Battle of Milliken's Bend

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, July 4, 1863

This site features online versions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers allow you to watch the Civil War unfold week by week, just as the people saw it at the time. These papers are full of incredible wood cut illustrations of the key people and battles.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to the page of interest)

 

Rebel Spies

Rebel Spies

McClellan's Loyalty

George McClellan's Loyalty Questioned

Battle Winchester

Battle of Winchester

Before Vicksburg

Before Vicksburg

Battle of Antietam Poem

Battle of Antietam Poem

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Battle of Milliken's Bend

Whipped Slave

Whipped Slave

Slave Torture

Slave Torture

Works Before Vicksburg

Works Before Vicksburg

Milliken's Bend Battle

Milliken's Bend Battle

General Buford's Cavalry Charge

General Buford's Cavalry Charge

Secession

Secession Cartoon

 

 

 

JULY 4, 1863.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

427

very quietly, and thought no one saw her—she was mistaken.

Mr. Lee came with Harry in the afternoon; he was quieter and graver than before, and Harry was always with him whenever it was warm enough for him to be out of doors; and Michael Lee would come and sit with him when the weather prevented the boy leaving the house. Simpson brought him to the garden gate, and then he was able to walk up the little garden by himself. Sometimes Mrs. Parker walked with him, and a few times Katherine had helped him, but her hand always trembled as it rested on his arm, and he would try and grope about by himself rather than ask her; and then Harry called her stupid for not offering.

It was the 25th of October, a very wild day. Harry was not so well, lying on the couch, looking out of the window, watching the thick muddy waves rolling in angrily one after the other. The ferry-boat was not crossing, it was so very rough. Something was coming, the boatmen said, as they smoked their pipes and looked out to sea. It was worse by the evening. How the wind howled! And the tide was in, every now and then dashing over the sea-wall into the road. Harry lay watching the angry waves. He had never seen the Straits so rough before. Michael could not see it, but he heard the roaring of the waters, and he hummed the line—

And the night-rack came rolling up, ragged and brown.

"It will be a terrible night, Harry, I fear," he said.

"It will indeed, Michael. I was thinking you would scarcely get back to the hotel."

Ay, a terrible night it was; one to be much remembered in Anglesea. As they spoke the big iron ship was rolling about in the thick fog, hoping for a pilot, hoping to reach Liverpool that night; and before Michael Lee reached the Bulkeley Arms the big iron ship was thumping against the iron coast only a few miles away. The iron coast was the harder. The great masts tottered and fell, shivered so that Katherine's little fingers broke off pieces from them afterward. And when all was over—when the big iron ship was broken to pieces—when "the storm had ceased, and the waves thereof were still," some bottles of Champagne and pickles were found unbroken amidst the rocks, which were covered with big iron bolts wrenched out of the big iron ship that night of agony! Scarcely credible if read in a novel—and yet it is true. Verily "truth is strange sometimes, stranger than fiction!"

So these two sat watching and listening to the storm that evening, and at last Harry said:

"Michael, I have been thinking of such a good plan."

And Michael said, "Have you, my boy? What about?"

And Harry said, "About you, Michael. I know you don't like having Simpson with you always; and, you see, I'm not strong enough to read a great deal, or go out when it's not fine. They think I'm made of sugar, or salt, or something, and that I shall melt; and I've been thinking if you had a wife it would be much better. I thought Katie would do so nicely, and then, when you go back to Oldcourt, she or I would always be with you. If mother wanted her you could fall back on me. And she reads ever so long without getting tired, and writes so fast too. Do you think it a good plan, Michael?"

"My dear Harry," the quiet voice said, and then stopped.

"Oh, what a monster! It's bigger than any yet. There, it's broke over the pier, I declare; such a wave, Michael, you never saw. Well, but what do you think about Katie?"

"I think, Harry, for once you have forgotten I am blind," Michael Lee answered.

"No, I have not, Michael; that's the very thing made me think you ought to have a wife. If you weren't there's no reason for it. You could fish, and shoot, and ride, and read, and write, and do every thing yourself, and she might be in the way and want you for something just when you had got your gun, perhaps. I think you'd find her so useful now, that's what put it into my head."

