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 22, 2013

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

MAY 22ND. —Last night mortar-shells, fired from the boats on the river in front of the city across Point Louisiana, fell thick over all parts of Vicksburg, and at three o’clock this morning every cannon along our line belched its shot at the enemy. Nothing could be heard at the time but the thundering of great guns—one hundred cannons sent crashing into the town —parrot, shrapnell, cannister, grape and solid shot—until it seemed impossible that anything could withstand such a fearful hailstorm. It was indeed a terrible spectacle—awfully grand.

Mortor from the river in front. “During the siege of Vicksburg, sixteen thousand shells were thrown from the naval batteries into the city”— Hamersly

At ten o’clock we had orders to advance. The boys were expecting the order and were busy divesting themselves of watches, rings, pictures and other keepsakes, which were being placed in the custody of the cooks, who were not expected to go into action. I never saw such a scene before, nor do I ever want to see it again. The instructions left with the keepsakes were varied. For instance, “This watch I want you to send to my father if I never return”—”I am going to Vicksburg, and if I do not get back just send these little trifles home, will you?”—proper addresses for the sending of the articles being left with them. Not a bit of sadness or fear appears in the talk or faces of the boys, but they thought it timely and proper to dispose of what they had accordingly. This was done while we awaited orders, which at last came in earnest, and in obedience to them we moved up and took our place in the rifle pits within a hundred yards of Fort Hill, where we had orders to keep a diligent watch, and to fire at the first head that dared to show itself. The air was so thick with the smoke of cannon that we could hardly see a hundred yards before us. The line to our right and left was completely hidden from view except as revealed by the flash of guns, and the occasional bursting of shells through the dense clouds. About eleven o’clock came a signal for the entire line to charge upon the works of the enemy. Our boys were all ready, and in an instant leaped forward to find victory or defeat. The seventh Missouri took the lead with ladders which they placed against the fort, and then gave way for others to scale them. Those who climbed to the top of the fort met cold steel, and, when at length it was found impossible to enter the fort that way, the command was given to fall back, which was done under a perfect hail of lead from the enemy. The rebels, in their excitement and haste to fire at our retreating force, thrust their heads a little too high above their cover,—an advantage we were quick to seize with well aimed volleys. In this charge a severe loss was met by our division, and nothing gained. What success was met by the rest of the line I can not say, but I hope it was better than ours. Thus ended another day of bloody fight in vain, except for an increase of the knowledge which has been steadily growing lately, that a regular siege will be required to take Vicksburg. This day will be eventful on the page of history, for its duties have been severe, and many a brave patriot bit the dust under the storm of deadly fire that assailed us.

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