Report of Brig. Gen. W. E. Baldwin, C. S. Army, Commanding First Brigade.
MAY 19-JULY 4, 1863.--The Siege of Vicksburg, Miss.
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXIV/2 [S# 37]
HEADQUARTERS FIRST BRIGADE, SMITH'S DIVISION,
Vicksburg, July 10, 1863.
Maj. J. G. DEVEREUX,
MAJOR: I have the honor respectfully to report the operations of my command immediately preceding and during the siege of Vicksburg, which terminated on the 4th instant. The brigade consisted of the following regiments, to wit: The Seventeenth Louisiana Infantry, Colonel [Robert] Richardson; the Thirty-first Louisiana Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel IS. H.] Griffin; the Fourth Mississippi Infantry, Lieutenant-Colonel [T. N.] Adaire; the Forty-sixth Mississippi Infantry, Colonel [C. W.] Sears. To these other troops and artillery were temporarily attached, which will be noticed in their proper sequence.
On Monday evening, May 4, the brigade had returned from the expedition to Port Gibson, which formed the subject of a previous report.
Next evening, the 5th instant, in compliance with orders from division headquarters, I moved the command about 5 miles southeast of the city, on the Baldwin's Ferry road. Here we remained until Friday morning, the 8th, when I was again directed to move to Dr. Nailor's, 10 miles from Vicksburg, on the Warrenton and Hall's Ferry road. The command was kept all the time in readiness for an immediate movement, supplied with two days' cooked rations in haversacks, two days' rations in regimental wagons, and two days' supplies in hands of brigade commissary.
On the 11th, I was directed to send a regiment to picket the crossing of the Big Black at Hamer's Ferry, and sent the Thirty-first Louisiana on this duty. The same night I was ordered by Major-General Stevenson, commanding the right wing of our army, to move to the Vicksburg and Hall's Ferry road, and relieve General Buford, who was directed to move east. The movement was made immediately that night. Lieutenant [C. E.] Hooker, with four pieces from Ridley's battery; Withers' artillery, reported to me for duty. I made my headquarters near Mr. D. Whitaker's. The Thirty first Louisiana, left on picket, was returned, and the next two days were spent in reconnoitering the ground in my front in the direction of Hall's Ferry, and in making dispositions for defense.
On the 14th, I received a communication from Brigadier-General Tilghman, whose headquarters were at Mr. Hubbard's, on the Baldwin's Ferry road, advising me that his command was ordered to Big Black Bridge.
On the 15th, orders were received from Major-General Forney, commanding the district, directing me, in compliance with instructions from the lieutenant-general commanding, to move to Mount Alban and "to guard all approaches to Big Black Bridge, particularly from the river;" that I should be assigned the command of all troops guarding the Big Black Bridge and its approaches, front and rear. Colonel [T. N.] Waul, with his Texas Legion, had reported to me just before the reception of this order. I had directed him to occupy the position just vacated by General Tilghman, but on the receipt of this order I moved at once to Mount Alban, leaving Colonel Waul at the point I had just left. My command reached Mount Alban at 6 p.m., when I received a dispatch from Brigadier-General Vaughn, commanding at Big Black Bridge, advising me that one regiment of his command had been ordered to Edwards Depot. In accordance with previous instructions, I forwarded Lieutenant Hooker, with his four pieces of artillery, to report to General Vaughn, and went myself the same night to consult with the latter and ascertain the means of defense at this point. Lieutenant-Colonel [W. N.] Brown, Twentieth Mississippi, commanding battalion of mounted men, was also directed to report to me. I ordered him to leave sufficient pickets for observation at Hall's and Hankinson's Ferries, and to report to me with the remainder of his command at Mount Alban. The Fourth Mississippi was held in readiness to move at a moment's notice to support General Vaughn, at the bridge.
On Saturday, the 16th instant, on receiving information from General Vaughn that the enemy were supposed to be advancing, I forwarded the Fourth Mississippi to him, and on the evening of the same day marched with the Seventeenth Louisiana and Forty-sixth Mississippi to Bovina, leaving the Thirty-first Louisiana at Mount Alban. That night rumors came of a disaster to our troops across Big Black Bridge, at Baker's Creek.
