Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)

Civil War Louisiana (CWLA)
CWLA seeks to provide an online resource of any and all material of the Civil War relating to Louisiana with a special interest in the war in Acadiana in southwest Louisiana.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

114th New York at Port Hudson: June 14th Assault

The 114th New York was part of Brigadier General Weitzel's 2nd Brigade, 1st Division (Major General Christopher Augur) during the Siege of Port Hudson. The other regiments of the brigade were: 12th Connecticut, 75th New York, 160th New York and 8th Vermont Regiments. Below are two accounts of the 114th New York's attack on June 14th. Both letters are drawn from the amazing New York State Military Musuem:

Map of the June 14, 1863 attack on Port Hudson

Letter from Port Hudson, from a Member of Co, E. 114th Regiment.
June 15, 1863.
DEAR SIR: It is with pain I have to relate the proceedings of yesterday, which day will ever be remembered by the 114th Regiment. On the evening of the 13th we were all served out with sixty rounds of catridge [sic] at twelve o'clock at night, our cooks made their appearance with rations of which we supplied ourselves. We were soon ordered to fall in and in a few minutes were ready to march. Accordingly five Companies of our Regiment started with Col. Smith and Major Morse as our leaders. Soon were joined by the 15th and 160th New York Regiments, 8th Vermont and 12th Connecticut, which Regiments constitute Wietzel's Brigade. We marched along silently through the woods, except some remarks about what we were going to do, every one forming his own opinion; but it being Sunday, a day so remarkable for the battles of the American army, every one was satisfied that we were going to charge the enemy's works. As we went along from one ravine to another we found troops under arms, and after a little while we came up with a group of officers, among whom was Gen. WIETZEL. The sight of our General seemed to give us new courage. Gen. Wietzel is highly esteemed by his command and their confidence in him is such that whenever he is near we anticipate no danger. 
Soon our artillery opened fire and as we turned in a ravine we halted and fixed bayonets. We soon heard a cheer on our left which told us that PAYNE'S Brigade charged the enemy's works, and the roar of artillery and musketry told the bloody work had commenced. We started ahead but soon had to halt on account of the 91st New York Regiment, which was in the ravine before us. Soon the General's Aids run by us to see what was the matter. As soon as the way was clear for our Regiment we proceeded in the best of spirits expecting to cover ourselves with honor by entering the enemy's works. About six o'clock we got to the scene of action, and soon the command was given to charge on a double quick. With a yell we darted forward under a raking fire from the enemy from behind their works, until our colors got shot. At this time we poured a volley into their works and lay down until reloaded. Our gallant Major stepped in front and asked us if we were ready, to which we responded yes. He then told us to give three cheers and follow him. This time a number of us got into a ditch under the enemy’s works where our boys were slain like sheep. Our Major, like the Colonel, got wounded in this charge. Most all of our officers were either killed or wounded. Once more our shattered companies tried a charge led by Lieut. SEARLES, of Co. G. He also got wounded at this time—nearly half our men lay wounded on the field. It was a most thrilling scene to witness the groans of our brave men in their agony of pain—all our color guards were wounded, and the color bearer killed, but a Lieut. of the 160th New York picked up our colors, and one of our boys stepped forward and demanded them, so we had the honor of bringing them off the field.
After laying two hours under fire and making three charges, we fell to the rear to form again. Never did five Companies of men go into a charge more willingly or with better courage, than did the officers and men of the 114th; but there was no such thing as entering the works, for we had to charge over fallen timber and brush, and there was a ditch at least six feet wide and six feet deep on our side of their works, the breast work or parapet being eight or ten feet high so it was impossible for any man to scale them without use of ladders or plank. If we had any fair kind of a chance we would enter the works, for never was there a more determined lot of men as the num­ber of killed and wounded will show. There were several other charges made but without effect. There was a Regi­ment sent in ahead with bags of cotton to fill the ditch for us to charge over, but they could not be made to go there. Out of the officers of our five Compan­ies there were only three came out whole. I don't intend to give only a feint idea of what it was, for if I tried to I could not. Those who lived or was not wounded remained under fire until after dark. To look round the little place our Company occupied in the woods, and to see so many missing made us very sad.
The following is a list of causalities in Co. E. Lieut. Longwell, of Co. D., who took command of our Company, was wounded in the hand while leading us into action. Much praise is due him, as he is the only man who ever led Co. E. into action yet. Indeed he is a brave officer.
Sergts. Uri Rorapaugh, acting Lieut. Wm. J. Rogers, Seymour C. Horton, wounded. Corpl. John C. Stoughton, missing. Privates, Jack Chidester, David McBirney, Chas. R. Hayward, Rob't. Wedge, Benjamin Pittsley, Chas. B. Davis, Sophronus Henmon, Joseph J. Smith Freeman S. Wedge, Edw'd Post, Lewis Handy,* Preston R. Peck, all slightly wounded, excepting Preston and Handy who were mortally wounded and left on the field, probably dead. Col. Smith is living. Capt. Tucker, and Lieut. Corben, of Co. G., are killed.
I remain truly yours,

