Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand, U. S. Army, commanding
Thirteenth Army Corps
MARCH PROM PORT GIBSON TO CHAMPION'S HILL
On the 3d, agreeably to your instructions, my corps, save Lawler's brigade, which was left behind to garrison Port Gibson, marched on the Raymond road to Willow Springs; on the 6th to Rocky Springs; on the 8th to Little Sandy, and on the 9th to Big Sandy.
General Osterhaus led the advance from Little to Big Sandy, and on arriving at the latter creek immediately threw a detachment of infantry, preceded by the Second Illinois Cavalry, over it toward Hall's Ferry, on Big Black. Finding a detachment of the enemy in front of the ferry, a company of cavalry, under Lieutenant Stickel, dashed forward and dispersed it before it had time to form, killing 12 men and capturing 30 prisoners.
Resuming its march on the 11th, my corps moved to Five-Mile Creek, and on the 12th to Fourteen-Mile Creek.
During these thirteen days my command subsisted on six days' rations and what scanty supply the country in the immediate vicinity of the route afforded; were wholly without tents and regular trains, and almost without cooking utensils; yet they were cheerful and prompt in the discharge of duty.
General Hovey's division led the advance to Fourteen-Mile Creek, followed by General Carr and General Osterhaus. General Smith's division moved by the way of Hall's Ferry, on Big Black River, and, leaving a detachment there to guard that crossing, passed on to Montgomery's bridge, on Fourteen-Mile. Creek, 3 miles below the point of General Hovey's approach. An outpost of the rebel force at Edwards Station, concealed in the thick woods and underbrush lining the creek, was first encountered by General Hovey's advance guard, consisting of a detachment of the Second Illinois Cavalry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Bush, and soon after by his artillery and infantry, which were boldly advanced across the open fields to the creek. Overcoming the resistance of the enemy, and driving him from his cover, General Hovey pushed forward a portion of his command beyond the creek and secured the crossing.
My loss in this skirmish was 4 men wounded. The loss of the enemy is unknown, but must have been greater. On the same day, General Sherman seized the crossing of Turkey Creek, a few miles to my right, and General McPherson, after a sharp skirmish, seized Raymond, still farther to the right. The flight of the enemy from Raymond left the way open to Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, and Major-General Grant determined to march his army in that direction. This involved a change in the direction of its movements. Up to this time Edwards Station, to which I had been leading the advance, was the objective point. There it was known the enemy had concentrated a considerable force and intended to accept battle when offered. Jackson now became the objective point.
Hence, on the night of the 12th, I was ordered by Major-General Grant to move the following morning, on the north side of Fourteen-Mile Creek, to Raymond. At this time my corps rested within 4 miles of Edwards Station, with an outpost only 3 and a picket only 2 miles from that place. The outpost of the enemy had been driven back from the creek, and he was fully advised of the fact and of our proximity. The movement ordered was a delicate and hazardous one, but was calculated to deceive the enemy as to our design.
To insure it against casualties, as far as possible, I ordered General Hovey to advance his division early on the morning of the 13th a mile on the main road to Edwards Station, and to form it in line of battle across the road. The movement was happily executed, and had the effect to throw the enemy upon his defense against apprehended attack. Meanwhile Osterhaus' and Carr's divisions crossed the creek, and, filing by the flank to the rear, and under cover of Hovey's line, crossed Baker's Creek, a mile eastward, on the road to Raymond, and halted. Hovey's division followed in successive detachments, under cover of woods. The movement was discovered by the enemy too late to allow him to prevent or embarrass it. His attack upon the rear guard was hesitating and feeble, and was promptly and completely repulsed. All were now safe beyond Baker's Creek.
On the same morning General Smith's division, after destroying Montgomery's bridge, hastened back on the south side of the creek, in pursuance of Major-General Grant's order, to Old Auburn, to guard and bring forward to Raymond the army's trains. That night the same division rested at Old Auburn, while the remaining three divisions rested on the Raymond road, between Turkey Creek and Raymond.
The morning of the 14th found General Osterhaus' division in Raymond, which, in pursuance of Major-General Grant's direction, I ordered to garrison that place. On the same day, in pursuance of like direction, Generals Carr's and Hovey's divisions marched through Raymond in a heavy rain-storm; the former to Forest Hill Church, within 6 miles of General Sherman's position at Jackson, the latter to a creek within 4 miles of General McPherson's position at Clinton. This was the most fatiguing and exhausting day's march that had been made.