Early the next morning (the 17th), I received verbal directions from the lieutenant-general commanding to concentrate all of my command at Bovina, including the Fourth Mississippi, at the time detached to support General Vaughn at the bridge. The latter could not be brought off, being, when the orders reached General Vaughn, warmly engaged with the enemy. Before the last order could be entirely executed, I was directed to proceed to Big Black and there take position on the left of the bridge, to cover the crossing of our troops from the left bank; also to place the cavalry at my disposal above and below the bridge, to watch the approaches from Haynes' Bluff on the left, to Baldwin's Ferry on the right. I sent, Major [W. A.] Rorer, Twentieth Mississippi, to the left with three companies, and Lieutenant-Colonel Brown with seven companies to the right. Starting immediately, I had proceeded but a short distance toward the bridge when further instructions were brought by Col. Jacob Thompson, inspector-general, to cross the bridge and defend from the other side the crossing, which was already attacked by a larger force of the enemy, before whom our troops were about to give way. I hastened to march in the quickest time, but arriving at the river found our troops already on this side, having been compelled to leave in disorder, and the bridge on fire. General [S. D.] Lee's brigade was being posted on the left of the bridge. I posted my command on the right, collecting the scattered remnants of the Fourth Mississippi, which had succeeded in crossing. This regiment had gallantly held its position on the other side until left alone by other commands adjoining. The enemy opened a brisk fire of artillery, which was returned by a few of our pieces from this side. After the lapse of about two hours, an order was received from the lieutenant-general commanding directing me to cause all troops at this point to move immediately in the direction of Vicksburg, with the exception of my own command, which was to remain until all had moved, and bring up the rear "in good order" This was executed. My command started at 12 o'clock. At Bovina I met Colonel [H. B.] Lyon, Eighth Kentucky Mounted Regiment, whom I directed to cover the rear, adopting such measures, in case of their advance, to hold the enemy in check as circumstances should indicate. I reached Vicksburg at sunset, and was then directed to proceed to the Warrenton road and take position in the defenses of our extreme right, looking to the rear.
On Monday, the 18th instant, at 10 a.m., two of my regiments were moved back to their old camping ground near the graveyard, on the north of the city. Two hours later the remainder of the command was directed to move in the same direction. Between the hours of 2 and 3 p.m. I was directed by Major-General Smith to occupy the outer line of defenses covering the left of the main works.
My command had scarcely got in position when the enemy appeared, and at once deployed his sharpshooters, opening a brisk fire, which we were unable to return with effect. They soon placed artillery in position, and the fire was vigorously kept up until night. Two pieces of Ward's battalion had been placed on my extreme left. Two more pieces were sent to me, to be placed behind epaulements erected for the service of guns on my line, but the enemy's sharpshooters were enabled to approach so closely that I was confident no piece could be served longer than ten minutes. Major [J. W.] Anderson, chief of artillery of the Second Brigade, was mortally wounded while passing around a parapet to select a position for the guns. The same night I received orders to evacuate the outer line at 3 a.m., and occupy the inner and principal line of intrenchments, my right resting on Riddle's house. This was done, and at broad daylight my command was in the new position, the right wing of the Seventeenth Louisiana (my right) being on the right of Riddle's house, to connect with General Shoup's brigade. Work was immediately commenced strengthening the defenses on all the unprotected intervals. Two regiments of Mississippi State troops, to wit, Colonel [H. C.] Robinson's regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel [T. A.] Burgin's battalion, under command of Brig. Gen. J. V. Harris, of the State service, also a battalion of stragglers from General Loring's division, commanded by Major Stevens, were directed to report to me, and were placed temporarily in reserve. During the day the following pieces of light artillery were placed in position on my line: One 30-pounder Parrott gun, manned by a detachment from a Missouri battery (this gun burst on the evening of Friday, and was replaced by a 32-pounder smooth-bore, served by a detachment from Captain [J. P.] Lynch's company, First Tennessee Artillery); one Whitworth gun, which also burst the first day; one 24-pounder howitzer, two 12.pounder howitzers, two 6-pounder guns, and two 3.inch rifled guns, served by Wofford's company, Withers' regiment light artillery, and three 6-pounder guns, served by a detachment of Guibor's artillery company, the whole under the immediate direction of Captain [J. L.] Wofford as chief of artillery for the brigade. One of the 3-inch rifled pieces was disabled by a trunnion being knocked off early in the siege. With the exception named, no other damage was done to my artillery during the siege except such as was immediately repaired.
