The Diary of Pvt. Arthur P. McCullough
Company D, 81st Illinois Infantry

Entries from May 1-17, 1863


May 1863

1. The fight which began yesterday at Grand Gulf was renewed this morning near Port Gibson. The Division marched early this morning in the direction of that place. Thought the distance was only eight miles but found it twenty-two. The day was extremely hot. Road dusty and hilly. Not withstanding this distance was made in five and a half hours. The enemy had been driven where our division came up but had formed to meet us in a new position one mile and a half. Ordered to the front as soon as we arrived. Came into the fight so gradually that I found it nothing unusual. First came the hearing of the artillery, next the rattle of the muskets. Soon came to the hospitals where surgeons were sawing and carving. Next met the wounded being carried off the field. Next the ground on which the battle was begun where was laying dead men, dead horses, wreaks of gun carriages, caissons, etc. and finally came under the fire of the enemy’s artillery and sharpshooters and remained under fire until dusk, five hours. Loss in the engagement, Coffey and Dodson missing, Stamps wounded, all belonging to Co. “D”. Slept on our arms at night expecting the fight renewed on the following morning. But during the night the enemy fell back. Was on the road at three o’clock A. M. in pursuit. Moved cautiously often in line of battle with skirmishers deployed. At ten o’clock the advance encountered them at Four Mile Creek where they were driven from after a short skirmish. Col. ________ of the 7th was wounded. In consequence of bridges being destroyed, were detained much on the way. Found a large quantity of bacon left by the enemy. Marched steadily night and day until the 4th when we halted on Big Black River three days. Marched again. Found marches weather hot, roads dusty, rations short, water dear and subjected to other inconveniences.

12. Encountered the enemy today near Raymond. After four hours fighting drove them. Loss in Co. Lt. Young and James Davis wounded. Co. stayed in town all night.

13. Marched to Clinton today. Heavy rain this evening and night. A party was sent out tonight to destroy the railroad and telegraph connecting Jackson and Vicksburg. Slept soundly on the ground in the mud.

14. Marched to Jackson this morning. The advance of the army engaged the enemy at this place early this morning and after four or six hours sharp fighting the rebs fell back. Was not engaged in this but had much rather been than to move through brush and muddy fields all day as the regt. had to do. A heavy rain continued to fall all day. Bivouacked in some brushy timber at night.

15. Marched at daylight in the direction of Vicksburg on the same road we passed over yesterday. Rested an hour at noon in Clinton and moved on to Bolton Station where we halted in line of battle for the night in a creek bottom.

16. Did not move until nine o’clock this morning. Had not gone far when the booming of cannon in front told us the enemy were again opposing our advance. After two and a half hours quick marching our brigade reached the scene of action which proved to be the hottest engagement of the campaign up to this time. The brig. was formed on the right. The 81st on the very extreme. The fight lasted until five o’clock P. M. when the enemy driven at all points begun to retreat which then became a rout. Brigade in pursuit until dusk. In the fight the brigade captured a battery of six guns sustaining a light loss. The regt. drew a force forward with artillery to cover the retreat from the field. The battle was fought on Champion’s plantation near Edward’s Station and twenty miles from Vicksburg. Brig. returned from pursuing and bivouacked on the field.

17. The enemy was attacked again this morning at Big Black River. Went over part of the field with Capt. Ward. The fight of it seemed far more horrible today than it did in the excitement yesterday. Marched at eight o’clock this morning. The fight at the river was over before our Div. came up. It resulted in the defeat of the enemy and capture of a large number of prisoners. Halted at the river while bridges were being constructed. 18. Crossed on pontoons at noon and marched in the direction of Vicksburg. Halted at midnight three miles from the enemy’s works. The night was very cool for the season. Slept without blankets.

Arthur McCullough died of disease in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 22, 1865.

Thanks to Tom McCullough, descendant from California, for providing excerpts from Pvt. McCullough's, diary.


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