy was waiting to receive us but no ememy was there. They had schedaddled. We advanced rapidly on to Port Gibson but they had crossed the river and burned the bridge. We are still after them with a large army. Our course is toward Vicksburg, and [?] this reaches you I expect to hear the cannons deafening roar & the ratling volie[?] of musketry. We expect to experience war for a considerable time at least and perhaps it will be the last of my experience [?]. Are [?] it will be for many. It may be for me. I trust. I hope. I am prepared for the worst. But I hope to live to see the rebellion crushed. I cannot express my indignation for the mean[?] vile[?] contemptable Copperheads of the North. I have used all contest & shown my disgust toward them but some are still impudent enough to correspond with me. If they still continue to write me in the same [?] they will hear from me in an other [?]. On the contrary if they will keep their infamions still I will at least pay them as much respects as other traitors. There is some talk of our Regt being consolidated. if[?] it is done the officers will all or a part go home. If this is a [?] and I survive the Vicksburg battle you may look for me home[?] in july. I want you to write as often as possible and think of me in your prayers. So no more but I am still your affectionate son
P.S. May 14 1863 I am well W.J. Srofe [this p.s. in written in pencil]. Company K 48 Regt Ohio V. Inf. 2nd Brig. 10 Divis. 13 Army Corps via Memphis Tenn.
William J. Srofe 's letters, documents and photographs are published here with
the generous permission of Carolyn Srofe and Dan (EBAY ID CD112.4). They may not be reproduced
in any form without their explicit permission.
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