War of the Rebellion: Serial 036 Page 0768 Mississippi, WEST TENNESSEE, ETC. Chapter XXXVI.

Search Civil War Official Records

we were about to assault the enemy's works in our front, with bayonets fixed and with exultant shouts the line moved forward at a run. It was soon discovered, however, that the enemy had evacuated, and that the charge would be a bloodless one. The enemy had made a precipitate exit form the town, leaving all his artillery to fall an easy capture into our hands.

It had rained furiously all day. The men were very weary and thoroughly wet, having been not only exposed to the storm but required to wade streams and penetrate dense thickets through almost impassable swamps while skirmishing the country through which the column passed. They had also been almost entirely without rations for twenty-four hours; yet not a man straggled to the rear, nor did a syllable of complaint pass their lips. Their heroic endurance of privation and exposure and unexceptionable good conduct in action elicited from the general commanding, under whose immediate eye they had acted, encomiums of a most flattering character.

The FIFTH Minnesota, with the balance of the SECOND Brigade, was assigned to duty as provost guard of the city of Jackson, and quarters assigned them in the Capitol Square. Each individual man seemed to feel I to be the proudest day of his life as the old flag of our regiment was unfurled to the breeze in the capital city of the rebel President's own State. Even the tattered and faded emblem itself seamed to feel inspired by the occasion, and shook its folds more grandly than ever as a response to the scornful glances of the conquered traitors of this rebellious capital.

On the afternoon of the 16th, Jackson was evacuated and the column marched toward Vicksburg, arriving in front of the rebel works on the 19th instant.

We here lay quietly in bivouac until the morning of the 22nd, when a general assault was ordered upon the fortifications of the place. The regiment was exposed to a musketry fire for several hours during the fore part of the day, but fortunately escaped casualty. At about 4 p. m. the SECOND Brigade was ordered to make a charge upon a strong point in the defenses, where a similar attempt had met with repulse in the morning.

The broken nature of the country and inaccessible character of the position made it necessary that the storming column should move by the flank. The position of the FIFTH Minnesota was upon the left of the brigade, hence was the fourth regiment in the column. This circumstance saved the regiment from a fearful slaughter, for as the head of the column emerged from the cover of the timber and passed an open space leading to the work, it was met and literally melted down by a terrific fire of musketry and artillery, the latter double-shotted with canister and grape. From my position, within range, along the whole line of defenses a fire was concentrated upon this point, where the column must pass.

Within probably the space of a minute the brigade lost upward of 200 men, principally sustained by the leading regiment. The FIFTH Minnesota lost but 2. The General commanding the brigade at once declared it futile to attempt to move the column on. The road had been blocked up with the dead and wounded. The right of the column had become shattered and was in disorder. The parts of regiments left were ordered into a ravine, where they rallied under cover, while the FIFTH Minnesota, in good order and with but 2 men MISSING, filed down the ravine, where the nature of the ground afforded complete shelter.

Nothing could exceed the coolness and steady courage of the regi-