Maj. Gen. James B.
McPherson, U. S. Army, commanding Seventeenth Army Corps
COLONEL: I have the honor to submit the following report of Operations of the Seventeenth Army Corps from the time of leaving Milliken's Bend, La., until our arrival before the land defenses of Vicksburg:
[only portions from May 15 - May 19 have been included]
Crocker's division encamped within the enemy's intrenchments on the night of the 14th, and Logan's division between the battle-field and the city.
On the 15th, at 5 a.m., Logan's division started for Bolton, followed by Crocker's at 7 a.m., with instructions to march as far as he could by 4 p.m., when he would select a good place and go into camp.
Shortly before 4 o'clock, the advance came up with Hovey's division, of McClernand's corps, and went into camp on Baker's Creek, two brigades on the west side and one on the east. Holmes' brigade, of Crocker's division, was left at Clinton for the night, and the remaining two brigades marched on and went into camp 2 miles east of Logan's division, on the main road.
At 6 a.m. on the 16th, Major-General
McClernand notified me that the enemy, under Lieutenant-General Pemberton,
had moved out in strong force from Vicksburg to attack us, and that his (McClernand's)
columns were already in motion to meet him.
The road at this point bears to the south,
passing over a high commanding hill, and then makes a short turn to the
west. This hill was bald, giving the enemy a commanding point for his
artillery, and was really the key of the position.
De Golyer's battery in the mean time opened a well-directed fire against the enemy posted behind the fence, and Rogers' battery of 24pounder howitzers, supported by Smith's brigade, took a position to the right and well in advance, and poured in a most destructive enfilading fire, under cover of which the line advanced and the crest was gained. A desperate attempt was made to charge and capture Rogers' battery, which was promptly repelled by Smith's brigade, which drove back the enemy with great slaughter, and captured a large number of prisoners. Stevenson's brigade, with the right refused, was advanced at double-quick into a piece of woods on the right of Smith, upon gaining which he was ordered to throw forward his right, so as to make his line of battle nearly parallel with the general line, and to move forward and drive the enemy from a hill in his front, where batteries were being placed. This movement was most brilliantly executed.
The brigade charged across the ravines, up the hill, and through an open field, captured seven guns, portions of two batteries, several hundred prisoners, and swept across the road, thus cutting the enemy off from his direct line of retreat to Edwards Depot. In the mean time Hovey, Leggett, and Smith were hotly engaged. Two regiments of Sanborn's brigade were ordered to the support of Hovey, one to the support of Smith, and one to Leggett. The enemy, discovering that their left was turned, now made a most desperate attempt to turn ours, precipitating all their available force on Hovey, whose division, having been fighting for three and a half hours, was very much fatigued and partially out of ammunition.
The tide of battle was turning against us, when Boomer's brigade came up, and with its able and heroic commander at the head went gallantly into the contest, checked the advance of the enemy, and held him at bay until Holmes' brigade came up, when a dashing charge was made, the enemy rolled back, and the battle won. In the charge the Seventeenth Iowa captured the colors of the Thirty-first Alabama and Waddells Alabama battery (four pieces).
As soon as the cartridge-boxes could be filled with ammunition, the pursuit was ordered and kept up until dark; Stevenson's brigade and De Golyer's battery in advance, followed by Carr's and Osterhaus' divisions, of McClernand's corps, then by Smith's and Leggett's brigades, and Crocker's division, except Holmes' brigade, which was left to guard the wounded, assist in burying the dead, securing the spoils taken from the enemy, &c., the troops bivouacking for the night from 2 to 5 miles in advance of the battle-field.
This, by far the hardest fought battle of all since crossing at Bruinsburg, and the most decided victory for us, was not won without the loss of many brave men, who heroically periled their lives for their country's honor. Their determined spirit still animates their living comrades, who feel that the blood poured out on Champion's Hill was not spilt in vain. Every man of Logan's and Crocker's divisions was engaged in the battle.
Our loss was: Killed, 166; wounded and missing, 894.(*) That of the enemy: Killed,----; wounded and prisoners,-----; ------ pieces of cannon, two stand of colors, besides quantities of small-arms and ammunition.
At 6 a.m. on the 17th, started for Black River, Logan in the advance, followed by Quinby, who had arrived and assumed command of his division, and reached a point on the river about 3 miles to the north and east of the railroad bridge. Ransom's brigade, of McArthur's division, now came up, and was ordered to construct a bridge across the Big Black for the passage of his brigade and Logan's division, and Quinby was ordered to construct one for the passage of his division. Ransom's was a solid raft bridge of timber, and Quinby's was built of timber and cotton bales. Both were completed at an early hour on the 18th, and the command crossed over, with the exception of Sanborn's brigade, which was directed to remain and guard the bridges and prisoners until Holmes came up.
After crossing the river, the command moved
in a northwest direction on a plantation road until the Bridgeport and
Vicksburg road was reached, when that became our line of march, following
Sherman's corps. Ransom's brigade arrived before Vicksburg just after
dark, and took a position on Sherman's left, Logan's and Quinby's
bivouacking on the road, where there was water.
In bringing this report to a close, I cannot express in words my admiration of the officers and men of my command who were engaged in this short but active and brilliant campaign. Their unswerving patriotism, patient endurance, and heroic determination have carried them through without a murmur, and won for them imperishable renown. Marching for a distance of over 200 miles through an enemy's country in the short space of eighteen days, without tents, and barely transportation enough to carry ammunition, the major part of the time without rations except such as could be procured from the country, fighting or taking part in five distinct battles, besides almost daily skirmishing, they have shown what soldiers can do when firmly resolved never to see their country's flag dishonored. Where all did so well, it is impossible for me to discriminate.
To Maj. Gen. John A. Logan and Brig. Gen.
M. M. Crocker, commanding divisions; Brig. Gens. John E. Smith, John D.
Stevenson, M. D. Leggett, Elias S. Dennis, and Cols. John B. Sanborn,
George B. Boomer, and Samuel A. Holmes, commanding brigades, I am
especially indebted for the able and spirited manner in which they
performed their duties.
Signal officers--Capt. L. M. Rose (chief signal officer), Eleventh Illinois Infantry; Captain [H. W. B.] Hoyt, One hundred and thirteenth Illinois Infantry; First Lieut. G. H. McNary, Tenth Pennsylvania Reserve Corps; First Lieut. T. C. Morris, Company H, Forty-fifth Regiment Illinois Infantry; Second Lieut. T. C. Withers, Company H, Twenty-fourth Regiment Indiana Infantry--rendered most important services on the various battle-fields, watching and reporting the movements of the enemy, and freely exposed themselves to danger when necessity required.
Capt. A. Hickenlooper, Fifth Ohio Battery,
and chief engineer of the corps, deserves special mention for his ability,
untiring energy, and skill in making reconnaissances, maps of the routes
passed over, superintending the repairs and construction of bridges,
&c., exposing himself constantly night and day, and merits some
substantial recognition of his services.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAS. B. MCPHERSON,
Lieut. Col. JOHN A. RAWLINS,
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