"Harry, I thought of it a long time ago, when I was not blind, and she would not be my wife even then. I am glad of it now, Harry, for her sake." But the deep low voice had no gladness in it.

Up started the boy from the couch.

"Oh, Michael, you don't really mean you ever asked Katie to be your wife before?"

"Yes, Harry, I do mean even that."

"And Katie said she would not like to be, Michael?"

"Yes, Harry."

"What a shame! Oh, Michael, it makes me almost wish I'd been a girl myself. I'm sure I should have liked it very much." He threw himself back on the couch and coughed. Michael could not see how his color went and came. So neither of them spoke. And when he had done coughing he rested a little; then he said: "I might have been strong enough for a girl, perhaps; there's not much in them ever, though Katie's much stronger than I am. She's a great deal older, that's one thing. I wonder if I shall ever be as old as Katie; she's nearly out of her teens now. Do you know, Michael, sometimes I think I never shall. You can't see me now, or you would know how thin I have grown—a regular scarecrow. I'm a great deal taller, but my hands are so thin, my fingers look so long, and they're so white compared to other boys' I see on the beach. Some of the boys from the grammar-school I often watch playing cricket by the castle, and such nice brown hands they've got, I'm quite ashamed of mine. It's not manly to have such white hands. Do you think I ever shall be a man, Michael?"

Michael felt for the boy's hand, and stroked it in his own. He knew it was very thin and soft, though he could not see how white it was. He stroked it a few moments, and then he said:

"Harry, my boy, if you never are, remember there is a better Land than this, where you will

be strong, and I shall see again. We must both think of that, Harry, and be patient. It is hard work often, is it not?"

"Very; and sometimes I'm so cross when I can't sleep, Michael. I know what you mean. You think I shall never get any better; you mean my cough will go on getting worse, and I shall get thinner and thinner, and weaker and weaker, and then I shall die. I hope I shall go to heaven, Michael. I don't think I have done any thing very wicked; you know I've not been at school much among other boys, so it's not been so difficult. I remember, though, I helped to drown some puppies once. I could not help watching Thomas do it, and then I remember I held one under the water, when I saw it put up its poor little head. I can't think what made me, and afterward I remember poor old Flo came and smelled my hands and licked them, and I felt so sorry then. Well, Michael, I'll try and be patient, and not be cross any more, and if I die when I'm a boy, you'll be sure to know me when you come, Michael; and if I were to live to be a man, you might not, you know, Michael; I should have changed so, and it's eighteen months now since you saw me, Michael. But I want to ask you about Katie again. Did she mean she did not like you?"

"Not like me well enough, Harry, she meant."

"'Pon my word, Michael, then I think she's changed her mind, and I'll tell you why. When I came back the first day I met you and told her and mother you were blind, she never spoke, certainly, but she cried; I saw her, and often I see her eyes full of tears after you've been here."

"Yes; she is sorry for me, Harry, that is all."

"I don't think it is all, Michael. Mother's very sorry for you, but she doesn't cry. Here come three more schooners going to anchor round the Point: there's a regular fleet of them."

The door opened; how the wind howled! It was Katherine, bringing Harry's medicine. She put it down on the little table by him, and smoothed his hair and kissed his forehead. "Such a storm, Harry, coming on!" Harry pulled her down close to him, and whispered something. Michael could not hear all; but his own name he heard several times. Then Katherine stood upright, and said:

"Hush, Harry; will you take your medicine?" And Michael heard her voice tremble.

"No, I won't take it, Katie, till you answer my question; and my cough's been very bad this evening, so I ought to have it at once. Michael says, you said you'd rather not be his wife, and I want to know if you'd rather not now, or if you've changed your mind about it."

"Harry, no more of this, or I shall go back to Oldcourt," said the quiet, calm voice, not quiet or calm now.

"He is too young to know all he is saying; forgive him," he added.

"Oh, Michael, don't be angry with me; but indeed she's quite crimson, and the tears in her eyes; and if you would only just ask her yourself, you would see. Dear Michael, you know I shall never live to be a man; and after I've got thinner and thinner, and weaker and weaker, you'll have no one to take any care of you, and I feel so sure Katie would like it now, though she didn't then."

