Diary Entry from Allen, Charles Richard
|Soldier: Allen, Charles Richard
|Unit/Service Branch: 2nd Cavalry
|Home State: Illinois
|Date Written: Thursday, April 30th, 1863
|Location: Grand Gulf
|Correspondence Type: Diary Entry
|Subjects: Battlefield, Combat Description, Commanders, Comrades, Enemy, On the March, Western Theater
Apr 30th 1863
Camped near Grand Gulf [Mississippi]. Heavy firing between the gun boats and batteries. We can see the Rebel batteries. Transports are taking our troops across the river. I am detailed as dispatch orderly for Geníl John D. Stevenson commanding 3rd brigade of John A Loganís division. We expect heavy fighting now. Charlie Curry was detailed with me. Geníl McClernand army corp crossing the Miss River. What rush now. Wagon trains in the way. All sorts of orders. Seem more like a mob everything mixed up. Some of the boys of our com. donít like orderly duty but I like it about as well as any other duty we have to do. I can be more at the front and donít have picket or camp guard to stand. Of course we get out early in the morning to carry the orders for the days march and have sometimes to be up late at night but we are more independent. Donít have to be in com. ranks on the march.
May 1st 1863
Our brigade was hurried forward today to reinforce Geníl McClernandís division which was heavily engaged by a large force of Confederates. And during the battle I was sent with dispatch to one of our Regít left in the rear and was returning to our main line of Inf. and was about to go over a small hill in an open field when I saw some of our men in front motion to go around. Without knowing just why I should do so I went around the hill. Just then I noticed a Sergeant of our Com. by the name of McCorkill coming on a gallop over the hill I had been warned not to come over although several motioned to him not to do so. When just on the top of the rise he was shot and fell backwards off from his horse mortally wounded. It seems the Confederates had sharp shooter in the edge of the timber and they could have a good sight on anyone that passed over that hill. Our Inf. were laying near the edge of the timber. One of them asked permission of the Geníl to take the dying mans Sharps carbine and see if he could not kill the sharp shooter. He was granted permission. He took the gun and crawled through the brush until he was out of sight when we heard the sharp report of the carbine. Pretty soon he came back saying that we would find the man at the foot of a large oak tree with a hole between his eyes. Soon the army moved forward. The Confederates were in retreat. Sure enough at the foot of the tree was the dead Confederate that killed the Sergeant. The Com. will miss our comrade very much. He was a good soldier. Geníl Grant goes by every once in awhile. He keeps track of all of the marching columns night and day. What an amount of pluck and endurance there is in that man. His escort have a hard time to keep up with. They have to have a change of horse to do it. Not many men in the army can ride as he can. He looks as though he had grown on the horse. The Confederates made a stand near Port Gibson [Mississippi] but soon had to fall back.
May 1st to May 5th 1863
We advance slowly. The enemy are falling back but contest the ground very sullen. At Raymond [Mississippi] we had quite a sharp fight. I was with Geníl Stevenson on the battle near Raymond just as the Rebs commenced their retreat, heard a wounded Confed groan. Road out to him raised his head up and gave him a drink. He asked me for a chew of tobacco. Told him I would get him one. Just then another called to me. I gave him a drink he also wanted tobacco. Rode back to the Geníl told him I wanted tobacco for those poor dying men. Some of his staff gave me a good piece to divide with them. The poor fellows seemed to be very grateful. I think they had but very short time to live. I visited my brother who is in the 93 Ill. Inf. in Quinbyís [Isaac Ferdinand Quinby ?] division.
May 3rd 1863
We skirmished nearly all day. Finally took the main road to Vicksburg pressing the Confederates very closely.
May 4th 1863
We lay in camp all day. I visited the 93rd, answered several letters.
May 5th 1863
Rained all night last.
May 6th 1863
Still in camp waiting for pontoon bridge to come up.
May 7th 1863
Went about 6 or 7 miles on the Jackson Road.
May 10th 1863 - Sunday
Camped near Utica [Mississippi].
May 11th 1863 Ė Monday
Our brigade in advance. Had to wait for Cav. to move out. Had a skirmish.
May 12th 1863 Ė Tuesday
Today was fought the Battle of Raymond. Our brigade let into town. We camped near the town. Here the young ladies came to our head quarters. Seemed to think that we would take them to Vicksburg. I told them I thought we would spend 4th of July in Vicksburg.
May 13th 1863
We camped near the town of Clinton.
May 14th 1863 Ė Thursday
Our forces attacked the Confederates near Jackson and defeated them. Quinbyís Division done most of the fighting our brigade looked
May 14th 1863
We camped near Jackson today.