In the afternoon of the 19th (Tuesday), the enemy made two demonstrations upon my line, one upon my left and the other upon my extreme right, both of which were gallantly repulsed by the Seventeenth and Thirty-first Louisiana Regiments. Late in the evening of the same day, Brigadier-General Vaughn, commanding on the left, sent word that the enemy were mussing troops opposite his position and desiring re-enforcements. I immediately hastened to his support a Missouri regiment, of. Colonel [F. M.] Cockrell's brigade, which was temporarily in reserve in my rear, and Major Stevens' battalion. The latter did not return to my command during the siege. The same night I removed the Thirty-first Louisiana to my extreme right, holding them there as a reserve, replacing them in the trenches by. Brigadier-General Harris' command of State troops.
The next morning (Wednesday, the 20th), one regiment of State troops (Colonel Robinson's) was ordered by Major-General Smith to the trenches on the river front of the city, the Twenty-eighth [Twenty-ninth] Louisiana, Colonel [Allen] Thomas, being directed to report to me in their place. The Seventeenth Louisiana, on my right, being too weak to occupy fully the portion of the line assigned to them, I relieved them by the Thirty-first Louisiana, a larger regiment, placing the former in reserve. Nothing of interest occurred during this or the next day. The enemy was busy erecting batteries and placing guns in position in front of our line, keeping up an incessant fire of sharpshooters. Our trenches were rapidly completed and strengthened, and traverses erected as positions subject to an enfilading fire were developed.
On Friday evening, the 22d, a vigorous attack was made on General Shoup's line and' my right, which was gallantly repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy, who left the ground in our front covered with their dead. In the early part of this day I was disabled by a wound, and compelled to relinquish the command until June 13, when I returned to duty. The command during the interval devolved first on Colonel Thomas, Twenty-eighth [Twenty-ninth] Louisiana, but his regiment being returned to General Shoup's brigade next day, Colonel Richardson, Seventeenth Louisiana, succeeded, and to his report, which will accompany this, respectfully refer for details of operations during my absence.
From this time, with but few exceptions, the daily operations were very similar. A constant fire of artillery was kept up with considerable briskness early in the morning and late in the evening, slackening and sometimes altogether ceasing during the seven or eight middle hours of the day, and kept up during the night at regular but longer intervals. The enemy's skirmishers occupied every cover in our own front, and opposite my right were enabled to approach to within sight or within 100 paces. Upon no position of the line could a head be exposed a moment above the parapet without being a target for the enemy's bullets.
On June 20, at daybreak, the enemy opened their heaviest artillery fire, and though this was kept up incessantly with the greatest rapidity for five or six hours, and continued with a little less vigor during the entire day, but little damage was done to our works, and our casualties were but 2 killed and 5 wounded. The greater portion of our losses during the siege was caused by the fire of small-arms. The enemy had constructed a covered way, connecting his batteries on the hills opposite the left, by way of the valley in our front, with those opposite my right. From this they commenced an approach opposite the right of the Thirty-first Louisiana, where the valley was narrowest, ascending a spur which led from the ridge occupied by our defenses. To obstruct their approach in case of an attempt to storm, a row of palisades bad been placed some 20 yards in front of our trenches at this point, and a ditch excavated behind these to shelter an advanced line of sharpshooters as an additional obstacle. Their work silently progressed without impediment until about June 25; then, when they had approached to within 60 or 70 yards, their boldness invited our attention. Procuring a dozen hunting rifles, these in the hands of experienced marksmen rendered their approach very slow and cautious. The 3-inch rifle piece was brought to bear at 700 yards' distance with same effect on their works, and 'afterward a position was excavated on the site of Riddle's house, concealed from view, for the 24-pounder howitzer, which was completed on the night of the 3d instant. This gun, bearing at 150 yards with a plunging fire directly on their work, would have effectually destroyed it had not the termination of our defense prevented its being used.
