Sunday, March 29, 2009
Schuylkill Boys at Vicksburg, Miss. 1863
SCHUYLKILL BOYS AT VICKSBURG.
General Ulysses S. Grant endeavored to take Vicksburg Miss. numerous times, constantly resulting in failure. The Vicksburg campaign was started on the 16th Of October 1862, the day he became commander of the Department of the Tennessee. This campaign lasted until the 20th of December 1862 ending in failure.
In the spring of 1863 Grant would change his strategy and attempt to take Vicksburg from the west bank of the Mississippi and attack the city from the south and east. The drive on Vicksburg started on May 14th with the attack on Jackson, Mississippi cutting of Confederate General Joseph Johnson from General John Pemberton and isolated Pemberton inside the heavily defended Vicksburg for the remainder of the campaign. Under the command of General Grant are Generals William Sherman, General John McClernand and General James Mcpherson. On the 16th of May the battle of Champions Hill was fought which became the most arduously fought battle of the Vicksburg campaign. The Union casualties exceeded over 2800 and the Confederates lost over 3850 men. Grant's forces moved closer to the fortifications outside of Vicksburg and on the 19th of May made a grand assault by Generals Sherman, McClernand and McPherson. The outcome of this failed attack would cost the Union close to 1000 men. On the 20th Grant met with his commanders and agreed the attack of the 19th failed because of the natural strength of the position and the nature of the ground. They were limited to attacking the most heavily defended points. They decided to attack again on the morning of the 22nd, with Sherman attacking on the right flank and McPherson in the center and McClernand on the left.
Fighting under the command of General Sherman was his old regular army regiment the 13th U.S. Infantry. Among the members of the 13th Regulars were 15 Schuylkill countians who were in all the engagements of the Vicksburg campaign. The 13th Regulars suffered heavily on the engagement of the 19th and while trying to plant their colors on the rebel works, they would lose three color bearers, and their colors would be pierced by fifty-five balls. They would once again be engaged on the charge of the 22nd.
On the 21st of May,1863 William R. Griffiths wrote a letter to his parents in Jalappa, in the Borough of Pottsville from Vicksburg, Mississippi: It was reprinted in the Miners Journal
There is nothing here at present but blood,
blood, blood; nothing but the continual roar
of cannons, musketry, gunboats, etc. We attacked
Vicksburg on the 14th. We have been fighting
almost day and night. We are in possession of
Jackson, and I hope and pray that Vicksburg
will be ours soon. We have whipped them almost
at every point, capturing thousands and
thousands of rebels, and have taken hundreds of
their largest guns. You can think yourself how
we have fought, when they had for 15 miles all
around the city, breastworks after breastworks
and our brave boys have driven them into within
one mile of the city. Gen. Grant has command.
Our regiment is under our favorite, General
Sherman. He has done his duty. Day before
yesterday Sherman's army corps took Haines
Bluff of which you have read about, with 9000
prisoners; but hundreds of our brave boys bit
the dust. Dear Mother I have stood before secesh
lead before but it was nothing to this time.
We have traveled for the last two days with
blood and mud and water up to our knees: but
we have won the laurels. We have driven them
over twelve miles in seven days, which they have
been fortifying for the last two years. Gen.
Pemberton, their commanding General was put in
irons by his own men because he wanted to
surrender the city three days ago. Gen. Taylor
old Zachariah Taylor's son has command in his
place. Yesterday they sent to General Grant
that they would surrender the city if he would
let them get all of their men out, but he would
not except it.
There are a great many of our brave boys in my
regiment killed. Our flag floats on the next fort
to the city, and before another sun sets Vicksburg
I hope will be ours. Our men are in great spirits
and put great confidence in Gen. Grant. It is true
a great many of our brave boys are killed, but not
near as many as the rebels.
The Coat of Arms 13th U.S. Infantry
The 13th U.S. Regulars, General William T. Sherman's favorite regiment performed a military funeral for his son, Willie, who became sick and died from the effects of typhoid fever on October 3rd 1863. General Sherman wrote a letter to the commanding officer of the 13th battalion tellling him that
"Willie was, or thought he was a sergeant
in the Thirteenth. I have seen his eyes brighten,
his heart beat, as he beheld the battalion
under arms, and asked me if they were not real
General Sherman conveyed to the members of the Thirteenth battalion that in years after if they:
"Call on me or mine, and mention that
they were of the Thirteenth Regulars when
Willie was a sergeant, they will have a key to
the affections of my family that will open all
it has; that we will share with them our last
blanket, our last crust!"
June 13, 1863
Among the number of brave soldiers that fell at Vicksburg on the 22nd ult. Was James Robertson, Captain of Co. I 22nd Iowa Volunteers, while gallantly leading his men on the enemy’s works. Capt. Robertson has been in the service of his country since the breaking out of the rebellion, having been a member of Co. B 2d Regt. Iowa Volunteers during the three months service and was engaged in the battles ogf Dog Springs and Wilson’s Creek. While under the lamented General Lyon at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, he was slightly wounded. He was a brother of Mr. Andrew Robertson of New Philadelphia, Schuylkill County in which town he was brought up and lived. His age was twenty six years and during the last seven years he was a resident of Iowa.