Pvt. Charles E. Affeld
Describes the Mechanicsburg Expeditions
THE OPENING months of 1863 had been gloomy ones for the
During the winter, while the Army of the
On May 8 the Union Army broke out of the bridgehead. Grant and his troops
went into one of the great campaigns of military history, met and defeated the
Confederates in four battles within the next nine days. Lieutenant General John
C. Pemberton's defeated soldiers were driven back into
The days following the failure to storm
By June 3
The story of the critical days of the siege
when an attack by
We were up at the usual hour at
daybreak, everything has been quiet lately. Otto and I went to work getting a
quantity of cane and built a little shebang to hold a rubber or blanket for
shade. [Brigadier] General [Thomas E. G.] Ransom called on our officer’s to-day
and conversed some time with our boys.' He informed us that we might expect to
hear a great explosion in a day or two, if things worked well, that our men had
dug some 100 feet under the fort [the 3rd Louisiana redan] and had about 69
feet more to dig.' I heard that
We received mail to-day but no letters for us. We worked by moonlight getting or rather putting up the cane we got during the day in front of our gun, strengthening our work by backing it with cane. The mortars are at work in front of city. We can see the shells coming up over the hills, winking at us until sunk behind them again in their descent and often hear them explode.
Our soldiers are calling
over to the rebels and conversing aloud with them. The 1st
We were up at daybreak. After breakfast I got permission from Capt. [Samuel E. Barrett] to go to the wagons to get a clean shirt.' Went to the caisson, the, baggage had been removed to a new place on the river road. I got my knapsack took out two clean shirts and a pair of socks, put in my dirty ones and strapped the knapsack on the caisson again. Otto and I then had a wash, put on clean shirt and socks. A good wash makes one feel 50 % better.
I wrote a letter to father and the girls to be sent by Lieut. D. W.
[Web.] Whittle, who leaves to-morrow,
he also takes my notebook.' He has a leave of absence and goes home to
At about we were all surprised at seeing the
rebels all appearing above their breastworks, our men equally anxious to know
what was going on also showed themselves. The reason of the procedure was the
granting of an armistice by the rebels to bury our dead, which they remised to
do under a flag of truce. The armistice was from to " The right section is busy
backing their works with cane to strengthen it. I went to
BIVOUACKED ABOUT 4 MILES FROM SNYDER'S BLUFF
We were up at the usual
hour. After breakfast, just as giggers had been dealt out, we heard a bullet whistle
by and sounded as if it had struck something. In a second, it was said that
[Henry F.] Henrotin was shot and sure enough he was shot in the forehead."
The bullet entered about an inch over the right eye and came out at the same
place over the left eye, fracturing the skull and spattering some brains
around. He bled considerably and though alive is insensible. We carried him to
the caisson from whence he was taken to the hospital. He is one of the original
members of the
I understand that Lieut.
[Web.] Whittle does not leave to-day, but will have to wait for the next
hospital boat. Capt. [Patrick H.] White of the [
Report says that Banks has two
brigades (16, ooo men) in Warrenton, having arrived lately." Toward evening I stewed some huckleberries
and after supper orders came for our brigade to move." By 8 P.M. we were
prepared accordingly. Co. G, 55th
7 MILES FROM
Wednesday, _flay 27, 1863.
We moved off immediately after reveille, at daybreak or about 4 A.M. We marched to the foot of Drumgould's Bluff where we stopped for breakfast and feed. The hills afford a splendid view of the valley and of the place we landed at, the last of April and the 1st of May to make a feint on Snyder's Bluff. I noticed the line of rifle pits for the last 4 or 5 miles, along the bluffs. At Drumgould's Bluff there were two lines of rifle pits and several 8 inch Columbiads apparently, one being run off the carriage and destroyed and another being covered by the explosion of the magazine." Before the bluffs there is a swamp or bayou and it is almost if not entirely impossible to have ever taken those Bluffs from the front. The 2nd brigade [Mower's] of Tuttle's division encamped on the bluff as we arrived.