The following extract from a private letter from C. E. Thompson to his parents, will not be without interest to those who have friends in the 114th Regiment. The letter is dated at Port Hudson, June 19:

Last Sunday morning about 7 o'clock,  five companies of our Regiment, B, D, E, F and G, were ordered up, and with the rest of Weitzel's brigade began moving around to the left, leaving the other five companies for picket on our lines. About daylight we arrived at the mouth of a deep ravine which our men had been clearing out for the purpose of making a charge on some earthworks ruining parallel with it. They wanted these works to plant some artillery on. Our artillery began to roar about this time, throwing shot and shell over our heads into the rebel lines, and soon we heard the yells of our boys charging on the works, and then how the mus­kets popped. We pushed along through the ravine as fast as we could, and soon it came our turn to charge. We had to file right, out of the ravine and go up a hill, over logs and brush about ten rods, to the rebel breastworks. From the time we filed out of the ravine until we got within a rod of the works, it was a continual whiz of bullets sounding more like bees swarming than anything else. Capt. Tucker was at the head of the company until we filed out of the ravine, he stopped on the corner saying, "I don't know about going in there." As the rear of the company pass­ed by he rushed toward the head, and was within two feet of me when a bullet enter­ed his breast and he fell over a log exclaim­ing, "Oh, my God! I am shot," and died within fifteen minutes. The last words he said were to tell his friends that he died for his country. I had just seen Capt. Tuck­er fall when four men came down with Col. Smith, who was shot at the head of the Regiment, the ball passing near his spine. He died last night and his body is now on the way home. Capt. Tucker was burried [sic] at Baton Rouge. We rushed on over every conceivable obstacle, the bullets flying thicker than hailstones all the time, and finally reached the foot of a little hill, about a rod from their works, which partly covered us from their fire. Major Morse was shot through the ankle, and there was no one to lead the regiment. They called for the Captain of Co. B, but he was no where to be found. Capt. Fitch of Co. F, had been wounded, and there were but two officers of our regiment to be found, Lieuts. Searles and Corbin of our company. The 160th N. Y. were supporting us. Their cowardly old Colonel kept bellowing for an officer of the 114th. Finally, as he was the senior officer on the field, he got orders to take command of the brigade and charge again. Instead of taking the lead as Col. Smith had done, he lay down in a ditch and roared out for the 114th to go on, say­ing he would support us. Lieuts. Searles and Corbin made a dash and the boys af­ter them. Corbin was going into the ditch in front of the works when he was shot in the head, killed instantly and fell into the ditch. Searles received two balls in his leg and one through his body, but they think he will recover. Andrew Sawdy was shot just over the heart, the ball passing down and out at his side. We were afraid he would die at first, but he is better now and has gone to Baton Rouge—Leroy Woods was wounded in the leg, rather serious but not dangerous. Alberto Fish, of Cole Hill, was laying by my side when a bullet from the left struck him in the leg and passing down on the bone. I believe that was all that were wounded from our way. There were 13 wounded in our company besides Capt. Tucker and Lieut. Corbin. We rallied twice after making the first charge, but it was impossible for men to go over the bank as fast as the rebels would mow them down. Our regiment was then ordered to the rear and finally got out, or part of it did. There were 86 killed and wounded in the 114th.
C. E. T.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

165th New York, 2nd Battalion "Duryee's Zouaves" during the Siege of Port Hudson

Below is taken from History of the Second Battalion Duryee Zouaves: One Hundred and Sixty-fifth Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry (1905), pages 16-20.

A Duryee Zouave

May 20. Arrived at Baton Rouge; all knapsacks were 

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 


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 


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 

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. 

