part of a volume entitled History of the Ninety - Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry: From Organization To Muster Out --Statistics Compiled by Aaron Dunbar Sergeant, Company " B", Revised and Edited by Harvey M. Trimble, Adjutant
Submitted by Jeffrey MacAdam, to whom every reader should be grateful.
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What was afterward known as the Champaign in Northern Mississippi was, in fact, the initial movement of a campaign against Vicksburg. General Grant's plan seems to have been to dislodge the rebel forces of General Pemberton, consisting of about forty thousand men, from their positions on the Tallahatchie River, and then, by rapid movements, gain the possession of Grenada, Greenwood, Yazoo City, Canton and Jackson, Mississippi, and establish his army for an attack upon Vicksburg from the rear. General Grant, in person, was in command of one column, which started from Jackson, Tennessee; General Sherman commanded another column, which started from Memphis, Tennessee; and General Washburne commanded a small cavalry force, which started from Helena, Arkansas. Their movements were inaugurated soon after the middle of November, A. D. 1862.
On the 26th day of November, A. D. 1862, the Ninety-Third Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry broke camp and moved in a southeasterly course from Memphis. The destination was, of course, unknown to the army; but many rumors, as to what the campaign was to be, floated along the lines. All tents, save three for each company and three for headquarters, were left behind. Those then in use were the "Sibley" tents. They were large, that is, tall, cone shaped, and very cumbersome. After a march of twelve miles, camp was pitched for the night in a cornfield.
The next day the regiment marched eighteen miles, and camped near Cold Water Creek. On Sunday, November 30th, after a march of eight miles, the regiment camped at Chulahoma, Mississippi, and remained there the following day. On December 2nd, all trains were left behind, in anticipation of a skirmish with the forces under General Price. Reports of cannon at the front were again heard, but this command did not reach the skirmishing. Price skedaddled. General Washburn's cavalry had so opportunely and strongly threatened Grenada that General Pemberton abandoned his positions on the Tallahatchie River without a battle, and fell back to Grenada, south of the Yalobusha River, and from thence to Canton, only a short distance north of Jackson, Mississippi. Those two rivers, uniting a short distance north of Greenwood, Mississippi, form the Yazoo River. After marching eight miles, the regiment went into camp about two miles from Wyatt, a small village on the Tallahatchie River, and remained there five days. The trains came up on the third day.
On Sunday, December 7th, after another march of eight miles, the command went into camp three miles west of College Hill, and remained there five days. For two weeks the army had been on three-quarters rations, and that allowance was now reduced. Beef and Pork and corn, gathered from the country, supplied the deficit. Corn was ground in a mill located on Hurricane Creek, the first experience of that kind. From the corn bread and mush used there, the camp was named "Mush Hill."
On the 12th day of December, the regiment marched fourteen miles, passing General Grant's headquarters at Oxford, Mississippi, a pretty little town on what is now the Chicago, St. Louis & New Orleans Railroad, and went into camp about six miles southeast of that place, on Yocona Creek. This was the first time, after leaving Memphis, that the command was within convenient reach of good water. It remained there eight days. This last movement was made by this regiment alone, and for the purpose of joining the new brigade to which it had been assigned, to wit, the Third Brigade, of the Seventh Division, of the Left Wing of the Army of the Mississippi. George B. Boomer, Colonel of the Twenty-Sixth Missouri Volunteer Infantry, was the Brigade's Commander; Brig. Gen. Isaac F. Quimby was the Division Commander; General Hamilton was Commander of the left wing of the Army of the Mississippi; and General Grant was in command of all. This division was afterward transferred to General McPherson's Corp.
The Ninety- Third Illinois remained in this brigade nearly two years. It contained three other regiments, namely, the Twenty-Sixth Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry and the Fifth and Tenth Regiments Iowa Volunteer Infantry. These three other regiments had fought together around Corinth and at Iuka, Mississippi, and won great praise. And this brigade afterward became famous in the Army of the Tennessee. The different regiments soon became well acquainted with each other, and fraternized in a very unusual manner. The battle of Jackson and Champion Hill and siege of Vicksburg welded the friendship so strongly that it became almost impossible to get an admission, from anyone, of membership in the regimental or company organizations. The brigade came to be recognized by all as the unit. It was the "Third Brigade," in which all claimed membership when interrogated as to the command to which they belonged.