We left Drumgould's Bluff at about 9 A.M.
or after, passing Snyder's Bluff to our left. After marching a few miles
William Sanborn and I succeeded in getting a hive of bees in spite of the guards." We smoked the bees and brought a quantity of the honey on a board to camp. We retired at about 8 P.M. I went on guard from 11 P.M. to 1 A.M.
CAMP AT HART'S
We had reveille at and moved out at about We stopped for breakfast at about for / of an hour and had coffee, meat, and corn bread with honey. We moved forward again and stopped at or near Harris' plantation, near a creek at about I went in the hollow and had a wash all over and changed my boots for shoes, the former being inconvenient to walk in. Here we came up with [Brigadier General John] McArthur's 3 brigades. Blair has a guard on Harris' plantation on the smokehouse and storehouse in the latter of which one of the detail and I got some 15 lbs. of sugar for the squad, the guard allowing but 2 men in at a time.
The column moved on again at about and after marching a mile or two stopped at a clear creek to water and allow all the troops to supply themselves, I think it was Bear Creek. We marched very lively until late (after 9:30 P.M.) when we camped near Hart's plantation, 28 miles from Yazoo City and 30 miles from Vicksburg. We have marched about 15 miles to-day. Weather warm, but roads good. I caught a sheep on the way which we skinned. We retired about 11 P.M.
CAMP AT MECHANICSBURG, MISS.
ABOUT 22 MILES FROM
We had reveille at
daylight. Many of the boys heard heavy cannonading in the direction of
I rode through the town
of 13 or 14 old houses to
a creek a mile beyond, where we watered." A squad of cavalry (5) came
CAMP ABOUT 12 MILES FROM SNYDER'S BLUFF
NEAR A CREEK.
We had reveille about and had chicken stew for breakfast.
We moved off at about 6 A.M. going back on the road we came on, but in another
brigade, think it is [Colonel Lucius F.] Hubbard's brigade but are under
[Brigadier] Gen. [Joseph A.] Mower for the day.
Some of the troops took another road. We are evidently returning to
We took the Telegraph road and marched steadily until we arrived at
Parties' plantation at which place we descended the hills and took the Valley
road.` We halted about an hour at Parties' place to water (a creek running near
by) and to clean out the plantation. Our squad got 8 chickens. The place is
quite extensive though nothing but an overseer's house is on it now and is
very small for so large a family as occupy it. Parties left
We commenced to prepare dinner but not having time succeeded in getting nothing but coffee ready. We moved on a few miles further and stopped at a cotton-gin next to a running creek for dinner. We stopped about 2 hours and noticed Parties' cotton-gin on fire; the balance on the road will have to share the same fate. After dinner we moved on, crept along until near Richard Johnson's place where we waited an hour or two for another brigade to get rested, we being meanwhile in the road under the hot sun waiting.
The column again started and crept along until dark, bringing us about 12 or 13 miles to-day. We encamped near a creek about 12 miles from Snyder's Bluff where the road turns up the hills. [Samuel] Hadlock and I went after a sheep to the corral, we got a nice little lamb. [William H.] Sanborn has not been seen since morning. After a good supper of fresh meat, onions, coffee and honey, eye retired about 10 P.M.
CAMP AT SNYDER'S BLUFF BETWEEN TWO CREEKS.
Was up at about , and had a splendid chicken soup and
stew with potatoes for breakfast. We moved on our brigade, [Brigadier General
Joseph A. J.] Lightburn's taking the lead and the 54th
We passed a very extensive plantation about 2 or 3 miles from Haynes' Bluff (think it was Roach's) where we saw some splendid corn, some of which was in bloom and averaged from 6 to 8 feet in height. Corn is universal, miles and miles of corn can be seen, but how it can be gathered is a mystery for darkies of all ages and sex fellow us for miles." Horses, wagons, buggies, carriages and go-carts are following, picked up by the soldiers to carry knapsacks. Ox teams loaded down with Negroes and baggage, and cattle by the thousand are being driven in, all for the support of the Union Army.
