May 20. Arrived at Baton Rouge; all knapsacks were
stored. May 21. Early left for Port Hudson, arriving in time to support the ist Vermont Battery; fight at Plains Store. May 23. General Thomas W. Sherman, 2d division, and three brigades with 15 pieces of artillery moved to the left, resting on river at Port Hudson, La. May 24. Our line advanced and occupied the camps de serted by the enemy (and we got more than we bargained for) they having retreated inside of their fortifications; day and night the bombardment from Farragut s fleet kept up ; at night we could see the shells fly through the air, make a graceful curve, hear them strike and explode; motor batteries were placed along our lines at short distances during the siege and mostly used at night to keep the besieged wide awake and to tire them out; it was a grand sight while on picket to witness the display during night bombardment. May 25. The day is clear and pleasant, the men having no tents are making themselves as comfortable as possible. The bombardment all day and night from the fleet; constant firing on the line during the day; many men wounded. May 26. Skirmishing continued all day, also the bombard ment; Co. D went on picket at 4 P.M. Bombardment all night long; no sleep on the picket-line on account of the noise.
May 27, 1863: First major assault on Port Hudson
May 27. Early in the morning we were informed that
there was to be an assault on the works; 9 A.M. we advanced our line of pickets and acted as skirmishers; a lively time we had until 2 P.M., when we were called in to join our regiment which was designated to lead the brigade in the assault; as we advanced through the woods, coming to a clearing, we found trees for several hundred feet felled in all manner of directions; as we emerged from the woods the enemy opened on us with infantry and artillery; we managed to get through the fallen timber, but hardly a man had a decent pair of pants on him; our Colonel formed in division front on color division; this was done under constant fire; as soon as formed the men 17 were ordered to lie down in their positions, waiting for the rest of the brigade to come up ; they did not get up to our line, so the Colonel ordered the charge; when about 150 yards from the works the enemy gave us grape and canister at short range; I never saw anything like it; our men were mowed down; the firing was terrific; Corporal Nels Rosen- steiner, Co. D, carrying the State flag was killed; private Flah erty, of Co. F seized it and bore it through engagement, after wards appointed to carry the flag; our Colonel, Major and line officers wounded, the men by natural instinct deployed as skirmishers taking to whatever protection they could; we finally fell back the best we could. Such a sight; the dead and wounded lay thick ; the wounded groaning and calling for water (of which we had little to give) and calling upon us not to desert them; the firing from the enemy slackened; six of us made an effort to bring in the body of the Colonel ; we finally reached him and brought him in carefully over the fallen timber ; the enemy came out from their works to take as many as they could prisoners; what was left of the regiment re formed in the woods under Captain Agnus (now General Felix Agnus, proprietor of the Baltimore American); the whole army was repulsed with terrible slaughter; everything in our lines was confusion and turmoil; our overcoats, blankets, and haversacks had been left in the woods before making the charge. Night coming on the men were unable to find them ; the battalion was composed of 6 companies and did not number over 350 officers and men; the regimental loss was 18 killed, 70 wounded, 12 missing, prisoners; Co D, i lieutenant and 7 privates killed, 14 wounded, and 3 wounded prisoners; At the time of the assault the 2d division was under com mand of Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman; our 3d brigade under command of Brigadier-General Frank S. Nicker- son, composed of the i4th 24th and 28th Maine Volunteers, 1 65th (2d Duryee Zouaves) and 17 7th New York Volunteers, supported by the 2ist New York and ist Vermont Batteries; General Sherman, Division Commander, lost his leg, and 7 staff officers were wounded.
Lieutenant Colonel Abel Smith
Wounded on May 27, 1863 (Died from wounds June 27, 1863)
May 28. Flag of truce; the wounded were brought in and
dead buried. June 14. Sunday, at 2 A.M., our regiment left camp, pro ceeded some distance to the left; at daybreak four companies 18 were sent out to the front as sharpshooters, with all the am munition we could store away in our pockets ; canteens filled (no haversacks), we advanced from stump to stump on our hands and knees as far as we could, every man to a stump; the day was intensely hot; the 6th Michigan was on the line parallel with us to our left (a very good regiment) ; our orders were to keep up a regular fire, to keep the enemy from concentrating their men on the center where our main assault was to be made, which assault proved another failure; great bravery was shown by our troops; after repeated charges our army was driven back with another great loss of life; our line of sharpshooters suffered for want of water; several attempts were made, by crawling from one to the other, to gather a few canteens then crawl back; when the detail thought he could up and run a ball would roll him over; after a number of attempts, every man wounded who attempted it, it was given up, and we had to suffer for want of water; several times the enemy s artillery tried to drive us out by grape and cannister, but we held on, remaining on the line all night. June 15. Early in the morning we went back into the trenches. At 10 A.M. we were relieved and returned to camp, and had something to eat and drink after 32 hours fasting. June 19. The regiment went into the rifle pits and con tinued there for 48 hours. June 24. Word came that our Colonel (Abel Smith) died in a hospital at New Orleans. (A great loss to us. He was a strict disciplinarian; had drilled the regiment in infantry, light and heavy artillery, bayonet exercise and skirmish drill by bugle. He went upon the principle that idleness breeds disease. He kept the men busy, demanded cleanliness, drilled the non-commissioned officers personally, and they the squads, so that before we left camp Parapet the regiment was a unit in drill. He looked after the health of the men, inspected cook-houses and rations daily, holding the Commissary-Ser geants responsible, and personally saw that the men got what they were entitled to from the Quartermaster and Commis sary. Company funds were started to buy vegetables and other : ,necessary articles for the comfort of the men. Captains of .companies were held responsible for the appearance of the linen. He encouraged amusements, together with strict sani- tary regulations. The consequence was that during the season, the men becoming acclimated, the death loss was small. The Sanitary Commission that visited the Department to look after the health of the troops, stated in their report that the 1 65th New York Volunteers had the cleanest and healthiest camp in the Department of the Gulf, and that the officers looked after the health of the men. Although nearly every man was sick with fever we only lost three men one by disease, two others accidentally shot. The result wa^ that the men were ready for any duty they were called upon to perform. The camp was in a swamp, and was called Camp Death by the previous regiment that formerly occupied it. They lost a great many men by death, and looked back to it with sorrow. And in our future service we more and more missed his faith fulness to his command). June 26. This afternoon left camp and laid in support of some batteries, at night returned to camp. June 29 and 30. Night assaults with hand-grenades on the water batteries and citadel on the extreme left of our line at Port Hudson; Captain Chas. A. Walker, Co. A, had com mand of the three right companies, and Lieutenant John P. Morris, of Co. E, the three left companies, the detail from each company being under command of a non-commissioned officer of that company, the detail from Co. E being under command of Second Sergeant A. G. Mills, now the president of our Veteran Association; supporting the 6th Michigan Infantry, left, our approaches which were close up to the trenches in front of the citadel drove, the Confederates from their trench, but the posi tion was intolerable and we retired with the loss of i private killed and 6 wounded.
Captain Chas. A Walker
July 1. Regiment returned to camp from attack on water batteries . July 2. Rebel cavalry made a raid on Springfield Landing; our regiment with others were ordered there; returned to camp; July 5 Vicksburg reported surrendered. July 8. Surrender of Port Hudson; 6,000 prisoners, 60 pieces of artillery. July 9. The regiment complimented in orders for its share of the victory, and selected to represent our brigade in receiving the surrender July 9th, marched inside the works, and formed line in front of the Confederate garrison, who at 20 command of General Gardner, their commander, "grounded arms." The American colors were run up to the masthead.