MAY 19-JULY 4, 1863.--The Siege of Vicksburg, Miss.
Report of Col. Edward Higgins, C.S. Artillery, commanding River Batteries.
ENTERPRISE, MISS., July 25, 1863.
The line of batteries extended along the river front, commencing at a point above Fort Hill, on the right of my line, to a redoubt which terminated the extreme right of the rear lines and met my left, a distance of 3 miles, and consisted of 8 10-inch columbiads, 1 9-inch Dahlgren, 1 8-inch columbiad, 1 7.44-inch Blakely gun, 1 7-inch Brooks, 1 6.4-inch Brooks, 3 smooth-bore 42-pounders, 2 smooth-bore 32-pounders, 8 banded and unbanded 32-pounder rifles, 1 18-pounder rifle, 1 20-pounder Parrott, 1 Whitworth, 1 10-inch mortar, 1 8-inch siege howitzer, making in all 31 pieces of heavy artillery, besides 13 pieces of light artillery, which were placed in position to prevent a landing of the enemy on the city front. These batteries were divided into three commands, as follows: The upper batteries, from Fort Hill to the upper bayou, were worked by the First Tennessee Artillery, under Co]. Andrew Jackson, jr. The center batteries, or those immediately on the city front, were under charge of Maj. F. N. Ogden, Eighth Louisiana Artillery Battalion, to whose command was attached Capt. S.C. Bains' company, of Vaiden Light Artillery. The lower batteries were in charge of the First Louisiana Artillery, under Lieut. Col. D. Beltzhoover. A portion of the Twenty-third [Twenty-second] Louisiana Volunteers was joined to Lieutenant-Colonel Beltzhoover's command.
On the evening of May 18, the investment commenced in rear of the city. At the same time five of the enemy's gunboats (four of which were iron-clads) came up from below, and took up a position in the river just out of range of our guns, while the river above and in front of the city was guarded by three gunboats, thus completing the investment.
On the evening of the 19th, the enemy's sharpshooters, having obtained possession of our abandoned line of outer works, opened a fire upon the upper four-gun water battery, commanded by Maj. F. W. Hoadley, First Tennessee Artillery, thus rendering the battery temporarily untenable. Advantage was taken of the darkness of the night to construct traverses on the flank and in rear of the guns of this battery, and at daylight there was ample protection afforded to the men while at the guns. The enemy also commenced feeling our batteries, and opened a heavy fire from three of his iron-clads upon Captain [W. C.] Capers' 10-inch columbiad, on the left of my line. Their fire was kept up for several hours, but without any serious damage.
At daylight on the morning of the 20th, the enemy opened fire upon the city and batteries with seven mortars placed under the bank of the river on the Louisiana shore. Three iron-clads also shelled the lower batteries at long range.
On the 22d, at 9 a.m., four iron-clads and one wooden gunboat engaged the lower batteries, and after an engagement of one hour and a half were repulsed. Two of the iron-clads were seriously damaged. This engagement was creditable To the First Louisiana Artillery, who, with ten guns, mostly of small caliber, contested successfully against thirty-two heavy guns of the enemy. Our casualties were only 2 wounded during the fight; one 10-inch columbiad and the 18-pounder rifled gun were temporarily disabled. The Blakely gun burst at the muzzle.
On the 23d, eleven of the light pieces on the river front were ordered to the rear, and were there fought by detachments from my command during the remainder of the siege.
From the 24th to the 26th, mortars kept up a steady fire upon the city and batteries. The 8-inch siege howitzer, one smooth-bore 32-pounder, the 20-pounder Parrott, and the Whitworth gun were removed to the rear with their detachments.
Soon after daylight on the morning of the 27th, the enemy's iron-clad gunboat Cincinnati, mounting fourteen guns, was observed approaching our upper batteries, while four iron-clads approached the lower batteries. An engagement took place, which resulted in the complete repulse of the enemy, and the sinking of the Cincinnati in front of our guns, after an action of thirty minutes.