Lieutenant John P. Morris

                  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 


command of General Gardner, their commander, "grounded 
arms." The American colors were run up to the masthead. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Rhode Island Yankee on the "Cajans"

Captain Joshua M. Addeman

Joshua M. Addeman was a Captain in the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, Colored. The Fourteenth was ordered to Louisiana on November 19, 1863 and served in Louisiana until the end of the war. While traveling from Donaldsonville to Brashear City, Addeman described his long, weary trip along Louisiana's bayous. In doing so, Addeman had comments so say of Louisiana's Cajun population:

"Speaking of the bayous, it would be difficult to give a clear conception of their peculiarities. Equally strange are the people who inhabit those solitudes. Time would not permit me to describe the "Cajans"--corruption of "Acadians,"--descendants of the exiles who early settled the territory of Louisiana, but who have been driven from their first places of settlement by those more ambitious and unscrupulous. Living in isolated communities, with their artless and unambitious characteristics, their simplicity and exclusiveness, they would furnish material enough for an elaborate paper."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Captain James Franklin Fitts on Port Hudson

Captain Franklin Fitts, 114th New York Infantry

Captain Fitts wrote an article titled "A June Day at Port Hudson" in The Galaxy: A Magazine of Entertaining Reading, Volume 2, p. 121-131. Here is most of Fitts' article on the 114th New York at Port Hudson.

...Between the spot where the One Hundred and Fourteenth New York lay and the Rebel works was a great ravine, or gulf—the latter word best describes it. In some places upon either side the hills projected out prominently into this pit; at others, the descent was gradual and easy. The crests of the hills bounding the gulf upon both sides were fortified and held by the opposing armies, lying within easy rifle-shot of each other; between lay the debatable ground, over which balls, shells, and bullets were hurled back and forth. The slopes of the hills, and the narrow intervening level at their bases, were thickly grown with brambles and thorny briers, tangled with felled timber, and abounding in precipitous and difficult descents. They were all that lay between us and the prize, but they were for many days neutral ground. By daylight no man set foot in it; hundreds of eyes were watching it for a mark, and no one transgressed the limits of his own works without instantly becoming a target. The two sides of the ridge which our sharpshooters occupied were strikingly contrasted. That which lay beneath the Rebel guns was as bare of life and motion as though a pestilence had swept it; the other, although quite as rough in its character, teemed with animation. The nature of the ground was such that the companies were somewhat detached from each other, a felled tree serving as a means of communication. The men lay well down from the top of the ridge to avoid the flying balls, when not on duty in the rifle-pits. Many, for greater security, burrowed for shelter in the side of the bank. At the bottom of this bank ran a stream of water, much too small for the wants of the numbers that crowded it. The heat was well-nigh insufferable, though shade was abundant. The flies came in swarms to annoy us. All the cooking was done a mile to the rear, as the smoke would have betrayed our exact position. And here in this wide wilderness we lay, stifled by the sultry atmosphere, and sometimes drenched by rains. Back of us, at eligible points, were brigade and division headquarters, and field hospitals, enclosed in a paling of leafy branches, and protected at exposed points by cotton bales. Still further back were the supply depots, from which the army was fed, and the reserve artillery; and to and fro between Springfield Landing and the front, six-mule teams were constantly passing, laden or empty as they came or went.
From right to left of our line siege guns and mortars were in position at easy intervals. The guns were artfully concealed with branches, so that their position could be seen only at each discharge. The gunners were protected within an outwork of cotton bales, seven feet high, which effectually sheltered them from bullets.
Our rifle-pits were mere excavations of earth near the crest of the ridge, hollowed out square, so as to entirely conceal a man standing upright. An open way of the same depth led down to the middle part of the hill, so that we could pass to and fro without exposure. They were dug large enough to contain half-a-dozen men, with elbow-room sufficient to admit of the ordinary motions of loading and firing. Each company furnished a detail for one or more of these pits, the details being generally relieved every twelve hours. Their business was to stand, rifle in hand, scrutinizing sharply the Rebel position; to give warning of anything suspicious or unusual, and to send a bullet after any Rebel who might be incautious enough to show his head. The rifle-pits were completed by heavy loop-holed logs laid flat upon the top of the ridge. Through this narrow opening, three inches square, the rifleman surveyed the situation, giving emphasis to his vigilance by the occasional bark of his "Springfield." What could be actually seen of Port Hudson from these loop-holes (and there was no other safe point of observation) was very little. Heaps of earth surmounting the ridge upon the Rebel front indicated where their defences lay, but the trees in the background stood so thick that it was often impossible to define the shape of the works. There was a forest with a Rebel flag waving from the summit of the tallest tree; there were two or three dilapidated old buildings; and there was a desperate and stubborn enemy, invisible to our eyes. Between him and us was "a great gulf fixed," with boundaries of fire and lead, which, for the present, were respected.
Sometimes, after orders to cease firing, a silence like that of the tombs would brood over both the lines, and anon the crash of musketry from every rifle-pit, quickly and furiously answered by the enemy, and the thunderous roar of heavy ordnance, flinging death and destruction, pealed up in a wild tumult of discord. The sharpshooters were sometimes instructed to keep up an uninterrupted fire, and again to wait for a mark. Deserters occasionally found their way into our linos at night, and, to distinguish thein from enemies, particular orders were sent to the rifle-pits to allow single men to come in who appeared outside without arms. At times the batteries fired in regular alternation from right to left, with an impressive effect upon the listener. At night, when the darkness was a sufficient shelter from the Rebel riflemen, it was interesting to mount above the rifle-pits and watch the flashes from the heavy guns, and the flaming shells from the mortars, hissing and gyrating in a wide sweep far overhead, and sinking out of sight behind the trees. There was always, at night, a rumbling noise from the old buildings opposite, which was suspected to be occasioned by the grinding of corn. They were swept from the ground by our shells before the siege had terminated. Many artifices were used in the rifle-pits to delude the enemy, and draw his fire. A favorite ruse was the exposure of a cap above the loop-holes, on a stick. Small puffs of smoke would instantly break out from the Rebel works, and bullets whistle overhead and sink into the embankment; and, at the same instant, a dozen rifles would ring out from our pits, and as many balls speed over toward the little smoke-puffs. A shovel was observed one morning to rise and fall regularly over the edge of the works directly opposite us, as if throwing earth upon an unfinished part. Several marksmen upon our side immediately engaged in the work of slopping that shovel. The dirt flew in clouds from the embankment as their balls perforated it, several striking near the top, where the earth was supposed to lie thinner, and where a ball might find a head. Some Rebel may or may not have fallen beneath the persistent hail of lead that was poured upon this spot for half an hour; but the audacious shovel continued to rise and fall, depositing the earth as nonchalantly as if there were sense in it to appreciate the hazard. Suspicious noises, such as the barking of dogs and rumbling of wagons, would quickly draw a heavy fire. Clumps of bushes, half-way down the opposite bank, which looked like inviting spots for the concealment of a lookout, were subjected to the same searching inquiry.