"Harry, I told you your sister was very sorry for me, nothing more."

"Sorry! she was very sorry when the cat died. I don't mean that. I can see her face, and you can't. How stupid you are, Michael! Oh, Katie, you know he doesn't like asking you now he's blind; and, if I were you, I would just put my arms round his neck, and tell him I should like it so much, without his asking me."

"No, Harry, you could not, if you were me," said Katherine, and her voice was more than trembling now, it was sobbing.

She was a prisoner; Harry had tight hold of her hand; and when he talked of growing weaker and weaker, and thinner and thinner, she had knelt beside him, between his couch and Michael Lee; and the blind man knew by her voice she was kneeling down, and he stretched out his hand, and it rested on her small head and bright glossy hair. Katherine was not pretty; but she was tall and slight, with a small head set on her throat like a queen, and quantities of bright glossy hair twisted round and round. He, Michael Lee, put his hand on it, and said: "Katherine," and that was all: and she did not answer at first, only he felt her turn from Harry's couch more toward him, and then she said, softly:

"Can't you see me the least bit, Michael?" And he said, "No, Katherine; I would give all I have in the world to look in your face now, darling."

And then Harry said: "I'll tell you, Michael, what she looks like, and don't give Oldcourt and Frisky and all away for nothing but that. She's not so red as she was, but she's crying. Oh, now she's hid her face, and I can't tell you what she's like."

She had hidden her face, but it was hidden on Michael Lee's other hand, and he felt her hot tears on it, and he said:

"Katherine, if you stay one moment longer I shall believe what Harry told me."

She did not move. He stroked the bright, glossy hair, and then passed his arm round her and drew her closer to him, and said something in such a whisper that Harry could not hear: and Harry rubbed his hands and said:

"Hurrah! I suppose I'd better take my medicine now, for I believe Katie's quite forgotten it." So she rose and gave it him with one hand, for Michael had the other; and Harry drank it, made a face, and said:

"I sha'n't be satisfied till you have put your arms round his neck and told him you are very sorry for ever having said you would not like it; it was such a shame!"

So she knelt down again, and did put her arms round his neck (not Harry's), and said something, too, which Harry could not hear; and Michael Lee stretched out one arm to Harry, and with the other gathered her up quite close to him, and said:

"I pray God you may never repent, my Katherine. And Harry, my boy, you an see her face, and I can not, as you said just now; and if ever you see her cry, or look unhappy, I trust to you to tell me and help me to find it out. Darling, if ever woman was loved, you are, my Katherine; for now, with this black sheet before me, which makes even your dear face as dark as night, I would not give you up, even to see the blessed light of heaven and the green earth again. I would rather be blind with you than see without you, Katherine."

She did not answer, but she lifted up her face to his and kissed it; and Harry brought his white, thin face and rested it on Michael's shoulder, and said:

"Michael, I wish I could make my eyes over to you. There's the fishing at Oldcourt, splendid fishing, and you'll never be able to fish without them. I would if I could, Michael, for all my happiest days you've given me. And as to Katie, I hope you'll like her much better than Simpson; and if she isn't happy it's her own fault, that's certain. Fancy not being happy at Oldcourt! And I dare say you'll give her a bigger pony; she can't have a better than Frisky, but she's too tall for him, and you'll always let him run in the park, won't you, Michael, when he gets old? Never sell him for a donkey cart. It would break his heart, I know it would, Michael. He'd pull it; he'd pull any thing; but I'm certain it would break his heart."

And Michael Lee promised Frisky should always be cared for as if he were the best hunter in the land; and the little white face looked up lovingly into the poor blind eyes, and then went on to say:

"I think it was so very rum of Katie ever thinking she would not like it. Don't you, Michael?"

And they both laughed and kissed him, and then the boy said he must go and tell his mother, for it was all his doing, every bit. And that evening, after tea, they all sat by Harry's couch, all the time the big iron ship was break, break, breaking, on those cold gray stones, just across the island.

THE CAVALRY FIGHT NEAR
CULPEPPER.

OUR special artist, Mr. A. R. Waud, sends us a sketch which we reproduce on pages 424 and 425, representing General Buford's cavalry charge upon Stuart's rebel forces near Culpepper. Mr. Waud writes:

CHARGE OF A PORTION OF BUFORD'S COMMAND.

