The Diary of Colonel William H.
56th Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Excerpts from May 15- 16, 1863
Courtesy of the Vicksburg National Military Park
May, Friday, 15. At 5 A.M. left our damp beds and started again, taking the road to Clinton, quite a little town on the Jackson and Vicksburg R.R. Arrived here about 8 A.M. Here learned that Jackson had been taken by our forces, also a rumor that Richmond had been taken which latter report I believe untrue, though the men are much enlivened with the news.
After passing through Clinton, we faced to the right about and on the road to Bolton Depot, near which point we arrived. A few rebels appearing in our front, we formed in line sent out Co. A and F as skirmishers and lay on arms all night, taking possession of Bolton Depot with a large quantity of cotton and military stores. At dusk a heavy picket was posted and the men ordered to lay in line on arms all night. Capt. Cook and Lieut. Wood both still sick and riding in my carriage. From Bolton Depot procured a pretty good supply of provisions.
May, Saturday, 16. It was fully 8 o'clock before we were on the road for Edwards Depot; all our army converging towards that point. Our brigade formed in a rye field with the first [McGinnis] on the right. Skirmishers were sent out who soon became hotly engaged when all moved forward. I was ordered to remain with and support the 1st Mo. battery, while the action became general. Soon I was ordered forward to support a portion of the 1st brigade which had met a superior force of the enemy. I advanced the regiment at double-quick for at least a half mile when we came up with the enemy in force in an open field.
We charged him, drove him back. They then rallied, we charged again and again for five times when we had cleared the field and advanced beyond the 1st brigade to the Raymond road. There the 28th Iowa which had been ordered to our support fell back. The 24th Iowa advanced on our right and with that regiment we held the enemy in check for over two hours, they constantly receiving fresh accessions to their numbers, until they were 10 to our 1.
The 24th being flanked on the right gave way, but many rallied with our men, while our left being unprotected, was completely flanked. No support arriving, which I had sent for, and over 1/3 the men having fallen, I gave the order to fall back to the woods which was slowly done. As soon as the shelter of the woods and a small ridge was reached, we faced about and held the enemy in check until Quinby sent a brigade to our support, when we again pressed on and drove the rebs from the field. We advanced one and a half miles from our first position, and lay down perfectly fatigued and exhausted, and slept as only the soldier can sleep.
May, Sunday, 17. History and reports will in the main give correct accounts of this severe battle and its glorious results. Our own regiment numbered 364 in the morning and but 226 in the evening, having suffered a loss of 24 killed, 89 wounded and 25 missing -- total 138. Capt. Jno. Cook, Lieut. [George] Manning and [Augustus S.] Chute were killed, Capt. [George] Wilhelm severely and several other officers slightly wounded. The regiment was in the extreme advance and suffered more severely than any in the division or in the whole army. Our division having done almost all the fighting yesterday, was left to take care of the wounded and bury the dead. To the 1st brigade was this duty entrusted while the 2nd took up the line of march and arrived at Edwards Depot where we encamped on a high hill and in a very pleasant location. I found a tent along the road, had it brought along and put up. The main body of our army at daylight this morning, pressed forward, fought at Big Black Bridge where the enemy offered but feeble resistance. Thousands of them were captured with several pieces of artillery. The Rail Road Bridge was burned by the enemy, together with 3 or 4 steamboats…..the Paul Jones, Dot, and Charm, the remains of which lay below us. These boats were run up from Grand Gulf and fearing they might be made useful to us, the enemy Confederates burned them.
Colonel Raynor became a manufacturer in Toledo after the war.
Colonel Raynor was captured twice during the war, He was first made a prisoner in the early part of the war, at the time of the Viennia ambuscade, or shortly after. He was then a Lieutenant with only three months of service. He was again captured while running the rebel batteries on Red River in 1864. He was wounded both times he was captured.
During his first capture and while a prisoner at Libby prison that he escaped. The details of his escape can be found at http://www.lawrencecountyohio.com/civilwar/narrowescapes/NE50.html.
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