The casualties upon our side during this desultory warfare were not numerous, although they occurred daily at different points along the lines. Stray bullets sometimes entered the loop-holes, killing or wounding the men on duty behind them. There were places where our paths ran over ground so high as to be in range of the Rebel rifles, and at these places men were frequently hit. The stream of bullets passing overhead was enormous; it is no exaggeration to say that tons of lead were thrown away for every life taken. Leaves, twigs and bark dropped from the trees, severed by passing balls, and the men often exhibited their clothing torn by the flying missiles. One instance occurs to me of a round hole perforated in the middle of a newspaper, in the hands of its reader. The Rebels readily admitted, upon the termination of the siege, that our sharpshooters had done remarkable execution. Many of their large guns were dismounted by our artillerists; my attention was afterward called to one from which the trunnion had been shaved as cleanly as if with a chisel.
Thus the siege "dragged its slow length." No nearer approaches had been made by engineering; Banks had thus far trusted to the weight of his metal, and the hope of starving out the enemy, for final success. One day there came an order to suspend all firing, and a party of officers with a white flag went over into the debatable ground, where they were met by another party from the opposite lines. The rifle-pits were speedily relinquished, arms laid aside, and the combatants crowded the parapets, eyeing the proceedings with the curiosity of deep interest. Something unusual was evidently going forward. Presently the grotesque side of the soldier's nature came uppermost, and colloquies like the following were exchanged all along the line:

