JAMES S. REEVES
Surgeon Seventy-Eighth Regiment, O. V. I.
History Of The 78th Regiment O. V. V. I., From Its "Muster-In"
To Its "Muster-Out;" Comprising Its Organization, Marches,
Campaigns, Battles And Skirmishes by Rev. Thomas M. Stevenson, Chaplain
Zanesville, Ohio, 1865
transcribed by Thomas
J. Joyce, Long Beach, CA, Sep. 2000
here for full text
IN THE FIELD, VICKSBURG, MISS., FIELD HOSPITAL,
THIRD DIVISION, SEVENTEENTH ARMY CORPS,
MAY 20, 1863.
JAMES A. ADAIR:
Dear Sir — The stirring events of the past
month have so rapidly followed each other, and so slight have been the
opportunities for writing, that I have been unable to make a report to
you, such as I felt it my duty to make.
On the 25th of April we left Milliken's Bend,
Louisiana, as a part of the Seventeenth Army Corps, and marched over a
military road which General Grant had caused to be made, passed through
Richmond and along Roundaway Bayou to Lake St. Joseph, around which we
passed, and reached Perkin's Landing, on the Mississippi River, on the
28th. The next morning we continued our march to Hard-times Landing,
where transports and gunboats awaited us, which took us down the river
about ten miles, and we debarked and stacked arms in Mississippi. From
that point we took up our line of march along the Port Gibson road. The
Seventy-Eighth was detailed to act as rear-guard to the column all that
day, and was the last to come up for the bivouac at night.
General Crocker's Division was in advance, and
when in the vicinity of Magnolia Church, met the rebels, under Generals
Bowen and Tracy, nearly five thousand strong, occupying a strong
position, and with whom they became engaged, at 2 o'clock A. M., on May
1st. The battle was fought with varying success by that Division, until
12 M., when General Logan's Division came up on the double-quick and
forced the rebels from their position, driving them back with great
loss. On the next day we occupied Port Gibson.
The country is broken, and presents a
succession of ridges running in parallel but very tortuous lines, with
deep ravines intervening, affording natural earthworks in great variety.
The rebels were routed, and retreated in the night toward Jackson,
burning the bridges over Bayou St. Pierre and several other streams.
We left Port Gibson on the 2d of May and
marched toward Vicksburg, and found the country to grow better as we
advanced. We came to Little Black river just after the enemy had
crossed, too late to capture them. At this point the Second Brigade had
the advance, and was shelled by a rebel battery, the shells bursting
over and around the Seventy-Eighth fiercely for a short time, but
fortunately without hurting any one.
We then moved toward Clinton, on the railroad
from Jackson to Vicksburg, when, within four miles of Raymond, we met
the enemy, eight thousand strong. General Logan was in the advance, and
a fierce battle ensued. They were again routed and fled toward Jackson.
In this battle the Seventy-Eighth acted a prominent part and suffered
loss. Private Oliver Story, of Company F, was mortally wounded and has
since died; Charles Mason, of Company D, shot through the shoulder
severely; Isaac Drum, Company E, wounded in the head slightly.
We moved to Clinton and occupied the town,
capturing a quantity of clothing and army stores, tearing up the
railroad, and crippling the rebels in various ways, and on the next day
went toward Jackson and again met the enemy, who had taken position upon
the grounds of a planter. The battle was short and decisive. The rebels
were routed, leaving their killed and wounded on the field. Two
batteries were captured. Our troops immediately occupied Jackson, and
stacked arms on the "sacred soil" of "King Jeff." So
rapid had been our march, and so sharp our fighting, that the people,
deluded by the misrepresentations of the lying press at Jackson, were
completely surprised, and they made a stampede that would put to blush a
score of Bull Runs. At daylight next morning General Logan's Division
was en route for Vicksburg.