On Sunday, December 21, at 8 o'clock in the morning, this command "about faced," marched to Oxford, and went into camp a half mile east of the town. This movement was occasioned by the presence of General Van Dorn's rebel cavalry, in force, in Northern Mississippi and their unceremonious maneuver. On the previous day, they had made a dash on Holly Springs, destroyed a large amount of commissary and quartermasters' stores and munitions of war, burned cotton, and torn up the railroad track between the Springs and Waterford. Troops on every hand were now put in rapid motion , the army was falling back to reestablish its lines of communication. At 10:30 o'clock that night the Third Brigade was called to arms. The pickets reported that an attack by rebel calvary was imminent. Regiments were everywhere in line, and artillery rapidly moving into position. At midnight the Third Brigade moved about a mile from camp and went into line of battle, in an open field, with a ravine and heavy timber in the rear, the Ninety-Third Illinois being on the left of the line. No attack was made. An hour after sunrise the next morning the command returned to camp. Such was the first night of this regiment under arms.
All kinds of rumors were heard in camp that day, some probably true, but many wholly false. The one that was true was most disgracefully true. Holly Springs had been surrendered on the 20th by Col. R. C. Murphy without the firing of a single gun. It was bald cowardice. It practically overturned the plans of General Grant, and ended the campaign against Vickburg from that direction. Much rain and deep mud and overflowing streams doubtless contributed somewhat to the result; but the disgraceful surrender of Holly Springs, and the consequent distruction of the large quantities of supplies and munitions there, settled it. The campaign was practically ended. General Grant had been so confident, early in the month, of the success of his plans, that he had detached General Sherman with about ten thousand of the troops then under his command, and about thirty-two thousand more taken from Memphis and Helena, and sent him to the mouth of the Yazoo River, only a short distance above Vicksburg, in the expectation of joining forces with him there when he should reach the rear of Vicksburg by the inland routes above indicated. General Sherman left Memphis for the mouth of the Yazoo on the very day that Holly Springs was so disgracefully surrendered without hearing of it.
On the 23rd and 24th days of December this regiment marched from Oxford to Lumpkin's Mill, Mississippi, passing through Abbeville, a distance of twenty- three miles. The next day, Christmas, the regiment was ordered out to gather forage. Sixty wagon loads of corn and fodder, ten cattle, three mules and two ponies, besides a large quantity of provisions gathered by individuals for themselves and their "messes," was the result of the day's work. Rain fell nearly all the day, and the roads were becoming almost impassable. Early in the morning, on December 26th, General Quimby's Division started for Memphis, in charge of a large train sent there after provisions. The extent of the disaster at Holly Springs can be better understood when it is stated that this train, the sending of which was made necessary by it, contained nearly one thousand wagons, all told. Five companies of the Ninety-Third Illinois were detached as rear guard for the train. The train did not get straightened out on the road until 11 o'clock a.m.. The advance marched about twelve miles, but the rear guard covered no more than half that distance. The regimental wagons were near the middle of the train, and both ends of the regiment were without tents that night. It was the hardest day and night so far experienced by the command.
The next morning the head of the train moved forward at 4 o'clock. The rear guard moved at an early hour, and at 11 o'clock a.m. reached the other five companies of the regiment. They had not yet left their camp of the previous night. That afternoon the entire command marched twelve miles, and encamped, for the night, one mile east of Byhalia, Mississippi. On the 28th day of December, just one month from the day Byhalia was passed on the way out, the regiment again passed through the town, marched twenty-two miles, and went into camp seven miles from Memphis, Tennessee. On the 29th, the command marched to Memphis, and remained there the next day. On the morning of the 29th, before the regiment moved, Lieutenant Lee and two men of his company, B, came into camp. They had lost their way while out on the foraging expedition, on Christmas Day, and came in by the way of Holly Springs. Sergeant Jacob Houck, of Company C, who was captured by the enemy on Christmas Day, came in with the others, having met them on the way.
On the last day of the year 1862, the regiment, still with the provision train, which was then loaded with supplies, marched fifteen miles, and camped on the east side of Germantown, Tennessee. Early the next morning, New Year's Day, 1863, the march eastward was resumed, and fifteen miles farther on the command encamped, near Lafayette, Tennessee. On the morning of January 2nd, the train was placed in charge of other troops, and this command marched back to a point about two miles west of Germantown, and encamped near the plantation of a man named Brooks. The place was called Ridgeway. The regiment remained there until the 30th day of that month. Thus ended the campaign in Northern Mississippi. The regiment had marched two hundred and twenty miles, and had acquired much knowledge of the uncomfortable features of a military campaign. Had this not been the first campaign made by the regiment, and a very hard one, particularly for new and inexperienced troops, on account of excessive rains and bad roads, much of the details given in this chapter might have been omitted. But the surviving members of the regiment, at least, will not object that their first experiences in the field are now so particularly called up before them. Not, perhaps, because they were important; but the more, because, for lack of importance, many of the details may have escaped from memory.
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