Blues—Halloa, there, you Rebels! Wouldn't you like a trip to Mississippi, for your health?
Grays—We're very well off here. How's Banks? And when are you coming over here?
Blues—Sooner than you'll want to see us. Wouldn't you like some coffee? —(an article unknown in their Commissary Department.)
Grays—Coffee be !How's Joe Hooker since Chancellorsville?
Blues—Much better than Dick Taylor was after Bisland and Irish Bend. Do you get your mail regular?
The truce lasted two hours; and then the rifle-pits were repopulated, and the work of war resumed. But there was a meaning in that flag, which some of us conjectured before night. It was discussed in the pits, between the strokes of the ramrod, and officers lying beneath shady trees in the blistering heat of that afternoon speculated upon it. By and by somebody came to tell us of -whispers that had been overheard at Division Headquarters, or what had been confided to somebody by the clerks that copied the orders. The night came—the still, solemn night, with its blazonry of stars, shining as they only do in the low latitudes; and with it the Sergeant-Major, to inform the officers that the Colonel desired to see them all, immediately. We gathered before his tent-fly, stretched under the trees, and listened breathlessly to the intelligence which he gave us, emphasized now and then by the sullen roar of one of the Indiana thirty-twos from the hill above. We learned that the flag that morning had covered a demand from Banks to Gardner, for the immediate surrender of Port Hudson, and that the latter had responded that he considered it his duty to hold the place to the last extremity. An assault had been determined upon for the next day, Sunday, June 14th, before daylight. The blow was to be struck neir the northeastern angle, where our artillerists had dismounted every Rebel gun. Weitzel's division was to lead, with the old brigade, the General's first command, in advance. Our Colonel had been over to reconnoitre the ground, and he described it minutely. A sheltered road had been cut around the base of the hill upon which the angle we were to assault was built, and we should be able to rush from shelter directly upon the works. The Seventy-fifth Now York were to advance as skirmishers; the Ninety-first New York Were to close in rapidly with hand-grenades, and drive the Rebels back from the angle; the Twenty-fourth Connecticut were next to rush forward and fill up the ditch with cotton bags; and then the balance of Weitzel's old brigade—the Eighth Vermont, the One Hundred and Fourteenth and One Hundred and Sixtieth New York, must scale the works, attack with the bayonet, and fight vigorously till the whole division could be poured in. A foothold inside was all that was required; there was to be a simultaneous attack at another point close by, and the weight of the attack was to be concentrated at whichever should be found most vulnerable; while Dwight and Augur were to distract the attention of the enemy from the real attack, ty continuous feinting on the right. Such, in brief, was the plan; and the General was confident of success. He had told our Colonel that he should attend church in Port Hudson the next day.

The breathless interest of the school-boy hangs with an imaginative rapture over the night before a battle. Make a soldier of your school-boy, with a soldier's training, and he will find that the reality is a stern, simple one, divested of all romance. In the silence of the next hour I called my company together, and told them that on the morrow we were to be called upon for the soldier's gravest duty; that I knew they would perform it well, at whatever cost, and that they must endeavor to sleep in the few hours which would intervene. They heard me very quietly, and went back to their rest upon breaking ranks. They were all young, some quite boyish, and most of them had left pleasant homes among the hills of Central New York to fight for the flag. God only knows the emotions that thronged upon the hearts of the thousands within our lines that night who knew what their part must be in the bloody work of the morrow; the Omniscient alone can tell what tender faces flitted across their slumbers, or what memories of a happy past flooded them. I noticed that many left pictures and letters with those whose duty was to detain them in the rifle-pits; and here and there was a small group whispering in subdued tones. Yet soldiers are more than any other men creatures of habit, and even the shadow of a coming battle cannot deprive them of sleep. We slept that night peacefully and sweetly; but we are told that travellers have lain down by the crater of an uneasy volcano, and slept while the earth beneath them was heaving and shaking with the throes of the coming eruption.
The sleepers were quietly aroused at one o'clock; there was neither reveille nor any unnecessary noise to break the stillness of that early Sabbath morning. Coffee had been prepared, and was taken; belts were buckled, cartridgeboxes settled into place, canteens slung, and the companies formed at shouldered arms. The stars were still in the sky, but there were also clouds, and the faces of the men were distinguishable from each other only upon close inspection. The roll-call was not loud, but under the breath, and what little conversation was necessary was spoken in a low tone. Heavy details had been made to man the rifle-pits, and they had already moved into them. The companies filed into a ravine near regimental headquarters, one by one; the battalion was formed, the field officers joined it, dismounted, and the column moved out. The brigade was in motion by two o'clock, as a unit, the regiments promptly falling into column. Then there was a halt of half an hour or more near division headquarters, and there the whole attacking column was organized. A few lights shone faintly through the leafy screen, and I fancied that final words were being spoken, and cautious advice was repeated. The word "Forward!" was spoken from mouth to mouth, and the column took the route-step, marching by fours. The step was not hurried; there was ample time to reach the scene of operations before daylight, and there were occasional halts to be made, to allow troops collected ahead of us to clear the road. Most of the way was through thick woods, with gullies and ravines now and then to be crossed. There was not light enough to reveal the depth of the column; but muffled footfalls could be heard far back to the rear, and we could distinguish a mass of dimly-defined figures filling the road in front, all moving on with a steady tramp toward the scene of the approaching conflict. In many places arms were stacked among the trees, and the soldiers who bore them, probably the reserves, lined the road, and peered curiously into the faces of the passing column. They well knew whither we were bound; and sometimes the sympathetic question greeted us, " what regiment, boys—what regiment?" A slight wind stirred as the morning advanced, just enough to move the branches overhead, and the air was cool and pleasant. There was little noise to break the stillness of those most silent hours; the joke and laugh of the long march had no place here; we moved on steadily, silently, almost funereally; and a curious observer might have fancied that he beheld a phantom host sweeping through the forest. "No cymbal clashed, no clarion rung, Still wore the fife and drum." The distance marched that morning was several miles, by a sinuous path which skirted our position toward the left, and then opened into the Bayou Sara road, leading directly into Port Hudson. The column filed to the right upon reaching this road, and advanced a short distance directly to the front. A thick growth of timber bordered it upon the right, and more reserves were crowded by it. It had grown less dark within half an hour, although there was some little time yet before the first light of morning, and two hours intervened before sunrise. A thin, almost transparent mist from the river filled the air, as if to keep back still longer the light that must look upon human bloodshed. By the side of the road some of us distinguished Generals Grover and Weitzel talking earnestly together, with frequent gestures toward the front. A little further on, a wide ravine intersected the road, which had been hastily bridged over for the more expeditious passage of the troops; and very few eyes failed to observe that the planking had been thickly lined with cotton, which entirely deadened the noise of our feet. It was a significant sign of the immediate vicinity of the enemy; and from this point the excitement of the morning fairly begun. Filing sharp to the right after crossing the bridge, the column plunged into a thick wood—traversed it—and emerged upon the other side in view of the Rebel position. Daylight was hardly with us yet: but there was a translucent gray in the atmosphere which was the prelude of dawn, and which obscured objects without concealing them. A musket-shot, a single report from far up the road, sent a thrill through the ranks, and the whispered comment, "The Seventy-fifth are in !" passed from lip to lip. I consulted my watch: the hour was just five o'clock. A series of low, irregular hills was before us, almost above us, covered with earthworks, within which still slumbered the unsuspicious enemy, not yet aware of our presence. Far over to the right the hills were higher, and were partially vailed in the exhalations of the morning; our own position which we had left three hours before. As we looked, another musket-shot sounded above us, apparently from the other side of the nearest hill, and immediately followed the sharp, irregular crack and clatter of the skirmishers' rifles. They seemed to be the preconcerted signal for the unleashing of all the furies of battle. The hills on our right, far as we could see, suddenly glowed with flame, and the uproar of fifty guns burst upon us, while shells and grape flew over the Rebel works with a combination of such devilish noises as are only heard in the infernal regions, or in a battle. Every discharge rent the misty cloak which shrouded the hills, and long, bright tongues of flame devoured the obscurity with an effect that instantly suggested that remarkable line of Campbell's " Hohenlinden :"