On the night of the 3d instant, I was summoned to a council of general officers and brigade commanders, to consider terms of capitulation offered by the commander of the Federal forces. The result of this deliberation and the terms obtained next day require no report from me. My command marched over the trenches and stacked their arms with the greatest reluctance, conscious of their ability to hold the position assigned them for an indefinite period of time.
During the whole siege the entire command had exhibited the highest degree of patience, fortitude, and courage, bearing deprivations of sufficient food, constant duty in the trenches under a broiling sun by day and heavy fatigue and picket duty at night without a murmur, willing to bear any hardships, confident in sustaining the brunt of any assault, in the hope of anticipated relief and ultimate triumph. The command was daily aroused and under arms at 3.30 a.m., to guard against surprise, and nightly our pickets were in advance of our defenses and nearly contiguous to the sentinels of the enemy.
All the regiments of my command and the artillerists deserve the highest commendation for their good conduct during the siege and the preceding operations.
The loss in killed and wounded was severe. Not being able to give the names nor the exact numbers at this time from absence of reports of regimental commanders, these will be the subject of a supplemental report.
On May 20, the Seventeenth Louisiana had to mourn the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel [Madison] Rogers, at the time temporarily in command of his regiment. He was a brave, able, and efficient officer, and a great loss to his command and the service.
On June 27, Lieutenant-Colonel Griffin, commanding the Thirty-first Louisiana, was killed while watching the operations of the enemy from the trenches. One of the best field officers it has ever been my good fortune to meet, his imperturbable coolness and gallantry on all occasions, his watchful vigilance and sound judgment, united with more than ordinary ability as a tactician and disciplinarian, rendered his loss irreparable to his regiment and a serious blow to the service.
The next day (June 28) Lieutenant-Colonel Adaire, commanding the Fourth Mississippi, was severely wounded. He displayed during the entire operations (until disabled) the highest qualities of a soldier, and merits especial notice.
Colonel Richardson, Seventeenth Louisiana, conducted himself, as usual, with great judgment, discretion, and gallantry. For nearly three weeks in command of the brigade during the most critical period, I commend him most warmly to the notice of the major-general commanding, who was personally and directly cognizant of his conduct during the time mentioned.
Colonel Sears, Forty-sixth Mississippi, merits favorable notice for his conduct during this trying time.
Major (afterward Lieutenant-Colonel) [W. A.] Redditt and Captain (afterward Major) [D. W.] Self, Seventeenth Louisiana; Major (afterward Lieutenant-Colonel) [J. W.] Draughon and Captain (afterward Major) [R. D.] Bridger, Thirty-first Louisiana (officers assigned to a higher rank, to fill vacancies by virtue of seniority); Lieutenant-Colonel [W. K.] Easterling and Major [W. H.] Clark, Forty-sixth Mississippi, and Captains [J. B.] Moore and [T. P.] Nelson, acting field officers of the Fourth Mississippi; also Captain Wofford, of Withers' artillery, acting chief of artillery for the brigade, all merit high commendation for courage, faithfulness, and good conduct in the discharge of their respective duties. Other officers deserve mention, but not coming so directly under my personal observation, reference is made to reports of regimental commanders.
The members of my staff generally deserve to be mentioned favorably: J. W. Benoit, assistant adjutant-general, Capt. S. D. Harris, assistant inspector-general, and Maj. H. B. Whitfield, brigade commissary, had the most arduous duties to perform, which were executed with commendable diligence.
Maj. A. G. Scott, brigade quartermaster, and Lieut. T. A. Burke, ordnance officer, performed their duties faithfully.
Lieut. P. Hamilton, aide-de-camp; Cadet Thomas Harrison, acting aide-de-camp; C. A. Withers, J. D. Shute, and J. M. Clark, volunteer aides, were always on the alert to discharge any duty and to encounter any danger.
Reports of regimental commanders comprising minor details, with full returns of the strength of the command engaged, with lists of killed, wounded, and missing, will be forwarded so soon as completed.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. E. BALDWIN,
JULY 3, 1863.
I object to a surrender of the troops, and am in favor of holding the position, or attempting to do so, as long as possible.
W. E. BALDWIN,
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