Great credit is due to Captains [J.P.] Lynch and [T. N.] Johnston, of the First Tennessee Heavy Artillery, for the handsome manner in which their guns were handled during the engagement.
The enemy's loss was severe, many of their men being killed in the port-holes by our sharpshooters. As the river fell, attempts were made by the enemy to recover the guns of the Cincinnati by working at night, to prevent which fire was opened on the sunken boat every night from one or two of my guns during the siege.
On the 28th, the 18-pounder rifled gun was sent to the rear lines, in charge of Capt. L. B. Haynes' company (E), First Regiment Louisiana Artillery.
At daylight on the 31st, a tremendous fire was opened on the city from the enemy's guns in the rear, which did some damage to the works of the upper batteries. A battery of two small Parrott guns which opened upon my left at the same time was silenced by Captain Capers' 10-inch columbiad.
June 1, a large fire broke out in the city, close upon the magazine of the Whig Office battery, which was at one time in great danger. The ammunition was taken out and placed in a more secure position. All the men of my command that could be spared from the guns were ordered out immediately to assist in arresting the progress of the conflagration.
From June 2 to 8, the enemy kept up an incessant fire from the mortar fiats on the city and batteries, and each day the gunboats below shelled the woods and lower batteries. Two of the field pieces in my command were turned over to Maj. Gen. M. L. Smith, to be placed in the rear defense.
June 9 and 10, the fire from the mortars continued at irregular intervals. The enemy succeeded in placing sharpshooters in the woods on the Louisiana shore opposite the city, but they were driven off by a few well-directed shots from one of the light field pieces of Major [F. N.] Ogden's command.
On the morning of June 11, the enemy opened fire from a 10-inch gun placed in position at a point about a mile above the bend of the river, opposite the upper batteries, mortars and gunboats still keeping up a brisk fire.
June 12, the 10-inch mortar was ordered to our works in the rear, and was placed in Major-General Forney's line. It was manned by a detachment of men from Company G, First Louisiana Artillery, under Lieut. C. A. Conrad.
June 13 to 15, a 30-pounder Parrott gun opened on the upper batteries from the same position as the 10-inch gun mentioned previously. Several of the mortars dropped down the river some 500 yards, and opened a heavy fire on the upper batteries. The two Parrott guns opened again on Captain Capers, but were silenced after five shots.
June 16, enemy opened fire on Captain Lynch's battery (upper batteries) from a new work between Edwards' negro quarters and the river, doing considerable damage to the parapets, traverses, &c., but not injuring any of our men or guns.
June 17, 18, and 19, mortars still keeping up an irregular fire. The guns on the Louisiana shore fired very rapidly in the morning and evening. Our batteries replied slowly. The Parrott battery opened again on Captain Capers, but never fired after our guns opened. Since the surrender it has been ascertained that those two guns were totally disabled by Captain Capers' fire.
June 20, about 3 a.m., the enemy opened a heavy fire from both front and rear upon the city and batteries. Firing ceased at 7.30 a.m.
June 21, mortars ceased firing. The enemy mounted a 100-pounder Parrott gun on the Louisiana shore, under the bank of the river, at a point about 500 yards above the mortar-boats. It opened upon the city during the evening, doing a great deal of damage. Captain [R. C.] Bond, in the lower batteries, opened fire with his 10-inch columbiad and 32-pounder rifled gun, when, after a few shots, the enemy's gun ceased firing.
June 22 to 27, firing from the guns on the Louisiana shore was kept up on the city and batteries with great vigor. Our guns replied slowly and with deliberation, but in consequence of the timber on the Louisiana shore affording ample means of masking batteries, it was very difficult to arrive at any satisfactory results.
On the 26th, the mortars resumed their fire upon the city, and on the same day numbers of the enemy's sharpshooters opened upon the city from the brushwood on the Louisiana shore.
June 28, firing still kept up. The 10-inch Brooks' gun in the upper batteries burst one of the bands and also at the breech. At 4 p.m. the 100-pounder Parrott gun and two mortars opened upon the lower batteries.