That night I received a dispatch from Major-General Grant, informing me that the enemy had retreated from Jackson, and was probably attempting to reach Vicksburg in advance of us, and ordering me immediately to move my corps 8 miles north, to Bolton Station, to frustrate the design. Corresponding orders were immediately issued by me to commanders of divisions, and, by 9.30 o'clock on the 15th, General Osterhaus' division had seized Bolton Station, capturing several prisoners and driving the balance of the enemy's picket away.
General Hovey's division soon after came up from Clinton, and both divisions were disposed to meet any attack that might come from the enemy known to be in front. During the day an active reconnaissance was pushed by Colonel Mudd, chief of cavalry of my corps, up to the enemy's picket lines, and at some points beyond. General [Albert L.] Lee, who had reported for duty that morning, and who kindly volunteered his service as aide-de-camp until he could be assigned to a command, also displayed great enterprise and daring. Indeed, every effort was made by myself personally and by others to acquire familiar knowledge of the ground and roads for 7 miles west to Edwards Station. It was found three roads led from the Raymond and Bolton road to Edwards Station, one diverging 1½ miles north of Raymond, a second 3½ miles, and a third 7½ miles from Raymond, and 1 mile south of Bolton and the railroad. These roads may be designated as the northern, middle, and southern roads to Edwards Station, and united within some 2 miles of that point.
Night found Generals Hovey's, Osterhaus', and Carr's divisions, in the order stated, at the entrance to these several roads, prepared to receive a threatened attack, or to move forward upon converging lines against Edwards Station. General Smith's division came up during the night and bivouacked north of Raymond, near General Carr's. General Blair's division, of General Sherman's corps, bivouacked at Raymond. This disposition of my corps but anticipated events.
During the evening of the 15th, I received a dispatch from Major-General Grant, advising me that the entire force of the enemy at Vicksburg had probably crossed the Big Black and taken position at Edwards Station, and ordering me to feel the enemy without bringing on a general engagement, and to notify General Blair what to do.
BATTLE OF CHAMPION'S HILL
It only remained to execute what has been already intimated; hence, on the night of the 15th, orders were issued to commanders of divisions to move forward on the following morning.
General Smith moved forward on the southern road at 5 a.m. on the 16th, followed and supported by General Blair; General Osterhaus on the middle road at 6 o'clock, followed and supported by General Carr; and General Hovey at the same hour on the northern road. The starting of different divisions at different hours was in consequence of the difference in the distances they had to march, and was designed to secure a parallel advance of the different columns. Each division was instructed to keep up communication with that or those next to it.
Believing that General Hovey's division also needed support, I sent a dispatch on the 15th to Major-General Grant, requesting that General McPherson's corps, then arrived in rear of General Hovey, should also move forward, and early on the morning of the 16th I rode over to General McPherson's headquarters and suggested the same thing, urging, among other things, that if his corps should not be needed as a support, it might, in the event I should beat the enemy, fall upon his flank and rear and cut him off. Assurances altogether satisfactory were given by the general, and I felt confident of our superiority on the right. I went forward with the center, formed by Osterhaus and Carr.
At 7.30 a.m., when my whole line had approached within some 5 miles of Edwards Station, General Smith's division, on my left, encountered the enemy's skirmishers, who retired. A half mile farther on they encountered the fire of the enemy's artillery, which was briskly replied to until it ceased.
At the moment these demonstrations commenced, there was strong reason to believe (corroborated by subsequent information) that the enemy was moving in large force on the Raymond road, with the hope of turning my left flank and gaining my rear; but the sudden appearance of my forces in that direction foiled the design and threw his right back in some confusion toward his center and left.
Hearing the report of artillery on the left, General Osterhaus pushed forward through a broad field to a thick wood, which covered a seeming chaos of abrupt hills and yawning ravines. From the skirt of this wood he drove a line of skirmishers, and, continuing his advance until he discovered the enemy in strong force, commenced feeling him.
Early notifying Major-Generals Grant and McPherson of what had transpired on the left, I requested the latter to cooperate with my forces on the right, and directed General Hovey to advance promptly but carefully.
At 9.45 a.m. I received a dispatch from General Hovey, informing me that he had found the enemy strongly posted in front; that General McPherson's corps was behind him; that his right flank would probably encounter severe resistance, and inquiring whether he should bring on the impending battle.
My whole command was now about 4 miles from Edwards Station, and immediately informing Major-General Grant, whom I understood to be on the field, of the position of affairs, I inquired whether General McPherson could not move forward to the support of General Hovey, and whether I should bring on a general engagement. A dispatch from the general, dated 12.35 p.m., came, directing me to throw forward skirmishers as soon as my forces were in hand; to feel and attack the enemy in force, if opportunity occurred, and informing me that he was with Hovey and McPherson, and would see that they fully cooperated.
