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
click here for full text

[pages 133-137]

MAY 20, 1863.

     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 back.
     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 sheep.
     Herewith I send you a list of the killed and wounded of the Seventy-Eighth Regiment, in the battles of Raymond and Champion Hills:


     At 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:


     Lewis Voght, 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.


     Private David 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.

Respectfully Yours,
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


| 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 - 2002.  All Rights Reserved.