MAY 19-JULY 4, 1863.--The Siege of Vicksburg, Miss.
Report of Capt. William Kossak, additional aide-de-camp, U. S. Army, Acting Engineer Officer.

                                                                               CAMP AT VICKSBURG, MISS.,
                                                                                      Near City Hospital, July 13, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit to you the following report:

According to copy of orders, annexed to this report,* omitted, as unimportant I took charge of the trenches on and along the Graveyard road on the night of June 19.

A part of the pioneer detachment of the Second Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, under command of Captain Ashmead, furnished my saps with sap-rollers, gabions, fascines, and sap-faggots. Company I, Thirty-fifth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, Lieut. C. Lochbibler commanding, acted as sappers and miners, and an infantry detail of 50 men, for day and night, constituted the force that I used in the approach against the main bastion in front of Brigadier-General Ewing's brigade.

To my right lay Brigadier-General Lightburn's work, in charge of Colonel Malmborg, commanding Fifty-fifth Illinois, attacking a stockade with advanced rifle-pits, situated in front of the enemy's left; re-entering angle of the main bastion attacked by me.

To my left was Col. Giles A. Smith's work, commanding Eighth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, whose approach was directed to a more retired and smaller bastion on the enemy's right. 

When I took charge of the work approaching the main bastion, I found the work advanced within 20 feet of the enemy's counterscarp, with such obstructions in front of the sap-roller as to make it impossible to move the roller one inch without having the party engaged in the moving killed outright. I therefore branched off to the right and left, trying to raise trench cavaliers parallel to enemy's counterscarp and get a plunging fire into his ditch. The sap-roller I left in its position, crowning it with gabions and sand-bags, so as to offer the pickets supporting working party a proper shelter. These trench cavaliers I built during the 20th and 21st of June, when I discovered, by the dull, deep sound of tamping to the left, that the enemy was mining to blow up the head of my sap. Immediately after this discovery I had counter-ditches dug at the reverse slope of the ditch of my trench cavaliers, at right angles to the direction of the mines of the enemy, hoping to strike either their chambers or their powder-hole. This work took up the 23d of June, day and night. 

I found now that I could not strike the enemy's mines, having gone already to a depth of 10 feet below the natural surface, where the enemy's mines could not be, his entrances lying much higher. I therefore started two counter-mines--one to the right, the other to the left of the sap-roller--in the trench cavaliers. This work took the 24th and 25th and the night of the 26th of June, when, early in the morning of 26th, the enemy sprung two mines near my counter-mines, crushing in the roofs badly. Some gabions in the trench cavaliers were thrown down; but the charge of the mines was too small to throw up any crater which we might have taken advantage of. The mines acted a la ca-mouflet, which was probably the enemy's intention. They anyhow filled our mines and disintegrated the soil around to such an extent that further mining at that point was out of the question. 

All the time we worked in this sap the working parties were harassed by shells thrown over into our saps, but fortunately nobody lost his life. Even the springing of the enemy's mines did not injure anybody particularly, as nobody was inside the mines at the time. A few men were covered by earth and gabions falling on them from the parapets, but they extricated themselves without material injury. During the time that this work was going on in the immediate front I had constructed small traverses (a a) in the main approach, and under their shelter started a new sap-roller into the sap (T2). The intention was to mislead the enemy, making him believe that we had abandoned the work in his immediate front and retired to start something else. At the same time the sap (T2) would have increased the facilities of a storming column, it acting as an additional sally-port. 

The infantry details I always employed in widening the trenches in my rear, forming communications to the works on my right and left flank, carrying siege material to the front, and making general improvements in the trenches, such as strengthening weak points, &c. All the fire of the enemy during the nights we always returned promptly with hand-grenades from our trench cavaliers, and the howitzer battery in our rear and left, acting in accordance with me, shelled the enemy handsomely in his ditches. 

Early on June 26, I received Special Orders, No.166 (annexed here in copy).* omitted, as unimportant To continue the work in front was out of the question, for reasons previously stated. I therefore started, after constructing traverse a1 and increasing the height of traverses a a, so as not to be looked into from top of enemy's parapet (a main gallery designated in dotted lines on the annexed sketch (41 KB)).