Meanwhile a line of skirmishers had connected Generals Osterhaus' and Smith's divisions, closing up the narrow space between them. General Blair had moved a brigade farther to the right, to support the skirmishers and the proximate flanks of Osterhaus and Smith. General Ransom's brigade, of the Seventeenth Army Corps, had been ordered to hasten up from the neighborhood of Raymond, and skirmishing along my left and center, particularly the latter, was quite brisk.
These measures in part had been taken in compliance with Major-General Grant's orders, based on information, of which he had advised me, that the enemy was in greatest strength in front of my center and left, and might turn my left flank and gain my rear. This, doubtless, as already explained, had been the tendency of the enemy early in the morning, but had been counteracted by General Smith's Operations. Later information was brought by an aide-de-camp of General Smith, and communicated by me to Major-General Grant, of the absence at that time of the danger he apprehended.
Instantly upon the receipt of Major-General Grant's order to attack, I hastened to do so, ordering Generals Smith and Osterhaus to "attack the enemy vigorously and press for victory," General Blair to support the former and General Carr the latter, holding Lawler's brigade in reserve.
At 10 a.m. General Hovey resumed his advance, and, approaching in plain view of the enemy, disposed his forces for battle along a skirt of wood and across the road of his approach. General McGinnis' brigade was formed on the right, and Colonel Slack's on the left. General Logan's division, of General McPherson's corps, was between the railroad and my right, and about half a mile from the latter.
A mile in front stood a hill some 60 or 70 feet high, covered with a thick wood. In this wood the enemy were drawn up in strong force, doubtless augmented by his tendency to his right, above noticed. This hill is indifferently called Midway or Champion's Hill, from the fact of its being half way between Jackson and Vicksburg, and the reputed property of a citizen by the name of Champion. The space between the hill and my right was composed of undulating fields, exposed to the enemy's fire, while the ground to its left and front was scarred by deep ravines and choked with underbrush, thus making a farther advance extremely difficult. Undaunted, the brave men of the Twelfth Division pressed on under a galling fire. By 11 a.m. the engagement became general all along the hostile lines, and continued to rage with increasing fury until after 12 m. Meantime the enemy had been driven back with great slaughter, quite 600 yards, leaving in our hands 300 prisoners and eleven pieces of cannon.
Rallying in his desperation, and bringing forward fresh troops, he poured down the road, and with superior numbers renewed the conflict. Not daring to cross the open fields in the direction of General McPherson, who had handled him roughly on the extreme right, his main force was directed against General Hovey. A crisis had come. Struggling heroically against the adverse tide, that officer called for the support of a division of General McPherson's corps, hard by, which had not yet been engaged, but did not get it until his line was being borne back. The support finally came, and was also borne back. Slowly and stubbornly our men fell back, contesting every inch of ground lost with death, until they had neared the brow of the hill. Here, under partial cover, they rallied and checked the advance of the enemy, but a bold and decisive blow was necessary to retrieve the day in this part of the field. This was happily struck by General Hovey. Massing his artillery, strengthened by Dillon's Wisconsin battery, upon elevated ground beyond a mound to his right, he opened an enfilading fire upon the enemy, which, challenging the cheers of our men, went crashing through the woods with deadly effect. The enemy gave way and the fortune of the day in this part of the field was retrieved. Generals Hovey's and Crocker's divisions pushed forward to the crest of the hill, while General Logan's division, falling upon the flank of the broken foe, captured many prisoners. Five of the enemy's guns that had been captured by General Hovey and had not been brought off again fell into our hands. The carnage strewing the field literally stamped Midway as the "Hill of Death." General Hovey had lost nearly one-third of his men, killed and wounded. It was now about 2.30 p.m.
