Marching Orders for Jackson - Excessive Heat - Siege of Jackson - Gen. Johnston Evacuates - Return to Vicksburg - Furloughs - Col. P. J. Sullivan Resigns - Steamer "City of Madison" Blown Up - Embarking for New Orleans - Camp at Carrollton - Grand Review by Gens. Grant and Banks - Extract from New Orleans Era.
We had scarcely time that day to give vent to our joy at the surrender, before we were ordered to march in pursuit of Gen. Johnston, who was collecting quite an army at Jackson, Miss.
At daybreak on the morning of July 5th, we were on the march, and continued from day to day, under a sweltering July sun, until the 10th, when we reached the fortifications around Jackson. Our Regiment was then deployed as skirmishers, and advanced through the timber and bivouacked for the night. The following day we were ordered to the right, in support of the first brigade, where we remained during the siege, principally engaged in picket duty. On the morning of the 17th, we discovered that Gen. Johnston, after destroying his stores, had evacuated the preceding night. The loss of our Corps (13th) in killed and wounded was 760.
Gen. Sherman, who was in command of the troops sent against Gen. Joe Johnston, gives the following account of the Jackson campaign:
"July 4th, Vicksburg surrendered, and orders were given for at once attacking Gen. Johnston. The 13th Corps (Gen. Ord) was ordered to march rapidly and cross the Big Black at the railroad bridge, the 15th by Messinger's, and the 8th (Gen. Parkes') by Birdsong's Ferry; all to converge on Bolton. My corps crossed the Big Black during the 5th and 6th of July, and marched for Bolton where we came in with Gen. Ord's troops, but the 8th Corps was delayed in crossing at Birdsong's; Johnston had received timely notice of Pemberton's surrender, and was in full retreat for Jackson. On the 8th, all our troops reached the neighborhood of Clinton, the weather fearfully hot, and water scarce. Johnston had marched rapidly, and in retreating had caused cattle, hogs and sheep to be driven into the ponds of water, and there shot down, so that we had to haul their dead carcases out to use the water. On the 10th of July we had driven the rebel army into Jackson, where it turned at bay behind the intrenchments, which had been enlarged and strengthened since our former visit in May. We closed our lines about Jackson; my corps (15th) held the center, extending from the Clinton to the Raymond road; Ord's (13th) on the right, reaching Pearl River below the town; and Parkes' (9th) the left, above the town. On the 11th we pressed close in and shelled the town from every direction.
"One of Ord's brigades (Lauman's) got too close, and was very roughly handled and driven back in disorder. Gen. Ord accused the commander (Gen. Lauman) of having disregarded his orders, and attributed to him personally the disaster and heavy loss of men. He requested his relief, which I granted, and Gen. Lauman went to the rear, and never regained his division. * * *
"The weather was fearfully hot, but we continued to press the siege day and night, using our artillery pretty freely, and on the morning of July 17th, the place was found evacuated. Gen. Steele's division was sent in pursuit as far as Brandon, (fourteen miles), but Gen. Johnston had carried his army safely off, and pursuit in that hot weather would have been fatal to my command. Reporting the fact to Gen. Grant, he ordered me to return, to send Gen. Parkes' corps to Haines' Bluff, Gen. Ord's back to Vicksburg, and he consented that I should encamp my whole corps near the Big Black, pretty much on the same ground we had occupied before the movement, and with the prospect of a period of rest for the remainder of the summer. We reached our camps on the 27th of July."
On the 21st, we were ordered back to Vicksburg. We arrived at our old camp during the night of the 23d. The following day we marched through Vicksburg and camped one mile below, on the Mississippi river. Here we received our tents, having slept in the open air, exposed to the changeable weather, since April, which, together with short rations, being at times compelled to subsist on green corn alone, caused considerable sickness in the Regiment.
July 25th, we received notice that Major Moats had died on the 11th inst., from the effects of the wound received at the charge of the 22d of May. He was a brave, faithful and unassuming officer, and was held in high esteem by the whole Regiment.