June 29 and 30, heavy firing all along the river front. The gunboats shelled the woods around Captain Capers' battery. The mortar was brought from the rear, and remounted in its old position in the redoubt on the extreme left of my line. It was very successfully used in driving off sharpshooters from that point. In addition to the other guns on the Louisiana shore, the enemy opened two small Parrott guns close to the bank in front of the city. Their fire was very slow and at irregular intervals.
July 1, the enemy opened fire on the mortar redoubt from his lines. Our works were somewhat damaged by it. The mortar replied, and almost immediately afterward the enemy's fire ceased.
July 2 and 3, heavy firing from all points. At 4 p.m. on the 3d, I opened fire all along my lines, and at 5 p.m. the last gun was fired by the river batteries in defense of Vicksburg.
July 4, the city capitulated.
During this long and tedious siege, I am happy to say that the officers and men under my command discharged their duty faithfully and with alacrity. Owing to the weakness of our infantry force, they were called upon to perform other duties than those of fighting their guns. They formed a portion of the city guard, discharged the duties of fire-men in case of fire, policed the river, &c., and the reliefs were almost nightly under arms as infantry in the trenches.
I have not yet received the surgeon's report of our loss in killed and wounded. It will probably not amount to more than 30. Among the killed was Maj. F. W. Hoadley, First Tennessee Heavy Artillery, who commanded the upper water battery. This battery was exposed constantly to an unceasing fire of mortars, Parrotts, and sharpshooters. The gallant major was always at his post, and fell with his face to the foe, struck in the breast by a fragment of a shell.
The officers who most distinguished themselves by their gallantry and unceasing vigilance during the siege were: Colonel Jackson, First Tennessee Artillery, who, with his gallant regiment, bore the brunt of the labors and dangers of the siege, and was always ready, day or night, for any duty to which he might be called ; Lieutenant-Colonel [Robert] Sterling, Captains [J. P.] Lynch and Johnston, of the same regiment; Maj. F. N. Ogden, Eighth Louisiana Artillery Battalion, and Captains [T. N.] McCrory and [P.] Grandpre, of the same battalion; Capts. W. C. Capers, R. C. Bond, and R. J. Bruce; Lieuts. R. Agar, E. D. Woodlief, and C. A. Conrad, First Louisiana Artillery.
Capt. W. C. Capers, by his strict and indefatigable attention to his duties and gallant bearing, won my admiration.
Lieut. C. A. Conrad, in command of the 10-inch mortar, behaved with great gallantry.
Lieut. W. T. Mumford, adjutant of the command; Lieut. W. M· Bridges inspector-general; Lieut. W. Verger, aide-de-camp; Lieut B G. Knight, volunteer aide-de-camp, and Lieut. W. O. Flynn, engineer officer, discharged their duties to my satisfaction.
It is but an act of simple justice before closing
this report to make known the good conduct of Sergt. Thomas Lynch, of the
First Louisiana Artillery, who was in command of the picket boats and
chief of the river police. By his ceaseless energy and his close attention
to his very arduous duties, he made himself almost invaluable, and I trust
the Government will reward his faithfulness.
HDQRS. DEPT. MISS. AND EAST LA., Vicksburg, May 27, 1863.
COLONEL: It affords me pleasure to offer to you,
and through you to your gallant artillerists, my grateful acknowledgments
of your signal services against the enemy this day on the Mississippi
River. In the assurance of his power, the enemy threatened our city of
Vicksburg with five of his monster iron-clad gunboats, and seven of his
powerful mortar batteries. You manfully worked your guns of the upper
batteries against his force, and by your skill sank one of his vaunted
champions of the river--the gunboat Cincinnati, carrying fourteen guns,
turreted, causing the small surviving crew thereof to ignominiously fly to
the distant shore in discomfiture· You drove, too, from their selected
point of attack, by your lower batteries, four other iron-clad vessels,
and soon after you caused silence to reign around the shore of our
beleaguered city. By your gallantry and heroism to-day you have added to
the garland of Vicksburg's victories another bright chaplet. May God speed
you in your good work!
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