Janesville Daily Gazette
Tuesday, May 26, 1863

Battle of Champion Hill

Champion Hill Battle Field

20 Miles East of Vicksburg May 19 [16], 1863 -6:30 PM


Special to the Times ------The federal army under Gen. Grant has won another glorious victory. A furious battle, lasting nearly five hours, has resulted in the defeat of the enemy at all points, with the loss of from two to three thousand killed and wounded, three complete batteries heavy rifled cannon, besides several single pieces, and from 1,500 to 2,000 prisoners in our hands, and an immense quantity of small arms and camp equipage. Our success is signal and complete. Nothing mars the intense satisfaction of officers and men but the heavy sacrifice of life by which it was achieved.

Early this morning Gen. McClernand’s corps was put in motion. Gen. Hovey’s division was on the main road from Jackson to Vicksburg, but the balance of the corps was a few miles to the southward. On a parallel road, Gen. McPherson’s corps followed Hovey’s division closely.

At 9 o’clock Gen. Hovey discovered the enemy in front on Champion Hill, to the left of the road near Baker’s Creek, apparently in force. Skirmishes were thrown out, and the division advanced cautiously and slowly to give Gen. McPherson’s advance division, under Gen. Logan, time to come within supporting distance. Gen. Hovey’s division advanced across an open field of Champion Hill, in line of battle, at 11 o’clock, and commenced battle.

The hill itself is covered with timber, and is, in fact, but an abrupt terminus of a high ridge running north and south, flanked on both sides with deep ravines and gulleys, in many places covered with an almost impenetrable growth of scrubby white oak bushes. The rebels appeared deficient in artillery throughout the battle, but opened with a rather heavy fire from a four gun battery of rifled six-pounders, planted about 400 yards back from the brow of the hill.

The woods on both sides of the road leading up the face of the hill, and winding back on the ridge a mile or more, were fitted with sharpshooters, supported by infantry. Here the battle began in earnest, as our men entered the edge of the timer, and raged terribly from 11 o’clock till between 3 and 4. Gen. A. P. Hovey’s division carried the heights in gallant style, and, making a dash on the first battery, drove the gunners from their posts and captured the pieces. The 11th Indiana claim the honor of carrying the battery. The rebels lay thick in the vicinity of the guns, and their horses were more than half killed, gun carriages and caissons broken and overturned, while knapsacks, blankets, small arms and other debris attested the deadly struggle for the ground. The colors of the 31st Alabama regiment were captured there also, but I failed to learn by whose hands.

At this juncture, Mitchell’s Ohio battery was opened about 80 yards from the brow of the hill. The rebels made a dash for it into enemy’s hands. At this juncture the rebels appeared reinforced with fresh troops on that wing, and redoubled their efforts to hold the position and dislodge our troops on the hill.

Gen. Hovey was slowly driven back to the brow of the hill, but a brigade from Gen. Quimby was ordered to his support, and the ground was speedily reoccupied by us, and the rebels finally repulsed.

At the commencement of the engagement, Gen. Logan’s division marched past the brow of the hill, and, forming in line of battle on the right of Hovey, advanced in grand style, sweeping everything before them. At the edge of the woods, in front of Gen. Logan, the battle was of the most desperate character imaginable. The rattle was incessant from the first moment of the engagement, and bent in a continuous and deadly roar, in which reports were so blended that a single discharge was rarely heard. Not a man flinched or a line wavered in this division, so far as I could discover. All behaved like veterans, and moved to new positions with the conscious tread of victory.

Two batteries were captured by this division, and enough hard fighting was done to immortalize it. Besides this, it captured a large portion of prisoners, small arms, &c.

Between 3 and 4 o’clock Gen. Osterhaus’ and Gen. McArthur’s divisions came into action on the extreme left, and completed what had been so auspiciously carried forward. They were both miles away when the engagement began, but were brought forward with all the dispatch possible.

The enemy were in full retreat soon after, and these divisions pursued till nine o’clock, and are now encamped at Edward’s Station, eight miles beyond the battle ground. Unfortunately we had no cavalry; pursuit was therefore out of the question.

From rebel prisoners we learn that Gen. Pemberton commanded in person, and Gens. Fitz Hugh Lee [Stephen D. Lee] and Gregg [fled to Canton with Joe Johnson], who commanded at the battle near Raymond, and others of note, had subordinate commands. From them we also learn that great dissatisfaction exists towards Gen. Pemberton. He is accused by many of selling out to Gen. Grant; also, of planning military operations for the last four weeks so as to insure the latter’s success. By way of offset we presume there are those north who within two months, have charged Gen. Grant with little less than imbecility, incapacity, and general unfitness to command. Another case of extremes meeting, in abuse of men who have both unquestionably done all in their power to serve their respective superiors in authority. It is too early yet to do more than approximate our loss. I think it will be about 1,000 killed and wounded. It may prove less, but cannot be much more, I think. But few officers of distinction are injured. The 24th Indiana regiment lost 100 men, and Lieut. Col. Swain, commanding, is killed. Maj. Jones escaped unhurt, and subsequently captured an Alabama battery. Not a general or staff officer on our side was hurt.

Colonel Bouck, of the 18th Wisconsin, informed me, at the close of the engagement, that but two privates in his regiment were injured.

This has been the hottest and most brilliant fight in the southwest for several months, and may only be a prelude to others of the same character in store for us within three days. I say three days, because within that time Grant will have marched to the suburbs of Vicksburg.


Article courtesy of Don Sides, Coffeeville, Mississippi


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