I knew, from the information drawn from a deserter (an engineer soldier of the enemy, who had worked at the bastion in my front), that the enemy had some more mines ready and charged in my front besides those which he sprung, as previously stated, and I therefore went on a circuitous route, to keep even out of their radius of rupture, away under the main ditch under the enemy's parapet. Proceeding according to the distances laid down in the previous sketch, with a fall of 1 foot in every 3 feet advance, I ran 60 feet right-oblique down to the hollow on the right side, where I had to run out an air-hole obliquely to the rear, the candles being extinguished by the extreme heat and foulness of the air. 

After running 16 feet farther, I arrived at the bottom of the hollow, and went out cautiously 17 feet (rise 1 in 3), landing behind a large, heavy log lying across the gully. Here I established a new dump (d1) the old dump in the sap (at d) becoming too inconvenient on account of distance of wheeling. This new dump and air hole brought plenty of circulation of air into the mine, and, making a direct turn at almost right angles against the enemy's works, I proceeded 70 feet passing the ditch and approaching under the parapet. The shape of this gallery was 4 feet 6 inches high in the clear, 3 feet clear at bottom, 2 feet 6 inches in clear at the top. Mining frames set at 4 feet from center to center, and top-sheeting, our location being so deep that the enemy, who would have had to descend enormously, could only crush our tops. 

Here I worked day and night, with six-hour reliefs, up to 10.30 a.m., July 4, the miners suffering much from the extreme heat and want of air, when I received verbal orders from Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant to stop all work, the place having surrendered. 

I had 175 feet of powder-hose made and filled, and the proper casings; also the sand-bags ready for tamping, and the necessary cross-braces. The charge of powder, according to the nature of the soil, I had calculated to be 2,200 pounds, as I had to blow 27 or 28 feet of solid ground overhead, at the same time destroying all mining around that front. My main attention being paid to the bastion on Brigadier-General Ewing's front, I was only able to pay one visit daily to Col. Giles A. Smith, on my left, or Colonel Malmborg, on my right. Both of these saps have gone ahead in good manner, particularly that of Colonel Malmborg (General Lightburn's brigade), Fifty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, who was constantly out on his work in person. He approached the enemy's stockade within 25 feet, and was shelled severely by them during the nights of June 30 and July 1 and 2. On the night between July 3 and 4, I advised Colonel Malmborg and Colonel Smith to stop their sap-rollers and go to mining. Both of them could not advance any more very well with their saps. Colonel Smith's sap-roller was faced by a rifled gun (6-pounder) located in the enemy's ditch, and was perforated three times, and Colonel Malmborg was served with hand-grenades so copiously that he had to cover in the head of his sap. As I had no miners to spare for these two points, I called for General Ewing to furnish me 16 men from the Fourth West Virginia Volunteer Infantry, whom I knew to be old coal miners. These men started two mines on the night between the 3d and 4th, one at Colonel Smith's, and the other at Colonel Malmborg's sap. 

Early in the morning of July 4, Colonel Malmborg sent to me a note, stating that he believed he was countermined by the enemy, and asking my advice. I went out immediately, and ascertained that the enemy was working in gallery on his right flank, 8 feet distant, on the same horizontal plane. I instructed the colonel to head the enemy's countermine by turning and crushing him. I sent the colonel 200 pounds of powder and the necessary safety-fuse. Half an hour later the place was surrendered. 

In closing my report, I have to recommend especially First Lieut. C. Lochbihler, commanding Company I, Thirty-fifth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, on engineer duty, and also his whole company, for their promptness and the interest they took in all the arduous tasks they had to undergo. Second Sergt. Max Fraude excelled in mining, and generally proved such a good engineer soldier that if any promotions take place in the above-mentioned company he ought to be considered. All the details that have been furnished to me from Major-General Blair's division have done their duty according to Orders. 
        I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 
                                                                    WM. KOSSAK, 
                              Captain and Aide-de-Camp, on Engineer Duty.
      
 
   Capt.. C. B. COMSTOCK, 
          Chief of Engineers, Department of the Tennessee.     Top of page

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