We now resumed our daily routine of camp duty, that had been interrupted during the siege, which, after reveille, at daylight, consisted in attending roll-call; then followed guard-mounting and sick-call; after this, company drill until 11 A. M. In the afternoon we had battalion or brigade drill, and occasionally a "grand review," closing the day's exercises with dress-parade at sun-down, tattoo by the band at 9 o'clock, and "taps" at 10 P. M., when the guards ordered "lights out." Soon after, the Regiment was wrapped in slumber, as peaceful as though there was no war devastating the land. Thus the days slowly passed, while we lay broiling in the hot sun, in an open field, on the banks of the Mississippi.
After the siege, the Regiment received the Enfield Rifle in exchange for the old Austrian, which was a much better weapon for service, and we were well pleased with the change.
From one of the letters written home in August, 1863, we take the following:
"Yesterday I concluded to pay a visit to the Yazoo Swamps, where our army was during the unsuccessful attack on Vicksburg last December. Accordingly, after breakfast, I mounted my charger, and in an hour's ride I passed through Vicksburg and by all the upper river batteries. From there I descended into the valley, which we occupied last winter. After a careful survey of the ground which the rebels occupied, and that which was held by us, I have come to the conclusion that their position was as near impregnable as art and nature could make it. The swamps are as silent and dismal-looking as ever. The valley is covered with a rank growth of timber, underbrush and creeping vines. The limbs of the trees are covered with gray Spanish moss, that hangs in different lengths from every twig. It is this that gives it the air of solemnity, more than anything else. Add to this the rattle of musketry, the booming of cannon, a heavy rain, and then under cover of darkness to get out on double-quick, and leave on the boats for the Mississippi river, and last, but not least, to have it said that you are whipped, that Vicksburg can't be taken, then perhaps you can form a faint idea how we felt while going up the river, and why it was called 'The Valley of Death.'
"In one of my letters at that time I spoke of a solitary sentinel, who was standing guard before a battery of four siege-guns. That battery is still there, and a splendid one it is, but Mr. Reb. is missing. In his stead are two blue-coats, who, I think, will attend to the guns for some time to come. After a minute inspection of every ditch and battery on my route, I returned to camp, where I arrived in the afternoon, with my mind stored with zigzag ditches, breastworks, fortifications and numerous war implements."
While here, orders were given to issue thirty days' furlough to two men of each company; and all officers in excess of one to each company were granted thirty days leave of absence. Col. Sullivan, who had resigned on account of disability, produced by his wound received at Shiloh, in an appropriate speech bade the Regiment farewell, and left for home, August 9th, which left Capt. J. A. Bering in command. Lieut. Robt. McGill having also resigned, Lieut. R. A. South was appointed Adjutant, to fill the vacancy. On the 12th of August, Gen. E. O. C. Ord, who had superseded Gen. McClernand in command of the 13th Army Corps during the siege, was ordered to transfer his Corps to New Orleans, which severed our connection with the old "Army of the Tennessee," in which we had served since March 6th, 1862.
By this time, quite a number who had been absent for various causes, rejoined the Regiment. On the 19th, a detail of twenty men from the brigade was sent to load the steamer "City of Madison" with ammunition for our Corps, but a shell exploding, ignited the ammunition and blew the boat to atoms, killing and wounding quite a number, among the latter M. J. Grady, of Company A. The remainder of our Regiment escaped without injury.
A second detail was made, to load another steamer with the ammunition, which was put in charge of Lieut. Montgomery, who, after loading the boat, arrived with it at Carrollton, Aug. 31st.
On the 25th of August, the Regiment embarked for New Orleans on the steamer "Atlantic," with the 77th Ills. and Chicago Mercantile Battery, and arrived at Carrollton, five miles above New Orleans, on the 27th, and with the Division, in command of Gen. Burbridge, encamped in the old rebel. camp "De Mar." Sept. 1st, Capt. Tice arrived and took command of the Regiment.
On the 9th, we moved our camp to Greenville Station, on the Carrollton & New Orleans R. R., in a beautiful grove of pecan trees. New Orleans had always been a city of great note for pleasureseekers, and the war had made but little change in that respect. Therefore, as soon as we arrived at the Crescent City, enjoyment was the order of the day. During our stay, excursion parties were made up to visit the most notable places. This, with the very light duties required of us, made it one of the most pleasant periods of our service.