"This charge had to be made across a meadow intersected by four ditches, in jumping which some horses fell, their riders getting trampled under foot. At the other side of this field the ground rose to the woods, which also extended along the right flank. On the left of the road, upon the ridge, was a house used as Stuart's head-quarters, afterward captured—to its left a battery which shelled our men till they closed upon the rebs, the case and canister killing more of their men than ours.

"On the right of the road three battalions were drawn up in column of companies, supported by a brigade in line of battle, and on the left a regiment was posted. Against them General Buford sent two regiments. These had to come out of the woods and form under fire from the batteries. The Sixth Pennsylvania, formerly Lancers, led the charge, which was directed against the centre battalion. The Sixth fell upon these with great gallantry, and, regardless of the chances of flank attack from the other battalions, drove them, fighting hand to hand, through the brigade in reserve, and then wheeling about, passed round the battalion on the right, and resumed position for another charge. The regiment on the left advanced as ours charged to take us in flank, but had not the courage to come hand to hand with them."

Another picture, which we give on page 428, also from a sketch by Mr. Waud, shows us the ARMY BEEF SWIMMING THE OCCOQUAN RIVER or Creek, on their way to Manassas, on the recent rapid march of General Hooker to his present encampment. The pretty little village of Occoquan is prominent in the picture.

THE SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.

ON page 420 we reproduce a picture drawn by our special artist, Mr. Theodore R. Davis, and representing

THE REBEL WORKS ASSAULTED BY THE BRIGADES OF GENERAL RANSOM AND COLONEL SMITH.

Mr. Davis writes:

"HEAD-QUARTERS OF MAJOR-GENERAL M'PHERSON,

June 2, 1863.

"The sketch shows the position of the rebels, so gallantly assaulted by the brigades of General Ransom and Colonel Giles Smith.

"The charge of the battalion of the 13th Regulars, who were in the command of Colonel Smith, is said to have been never surpassed in its desperate gallantry; Captain Washington, the commanding officer, was killed, and but two or three officers escaped unwounded, five color-bearers were shot, one after the other, two of them being officers, Captains Ewing and Yorke. The colors were being placed at the foot of the parapet by Captain Ewing as he was shot.

"I never have seen colors so torn as were these after this desperate charge; in one of the flags eighty shot-holes were to be counted.

"The colors of General Ransom's Brigade were placed by that gallant officer's own hand at the foot of the opposite angle of the work; in his single brigade the loss was over four hundred killed and wounded. To this brigade is also accorded every credit for desperate valor.

"To the extreme left of the picture is seen Fort Hill, one of the strongest of the rebel works. The name of the fort in the centre of the sketch I have not been able to ascertain. The approach of General

Sherman is within a short distance (seventy-five yards) of the rebel work.

"To the right of the sketch are the batteries Whitehouse, Hart, and others, under the command of Major Taylor, Chief of Artillery of General Sherman's Corps.

"The brigade of General Ransom is composed of Eleventh Illinois, Colonel Nevis, killed; Seventy-second Illinois, Colonel Staring, wounded; Ninety-fifth Illinois, Colonel Humphrey, severely wounded; Seventeenth Wisconsin, Lieutenant-Colonel McMahon; Fourteenth Wisconsin, Colonel Ward. The colors of each of these regiments were at the foot of the parapet, those of the Fourteenth Wisconsin being placed there by General Ransom."

On pages 420 and 421 we illustrate two of our siege batteries, which are thus described by Mr. Davis:

" HEAD-QUARTERS OF MAJOR-GENERAL McPHERSON, June 8, 1863.

"BATTERY POWELL.

"From this work the rebel Fort Hill and our work for its capture are in good view.

"The nearness of this work to the line of rebel sharp-shooters has rendered the protection of the gunners in every way necessary. While engaged in examining the view, which is interesting, one is prone to be a little more eager to see than to beware of the sharp-eyed 'reb.' At such times the zip-zip of a shot has its effect.

"Some of the rifle-shot that are found after passing through the embrasures are hollow; some burst. As yet, these diminutive shells have done no damage. Still in advance of this work Captain Powell and General Ransom are building a work. All these works are exceedingly creditable to their builders.

