Civil War Diary of Lt. W. R. Eddington
97th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry

The battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi was fought May 16, 1863 on Mrs. Championís farm near Edward station, Mississippi. The Lord was good to us that night. Just before dark a bunch of hogs ran through our company and we got one for Company A so we had something to eat. This was the 16th day on five day rations and we were beginning to feel a little bit slim. I have Mrs. Champions picture.

That night the Rebels fell back about seven miles to Black River Bridge where they had more fortifications on the east side of Black River. Where they built the railroad bridge over the river, they had to go way back to start so the grade would not be too steep. It was a very long bridge built up on trussel [sic] work with a plank floor laid on it for wagons.

When the Rebels fell back they left about 5000 of their men down on the east side of the river. The rest of them crossed over to the west side and burned the bridge. We followed up and May 17 the battle of Black River Bridge was fought. We captured about 5000 prisoners, seventeen cannons and all their army equipment. Before the fight began our regiment was sent down to the left to come up with the rear to prevent any of them escaping. Pretty soon the 60th Tennessee came down with their guns and their flag flying and when they saw us they threw down their guns, handed their flag over and surrendered. The 97th Illinois captured the 60th Tennessee. They were sent to Camp Butler as prisoners of war. A good many of them died there and are buried in the cemetery there.

We killed so many of the Rebelís horses at Champion Hill that they could not move near all their cannons, so today we sent back horses and got them. We had to build a temporary bridge to cross the river on and gathered up the Rebel arms and the wreckage of the battle and burned it

 

Joshua C. Eddington, receives a Champion Hill Medallion in honor of his ancestor, Lt. W. R. Eddington during the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Champion Hill. Also pictured left to right: Sid Champion V, Rebecca Blackwell Drake, Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great grandson of Jefferson Davis and The Reverend Billie Abraham.

 


A copy of the Diary of Lt. W. R. Eddington, "My Civil War Memories," was submitted to the Champion Heritage Foundation by Stanley Eddington II.

 


 

Cotton Bridge Over The Big Black River

 

Cotton Bale Pontoon Bridge over the Big Black River

Sketch and Description by Theodore Davis, Harper's Weekly, June 27, 1863

 

The evening of the battle, the Union constructed a bridge from cotton bales and lumber to cross the Big Black. Davis described the brdige construction as: "Two heavy beams thirty-five feet in length were joined together by smaller beams ten feet in length, spiked two feet apart. "This frame now turned over, cotton bales were rolled into it in two rows, and secured by stanchions at the side of each bale, and a beam crossing the top. These rafts so fitted were now launched into the river, and, floated into place, were secured by guy-ropes from the shore; stringers then placed, 'breaking joints,' the entire length of the bridge, which was then 'decked over' with plank from the demolished 'gin-houses.' Over this bridge the troops, artillery, and baggage trains were safely passed. The ingenious constructor of this bridge, Major Hickenlooper, Chief Engineer of General McPherson's corps, has, during this brief but brilliant campaign, earned for himself a most enviable reputation. This bridge is certainly the most easily constructed, as it is the most secure, of any impromptu bridge known. The buoyancy of a 500-pound bale of cotton is quite 400 pounds, and serviceable for eight days." 

 

 


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