137                                HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.

           It is now a year and a half since I left home, and I hope, after we take Vicksburg, to visit home, and tell you of a thousand things I cannot get time to write.

Respectfully Yours,

                    JAMES S. REEVES, Surgeon Seventy-Eighth Regiment, O. V. I.


           On the 22d of May the whole rebel army commanded by Pemberton, was enclosed in a wall of steel. The Union army occupied a crescent line nine miles in extent, General Sherman on the right, General McPherson the center, General McClernand the left. On the 22d the whole line charged the enemy's works. The writer stood upon an eminence with Captain Roberts, one of the officers of the Signal Corps, where we could distinctly see nearly all our line move forward to the charge. The fighting was terrible and deadly, but the works were so formidable that our men could not scale them after they had reached the base; consequently the charge proved unsuccessful along the whole line. A skirmish line was immediately established within a few rods of the enemy's works, and rifle-pits constructed which kept the enemy down inside their works. Here our troops remained for a period of forty-four days, each day pouring a storm of lead and iron into the enemy's works and the city.

           Many interesting incidents here occurred between the soldiers of both armies, which all this time were near enough to converse with each other. Many little dialogues took place, which would swell our chapter too large to narrate.

           At times they would agree to be civil to each other for a specified time, and throwing aside their deadly weapons, would meet each other between the lines for social chat, and frequently make a cup of coffee, exchange canteens, buttons and rings.

           The country in the immediate rear of Vicksburg is one interminable series of swells, sandy hills or mounds, dotted with lovely groves and elegant plantations, mostly in fine cultivation. These mounds, almost straight up and down, and of a compact sandy soil, are furrowed and covered with corn.

           The hollows are deep and wide, with excellent causeways, bubbling springs and fragrant groves, and now are filled up with Yankees. No troops of consequrnce are visible till we get into the hollows, where, concealed from the enemy's view, are the tents, equipage, etc., of a powerful army.

           The Second Brigade's camp was in one of these deep ravines, near the Jackson road, which led to the White House and Fort Hill, a half a mile distant. From the White House to the enemy's works called Fort Hill, General Leggett had dug a ditch ten feet wide, and deep enough to shelter a horseman. This sap was run into the walls of Fort Hill, which was mined for the purpose of blowing up the Fort. This whole operation was under the superintendence of General Leggett. In his first effort, he used twenty-five hundred pounds of powder, which made a large entrance in the fort

.            The Forty-Fifth Illinois regiment entered the gap, where quite a fight took place between them and the rebels. The fight was at close quarters, grasping each other's bayonets, and wrestling the guns from each other's hands, pulling each other by the hair, etc., till both sides began to toss over shells and hand-

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