G. B McDonald
30th Illinois Infantry


A Complete History of the 30th Illinois Veteran Volunteer Regiment of Infantry
Sparta News, 1916

Granville. B. McDonald, Musician

As is generally the case, when the enemy is near, and a battle is expected, the troops will have some knowledge of it. But in this case there was not a hint of battle being so near. We broke camp early on the morning of the 16th as usual, and took our place in line of march. About 9 o'clock, some skirmishing was heard in front. The boys had got in the habit of saying that was the pioneer corps fixing bridges. The skirmishing continued, and increased, until about 10 o'clock when an orderly came galloping back for our brigade to move to the front on quick time. This kind of order gets soldiers on their nerves, and they want to get on the firing line. Gen. Hovey was in the advance, and was heavily engaged, and was falling back when we came in sight. We moved by column right into an open field, and formed on his right. He was south of the road and we on the north. His troops rallied as we formed line of battle on a ridge in an open field. The Confederates were in the timber just outside of the field, about a half mile to the west. Our line advanced at intervals and laid down, so as not to get ahead of Hovey's line of battle. He had now reformed his line and was driving the enemy back. The sun was warm, and the rebs bullets made it still warmer. These short advances were made with continued fighting until late in the afternoon, and fighting was fierce. Gen. Pemberton, commanding the Confederate forces had marched out from Vicksburg and selected this fine position, with the determination of defeating Grant. And Grant was fighting to open his cracker line, and get in communications with the north. So when Americans meet Americans; then comes the tug of war. We had fought our way down to near the woods late in the evening, when Hovey's troops gave way on our left, and that gave the enemy a flanking fire on us, and we suffered for it. We lost Maj. Wilson, ex Capt. of Co. "C", Capt. Meily, of Co. "D", and Capt. Burnett of Co. "G" and a number of men of the regiment.

Captain James R. Wilson, Co. C
Elected Major of the Regiment, wounded in the head at Fort Donelson and killed at Champion Hill.

At this stage of the battle, fifty or sixey (sic) pieces of artillery had taken position on the ridge where we formed in the morning, and we were ordered to fall back to a little ravine and lay down. Then the artillery opened on the Johny's and for about thirty minutes, the earth trembled and the smoke rolled up as from a prairie fire and the Lord only knows how the rebs rolled up. It had been give and take, but now it was give, and the enemy took to the rear and that ended the battle.

It is hard for men to stand shot and shell like that. When we were ordered to fall back, Capt. Meily of Co. "D" had just fell mortally wounded, and called the boys not to leave him. John Wilson of Co. "C" was near him, and he took his gun in one hand, and with the other got Miley partly on his shoulder and took him back to the ravine. For this act he was awarded a badge of honor. In passing over the battle field later, John Wilson picked up two balls stuck together, they had met during the battle, Yank and Johney balls. A Col. of, I believe an Ohio Regiment, had formed his men in line of battle and was in front directing their movements, before they began firing; and a rabbit jumped up and run to one flank, and the Col. pulled off his cap and threw it at the rabbit and yelled "Go it molly cotton tail if it was not that my reputation was at stake, I would go with you." That was a cool officer. We sometimes hear soldiers say they were not afraid in battle. That won't do boys; when death is staring you in the face don't you feel a creeping, trembling sensation pass over you? But you can be like this Col., keep cool, for your reputation is at stake, and you stand to. We marched a mile or two after the battle, and in doing so, we marched over the battle ground after dark, and the groans of the wounded, and calling for water was heartrendering. The name of this battle was taken from a mans name that lived on the hill in the midst of the battle.

In 1906 I attended the Illinois dedication of the monument at Vicksburg, and in going from Jackson to Vicksburg the railroad passes over the north edge of the battle field. There is no station there but the train stops for passengers. Just when we were getting off the cars at Vicksburg, I saw the conductor talking to a lady and call her Mrs. Champion. I addressed myself to her and asked her if she was the Mrs. Champion that lived on the battle field, and she said "yes sir, I am the woman." I asked her if she was there during the fight. She said she was, and was in the cellar during the fight, and her youngest child was a baby then, and had died that summer with yellow fever. That was 46 years after the battle. She had a part in the program of dedicating the monument.

There was not much time for burying the dead, and a good many of them was laid in a ditch and covered over. After the surrender of Vicksburg we were back over the battlefield and the rain had washed the dirt off and their knees were sticking out, and some of their teeth were shining. 

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