May 15th 1863
Camped on the Jackson & Vicksburg R.R.
May 16th 1863
We met the Confederate forces under Pemberton near Edwards Station [name changed back to Edwards shortly after war] and completely defeated them fighting the Battle of Champion Hill. Geníl Stevensonís brigade was on the right of the battle line. When Geníl J.A. Logan came up and gave Gen. S. the orders to charge the battery on the hill. I was the only mounted man besides himself in the brigade. I donít know where the staff was or where Charlie Currie was. I had been off duty for several days on account of getting my eye hurt but had got up to the front. The Geníl rode up and said to me ďKeep close, I may need youĒ. ďAll rightĒ I says. The Inf. Col. asked me to help keep his men to the line. Our boys of the brigade went up the hill with a rush and cheer. They dropped around me pretty fast but I did not get hurt. The ground around the battery was covered with dead men and horses. When we reached the top of the hill our men lay down to get their breath and to get out of the way of canister and grape and shell from a Rebel battery in our front. The Geníl gave me an order to take to the Col. of the 81st Ill. to charge across an open field in front of him and take a battery that was playing on him. I rode down along the hill as fast as my horse could run. Came to a deep and wide ditch that my horse failed to jump over and consequently I went over his head but struck on my feet. The Geníl saw me go down. He thought I was shot. He came riding up and enquired if I was hurt. I told him no but my horse was. He said take one out of the battery we had just taken. What a time I had taking that horse out and transferring my equipments to the artillery horse. I think I got the only horse in the battery that was not wounded or killed. He was covered with blood and most scared to death by the noise and smell of blood. The Sergít in charge of the battery tried to help me some but the shells dropped around so close he gave it up and laid down with the Inf. the horse on the string behind of us was wounded and was surging and jumping to get loose. There were six horses on each gun. 3 of them on this gun were dead, 2 wounded. A shell dropped within about 10 feet of me and exploded. Donít know whether it killed anyone or not but is scared the Sergít so he would not help me. Well I finally got my horse saddled and mounted him and now the fun commenced. He was afraid of everything especially dead bodies. Sometimes he would hit the high places on the ground bus most generally he was in the air. About this time Hoveyís Division [Brig. Gen. Alvin P. Hoveyís 12th Division, XIII Corps] came up on our left drove the Confeds off the ridge so that we commenced to move down off the ridge. C. Currie came up and Geníl Stevenson put him and I in the advance to draw the first fire. The Battle of Champion Hill was over. Just ahead of us about 2 miles we could see the Confederate Army on the retreat. There was a R.R. station with 2 or 3 long trains on the tracks on fire. One train was ammunition. The shells were bursting and ammunition flying every which way. The fleeing Confeds seemed to give that train a wide berth. We took about 5000 prisoners, 36 pieces of artillery. That is the report. We do not know of course the exact figures. Rebels burnt the bridges across Black River so we will have to wait for pontoons when we get to the river. Our forces are now throwing bridges across Black River. Geníl Shermanís army corp. drove the Rebels across the river yesterday.
May 18th 1863 Ė Monday
We crossed the river this morning. Are now enroute for Vicksburg. The evenings are very pleasant, such beautiful moon light nights. We march sometimes nearly all night. When we do the band nearly always plays and we boys sing songs. Sometimes the whole brigade joins in with the Chorus accompanied by the bands. One night when the division was marching down a long hill, Geníl Stevenson and his staff and clerks and orderlies were in front of the division when up came Geníl Grant, Geníl Sherman and Rosecrans. I donít know how many other Geníls. but there was quite a crowd of officers. Geníl Stevenson got the band to lead off with the song ďWho Struck Bill Patterson?Ē. The whole brigade joined in. It sounded fine. The Geníls were very much pleased with the music.
May 19th 1863 Ė Tuesday
We are within sight of the enemies breastworks. We camped last night within 6 miles of Vicksburg. Now the division is skirmishing with the enemy. I never saw such rough country. We go down into a gulch and ban bang goes guns overhead. Look up there are the Rebs shooting down at us. They hide in the brush so that all we can see is smoke from their guns. Geníl Stevenson found the country was so rough it was impossible for horsemen to get along. Pretty soon he dismounted near an old stable and told his staff to dismount and asked me to take charge of the horses. I hated to do it, doní[t like this being hostler for officers but I donít want to raise a row. I had the old stable full of horses. No feed for them within 8 or 10 miles that I know of. Every few minutes a shell would come sailing over my head. Believe me, the Johnnies have seen us around the stable and they are trying to hit it. When that one came close thatís just what they are doing. Will have to evacuate that stable pretty quick I guess.