We arrived at the upper end of the
enemies' works on the
Otto and I went in swimming in the
Was up at the usual hour. At an early
hour one of our wagons went to the river and the other two went to our camp
It is reported that a flag of truce was raised by the enemy requesting permission to send women and children from the city, which was refused. Grant gave them 24 hours before the siege was commenced."
The balance of the wagons with camp
equipage, 15 horses, battery and forge wagons arrived as did also [Benjamin]
Stephens, [Walter] Simpson, and [Samuel D.]
We were up about I commenced and finished putting up a
shelter tent, and enjoyed its shelter all day, weather cool compared with
yesterday and there was a good breeze all day. Our 2nd detail from the 54th
The E. H. Fairchild lay at the landing, as also the commissary
boat." On Sunday the DeKalb and
2 other turtles came down the river." Orders were read at roll call to the
effect that 'Mower's brigade is to go up the river to
ON BOARD THE
L. I. KENNETT,
Was up at the usual hour. I heard that Capt. [Barrett] had received orders last night or early this morning to go with Gen. Mower whose infantry is going up river on steamers and that we are to follow the cavalry.
We have been in readiness since The balance of Blair’s command is
moving off for
Orders are to report at Mechanicsburg,
Miss. We were loaded by and waited on the opposite shore to
start, had supper about Our boat as well as the Madison, Sam Young and several
mosquitoes follow at for up stream." We managed to
find a place to sleep at We left
CAMP AT MECHANICSBURG, MISS.
40 MILES FROM
awoke at sunrise and were steaming up river, one half hour after sunrise found
us passing the Big Sunflower, it is wider than the
At about we stopped before a town of 5 or 6 houses, a few stores and a church, called Satartia. Here we landed and soon after moved on to Mechanicsburg which is 3 miles from the river.
About 2 miles from Mechanicsburg our advance commenced skirmishing with the enemy, the infantry, mostly went ahead. I noticed 2 or 3 steamers coming up river and soon after the 12th Michigan, 43d and 61st Ill. went by us." Saw Capt. [Reimer C.] Fieldcamp, as the 43d passed, [he] informed us that they came from Bolivar [Tennessee].
No. 1 gun was ordered forward, fired a few rounds and then the column moved forward until we entered the town, where we took position in the road and the whole battery fired at the retreating rebels, which we knew were about by the dust they kicked up." After firing on an average about 10 rounds we ceased firing and our cavalry went in pursuit accompanied by the right section of our battery under Capt. Barrett. We went through the town on the Benton road and encamped on a hill just above the town. We here had supper or dinner the only meal we have had time to eat. I stewed some plums which we had for supper, besides Otto came up with nearly a quart of blackberries.
At about dark we went to see Capt. Fieldcamp of the 43d Ill. and learned that [Brigadier] Gen. [Nathan] Kimball is in command of the 2 brigades just arrived and ranks 'Mower." The brigade that just arrived, as we were skirmishing, consists of the 43d, 61st, and 106th Ill. and 12th Michigan.
The other brigade [Richmond's] landed at Snyder's Bluff a day previous to the arrival of the one just specified, but as yet has not arrived here." All the regiments above mentioned average 500 men. In the 43d, I saw the Sergt. Major [Henry Ferra], whom father requested two weeks ago to be remembered to us if he should see us and he had the opportunity sooner than he expected." The rebel forces are estimated from 8oo to 1,500 cavalry. Our cavalry has been skirmishing a great deal all day. I retired rather late,
after 9 P.M.
CAMP AT MECHANICSBURG, MISS.
Friday, June 5, 1863.
Were up at the usual hour. After breakfast Jordan baked 4 pans of corn-bread and we put it in our haversacks." I stewed a couple of quarts of plums. We moved off at about 10 A.M. Squad 2's gun went out a few miles with the cavalry on the Benton road. Our gun took position on the road [the Satartia] we came to town on so as to command the road to the creek in the hollow, and the other sections are on the other roads in position. It is thought that there are rebels between here and the river as they were said to have fired on our boats last night and our gunboats replied."