To the Northern soldier, New Orleans was very attractive, as it resembled more a foreign than an American city. The houses, especially in the suburbs, occupy a position back from the streets, in front of which are shrubbery and flowers. These, with the indispensable veranda, give the dwellings a cool and inviting look. The inhabitants, who are of French and Spanish descent, interest the stranger with their peculiar manners and customs.
The French market, on a Sunday morning, is an interesting scene. It is open until noon, and is thronged with customers. The stores are open until 11 A. M., when they close for the Sabbath, the observance of which consists principally in promenading on Canal street, which is said to be the finest street in America. It is very wide, and in the center runs a street railroad, on each side of which are beautiful shade trees, which form a complete arch over the track.
Cellars and wells are out of the question in this low, marshy soil, where water is found but a few feet from the surface. In fact, the city is lower than the Mississippi river at high water, and is only prevented from being overflowed by the levee. For the same reason the dead are buried in vaults, built above the ground. The principal cemetery is on the Shell Road, half-way between the city and Lake Ponchartrain. The Lake is a great public resort, for boating and fishing.
The old battle-field, below the city, received its full share of visitors. Here Gen. Jackson, on the 8th of January, 1812, with 4,000 raw recruits, defeated 12,000 British veterans, with a loss of only five men, while the British lost seven hundred. The most curious feature was, that it was fought after peace had been declared, but the combatants had not received the news. This was before railroads, steamers or the telegraph.
Gen. Grant having arrived, a "grand review" was ordered to take place on the 4th of September. The following is an editorial, taken from the New Orleans Era, giving an account of the review, in which the 48th Ohio took part:
[New Orleans Era, Saturday, Sept. 5,1863.]
``THE REVIEW YESTERDAY.
"According to announcement in the city papers, the troops under command of Maj. Gen. Washburn, now stationed at 'Champ de Mars,' near Carrollton, were reviewed by Gens. Banks and Grant, at an early hour yesterday morning. The review was a most imposing sight, and one to be long remembered. The men under review were war-scarred veterans, who left the pleasant scenes of their homes in every part of the Union, to 'hew their way to the Gulf with their swords.' Every division, brigade and regiment, as it filed past the two Generals, surrounded by their staffs, showed the results of careful and skillful training, while the animation that gleamed from the bronzed faces of these veterans, gave evidence that they were conscious of the distinguished presence in which they were marching. In the array of officers and men who met together on the 'Champ de Mars,' the citizens of New Orleans could behold a portion of the deliverers of the Mississippi river. The opening of the great inland sea required great men and stout soldiers; and to the credit of our country let it be said, the right men were found for the work. . * * *
"The review was what might be reasonably expected from the tried troops, in the presence of the two distinguished Generals. The division, brigade and regimental officers handled their men with more precision than might have been witnessed on the same field two years ago, when an attempt was made by one or two Louisiana militia Generals to review raw recruits, who had never seen even a skirmish, and many of whom are still innocent of the blood of the soldiers of the army of the United States.
"The heat of the day was so intense, that many of the old citizens of New Orleans were glad to retire to some friendly shade; and yet the troops showed no signs of distress, nor even inconvenience. Such is the result of being inured to exposure. The men, coming from a northern climate, endure a heat which even an acclimated person avoids. A heartier or more robust set of men probably never passed in review under the critical eyes of Generals, who have performed great deeds, and who have more yet to do.
"It was apparent to the most superficial observer, that the parade was no training-day display. The two Generals, their respective staffs, the general field and regimental officers, and the men themselves, had the bearing of the true soldier, and the tout ensemble was suggestive of genius, discipline and backbone. * * * They have demonstrated that there is no such word as fail for those who are determined to succeed. It was a proud privilege to stand on that animated field yesterday, and say, 'these are American Generals and American troops, whose deeds are about to be enrolled on the scroll of immortal fame, and America is my country.' The traitor to our flag even, must have rejoiced that his pseudo-friends had been overcome by men who have shown such bravery in arms, and such mercy and moderation in victory."
Sept. 20th, Capt. Tice having resigned, Capt. Bering resumed command
of the Regiment. With Capt. Tice we sent our old, tattered battleflag to
Columbus, Ohio, to be placed in the flagroom at the State House. After he
arrived in Cincinnati he put it on exhibition in Wiswell's show-window on
Fourth street, but it has never been seen or heard of since.