On the morning of the 16th of May, the advance
of our column was checked by the enemy, who were drawn up in line of
battle at Champion Hills, four miles from Black River. Immediate
preparations were made to meet them. The engagement commenced on the
left, and it soon became a fierce conflict – Hovey and Carr's
Divisions being in the hottest of the fight. The roads at this point
were numerous, all converging toward Black River Bridge, thus bringing
our troops nearer to each other as we advanced. The battle soon involved
the troops on the right of the road, and Logan's Division became
engaged. At this time the Second Brigade, led on by General Leggett,
participated in the fight, and I say with pride, that the Seventy-Eighth
Regiment went into battle cool and determined, stood up under a heavy
fire without flinching, and acquitted themselves nobly. Far in advance
of the line, they stood out in bold relief, and forced the enemy to fall
For three hours the rebels maintained their
position, during which time there was one continuous roar of artillery
and musketry. A brilliant charge was then made upon a battery of nine
guns, and it was taken; then the rebel line began to waver, was broken
and soon commenced a hasty retreat. They fled toward the bridge about
which so much has been said and written, and were crossing pell-mell as
fast as possible, when night enshrouded the scene and quiet reigned. Ere
morning dawned upon the hills, Carr's Division fell upon the retreating
enemy and captured between two and three thousand of them, and seventeen
pieces of artillery.
During the engagement our hospital was located
temporarily in the woods at what was a suitable distance, but by a
series of maneuvers batteries were planted upon the ridge near us, and
as the wounded were not yet brought in, I had ample opportunity to
witness the fight. Our troops were in the open field, while the rebels
occupied the woods. A single gun from DeGalyer's Battery was stationed
on a projecting knob, and was raking the enemy terribly. A battery of
six guns was planted just under the edge of the ridge, out of sight of
the rebels, and which was intended to do special work. The Second
Brigade was at this time in a depression in the field. Presently the
rebels charged upon the solitary gun, swarming like bees about the edge
of the woods, and going rapidly toward the gun. At that moment the
battery opened and dropped its shells with great precision right among
the rebels, sending living and dead in every direction – particularly
in the direction of the woods. The field was cleared, and the gun kept
thundering away. When the rebels retreated our Brigade followed.
In riding over the ground next day, I came to
where the charge was made upon the rebel battery. The road was strewed
with dead horses and broken harness, and a few broken gun carriages.
Near by, six dead horses marked the spot where a single gun had been
planted to deal death among our men. The gun was gone, but deep marks in
the hard ground told of the fearful rebound it gave at each discharge.
Within ten feet of the spot on which the gun stood, nine graves ranged
side by side, disclosing the resting place of those who fell beside it.
The battle was over, the enemy routed, and
"On to Vicksburg!" was the word. On we went, and by midnight
were within four miles of the city. We now occupy the rear of the city,
our lines extending from Warrenton on the Mississippi to Haines' Bluff
on the Yazoo river.
On the morning of the 22d our guns were
thundering, and each day the cannonading had been going on. We have free
communication with Young's Point by way of Haines' Bluff, and with all
below by way of Warrenton, and are receiving provisions and ammunition,
in fact supplies of all kinds, by way of the Yazoo. Since coming to
Vicksburg, the Second Brigade has been constantly in the field, and the
Seventy-Eighth Regiment has been close upon the trenches, shielded by a
ridge, waiting for their time to come to "go in."
There is no time for writing; I am in the midst
of the wounded at the field hospital of the Third Division, and send
this more for the purpose of giving a list of the killed and wounded
than for anything else.
Our march from Milliken's Bend has been
triumphant and full of incidents, and I regret exceedingly that I have
not been permitted to pen a detailed account of it.
At Thompson's Hill, Jackson, Raymond, Champion
Hills, Black River Bridge, and in all the skirmishes, we have completely
whipped and discomfited the rebels, and drove them before us like scared
Herewith I send you a list of the killed and
wounded of the Seventy-Eighth Regiment, in the battles of Raymond and
the battle of Raymond, May 12, 1863, and left in the hospital at
Raymond: Corporal Simeon H. Cockins, Company A, arm fractured; private
Solomon J. Donelson, A, fore-arm, buck shot; private Charles B. Mason,
D, shoulder, severely. (This was an accident, the wound being inflicted
by his own gun.) Private David Miller, D, head, severely; private Isaac
Drum, B, head, slight; private William C. Younger, B, thigh, slight;
private Thomas Hartsell, H, head, scalp wound; Corporal Oliver Story, F,
abdomen, since died; George W. Richardson, A, thigh, flesh wound.