Cavalry all returned, took another road, returned from that and then went into camp." We remained in line of battle and ready all day. Had dinner consisting of bacon, stewed plums, new potatoes, and cornbread. Weather very hot and sultry, no news from any place. Read some in the May Atlantic. Retired about 8P.M.
CAMP ABOUT 12 OR 13
MILES FROM SNYDER'S BLUFFON THE
Saturday, June 6, 1863.
We were up at daybreak, had been in position and harnessed all night. Hitched up after watering horses and had breakfast at about 5 A.M., consisting of bacon, coffee, stewed plums and molasses. I was detailed to take [James F.] Whittler’s team, he being ill."
While waiting we saw a man belonging to the 11th Mo. straddling a rail with a string in his mouth attached to a board behind him marked "coward,'' it was done by the soldiers of his regiment, who found him at the landing and punished him. He has been 2 years in the regiment and never fired a musket. He [was] marched to Mower's headquarters and back on the way changing a pole for a sharp rail. He was evidently half idiotic or he would have made some resistance.
Our battery commenced moving about 8 or 10A.M., a section following each brigade." The 43rd, 61st, 106th Ill. and 12th Mich., being ahead." We passed a jumble of baggage and ambulance wagons on the hill. Weather is awfully hot and the troops are not accustomed to marching in the heat of the day in this section of the country. Before we had marched 2 or 3 miles, we noticed blankets, jackets, coats, etc., which perfectly line the road. We marched slowly, but before we reached Parties' plantation the ambulance wagons were full of sun struck or fatigued soldiers. The baggage wagons were also filled or filling.
We stopped about 1 hour at Parties' plantation at about 1 P.M. and had just prepared some coffee and freshened some bacon when we moved off again and had to eat what was cooked as best we could on the team or caisson. We have [never] been on so ill conducted march and cannot learn why it is that the troops are being marched as if for life or death when nothing is ahead of us or in our rear to occasion so unnecessary haste."
We stopped at about dusk 12 miles from Snyder's Bluff. The infantry are not of them here, they are either in the Wagons, ambulances or straggling not being able to keep up. It is said that 3 or 4 in the 106th Ill. and as many more in the other regiments have died from being sun struck. All along the road, where the shrubbery around a ditch would afford a little shelter, could be seen both officers and soldiers receiving the care of the surgeons. The gin houses and sheds were filled with exhausted soldiers; such was the march of to-day of about 10 or 12 miles.
Our section camped with the brigade [Engelmann's] we had been following all day and the balance of the battery, about 3 or 4 yards back on the road. We made our bed of corn stalks and retired after supper about 9 P.M. Otto went on guard from 9 to 11 P.M. Capt. Barrett came around and gave orders to unharness, about 9.30 P.M., and the boys had to get up and do it. Otto unharnessed for me.
CAMP AT SNYDER'S BLUFF, MISS.
Sunday, June 7, 1863.
We were awakened by moonrise about 2 A.M., harnessed and hitched up immediately, expecting to move so as to avoid marching in the heat of the day, but in fact did not move until after sunrise. It was cloudy the first few hours of sunrise. The column marched until we reached a creek near which we camped a week ago, here we were stopped to water, and feed and get breakfast all in an hour. We succeeded in getting it ready, but had to eat it on the way.
The sun came out hotter, if possible, than yesterday, and the infantry cannot possibly stand such marching. Regiments behind us are throwing away even their muskets and it is reported that our cavalry are skirmishing in the rear to prevent guerrillas from picking up our stragglers." Our center section is ahead with another brigade, and the right and left section are near the rear. We went all of the way by the Valley road and not like the last time [when we took] the Ridge road.
