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

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

June 19, 2013

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

JUNE 19TH.—For a month we have been watching our enemy vigilantly, and a panorama, consisting of a great variety of war scenes, has, during that time, passed before us. We have had charging, digging rifle-pits, blowing up forts and firing all sizes of cannon, to say nothing of percussion shells, spherical Whitworth Projectile - Siege of Vicksburg, June 1863case shot, time shells, parrot, grape, cannister, shrapnel, etc., the memory of which will be vivid to all, both blue and gray, who have seen the show around Vicksburg. The terrible noises, too, that have rung in our ears, must echo for years to come. I may add our endurance of this southern sun, at times being short of rations, and at no time out of danger, yet all the time nearly uncomplaining—every one trying to make the best of it, and all as merry as the Shell with fuse - A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of Vicksburg situation would admit. Each day some of the boys have come in relating new discoveries on reconnoisance, and I do not think there is a foot of ground about these hills that has not been explored, a well or spring that has not been tested, or a single object of interest of any kind that has not been worked till it grew stale. Then each man has had his peculiar view of how a siege like this ought to be conducted—that is, from the standpoint of rank and file.

However, we are all agreed that the quiet man in command of our forces is still able to anticipate the requirements of our situation. I call him quiet, for that is just what he is. There is no dash or glitter about him, but he is marked by a steady nerve, and piercing glance that seems to be always on the alert. Many a second lieutenant has fallen a victim to the sharpshooter because of his fresh uniform, while officers of more experience have escaped under slouched hats and old blouses. There seems to be no limit, however, to the experience of some of them.

A cook of the 96th Ohio happened to be cooking beans the other day, when Gen. A. J. Smith, commanding a division of the 13th Army Corps, came around on camp inspection. After being properly saluted by the cook, the general began a colloquy as follows:

Gen. Smith.—What are you cooking?

Hand-grenade thrown from Fort Hill - A Soldier’s Story of the Siege of VicksburgThe Cook.—Beans, sir.

General Smith.—How long do you cook beans ?

The Cook.—Four hours, sir.

Gen. Smith (with a look of withering scorn).—Four hours! You cook ‘em six hours!

That cook’s beans were tender enough that day.


“Once again the fire of hell

Rained the rebel quarters,

With scream of shot and burst of shell,

And bellowing of the mortars.”

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