"Far flashed the red artillery." The echoes of the cannonade rolled in endless reverberations through the ravines, and the unremitting crashing of musketry from the rifle-pits filled up every pause in this fearful chorus. The sunken road referred to in a previous paragraph was cut closely around the hill whose base we had reached, and wound in a semicircle up toward the summit. It must have been two hundred yards in length, and was excavated to a depth of seven feet. There had been a brief halt at the edge of the wood for some purpose; but the column now moved rapidly forward, and as my regiment entered the shelter of the road, I heard the clear voice of the General shouting the order,
"Fix bayonets!"
There was no halt made for this purpose; the order had hardly been executed before another came.
"Forward—double-quick—march 1"
The murmur which precedes a cheer was running through the column, when it was suddenly brought to a stand-still, and at the same instant a clamor of shouts and cries burst forth from the hill overhead, mingled with an incessant rattle of small-arms. And now commenced one of those sickening, disheartening delays, which are, if possible, more painful to bear than the horrors of the fight itself. The road was quite narrow; a group of fours filled it from side to side. Struggling to urge forward the men in front of us, we tried in vain to press on. Shouts came from the rear, " For God's sake, don't stop now; go on, and let us get through with it!" and the invariable answer was returned: "We can't; the fighting up in front has choked up the road." In a few moments an impulse was given, and the column slowly moved on again. A few rods more brought us to the deepest part of the road, so that all view of the scene of the conflict was shut out from us. As we progressed with fettered feet and swelling hearts, we could still see the flash of the guns along our lines, and their shells went low over our heads, in several cases inflicting wounds in the assaulting column. Every gun, great and small, around Port Hudson, united in this tumult of destruction, and the blended sounds of the strife were indescribable. Whoever attempts to portray a scene like this will be painfully reminded of the utter inadequacy of mere words and phrases to do it justice. Of all discords that ever violated the repose of nature, that of a battle is the worst. It is simply a hell on earth. And what Victor Hugo calls the quid obscurum of battles, seems to me to be the whole of a battle. It is all doubtful—all rush, and roar, and tumult, until the decisive point is turned by one side or the other; except perhaps that it may be clear enough to the Napoleonic genius that can "ride the whirlwind and direct the storm."
Step by step, little by little, the column struggled upward. The crash of musketry overhead was redoubled, and the bullets now and then buried themselves deep in the face of the cutting, or whistled sharply overhead. Shells from our batteries were bursting painfully near us, and flying fragments passed through the ranks. The wounded began to stream down from the front; the faces of friends whom we knew in other regiments flitted by like phantom visions in a dream—all white and contorted with the agony of wounds, and some covered with blood.
"Heavy work for you, boys, up yonder!" I heard a familiar voice say. The speaker was Captain S——, of the Seventy-fifth. He recognized us as he went by, and tried hard to smile; but his right hand was grasping his left arm, which a bullet had shattered, and pain was written in every lineament of his face. There was no way for the wounded to leave the field other than by this same road, and they hurried past us with dripping wounds, some able to walk, and others supported by their friends, with many of whom, no doubt, anxiety for their own personal safety was quite as strong a motive as humanity. No artist has ever yet placed, upon canvas a battle-picture so suggestive, so absolutely startling, as that narrow cut just then presented. It was the ebb and flow of battle compressed into a space of six feet in width; two human currents were setting past each other—one strong and vigorous, making all haste to reach the scene of action, the other feeble and halting, limping back to the rear in a ghastly procession, which warned us of the reception which we were to meet.