"BATTERY HICKENLOOPER.

"This work, constructed by Major Andrew Hickenlooper, of General M'Pherson's staff, is the most thoroughly complete as an approach, offensive and defensive, of any such attempt as yet planned around Vicksburg. Its nearness to the rebel works can be realized by an examination of the cut. From this position the opposing forces are within talking-voice distance of each other. It is not unusual to hear some of our men request an Alabama or Carolina friend to raise his head 'just a leetle higher' above the rebel works, in order to have a fair shot. Frequently a hat is raised by a ramrod above our works, to draw the fire of the enemy, while sharp-shooters at another angle are noting and drawing a fine sight on the rebel marksmen."

THE FIGHT AT MILLIKEN'S BEND.

Mr. Davis also sends us a sketch of the sharp fight at Milliken's Bend, where a small body of negro troops with a few whites were attacked by a larger force of rebels. A letter from Vicksburg says:

TWENTY-SECOND DAY IN REAR OF VICKSBURG,
June 9, 1863.

Two gentlemen from the Yazoo have given me the following particulars of the fight at Milliken's Bend, in which negro troops played so conspicuous a part.

My informant states that a force of about 1000 negroes and 200 men of the Twenty-third Iowa, belonging to the Second Brigade, Carr's Division (the Twenty-third Iowa had been up the river with prisoners, and was on its way back to this place), was surprised in camp by a rebel force of about 2000 men. The first intimation that the commanding officer received was from one of the black men, who went into the colonel's tent, and said: "Massa, the secesh are in camp." The colonel ordered him to hove the men load their guns at once. He instantly replied: "We have done did dat now, massa." Before the colonel was ready the men were in line, ready for action. As before stated, the rebels drove our force toward the gun-boats, taking colored men prisoners and murdering them. This so enraged them that they rallied and charged the enemy more heroically and desperately than has been recorded during the war. It was a genuine bayonet charge, a hand-to-hand fight, that has never occurred to any extent during this prolonged conflict. Upon both sides men were killed with the butts of muskets. White and black men were lying side by side, pierced by bayonets, and in some instances transfixed to the earth. In one instance, two men—one white and the other black—were found dead, side by side, each having the other's bayonet through his body. If facts prove to be what they are now represented, this engagement of Sunday morning will be recorded as the most desperate of this war. Broken limbs, broken heads, the mangling of bodies, all prove that it was a contest between enraged men; on the one side from hatred to a race, and on the other, desire for self-preservation, revenge for past grievances, and the inhuman murder of their comrades. One brave man took his former master prisoner, and brought him into camp with great gusto. A rebel prisoner made a particular request that his own negroes should not be placed over him as a guard. Dame Fortune is capricious! His request was not granted.

The rebels lost five cannon, 200 men killed, 400 to 500 wounded, and about 200 prisoners. Our loss is reported to be 100 killed and 500 wounded; but few of this number were white men.

A RAID AMONG THE RICE
PLANTATIONS.

ON page 429 we illustrate the recent raid of Colonel Montgomery's Second South Carolina Volunteers (colored) among the Rice Plantations of South Carolina. The author of the sketch which we reproduce, Surgeon Robinson, writes as follows:

"ST. SIMON'S ISLAND, GEORGIA, June 8, 1863.

"I inclose you a sketch of the operations of Colonel James Montgomery (formerly of Kansas), of the Second South Carolina Volunteers (colored), in the interior of South Carolina, among the rice plantations on the Combahee.

"We destroyed a vast amount of rice, corn, and cotton, stored in the barns and rice-mills, with many valuable steam-engines. We broke the sluice-gates and flooded the fields so that the present crop, which was growing beautifully, will be a total loss. We carried out the President's proclamation too, and brought away about 800 contrabands, 150 of whom are now serving their country in the regiment which liberated them. The rest were old men, women, and children. The rebel loss from our visit must amount to several millions of dollars. We are now about commencing operations on the Georgia coast.

"We skirmished all day with the rebels, but escaped without the loss of a man. Their cavalry killed and wounded some of the slaves as they swarmed to the protection of the old flag."


 

 

 

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