An Artilleryman's Diary
By Jenkin Lloyd Jones
Wisconsin History Commission
Raymond, Tuesday, May 12. Awoke at the usual hour, hitched up at daylight and took up the line of march. Travelled slowly, stopping frequently until about 12 M. When we neared the firing, the report of which we could hear all day, we were ordered forward at double quick for two miles, and formed in line of battle immediately under the brow of the hill. But the work was done by Logan’s Division. The firing gradually ceased and at 4 P. M. all was calm and still after the leaden storm, and the heroes were allowed to recite the startling events of the morning. They commenced driving the enemy at sunrise and about 10 A. M. they met them in superior force. The 1st Brigade suffered the worst. The 20th Ill. and 31st Iowa losing more men than in the five previous engagements, Shiloh and Corinth included. Many were severely wounded. Took about 50 or sixty prisoners.
6 P. M. we limbered to the front and marched into Raymond at double quick. It was dark before we got in, and the dust was so thick that I could not see the lead-rider. The howitzers were posted on the entrance of the Jackson road in the public square, and stood picket. The horses which had been nil day without water or feed, obliged to stand in the harness hitched up. Drivers lying by their teams.
New [near] Clinton, Miss., Wednesday, May 13. Awoke from my bare bed on the rocky pavement to find the sun high and bright, shining in my face, a thing not known for a long time. Unharnessed and fed the poor, weary horses. Two interesting Creoles and black wenches treated us with a breakfast of corn dodgers, confiscated molasses. 7 A. M. the Division moved out on the Clinton road, second battery in column; advanced as fast as practicable, being obliged to reconnoiter and feel our way. Infantry formed in line twice. At 4 P. M. we entered Clinton, a respectable looking station on the Vicksburg road. Went into park two miles from town, eight miles from Jackson. To morrow we are to move on to the attack, great advance in three columns. Hot work ahead and many may fall. May I be able to discharge my duty.
Jackson Miss., Thursday, May 14. Considerable rain during the night and indications of more. Moved on without much hindrance about four miles, when we came upon them in force, the rain falling in torrents. The infantry went forward and formed in line, a rebel battery throwing shells from the right at them. 1st and 2nd Brigades on the right, 3rd on the left. Batteries moved forward leaving the caissons behind. The 1st Missouri Battery took a position on the right and was hotly engaged with the enemy’s guns for half an hour.
Meanwhile we were waiting in the road in range of their shells, which were flying over us and dropping either side, but luckily none took effect. The enemy’s infantry in line in front doing sharp work, when the whole line of infantry prepared to make a charge, 1st Section ordered out to support them. They unslung their knapsacks and went in with a shout, when the crash of musketry was terrific, volley after volley, the bullets flying thick around, all lying as close to the ground as practicable, when the cry “They run! They run!” was heard and after them they went in all directions. We were ordered forward and we did go at double quick across the charging ground. Dead rebels— and many of them lay there wounded and bleeding. The infantry followed them up the hill, then fell back and we came into battery, when Captain Dillon said, “6th Wisconsin Battery, I am here—open fire on them.” And we did. The six pieces went off almost simultaneously, and we were enveloped in a cloud of powder smoke, then another, until nearly all the shells were gone, when we ceased firing, and they were gone. Cheer after cheer went up from the infantry as McPherson went galloping by. I never before could see how men could cheer on the battlefield, but I never felt more like it in my life. Such is victory.
At 2 o’clock we moved forward, the infantry in line and the artillery in column on the road. As we advanced, a man came from the right, where we could see that Sherman had sharp work to-day, reporting that he had entered Jackson and taken 5000 prisoners. It could hardly be credited, but at last we were convinced of it as we entered their ineffective earth works with their pieces, caissons, etc. left uninjured; they had left everything, Sherman’s shells having scared them out of the capital of one of the strongest states of the Union. If there ever was a jubilant army, Grant’s army at Jackson was that night. The papers of the morning were found, which said that the Yankee vandals never would pollute Jackson. The force we met were direct from Charleston, S.C.—Eastern troops; but a wounded man told us they soon found out they were not fighting New York troops. Went into park in the suburbs of the town back of their breastworks. Lieutenant Simpson went down-town foraging. Ordered to cook three days’ rations.
Near Clinton, Friday, May 15. Awoke to prepare to march at 6 A. M., cooks having been up nearly all night baking the flour and meal. Retraced our steps back, leaving one of Sherman’s divisions to guard the place and we were to go and partake in more stirring scenes. Passed through Clinton in the afternoon and encamped at sundown four miles beyond.
Near Clinton, Saturday, May 16. Started at 7 A. M. Heavy firing in front, and at 10 A. M. we came up to the scene of action. They were engaged by Osterhaus’s, Hovey’s and Logan’s Divisions. We were immediately called forward and took a position on a knoll where we had a good view. They were in thick timber. Logan’s Division managed to get on their right flank, driving them with rapidity, but at the same time they were driving the line on the left and came near penetrating our center, many of our men having used all their ammunition, and the amount of stragglers falling back without order becoming dangerous. It was a dangerous moment. All eyes were anxiously looking, almost trembling, for the result; but at last there comes Colonel Holmes with his Brigade on double quick, which soon checked their progress, and the artillery were brought into position, McAllister’s 24-pounder howitzers on the left, with Quinby’s on the right and center. The infantry fell back at double quick as we opened fire on them, shelling the woods—38 pieces in all, belching away in fearful rapidity. Kept it up for one hour. When we ceased firing, they had left and all was still. The fight continued about five hours, the musketry having been exceedingly hot. We took seventeen pieces of artillery and about 2,000 prisoners.
After the battle intelligence reached us that Vicksburg was occupied by our forces, and that the troops of that place had met us in force with the hope of saving Jackson, which was met with cheer after cheer, although it was almost too good to believe. We marched after them, and going across the battle field it was a sickening sight, many of the regiments having been literally cut to pieces. For four miles the road was scattered with dead rebels and caissons etc. Came into camp at 11 P. M. and soon dropped asleep after a clear victory. We suffered no loss save one man wounded by a premature discharge of piece.
Near Clinton, Sunday, May 17. 8 A. M. We are packed up ready for orders to move. Cannonading is heard briskly at times. Captain Williams’s 1st U. S. Battery of heavy siege guns drawn by oxen and mules are passing. The enemy reported to have crossed the river and posted themselves behind cotton bales. Some of the troops have been furnished with hardtack, but we have not seen any yet. While waiting, we have received mail up to May 3. All well. 9 A. M. moved out through the thickly packed trains about four miles, then lay in the shade until 5 P. M. went into park in an orchard. Gen. McClernand has driven the enemy across the bridge at the railroad, capturing a brigade of prisoners.
Near Black River, Monday, May 18. Crossed the Black River on bridge built of cotton during the previous night, and marched through a cypress swamp for two miles without any roads. Other troops concentrating from other points as they are crossing in many places. Went in camp very late, after which obliged to ride three or four miles in search of water. Very tired.
An Artilleryman's Diary
Wisconsin History Commission
| Home | Grant's March | Pemberton's March | Battle of Champion Hill | Order of Battle | Diaries & Accounts | Official Records |
| History | Re-enactments | Book Store | Battlefield Tour | Visitors |
Copyright (c) James and Rebecca Drake, 1998 - 2010. All Rights Reserved.