And still the column pressed upward, while every eye was bent anxiously forward to catch the first view of the position. It was no time for the exhibition of enthusiasm; nobody failed to understand that the assault was being furiously pressed, without an inch of advantage to us thus far. I looked at the faces of those about me, and saw that they perfectly understood it. There were some boyish faces there that were quite pale, and the bearded ones wore a look which was almost one of suffering; but one and all were silently nerving their hearts for the torment, and they kept right on. Piling to the left, we passed under the prostrate trunk of a tree, lying across the cut, the way narrowing here so that the files were undoubled, and the men were obliged to stoop half way to the earth to pass the obstacle. General Weitzel's Aides were endeavoring to make their way on foot through the dense mass, cow up toward the front, and again back to the rear. And during all this time the crash of small-arms in advance grew sharper, and the yells of the combatants were louder and more startling.
It must have been more than half an hour from the time that my regiment entered the sunken road until it emerged from the other extremity under fire.
The sound of the strife rolled down from above in an increasing tumult; the bullets fell thicker into the road; the air was mingled with noises of battle. The sides of the cut began to slope toward the level of our feet; two rods more, and we were out of the covered way. There was an abrupt ucent, then a small area of rough, uneven ground, then a ditch, seven feet deep, and quite as wide, while beyond all rose a perpendicular earthwork, not less than twelve feet above the ditch, built in the form of a retreating angle. Here was the point chosen for the assault, and before it was being enacted a scene of slaughter replete with all the horrors of a close and desperate fight. There was not. sufficient ground to allow a regiment to deploy to advantage; as fast as they were unmasked from the cut, the companies rushed with a shout up the ascent, across the intervening ground, and into the ditch. From the parapet of the Rebel work came a continual flash of rifles—not in volleys, but in an irregular burst which never ceased while the attack lasted. The Rebels were entirely sheltered behind their defences; hardly a head was to be seen above the parapet. The open space before the work was strewn with soldiers in blue, dead, dying, and severely wounded; they lay among the bushes, on the hillside, and covered the bottom of that awful ditch, yawning like a grave, at the foot of the work. For a whole hour there waa a continued repetition of this scene; a yell, a rush, shouts, musket shots, cries and groans. The ditch was at last filled with the living and the dead; the former striving, within six yards of the muzzles of the Rebel rifles, to climb the face of the earthwork, and continually dropping back, with bullet-holes perforated clear through their bodies. The cotton bags, which were intended to fill up the ditch, were scattered over the ground before it, with their bearers, in some cases, crouching for shelter behind them. The hand-grenades, upon which much reliance had been placed, exploded harmlessly against the face of the work. Wounded men were killed while trying to crawl beyond the range of the fire, or lay helpless under it, unable to hazard the attempt. The contracted space before the ditch was swept with rifle balls and buckshot; every repetition of the assault was met by the same murderous discharge, covering the ground thickly with its victims, and adding to the horrors of the scene. The air rang with shouts, groans and imprecations; there was a Babel of noise, an Aceldama of destruction.

