Civil War Letters and Memoirs of Sgt. Stephen. A. Rollins
97th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry

"This Unnatural War"

The night after the Battle of Jackson, the 97th Illinois bivouacked in mud and rain and foraged enough to eat from the frightened citizens of Jackson. Afterwards they went into the city and viewed the State-house and other public buildings.


Theodore Davis, sketch artist, depicts the May 14th rain storm that occurred during the Battle of Jackson


“On May 15 our army “changed front,” and marched back through Clinton towards Vicksburg, and bivouacked near Bear Creek. The next day we marched four miles and encountered the enemy in force at Champion Hills.  Our regiment ran about a mile under a burning sun to get into position, and threw out skirmishers to protect the right flank of the army. We immediately advanced with the division [Logan] to the support of General Hovey who was being very hard pressed by the overwhelming force of the enemy. We quickly got into the thickest of the fight and opened fire.

The battle soon raged with terrific fury. As reinforcements came up on both sides, the rapid volleys of musketry soon blended into one continual roar, only interrupted by the bursting of shells and the constant discharges of artillery from both armies. The enemy had concentrated his force on our right, and was making desperate efforts to drive u back; but Logan’s division was not to be moved. The rebels moved up under the brow of a hill, evidently intending to make a desperate effort to take one of our batteries.  I could not help but admire the fine style they moved up, and the splendid colors they carried. There was a short pause, and then came the order to charge.

The brigade immediately moved forward, under a deadly shower of grape and musketry, and opened a terrific fire upon the stubborn foe. At first, he stood his ground manfully, but finally wavered and broke. Our brigade here captured about a thousand prisoners, and several pieces of artillery. It was a horrid sight to see the battle-field after the fight was over, covered with the dead and wounded of both armies. We pursued the enemy about two miles and bivouacked almost worn out by the heat and fatigues of the day.

How little the folks at home, seated by their comfortable hearthstones, realize of the heart-sickening horrors of this unnatural war!



From Letter dated Vicksburg, Miss., July 20th, 1863 by Sgt. Stephen A. Rollins to his parents.  Published in Soldiers’ Letters from Camp, Battlefield and Prison.   New York, NY, Bunce & Huntington, 1865


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