At about 11 A.M. we stopped at Roach's plantation to water and had left a large supply of rations ((mostly hardtack and ham) and beyond this brief foray by Ross's brigade, Johnston made the initiative. Working parties from Walker's command were kept busy throwing up earthworks on the approaches to Yahazoo City to dampen their ardor.
Then moved on, reaching Snyder's Bluff about 1 P.M. It is inexpressibly hot. We encamped above the creek and had supper about 6 P.M. Stragglers have been coming in all the afternoon and are not all in yet, ambulances are being sent back to pick up those unable to walk that lie along the road.
The boys call it a regular Potomac management of troops and think if Kimball is a specimen of Eastern generals there can be no wondering at the constant failures." It is said that Gen. Kimball left Mechanicsburg out of fear, and without orders so criminally marched the troops because he was afraid of being gobbled, a fear none but his staff and he shared."
We changed camp at about 7 P.M. taking the camp-grounds just vacated by the 11th Ohio Battery. The 2nd brigade [Richmond's] of Kimball's division is now marching out to Mechanicsburg and vicinity, the 18th Ill. are in that brigade.'
I was on detail to load and unload the wagons. 3 wagons went to the landing for rations and feed. Went in swimming before retiring and changed my underclothing. Retired about 11P.M. weather hot, hotter, and hottest all day.
CAMP AT SNYDER'S BLUFF, MISS.
Monday, June 8, 1863.
Otto and I put up our shelter tent after breakfast and tried to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. Reports are alive that advance beyond Mechanicsburg. Grant did not want to run the risk of having his army beaten in detail. He would leave it up to Kimball's discretion whether Colonel Johnson's cavalry should press on to Way's Bluff.
Gen. Kimball is under arrest and we all hope that it is true." The telegraph is just finished to this place.
Working parties are at work erecting forts on the hills on and around Snyder's Bluff. Commissary Chauncy Wicker and the wagons returned from the river to-day and brought mail but no letter for us, got papers of the 3rd. There are reports of a fight at Milliken's Bend, the rebels attacking the place garrisoned by a negro regiment just organizing. It is said that they fought well and drove the rebels back." An attack was also made against Young's Point, but abandoned as the enemy judging from the empty tents and camps that there was a large force there.'
News from Vicksburg is that we are working our way slow but sure, and also that hand grenades are being manufactured to be used on the enemy in the next attempt to take the place. Several of D. K. Newell's brothers are at the landing, but they think they will be unable to remove his body."
Sergeant [George L.] Purinton bought a barrel of eggs and I bought a doz. of him." We had fried eggs, beans and bacon for dinner and for supper we had stewed prunes, fried eggs, codfish and coffee. We went in swimming after dusk and in anticipation of rain dug a trench around our tent and retired, but had hardly lain down when the harness call was blown and every body astir to get ready for the boats to go to Young's Point, as it is generally thought.'
After waiting about an hour the battery moved a few hundred yards down across the creek and there we spread our blankets to await a boat which may be here in five minutes and may not be here in five hours. We retired for the second time at about 11 P.M.
CAMP AT SNYDER'S BLUFF, MISS.
Tuesday, June 9, 1863.
We were up at sunrise. There are several boats here but none for us. We had breakfast and no boat, had dinner and no boat, and then waited until after supper before a boat came for us. The infantry of Mower's brigade left this morning. It is said to-day that Major [Ezra] Taylor has his commission of the 1st Regt. Ill. Arty. as Col., Capt. Barrett as Maj. and [Israel P.] Rumsey as Capt., this is merely reported but the two first are quite probable.'
During the afternoon I went on board the City of Madison where the DeKalb boys were drawing rations for their boat, I had a long chat with several of them and an invitation to come aboard their boat when convenient. Reports of several kinds are in circulation in reference to Kimball. One is that he requested our boys not to make any noise nor whistle as the rebels were on the hills and would be apt to hear us. The boys in consequence made more noise than before.
After sunset the Black Hawk came up the river and we loaded on board her and steamed off about 8.30 P.M. for Young's Point. We retired about 9 P.M.