The close of the first hour, when the east was reddening with sunrise, found the regiments scattered and broken up in hopeless confusion. All that desperate courage could do had been essayed to no purpose, except to show that the assault could not succeed. Charge after charge had been made and repulsed; the ditch was an obstacle which could not be overcome, and most of those who reached it unhurt were shot down in the attempt to return. Of my own regiment, one-third was placed hors du combat; three officers, including the Colonel, were mortally, and four others severely hurt; and other regiments suffered proportionately. The day was virtually decided against us by sunrise, although the troops were not withdrawn for some hours afterward, but lay prone to the earth, behind logs, stumps and ridges, discharging their rifles over the top of the work, and occasionally picking off an exposed head. Even dead bodies were made shelters for the living, and soldiers fired from behind their slain comrades. As the troops crowded up from the rear, they were sent forward to join in this bush-fighting; but there was no serious demonstration made after the sun was an hour high. The battle was lost and the blood shed before sunrise; but while it lasted there were deeds of conspicuous bravery exhibited which the annals of the war can hardly surpass. Upon the first charge of my own regiment, .the color-guard was almost destroyed; the color-bearer was killed, and but two or three of the nine escaped with slight wounds. As the regiment fell back to reform, the flag was left, in the confusion of the moment, on the top of a ridge, exposed to the enemy's fire. It was saved by the gallantry of Private George Collins, of Company D, who crept to the spot and brought it away under a shower of balls. One year later, the same brave fellow fell at Winchester, faithful to his duty to the last. There was no lack of daring, and the long columns of the dead list showed how lavishly some of the best blood of the North was expended in that fruitless attack.
There was no bravery more conspicuous, nor were any sufferings more fearful, or any endurance stouter, during, and after, this assault, than those of Brigadier-General Halbert E. Paine,* who led his brigade in a charge across a field at another point of attack. Struck down by a Mini6 ball which shattered his leg, he lay on the field after his command was compelled to fall back, for fourteen hours, in the blistering sun, exposed to a continual fire from the works, and enduring such torments from thirst, heat, and swarms of insects, as can scarcely be comprehended. A full dozen of the brave fellows of this brigade were killed and wounded while trying to bring him water; and, finally, after nightfall, he was carried from the field more dead than alive. His leg was afterward amputated. It would be hard to conceive of more acute tortures than the wounded in this assault endured, who were compelled to lie where they fell until darkness shielded the succoring parties sent from
•Representative in the present Congress from the Milwaukee District of Wisconsin.

our lines. Death on the battle-field in such a situation is sternly stripped of all its romantic glories, and tenfold horrors superadded.
All the morning, while there was work to do, stretchers and ambulances were busy bearing back the wounded to the field-hospital, a mile to the rear. The sights and sounds of that place will scarcely bear description. A large enclosure of bare ground, surrounded with branches, was crowded in every part with the victims of the fight, the number constantly increasing. The surgeons were busy at their sickening work, and a chaplain was also there, striving to soothe the sufferers. Some were quiet, as if unconscious of the approach of death; some were writhing with pain, but laboring hard to suppress any audible tokens of it; others, entirely unnerved with pain and apprehension, shouted, blasphemed,or prayed in frantic tones. Some expired under the knife; some died before the surgeon could reach them, and others were carried from the table, groaning with their agony, to make room for new arrivals from the front. It was a scene too painful in its details to be dwelt upon.
The assault failed at all points; there was the same story throughout of desperate, reckless daring, and unavailing slaughter. Our losses in killed and wounded were not less than twelve hundred; those of the Rebels were slight, owing to their protected situation, and it is supposed that less than one hundred fell inside their works. On the second day after the fight, a truce was agreed upon for the purpose of burying the dead. Several hundreds were buried where they fell, many of them so blackened by exposure as to be past recognition.
The end came at last—but not then. It came twenty-five days later, after patient endurance, and saps, and mines, and starvation had accomplished the work that mere bravery could not—after Vicksburg had gone down before the genius of Grant, and Port Hudson was driven to sullen capitulation. It came on the 9th of July, when, with drums beating and banners flying, our victorious soldiers marched unchallenged into the enemy's works, and the long line of Rebel muskets were grounded before them. It came to us who did not witness the glory of that closing scene—to us who wrestled with death in the crowded wards of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans hospitals, steeling our hearts to the agony of terrible wounds as we lay on beds of suffering. There were dying eyes which grew brighter, and cheeks, white with the pallor of dissolution, into which the blood leaped once more as the cry ran through the ward, "Port Hudson has fallen!" And we who finally rose from the hospital pallets, whole of our hurts and preserved for still graver fortunes of the war—we, too, rejoiced to know that our toils, our perils, and our sufferings had not been in vain.
James Franklin Fitts.

Coppens' Zouave Battalion

Coppens' Zouave Battalion
Lt. Colonel George Coppens (seated) and brother, Captain Marie Alfred Coppens.Image sold at auction on Cowan Auctions, for $14,375