As already mentioned, General Osterhaus' division early advanced to feel the enemy, General Garrard's brigade on the right and Colonel Lindsey's on the left. The sharp skirmish that followed upon the receipt of my order to attack was pressed until the centers of the opposing lines became hotly engaged. The battle was raging all along my center and right. In front of my center, as well as my right, the enemy appeared in great numbers. Garrard's brigade was hard pressed, and General Osterhaus requested that it should be supported. Support was afforded by Benton's brigade, of Carr's division, which promptly moved forward, in obedience to my order, and joined with the former in the conflict. All of Lawler's brigade, of the same division, except a reserve of one regiment, also advanced to support Lindsey, who had pushed a charge near the mouth of a battery. Lawler's brigade here cast the trembling balance in our favor. Himself narrowly escaping the effect of a shell, his men joined Lindsey's, and both dashed forward, shooting down the enemy's battery horses, driving away his gunners, and capturing two pieces of cannon. This success on the left center, forcing a portion of the enemy to the right, caused the resistance to my right center to be increased and continued until the flight of the enemy on my extreme right had communicated its effect to his center. The enemy, thus beaten at all points, fled in confusion, the main body along the road leading to Vicksburg, a fragment to the left of that road. General Carr's division, taking the advance, hotly pursued the former, and Lindsey's and Burbridge's brigades the latter, until night closed in, each taking many prisoners. The rebel General Tilghman was killed by a shot from one of General Burbridge's batteries.
At 8 p.m. General Carr arrived at Edwards, where the flames were consuming a train of cars and a quantity of stores which the enemy had fired. Both, to a considerable extent, were saved by the activity and daring of his men. During the same night General Carr's division was joined by General Osterhaus'. Generals Blair's and Smith's divisions rested some 3 miles southeast of Edwards Station, and General Hovey's division at Midway, under orders to care for the wounded and bury the dead.
The loss sustained by my corps attests the severity of this memorable battle, which is as follows:
Of General Blair's loss I am not advised, not having received a report from him.
Besides the captures already mentioned, a large number of small-arms were taken. The field was strewn with the dead and wounded of the enemy, and his loss must have been very great.
To say that the Thirteenth Army Corps has done its whole duty manfully and nobly throughout this arduous and eventful campaign is only to say what historical facts abundantly establish. They opened and led the way to the field of Port Gibson, and had successfully fought that battle for several hours before re-enforcements came. They led the way to Champion's Hill, and bore the brunt of that battle. Unassisted, they fought and won the battle of Big Black. They made the first, if not the only, lodgment in the enemy's works at Vicksburg, retaining their advantages longest, withdrawing last, and probably sustaining the greatest loss.
That their officers are subject to no just reproach is equally true. On the contrary, that my officers generally have borne themselves faithfully and gallantly is attested by conspicuous and incontrovertible facts. Their success is a conclusive testimonial of their merit.
While referring to the reports of division, brigade, and regimental commanders for particular notice of the officers of their commands most distinguishing themselves, it is proper, as the commander of the corps, that I should recommend Brigadier-Generals Hovey, Carr, and Osterhaus for promotion; also Colonels Slack, Stone, Keigwin, Landram, Lindsey, and Mudd. The skill, valor, and signal services of these officers entitle them to it.
Not having received the reports of Generals Blair, Smith, and Quinby, I have been unable to furnish a more particular account of the Operations of their commands.
To the members of my staff I am largely indebted for zealous and valuable assistance. Colonel [Thomas S.] Mather, chief of staff and acting ordnance officer; Colonel Mudd, chief of cavalry; Lieutenant-Colonel [Don A.] Pardee, acting inspector-general; Lieutenant-Colonel [Henry C.] Warmoth, aide-de-camp; Lieutenant-Colonel [Walter B.] Scates, assistant adjutant-general, and Major Butler, provost-marshal, all have been active, zealous, and eminently useful in their respective spheres of duty. Lieutenant-Colonel Warmoth, while by my side during the assault of the 22d ultimo, was severely wounded.
Lieutenants Hains, chief engineer of the corps, [William R.] McComas, [Henry] Jayne, and Mason, have commended themselves by ability, activity, and usefulness.
Lieutenant-Colonel [Grantham I.] Taggart, chief commissary, and Lieutenant-Colonel [James] Dunlap and Captain [Michael C.] Garber, quartermasters, have administered their affairs with an energy and success commanding my hearty approbation.
Major Forbes, medical director, has done everything that could be expected of an officer of rare talent, skill, and varied experience in his department.
Sympathizing with the general commanding the noble army of the Tennessee in the loss of so many brave men killed and wounded, I cannot but congratulate him, in my thankfulness to Providence, upon the many and signal successes which have crowned his arms.
JOHN A. McCLERNAND,
[Lieut. Col. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
Respectfully forwarded. This report contains so many inaccuracies that to correct it, to make it a fair report to be handed down as historical, would require the rewriting of most of it. It is pretentious and egotistical, as is sufficiently shown by my own and all other reports accompanying.
The officers and men composing the Thirteenth Army Corps, throughout the campaign ending with the capture of Vicksburg, have done nobly, and there are no honors due the Army of the Tennessee in which they do not share equally.
[ADJUTANT GENERAL U.S. ARMY.]
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