Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg–Osborn H. Oldroyd.

A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg–Osborn H. Oldroyd.

May 19, 2013

A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg–Osborn H. Oldroyd

MAY 19TH.—This day beholds a cordon of steel, with rivets of brave hearts, surrounding Vicksburg. The enemy left their fortifications on the first, twelfth, fourteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth of this month, and dealt their best blows to prevent the occurrence of what we have just accomplished—the surrounding of their well fortified city. We have now come here to compel them to surrender, and we are prepared to do it either by charge or by siege, and they cannot say to us nay. They have fought well to keep their homes free from invasion, and surely deserve praise for their brave return to battle after so many defeats. Our army encircles the city from the river above to the river below, a distance of seven and a half miles.

The three corps have taken respective positions as follows: Sherman‘s Fifteenth occupies the right of the line, resting on the river above; General McClernand’s Thirteenth touches the river below, while McPherson’s Seventeenth stands in the center. Our own division, commanded by Logan, occupies the road leading to Jackson.

In taking our position we did a great deal of skirmishing, and I suppose the same difficulty was probably experienced by the rest of the line. We have been nineteen days on the march around Vicksburg, and the time has been full of excitement—quite too varied for a comprehensive view just now, but those who have borne a part in it will store it all away in memory, to be gone over between comrades by piece-meal, when they meet after the war is over.

The personal experience of even the humblest soldier will get a hearing in years to come, for it is the little things in an unusual life that are most entertaining, and personal observations from the rank and file, narrated by those who saw what they describe, will make some of the most instructive paragraphs of the war’s history.

This has been a day to try the nerves of the boys, while taking position in front to invest the doomed city. It has been a day to try men’s souls, and hearts, too. The long lines of rebel earthworks following the zig-zag courses of the hills, and black field guns still menacing from their port-holes, bristle with defiance to the invaders.

Our regiment, the 20th Ohio, being ordered in position on the Jackson road, immediately passed to the left in front of Fort Hill, where it stood ready to charge at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile Colonel Force cautiously made his way in front of the different companies and spoke familiarly to his men words of encouragement. Said he, “boys, I expect we shall be ordered to charge the fort. I shall run right at it, and I hope every man will follow me.” At that instant a soldier of one of the companies on the left was found snugly hid in a ravine under the roots of a tree, and his lieutenant’s attention being called to the fact, he was ordered out, when he replied, “lieutenant, I do not believe I am able to make such a charge.”

Map of Vicksburg, showing the river front and the positions of the Union and Confederate lines in the rear.

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