The following are the casualties at the battle
of Champion Hills, May 16, 1863:
private, Company A; Sergeant Abner Roach, I; Sergeant – Stitte, C;
private Jno. F. McIntosh, I; private James Taylor, F; private William
McBurney, H; private Enoch Gray, K.
Wilson, Company A, head, severely; private Philander S. Castor, A,
shoulder, severely; private Samuel Jackson, A, head, slight; Lieutenant
Jas. Caldwell, A, abdomen, severely, since died; Adjutant H. Abbott, A,
head, severely; private Randolph C. Austin, B, chest and left shoulder;
Sergeant Harrison C. Varner, B, shoulder; private Silas Eaton, B, fore
arm fractured, resection; private George W. Lay, B, chest and back,
severely; Sergeant Andrew McDaniels, thigh, flesh wound; private –, C,
fracture of both bones of the leg, amputated; private Jas. D. Austin, D,
neck, severely; private William Weller, E, conical ball through the
elbow joint, exsection of the joint; private J. C. Russell, E, thigh,
flesh wound; James Russell, E, abdomen, severely; Jacob Beisaker, E,
shot through the knee joint, amputation lower third of thigh; Joseph
Vankirk, F, fore arm, severely, exsection of elbow; private Robert A.
David, Company G, thigh, flesh wound; private Joseph Rhinehart, hip,
severely; private George Kimball, Company H, leg, flesh wound; James
Huelson, Company H, hip and abdomen, since died; private Francis Scott,
H, face, buck-shot; Sergeant Daniel Raney, H, leg, flesh wound; private
George W. Steele, I, arm, spent ball; private Aaron Floyd, K, back,
flesh wound; private Samuel Giesy, K, hand; private George Luinbatus, K,
hand fractured; private John Greenbank, K, hand, slight; private Hiram
Reed, K, thigh and arm; private John Weir, A, face, (lower jaw);
Corporal Andrew McPherson, E, neck; Lieutenant Israel Robinson, D, hip,
contusion; private Lewis Rowley, G.
We left Milliken's Bend without much
transportation, without a change of clothing, tents or cooking utensils,
save perhaps a coffee-pot and frying-pan, and have slept upon the ground
with the bright stars twinkling above us; and during the whole trip it
has rained but twice to cause any discomfort.
May 23. — Yesterday the First Brigade of our
Division charged the enemy's earthworks, but were obliged to fall back.
For some time they stood in the face of a heavy fire, and the Brigade
was badly cut up. Two hundred and nineteen men were brought in and
placed in the wards of the Division Hospital, many of them badly
wounded. The number killed has not been reported.
Our Army Corps is in fine spirits at our
prospect of a sure and speedy reduction of this rebel stronghold, and
the opening of the Mississippi.
The health of the regiment is good, and during
the present month there has been but little complaint of ill health.
Captain McCarty is commanding Company E, and is deservedly regarded with
favor, for he is a good officer. Lieutenant Stewart is now in command of
Company K, and should receive a Captaincy, as he fully merits it.
It is now a year and a half since I left home,
and I hope, after we take Vicksburg, to visit home, and tell you of a
thousand things I cannot get time to write.
JAMES S. REEVES,
Surgeon Seventy-Eighth Regiment, O. V. I.
Rev. Thomas M. Stevenson,
Chaplain of the Regiment; History Of The 78th Regiment O. V. V. I.,
From Its "Muster-In" To Its "Muster-Out;" Comprising
Its Organization, Marches, Campaigns, Battles And Skirmishes; pp
126-127, 133-137; Zanesville, Ohio, 1865